Web Hosting vs. Website Builders (2022): Differences & Top 20 Picks

Web Hosting Vs Website Builders

Sure, the end result is the same, but which is the right path to get there: web hosting vs. website builders? The route you take largely depends on your tech and design skills — and patience with possibly taking the scenic route.

Until a handful of years ago, launching a new website required knowing a foreign language or two. You’d upload scores of carefully arranged quotation marks, colons, brackets, and other characters to a server, and — almost magically — the HTML and CSS files would convince other people’s web browsers to display your text and images in exactly the format you envisioned (usually).

Now, however, much of the tedious process is distilled into the simple push of a button or drag of a mouse. Web hosting still allows for the fine-grain control of coding your own website, but site builders give a wider range of users the ability to create a blog, portfolio, or store without any coding experience. We’ll dive into more comparisons plus some of the best options on the market.

Web Hosting vs. Website Builders: Best Hosts That Offer Both

Particularly at the introductory levels of web hosting, providers supplement the basic server space and processing power with useful services like email accounts, search engine optimization tools, automatic backups, free malware scans, and, of course, website builders. The beginner-friendly tool is great for small business owners, bloggers, and professionals looking to launch a site quickly.

The major advantage of choosing a web hosting plan with a site builder revolves around keeping your options open in case you want to try a new design platform. In addition to a website builder, chances are you’ll have access to hundreds of one-click installations that specialize in everything from blogs and eCommerce to wikis and message boards. Web hosting offers the flexibility to truly tailor your website to your exact needs, industry, and expectations.

Perhaps surprisingly, the wide range of tools is readily available at an affordable price point. Our three favorite hosting providers for new site owners, which we’ve reviewed below, offer the combination of web hosting and site builder along with all the added full-service functionality and support. Learn more about these companies below:

1. Hostinger.com

Hostinger Review

Monthly Starting Price $1.99

  • Unlimited everything, from storage to databases
  • FREE site builder & WP performance upgrades
  • FREE daily or weekly backups
  • Custom control panel and auto-installation scripts
  • SSH access & unlimited FREE SSL certificates
  • Get started on Hostinger now.

CHEAP
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

Hostinger: Our Expert's Review

Laura Bernheim (HostingAdvice.com): As the shared hosting market becomes increasingly saturated, unlimited storage, bandwidth, and email accounts have become surprisingly average. Hostinger, however, extends the routine, expected metrics to greater lengths — the number of websites, databases, FTP users, subdomains, and parked domains are all unrestricted for most customers. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days 50 GB to 200 GB SSD FREE (1 year) 3 minutes

2. Bluehost.com

Bluehost Review

Monthly Starting Price $2.95

  • Cheap shared hosting from a highly reputable provider
  • Ideal for hosting a WordPress website
  • FREE Weebly website builder and Cloudflare CDN
  • Unlimited traffic and 24/7 live chat support
  • Get 63% off today with our Bluehost coupon
  • Get started on Bluehost now.

CHEAP
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

Bluehost: Our Expert's Review

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): Bluehost pricing is about as competitive as the industry offers. Sign up for a shared hosting plan for as little as $2.95 per month, and WordPress hosting packages are consistently priced; a VPS plan starts at around $18.99 per month; and the dedicated hosting rates are as little as $79.99 per month. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days 50 GB SSD - unlimited FREE (1 year) 5 minutes

3. Veeble.org

Veeble Review

Monthly Starting Price $0.95

  • Instant setup with no fees
  • A massive library of 419 one-click installation applications and scripts
  • FREE cPanel integration for easy management and metrics tracking
  • FREE SSL security
  • 99.99% uptime guarantee
  • Get started on Veeble.org now.

CHEAP
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

Veeble: Our Expert's Review

Lynn Cadet (HostingAdvice.com): If you’re looking for fantastic service on a smaller budget, Veeble is the web host for you. Its inexpensive hosting plans deliver the essential resources to run a website with the same high-performance capabilities as many other web hosts. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
14 days 20 GB SSD - unlimited SSD FREE with select plans 3 minutes

See other top affordable hosts »

Best Website Builders With Hosting

Those seeking a more pared-down web hosting experience, on the other hand, may prefer to go straight to the website builders. These companies offer one signature platform, with various added functionalities becoming unlocked at more expensive tiers. Site builders automatically take care of configuring your web hosting and connecting it to the drag-and-drop software, leaving all the scary and potentially overwhelming stuff well in the background.

Although site builders concentrate on providing extraordinarily user-friendly hosting and website-owning experiences, most platforms also cover services like email, SEO, and eCommerce. You won’t have nearly as many options — but maybe that’s a good thing.

Our top three website builders all have particular strengths. When shopping for a platform, be sure to check out the range of themes, eCommerce particularities and fees, support availability, and exactly what is included with each plan. Take a look at our favorites here:

4. Wix.com

Wix Review

Monthly Starting Price $0.00

  • No coding skills needed with drag-and-drop builder
  • 100s of templates with niche-specific designs
  • Add features via the App Market and Wix Events
  • Easily create ecommerce functionality easily
  • Great way to build small sites on a budget
  • Get started on Wix now.

WEBSITE BUILDER
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

Wix: Our Expert's Review

Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): Website building is where Wix shines. The thousands of templates, the intuitive editor, the industry-leading designs that cater to a variety of specific fields and use cases — all these facets represent a platform that excels at facilitating easy web design for the non-tech-savvy user. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
14-day FREE trial 2 GB - unlimited FREE (1 year) 4 minutes

5. iPage.com

iPage Review

Monthly Starting Price $1.99

  • Choice of Weebly or WebsiteBuilder by iPage
  • Mobile-optimized and easy-to-use setup wizards
  • 100s of professionally designed themes
  • FREE online store, shopping cart, and blogging
  • Get +75% off your first month
  • Get started on iPage now.

WEBSITE BUILDER
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

iPage: Our Expert's Review

PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): Do you want your website built today. If you answered "yes," you should look no further than iPage. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days unlimited FREE (1 year) 4 minutes

6. HostGator.com

HostGator Review

Monthly Starting Price $3.46

  • Drag-and-drop design with the Gator™ site builder
  • Hundreds of mobile-friendly templates
  • FREE hosting, domain name, and SSL certificate
  • Easily add a blog, store, and social media
  • Analytics portal helps gauge site performance
  • Get started on HostGator now.

WEBSITE BUILDER
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

HostGator: Our Expert's Review

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): Setting itself apart from the scores of competitors that rely on white-labeled website builder solutions, HostGator spent the time to painstakingly craft its own platform. Gator provides a frustration-free experience that pairs the simplicity of drag-and-drop design with the company’s powerful and respected web hosting services. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
45 days Unlimited FREE (1 year) 4 minutes

See other top website builders »

Best for the Price: Cheap Web Hosting or Free Website Builders

Fortunately for small business owners and first-time site owners, basic web hosting and website builders both reside at the cheaper end of the cost spectrum. Depending on how you arrange your package of online services, however, determines just how much of a deal you can score.

For starters, there’s the age-old debate of affordable vs. valuable services. Sure, you can have web hosting for free, but the performance, security, and general experience will suffer. Think of your website technology as an investment — you have to spend money to make money. Which is why we strongly recommend finding the most bang for a few bucks.

We’ll go into more detail in the sections to come, but our general philosophy is to skip the free services in favor of the added upgrades and perks that come with introductory-level plans. We’re slightly less averse to the free plans offered directly from many website builders, but why not enjoy that free site builder with a custom domain name, unlimited email accounts, and the treasure trove of add-ons that come with web hosting?

Best Value Web Hosts

Because the web hosting market is clamoring to attract new site owners and small businesses, annual hosting plans regularly include a ton of free perks. For less than $5 per month, you can usually have a free domain name registration, unlimited storage and bandwidth, around-the-clock support, and even the site builders or other software to help you design your site.

Image of servers in a datacenter

Web hosting may seem intimidating, but it’s the shortest route to the most features — all for surprisingly affordable rates.

We scoured the internet to find the best deals on web hosting from companies with stellar reputations. The brands mentioned below are all known for top-notch infrastructure, performance, security, and support. Their affordable price points mean they’re used to helping beginners get started with their first site, so they’ve spent a ton of time streamlining the user experience into a positive and stress-free environment.

7. Bluehost.com

Bluehost review

Monthly Starting Price $2.95

  • Known for high-performance, low-cost hosting
  • FREE website builder with 1,000s of templates
  • Endorsed by the WordPress.org team as a top host
  • FREE SSL certificate and CDN acceleration
  • Usually $7.99/mo, but our visitors pay $2.95/mo
  • Get started on Bluehost now.

SHARED
RATING
5.0 ★★★★★ Our Review

Bluehost: Our Expert's Review

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): Bluehost pricing is about as competitive as the industry offers. Sign up for a shared hosting plan for as little as $2.95 per month, and WordPress hosting packages are consistently priced; a VPS plan starts at around $18.99 per month; and the dedicated hosting rates are as little as $79.99 per month. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days 50 GB SSD - unlimited FREE (1 year) 5 minutes

8. iPage.com

iPage review

Monthly Starting Price $1.99

  • An industry-leading host with competitive pricing
  • Attract visitors with FREE marketing credits
  • Lots of extras like SiteLock security
  • Start selling with FREE ecommerce tools
  • Get more than 75% off today! (usually $7.99/mo)
  • Get started on iPage now.

SHARED
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

iPage: Our Expert's Review

PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): Whether you're a first-time website owner or a web veteran, iPage’s excellent hosting services and a fantastic list of extras make the brand one of the best values in web hosting. Unlimited disk space, scalable bandwidth, and emails are just a part of what makes iPage’s shared hosting plan a great deal. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days Unlimited FREE (1 year) 5 minutes

9. InMotionHosting.com

InMotion review

Monthly Starting Price $2.29

  • High-quality hosting, no matter the format
  • FREE SSD storage packs 20x the performance
  • FREE SSL certificate and 24/7 support
  • 1-click installs for WordPress and popular CMSes
  • Get started with FREE website transfer service
  • Get started on InMotion Hosting now.

SHARED
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

InMotion: Our Expert's Review

PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): InMotion Hosting offers an excellent business-class shared hosting plan. While carrying a higher price tag than some other cheap hosts, it has a very nice list of features to help justify the extra cost. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
90 days 100 GB SSD - unlimited FREE (1 year) 5 minutes

See other top affordable hosts »

Best Free Website Builders

Aside from open-source projects, website builders are perhaps the only free technology we’d recommend with any sort of confidence. Even so, those who sign up for the no-cost site builder plans are usually restricted to a hard-to-market subdomain (yourname.sitebuilder.com) and community support forums, along with having to display banner ads and coping without most of a platform’s marketing, SEO, or email tools.

Those limitations may not be deal breakers for personal bloggers or those who want to test a product before they buy, but they severely hamper a business or online presence from fostering a professional reputation. You’ll probably want to upgrade in the long run, but here are the top free website builders worth spending some time with (Note: You can frequently spot Weebly being included for free with paid web hosting plans):

10. Wix.com

Wix Review

Monthly Starting Price $0.00

  • Start designing for FREE
  • FREE domain with most plans
  • Drag-and-drop templates, specific to industry
  • Exhaustive knowledgebase of articles
  • Huge App Market available
  • Get started on Wix now.

CHEAP
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

Wix: Our Expert's Review

Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): Wix is known as a web-leading site builder service that's one of the most affordable — because getting started is absolutely free and about as easy as processes get. You can log in via Facebook or your Gmail account and be editing your new web property within minutes. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
14-day FREE trial 2 GB - unlimited FREE (1 year) 4 minutes

11. Weebly.com

Weebly Review

Monthly Starting Price $0.00

  • All-in-one hosting and drag-and-drop builder
  • Start designing for FREE, upgrade whenever
  • Easily build a blog, personal site, or online store
  • 100s of FREE templates for websites
  • $100 credit toward Google advertising
  • Get started on Weebly now.

CHEAP
RATING
4.6 ★★★★★ Our Review

Weebly: Our Expert's Review

Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): Weebly is a well-known name in the cheap shared hosting space — not necessarily due to competitive pricing but because several of the web's leading low-cost hosting providers have opted to include Weebly software for free, adding value to their existing offerings. It's worth noting Weebly does offer a free plan, but websites are found on a Weebly subdomain and display Weebly advertising. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days 500 MB - Unlimited FREE (w/ paid plans) 3 minutes

See other top website builders »

Best for Features and Performance: Web Hosting

Despite the simplicity that website builders offer during the setup, design, and customization processes, many site owners will benefit in the long run by having more control and access to their hosting environment. In addition to enhanced security, domain, and email services, web hosting providers offer more transparency about the underlying infrastructure powering your online presence.

For example, speed-boosting hardware like solid-state drives or integration with a content delivery network can drastically reduce the time it takes for your website pages to load — having a massive impact on your site’s performance in search rankings, traffic, user experience, transactions, and other conversions.

Solid-state drives, the modern storage device used in servers, can make sites perform up to 20 times faster than those relying on traditional hard-disk drives. The flash-based storage tends to come with smaller capacities at a slightly higher price, but the gap is narrowing as more SSD-driven solutions are deployed.

SSDs are one of our favorite hosting features we vouch for, given their demonstrable benefit to customers. The added processing firepower is well worth the slight investment, in our opinion, so be sure to check out our top three recommended hosts that blend the high-speed hardware customers need with affordable, easy-to-use solutions that address the whole website ownership experience:

12. InMotionHosting.com

InMotion review

Monthly Starting Price $2.29

  • Shared business hosting with FREE SSD storage
  • FREE website migration with zero downtime
  • Develop in PHP, Ruby, Perl, Python, and MySQL
  • FREE drag-and-drop builder or WordPress
  • FREE data backups and FREE SSL cert
  • Get started on InMotion Hosting now.

SSD
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

InMotion: Our Expert's Review

PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): InMotion Hosting trailblazed the SSD space, including free SSD storage in all server plans for maximum performance. Existing websites experience no downtime as InMotion Hosting transfers your site to its new home on InMotion’s network, and you can choose a West Coast or East Coast datacenter location. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
90 days 100 GB SSD - unlimited FREE (1 year) 5 minutes

13. Kamatera.com

Kamatera review

Monthly Starting Price $0.00

  • Customize your cloud environment for FREE
  • Work with a dedicated account manager
  • Dozens of Windows & Linux OS choices
  • Complimentary live chat support open 24/7
  • Launch in less than 60 seconds
  • Try Kamatera FREE for 30 days.

SSD
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

Kamatera: Our Expert's Review

Laura Bernheim (HostingAdvice.com): That's right, Kamatera gives new customers FREE access to high-quality VPS hosting for 30 days. Upgrade your bargain-basement shared hosting to a cloud server configured to your exact specifications for no cost. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30-day FREE trial 20 GB - 4 TB SSD New or Transfer 3 minutes

14. Cloudways.com

Cloudways review

Monthly Starting Price $10.00

  • SSD hosting, built-in cache, and FREE CDN
  • Your choice of 5 popular cloud providers
  • Optimized stack with Apache, PHP-FPM, and MariaDB
  • Support for the latest PHP versions
  • Get 25% OFF first 3 months with promo code HOSTINGADVICE
  • Get started on Cloudways now.

SSD
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

Cloudways: Our Expert's Review

Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): Cloudways offers blazing-fast, SSD-powered performance with additional caching layered atop an optimized tech stack. Enjoy a performant cloud cocktail of Apache, NGINX, PHP-FPM, and choice of MySQL and MariaDB databases…. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
3-Day FREE Trial 1 GB SSD - 3 TB SSD New or Transfer 8 minutes

See other top hosts with SSDs »

Best for Usability: Website Builders

Although we’re past the days of needing to know how to code to launch a website, a web hosting account still comes with a handful more steps to configure the technology behind whatever design software you choose. Shared hosting customers will have access to a graphical interface known as a control panel that makes these processes extraordinarily logical and simple, but they may still intimidate a beginner.

Site builders take care of all the tech setup in the background; all they need from you is a domain name and method of payment before you’re ushered through the stable of themes and templates for you to start customizing. The platforms offer a visual, drag-and-drop interface that lets users see exactly what they’re creating. Customization options vary from platform and theme and are ultimately limited compared to the sheer flexibility and control that custom coding unlocks.

Image of someone using a laptop

Website builders are designed to be extraordinarily easy for non-technical people to use.

However, website builders naturally take care of technical components like accessibility, security, and responsivity by vouching for specific themes and templates. You can customize to your heart’s content and know your website will still be up-to-date with the latest standards.

Our top three website builders emphasize user friendliness by featuring hundreds of customizable templates, drag-and-drop content blocks, and integrations with popular eCommerce and marketing tools. Customer sites can quickly launch with a look and feel tailored to their specific industries and goals. We’ve laid out each platform’s biggest advantages below, but be sure to click on the reviews to learn more about what each has to offer.

15. Wix.com

Wix Review

Monthly Starting Price $0.00

  • No coding skills needed with drag-and-drop builder
  • 100s of templates with niche-specific designs
  • Add features via the App Market and Wix Events
  • Easily create ecommerce functionality easily
  • Great way to build small sites on a budget
  • Get started on Wix now.

WEBSITE BUILDER
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

Wix: Our Expert's Review

Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): Website building is where Wix shines. The thousands of templates, the intuitive editor, the industry-leading designs that cater to a variety of specific fields and use cases — all these facets represent a platform that excels at facilitating easy web design for the non-tech-savvy user. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
14-day FREE trial 2 GB - unlimited FREE (1 year) 4 minutes

16. iPage.com

iPage Review

Monthly Starting Price $1.99

  • Choice of Weebly or WebsiteBuilder by iPage
  • Mobile-optimized and easy-to-use setup wizards
  • 100s of professionally designed themes
  • FREE online store, shopping cart, and blogging
  • Get +75% off your first month
  • Get started on iPage now.

WEBSITE BUILDER
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

iPage: Our Expert's Review

PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): Do you want your website built today. If you answered "yes," you should look no further than iPage. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days unlimited FREE (1 year) 4 minutes

17. HostGator.com

HostGator Review

Monthly Starting Price $3.46

  • Drag-and-drop design with the Gator™ site builder
  • Hundreds of mobile-friendly templates
  • FREE hosting, domain name, and SSL certificate
  • Easily add a blog, store, and social media
  • Analytics portal helps gauge site performance
  • Get started on HostGator now.

WEBSITE BUILDER
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

HostGator: Our Expert's Review

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): Setting itself apart from the scores of competitors that rely on white-labeled website builder solutions, HostGator spent the time to painstakingly craft its own platform. Gator provides a frustration-free experience that pairs the simplicity of drag-and-drop design with the company’s powerful and respected web hosting services. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
45 days Unlimited FREE (1 year) 4 minutes

See other top website builders »

Somewhere in the Middle: WordPress Blends Best of Both Worlds

So far, we’ve only talked about web hosting and website builders. But what if there were a third option that blended the best of both worlds? We’ve touched on it a little bit throughout this article, but it’s definitely time to spell out exactly where WordPress fits and why it may be what you’re looking for.

The world’s most popular content management system powers roughly a third of all websites and is a free, open-source program designed to simplify the act of building blogs, professional portfolios, and eCommerce websites. Because it is a piece of software, similar to website builders, WordPress requires that users maintain a web hosting account. Luckily, the vast majority of hosts make WordPress available to customers with an ultra-simple one-click installation.

However, designing and customizing a website in WordPress is not nearly as simple as a drag-and-drop website builder. Both platforms rely heavily on the use of themes, but WordPress only recently began introducing movable content blocks with the late-2018 release of the Gutenberg editor. Until then, WordPress relied on a WYSIWYG-type editor (what you see is what you get) that enabled users to toggle between a visual view of a page or post’s content and the underlying code.

The usability and popularity of WordPress make it an extraordinarily appealing option for new site owners. There’s a relatively steep learning curve when compared with website builders, but motivated beginners should have no trouble getting up to speed. Here are our three favorite web hosting providers for running WordPress:

18. Bluehost.com

Bluehost Review

Monthly Starting Price $2.95

  • Recommended by WordPress.org since 2005
  • Automatic WordPress updates and initial install
  • FREE WordPress themes in the Bluehost Marketplace
  • 24/7 support via live chat, phone, and email
  • Get exclusive discounts on WordPress plans
  • Get started on Bluehost now.

WORDPRESS
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

Bluehost: Our Expert's Review

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): Bluehost's WordPress hosting packages are aimed at first-time site owners and personal bloggers. These services come at a premium compared to the standard Bluehost web hosting (basic shared hosting) plans, but the WordPress optimization and platform-specific resources are arguably worth the cost. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days 50 GB SSD - unlimited FREE (1 year) 7 minutes

19. SiteGround.com

SiteGround Review

Monthly Starting Price $3.99

  • Officially endorsed by WordPress.org
  • FREE migration plugin or automated installation
  • Pre-installed Git, 3 caching levels, and FREE CDN
  • FREE WP setup wizard, staging, and auto-updates
  • Fast, 24/7 support via custom chat system
  • Get started on SiteGround now.

WORDPRESS
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

SiteGround: Our Expert's Review

Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): Want a hassle-free, WordPress-optimized hosting service. SiteGround has thought of everything you need to get your site up and running. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days 10 GB SSD - 30 GB SSD New or Transfer 6 minutes

20. Hostinger.com

Hostinger Review

Monthly Starting Price $1.99

  • 1-click WP install, PHP 7+, HTTP/2, and NGINX
  • All-in-one security protections from BitNinja
  • WordPress optimizations boost performance
  • No price markup for WordPress services
  • Daily backups and FREE SSL certificate
  • Get started on Hostinger now.

WORDPRESS
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

Hostinger: Our Expert's Review

Laura Bernheim (HostingAdvice.com): As much as we love WordPress, one of our biggest pet peeves is when hosting providers exploit the popularity of the world's most-used content management system by offering so-called WordPress hosting that, in reality, is exactly the same as the host's shared server plans. Fortunately, Hostinger's ultra-fast infrastructure and easy access to SSL certificates and backups sets up the company to outperform the vast majority of the violators of our admittedly made-up rule. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days 30 GB to 200 GB SSD FREE (1 year) 4 minutes

See other top WordPress hosts »

Overview: What is Web Hosting vs. Website Builders?

Two basic building blocks of starting an online presence, web hosting and website builders can be incredibly valuable tools or utterly infuriating platforms that test your patience. Web hosting encompasses the storage, bandwidth, and other resources required to create and maintain a website. Narrowly speaking, hosting services include the server, network, and other infrastructure components that enable site owners to build an online presence. Providers don’t directly help customers with design, aside from providing access to a separate website builder or other helpful software such as a content management system.

Website builders are intuitive platforms that enable users to visually create websites without code. After starting with a theme or template, site owners can add, delete, move, and customize elements like background colors, text, and images — all with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Sounds simple, right? Well, here’s where the line starts to blur. Website builders require web hosting to display websites. Some, including industry leaders Wix and Squarespace, offer an all-in-one platform that integrates hosting services into the background. Weebly does the same, but it also frequently appears as a free add-on service alongside many shared web hosting plans. Hosts frequently offer website builders as part of their packages, whether the platform is developed in-house or from a third-party vendor.

Drag-and-Drop or Do-It-Yourself? How to Pick the Right Platform

The advent of website builders and content management systems have made starting a website extraordinarily easy and accessible to a wide range of people. Backend publishing systems and drag-and-drop interfaces remove the need to develop fluency in another foreign language like HTML, CSS, or PHP.

However, the wide array of options can be daunting, and the answer to the question of how to select the right platform largely contains a lot of “it depends.” Site owners better-suited to a web hosting plan may:

  • Have at least a basic understanding of coding structures — or are willing to learn
  • Have a very specific idea of how they want their website to look and operate
  • Have more time to spend fine-tuning their website before launch

On the other hand, folks who prefer a self-contained website builder experience that takes care of all the hosting technicalities may:

  • Have plans to launch an online store that sells physical or digital goods
  • Have needs for total simplicity and are willing to sacrifice some customer support
  • Have less time or money to spend on an online project, especially at the beginning

As we’ve mentioned in this article, web hosting and website builders take slightly different paths when delivering customers to the online presence of their dreams. However, customers can certainly be proud of either result. Interestingly, prospective site owners don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other — by selecting a web hosting plan that includes a site builder, you’ll have much more room to explore this contest and see which solution is best for you.

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