CMS vs. Website Builder: Making the Right Choice

CMS vs. Website Builder: What to Choose in 2023?

CMS vs. Website Builder blog image

Looking to build a website? You have two options: Content Management System (CMS) or a Website Builder. Both are popular methods for creating appealing websites.

The CMS offers limitless customization, while the website builder is easier but offers fewer options.

If you’re curious to find out which type of site-building tool is the right fit for you, we’ll be dissecting these platforms – their similarities, differences, pros, and cons – so you can confidently make your final decision.

  • Both content management systems and website builders are user-friendly tools for website creation
  • Although there may be a slight learning curve to content management systems, they offer a degree of scalability and flexibility that bring many benefits
  • On the contrary, most website builders stand out for their fast, ready-to-go website creation capabilities, where anyone can get a site live in minutes
  • A few factors to consider when making a decision include migration, cost, maintenance efforts, and scalability
  • Neither tool outperforms the other, as the choice between the two depends on your needs, the prospects of your site, and how tech-savvy you are

CMS vs. Website Builder: Overview

Let’s take the first step to uncover the best platform for your digital project by looking at the pros and cons of using a CMS vs website builder for website creation:


A content management system is any software that helps users create, manage, and modify content on a website – without the need for deep technical knowledge.

It gives users all the tools they need to design their website, including things relating to features, layouts, and different content types, and to craft an overall user experience.

How It Works

Essentially, CMSs work by allowing you to manage both the design and content of a website in a simple manner.

It’s made up of two parts:

  1. Content management application (CMA) - provides a user interface for users to create, upload, edit, and organize content
  2. Content delivery application (CDS) - formats that content properly for visitors

The overall CMS often comes with a dashboard, which acts as a central management hub of the website. You can tweak the aesthetics using color palettes and layouts or add new posts and pages just like you would with a word processor.

CMS Examples

Some popular CMS platforms include WordPress and Joomla.

According to W3Tech, 43.1% of all websites on the internet use WordPress. It’s a favorite amongst bloggers and small businesses, but enterprises too, for its flexibility and extensive library of themes and plugins.

On the other hand, Joomla is another great alternative for those who want a little more complexity than WordPress with a gentler learning curve than something like Drupal.


  • Versatility: Ability to create diverse content types, such as blog posts, portfolio galleries, e-commerce products, interactive forms, and more.
  • User-friendly: Anyone can use a CMS, as they come with intuitive dashboards that make it easy to manage your site’s content.
  • Customizable: There are endless customization possibilities, given the range of themes and plugins offered.
  • Scalable: CMSs are made to adapt and evolve as your business grows and your needs change.
  • Optimized SEO: These platforms often come with tools or plugins to help optimize your website for search engines without requiring you to know too much about search engine optimization (SEO).


  • Maintenance: The ongoing website maintenance that CMSs require may result in technical issues or cause your site to be temporarily unavailable at times.
  • Cost: Although free to start using, CMSs have premium themes, plugins, and features that often come with a cost.
  • Resources: If your website grows in content or traffic, the CMS can place heavy demand on server resources, which can result in slower website speed and/or performance issues.
  • Security risks: CMSs can be vulnerable to attacks through weaknesses in the core software, third-party plugins, or security lapses.
  • Learning curve: While CMS platforms are generally user-friendly, each tool will have its own nuances and advanced features that you’ll want to get the most out of.

Website Builder

A website builder can be best likened to a digital construction kit, where there are pre-designed templates and drag-and-drop tools provided to help users build and launch websites.

They’re typically best for those who want to create a website quickly and just need a simple web presence. All they have to do is pick a design, customize the content, and put all the pieces together, without the need for web developers or a web designer.

How It Works

Website builders are an all-in-one package that includes website design and hosting. The difference between using a website builder vs coding is that without the requirement of technical expertise, users can drag and drop text blocks, forms, pictures, videos, and more onto ready-made templates.

There are even built-in tools for things like social media integration and SEO to make things even more user-friendly and efficient.

Website Builder Examples

Wix is famed for its drag-and-drop website builder, which is ideal for those who prefer a visual, easy-to-use approach to creating a website.

On the other hand, Squarespace is known for its beautifully designed templates and useful built-in tools like appointment scheduling and eCommerce plugins.


  • Intuitive and user-friendly: Most website builders offer drag-and-drop interfaces that are suitable for even the earliest beginners.
  • Ready-to-go templates: Website builders come with sleek, modern, customizable templates, so you don’t have to design a site from scratch.
  • Cost-effective: These builders usually bundle design, hosting, and sometimes even a free domain name under one monthly fee.
  • Integrated features: Many provide built-in tools for email marketing, social media, analytics, and SEO that make digital strategy easy.


  • Limited customization: There is limited flexibility and customization to change the functionality and design.
  • Difficult transferability: If you decide to move your website to another platform, things can get tricky.
  • Not ideal for large or complex websites: Website builders can struggle with complex site architecture or large product inventories.
  • Limited SEO capabilities: SEO offerings won’t offer the same level of SEO customization as more robust website-building options.

Comparing Similarities and Differences Between Site Builders and CMS

Now that we’re well-versed in the specifics of both CMS and website builders – let’s compare these two tools side-by-side.


  • Designed with user-friendliness in mind
  • Minimizes the technicality of building websites
  • Both offer ready-to-use design templates
  • Both are versatile enough to be useful for individuals and bloggers, all the way up to the enterprise level
  • Both offer eCommerce capabilities


  • Website builders are more beginner-friendly, while CMSs have a steeper learning curve
  • Transferring a site to another platform is usually easier with CMS platforms than with website builders
  • CMS platforms require regular updates and maintenance, while website builders require much less maintenance
  • CMSs are free to start but may require investments in other features, while website builders have upfront costs and option high-cost premium features
  • Website builders have a simpler building process, while CMS offers more customization flexibility
  • CMS platforms typically come with more robust SEO features to improve site visibility, while website builders may require extra plugins for that
  • CMS platforms have the edge when it comes to scalability, built to accommodate and adapt to increased site traffic and growing content. Website builders may struggle to handle complex or large sites.

Which Is Better, a Website Builder or a CMS?

Neither is categorically better than the other, as it all depends on your expertise and needs.

Website builders boast simplicity and ease, which are ideal for individuals or beginners who are looking to get a site up and running quickly.

CMSs provide more control and flexibility for those who are capable and are aiming to build more complex sites or scale over time.

If you’re looking to learn more about how to make the ultimate decision, join us in our next segment, where we’ll go deeper into how to choose between a CMS and a website builder.

How to Choose Between CMS and Website Builders

Making your final choice involves highlighting your skills, needs, and your vision. What exactly does your dream website look like? What does it need to be able to achieve? Find out which path to go on by checking out these decision-making factors:

Choose CMS If:

  • You’re planning to regularly update and add new functionalities to your website
  • You expect your website to scale in the future
  • You’re looking for advanced features that website builders won’t offer
  • You prefer full control over each aspect of your website design and functionality
  • You’re comfortable with a slight learning curve

Choose Website Builders If:

  • You prefer intuitive design tools like drag-and-drop builders
  • You consider yourself a beginner and would enjoy a simple and quick way to build and manage a website
  • You prefer working with an all-in-one package
  • You expect to have a straightforward site structure, hosting a blog, portfolio, or small eCommerce site
  • You value a provider taking care of things like maintenance and updates


Wrapping up, remember that each tool has a range of strengths and weaknesses you’ll want to consider. Whether you find the flexibility of a CMS or the simplicity of a website builder more appealing, there’s an ideal fit out there for everyone.

Next Steps: What Now?

Learn More About Website Building

Frequently Asked Questions

Is WordPress a CMS or website builder?

WordPress is considered a content management system (CMS). Unlike typical website builders, it offers more flexibility in design and functionality. While it has a steeper learning curve, plugins like Gutenberg have made it more accessible with builder-like features that users can take advantage of.

Which is better for SEO? Website builders or CMS?

CMS platforms typically offer more advanced SEO capabilities because of the availability of SEO-specific plugins. Website builders can provide basic SEO tools but often lack the in-depth customization required for comprehensive SEO strategies.

Why is WordPress CMS best for SEO?

WordPress SEO is highly favored because it makes many SEO-related tasks easy. This includes metadata, content creation, image optimization, mobile optimization, social media integration, URL optimization, and more, which makes aligning your website with SEO best practices seamless.

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