Website DIY: Open source or commercial site building tools?

Written on 14 June, 2013 by Kim Lowton
Categories: E-commerce, Web Design & Content | Tags: web design

When it comes to deciding on building a website, a key decision on the setup is whether you plan to build the website yourself or outsource the job to a professional. In order to help you make this decision you should firstly know the costs involved, how much to get it all setup and maintain per month; and know the time investment, how long will it take to build your website and what’s the time frame involved in on-going maintenance.

If you decide that you have limited budget or would prefer to have full transparency and control over your website by opting to do it yourself (DIY), then how will you do this? The most common options include coding it yourself from scratch, using an open-source platform, or using a publishing tool like Site Builder (with a WYSIWYG interface).

Starting from scratch and building a website by writing your own code, is great if you know code. However, for those that are less technical deciding between using an open source platform or Site Builder, can be just as confusing. So to help you make a decision, we have outlined some of the key features so you can decide on the best solution.

Open Source Software

The most common open source softwares for website DIY solutions are WordPress and Joomla - with WordPress being the most popular. The key features for such software include:

  • It’s free - You can download the software and then upload to your hosting space to give you read-made presence.
  • Database driven - Open source software is usually database driven and provides a back-end administrative interface hosted on your website to help you add and manage content and design options.
  • Design templates - To help bring down design costs you can also download free or cheap templates that will plug into your chosen open source software.
  • Online help - Due to popularity there is a wealth of information online including forums and communities able to assist you with customising the site to help get it how you want it, as limited support will be available from your hosting provider.
  • On-going improvements - Because open source platforms are so popular, improvements in the code are continually being identified and applied to help improve the stability and security of the platform. To minimise the risk of hacking, you will need to apply regular patches and updates to your site as they are made available.
  • Portable – you can take a download of your website files and transfer them to another hosting provider if you decide you no longer wish to use you current host.

Website Builders

There are many commercial website builders on the market, mostly offered through web hosting providers. Many of them work in the same way with common features, such as:

  • Build everything in the one interface – All the tools you need to build your website is available within the website builder interface, so you don’t need to download or install special packages.
  • WYSWIYG interface – Site Builder is more intuitive than open source applications. The user interface is designed with a simple drag and drop concept, making it easy to configure your website options without the need of any complex code.
  • Security - Your published website is not database driven and uses a proprietary publishing system that ensure secure folder and file permissions. The Site Builder interface can only be accessed via securely accessing the console, so there is a much lower security risk of your website being hacked or defaced than with open source software.
  • Regular updates - Unlike open source software, you don’t need to patch your website code and apply regular security updates, as this is taken care of for you at a server level. This allows you to worry less about the technical maintenance and concentrate more on continually improving and providing a better customer experience.
  • Support - All the support you need, with how to guides, 24/7 email and phone support and a range of online support articles.

We’re here to help

WebCentral has a range of website design solutions – both DIY and custom made.

If you still aren’t sure or want to consult an expert to get online, give us a call and tell us about your situation. By listening to your needs we can help you find the option that works best for you.

What has your experience been in the past with other DIY website solutions?