How to use site builders, or will cloud platforms become an alternative to CMS

To create a website using the engine, you need to install the program on the hosting, configure it and constantly care about relevance. In short, you will have to think about the front end and back end of the site. If you do not want to spend time installing and configuring programs or CMS, use the site designers. In this case, you can only do the front-end of the site: its usability, appearance, and so on. The software supplier will take care of the back end on demand.

Is it true that site designers or cloud platforms will push traditional CMS out of the market in the coming years? How to use popular SaaS systems? How do designers differ from content management systems and frameworks in practice? Answers to the questions below.


What is site builder

Website Builder is a content management system that operates on the principle of SaaS or program as a service. With the help of the designer, a user without web programming knowledge, layout, search engine optimization can quickly create a functional site.

SaaS - from the English. Software as a Service or program as a service. The service provider is responsible for the technical aspects of the program, including hosting, code validity, speed and correctness of operation. The consumer of the service works only with the user interface.

A simple example of the usual program and SaaS - Key Collector and "Yandex. Picking words", respectively. To check the frequency of requests using Key Collector, you will have to download the program and install it on your PC. Before you do this, make sure that the computer meets the requirements of the Key Collector developers.

For example, you should have enough disk space, and you should also use Windows 7 or higher with .Net Framework 4.0 or higher. To use the service "Word Search", just connect to the Internet and launch a browser. Everything else is the care of the service provider.

When using the SaaS platform for creating websites, you can focus on the appearance of the resource, its functionality and information value. The provider of the designer takes on the back-end or everything that is conventionally located under the hood.

The choice of the designer instead of the usual CMS will save you from such worries:

  • The choice of hosting and installing the engine on the server.
  • Russification site. This does not apply to all services.
  • Security, including burglary protection and backup.
  • Adaptation of the resource to the requirements of search engines, including the creation of an XML map, CNC, the creation of a robots.txt file.
  • Ensuring the usability of the resource, including adaptive design, image optimization, acceptable page loading speed.

The user of the SaaS platform is responsible for selecting the appearance of the resource, the configuration of the content blocks and widgets and the publication of content.

How to use popular site builders

The most popular designers include Weebly, Wix, Jimdo, Squarespace, Shopify, MyWebsite, Yola, GoDaddy Website Builder and others. The capabilities of some platforms can be found below.

Weebly - the main competitor of WordPress

The thesis from the subtitle can be considered as an advance to one of the most popular site designers. As of autumn 2016, Weebly lags far behind the most popular CMS in the world in terms of popularity and functionality. But the SaaS platform is confidently approaching the level of popularity of other free engines. While it is not about the number of sites created, but about the number of search queries. But the trend deserves attention.

Weebly is an online service that includes website builder and hosting. It is available through browsers. Users can construct web pages from widgets using drag-and-drop technology.

How to create a website using the constructor Weebly

Register on the site, specify the name and category of the project and select a design template. After that, you can proceed to editing the site. Imagine you are creating a website for a young dynamic company. The site must have static pages and a blog.

To make a website, follow these steps:

  1. Customize the main page.
  2. Create static pages.
  3. Customize the theme.
  4. Create a blog.
  5. Pay attention to general settings and SEO.
  6. Connect the e-commerce module.
  7. Publish site.

1. Customize the main page

The editor displays the main page of the site. On the left in the vertical menu are widgets and applications that can be added to the page. In the horizontal menu at the top of the screen there are links to the sections of editing pages, themes, creating a store, setting parameters.

To edit, move, or delete items on the main page, move the cursor over them and perform the desired action. For example, you can replace the text in the site name with a logo.

If necessary, change or delete the slogan and the call-to-action button.

If you want to replace the background image of the main page, hover the cursor on it and click the left mouse button.

If there are other elements in the selected topic on the main page, edit them if necessary. Replace unnecessary items from your point of view with useful ones. For example, instead of a block of customer reviews, you can add a feedback form. To do this, move the cursor over the extra elements and delete them. Then drag the feedback widget from the vertical menu.

2. Create static pages and customize the menu.

Select the "Pages" section in the horizontal menu. In the vertical menu you will see a list of pages that are in your default theme.

Customize existing pages to match the site’s objectives. Select the Services page. Change the title, select the type of title, and set the visibility.

In the subsection of the "SEO Settings" menu, specify the title, description, search phrases. Add the URL of the page. If necessary, add footer codes and hide the page from search engines.

Please note that the "Keywords" field can be left blank. Search engines do not take into account the keywords meta tag when ranking.

Add to the page the necessary widgets. To do this, click on the "Create" link in the horizontal menu. Drag the "Title", "Image" and "Text" blocks onto the page.

Specify the page name, upload an image and add text. Pay attention to the possibilities of the editor.

Create child pages. To do this, in the "Pages" section, hover the mouse over the necessary links in the vertical menu and move them one centimeter to the right.

Now you can add conversion buttons to the parent page "Services", with the help of which users will go to the child pages with a description of specific services. To add a button, go back to the Services page and drag the Button widget to the page.

To customize a button, hover the mouse over the widget and click the left mouse button. An editing window will appear on the screen. Specify the text, select the style of the button, adjust the position, spacing and link.

Create and configure all static pages that you plan to publish on the site. Add content to them. Check the display of the created site sections in the menu.

3. Customize the theme

To change or customize the theme, select the appropriate section in the horizontal menu.

To get to the catalog of themes and change the template, select the link "Change theme" in the vertical menu. With the help of the remaining sections you can customize the selected design.

To change the background color and site elements, check the appropriate color circle above the vertical menu.

Go to the "Change Font" section to select the appropriate fonts for headings, paragraphs, photo captions, and other site elements. For example, in the heading subsection, you can change the display settings for the corresponding element.

In the "Theme Options" section, configure the display of social networking menus and icons. To add a link to a profile or group in a social network, click on the corresponding icon.

In the window that appears, add a link and enable the display of the icon.

To change the HTML code or CSS styles, use the corresponding button in the lower left corner of the screen.

4. Create a blog

Select the "Options" section in the horizontal menu. On the page that opens, in the vertical menu, find the "Blog" option. Turn on the log. Now you can publish articles and reviews.

To post a post, go to the “Pages” section and create a blog page.

Customize your blog homepage. Specify the title, information about the author, if necessary, add widgets.

At the bottom of the screen, select the "Blog Settings" menu. Specify the appropriate general settings. If necessary, add code to the beginning or to the end of the entries. This could be counter code or other third-party widgets.

In the comment settings, select your preferred commenting system. The default system is Weebly, comments Facebook and Disqus.

Depending on the selected option, select the appropriate settings. If you have saved the system by default, select the annunciation mode, moderation options, and CAPTCHA display.

To post a note, in the "Pages" menu, select the "Blog" section. Click on the "New Post" button in the lower right corner of the screen.

On the edit page, click the Post Options button. Select an existing one or create a new rubric. Configure commenting options, add title and description meta tags.

Return to the note editing page. Enter a name. Add the necessary widgets to the page, for example, "Title", "Image", "Text". With their help, add content to the page. After editing is complete, publish the post using the "Place" button in the upper right corner of the screen. You can also save a draft publication.

5. Configure site settings

In the horizontal menu, select "Options." On the general settings page, specify the address of the site. You can use the subdomain on the domain, register a new one, or use a domain that already belongs to you.

Owners of paid accounts can connect an SSL certificate and install a custom favicon. If necessary, you can adjust the parameters for automatically announcing new entries to Facebook, change the time and date display format, and protect all or selected pages on the site with a password.

In the SEO section, provide a meta description of the main page of the site. If necessary, add codes to the header and footer. Also in the SEO section you can set up permanent redirects from the pages of the site.

In the "Editors" section you can add editors and site administrators. In the "Participants" subsection you can select the options for displaying the registration form and add new users.

In the "My Applications" menu you can install applications. The catalog has free and paid add-ons that can be used to extend the functionality of the site. For example, with the help of applications, you can add contact forms, a "FAQ" section of the site, set a slider on the main page, set up scrolling buttons.

Applications in the catalog can be sorted by topics, popularity, rating and publication date.

6. Connect the e-commerce module

Weebly has an ecommerce module. It can be connected if you use one of the paid rates.

To enable the module, in the vertical menu, select the "Store" section. On the general settings page, specify information about the store, add products and select suitable payment acceptance options.

Specify the currency in which you accept payments, select the units of measurement and the ordering mode.

In the "Layout" settings block, specify the preferred display options for products on the category pages. In the "Tracking" block, add a Google Analytics ID.

In the menu "Orders" you can track purchases and manage their status. In the "Coupons" section you can create and publish coupons with discount on goods. In the "Settings" section specify options for payment, delivery and tax information.

You have created and configured a site using the constructor Weebly. Publish it using the appropriate button in the upper right corner of the screen. If you choose a free fare, the site will be available on the subdomain. To transfer the site to your own domain and connect the e-commerce module, pay for one of the advanced rates.

Jimdo is a simple and flexible constructor.

Jimdo is a popular SaaS constructor that combines the ease of creating and managing a site with the functionality and customization of resources on traditional engines. Jimdo is suitable for any project: you can create an online store blog, corporate resource, or portal. You can manage the created sites using iOS and Android applications.

How to create a website on Jimdo

If you use a paid tariff, after logging in to the Jimdo platform, you can register a new one or connect your own domain. If you are using a free rate, select a subdomain on the domain.

Choose from three types of resources: website, blog or store. After that, configure the resource:

  1. Select and customize the design template.
  2. Create static pages and connect a blog.
  3. Pay attention to general settings and SEO.
  4. Publish site.

1. How to select and configure a site template on Jimdo

In the vertical menu on the right side of the screen, select the "Templates" section. Find and activate the appropriate topic.

You can choose different variants of one theme. To do this, move the cursor over the template you like and click the "Template options" button.

The content of the Jimdo site pages is contained in blocks or widgets. To change, delete or move a block, hover the mouse over it and perform the desired action. For example, replace the site logo. Move the pointer over the corresponding widget and click the download button.

To add a new widget to the page, move the cursor to the page area above or below the existing block and click the "Add a new module" button. Select the appropriate item, add the necessary information and save the changes.

2. How to create pages and connect blog

To create a new page, hover the mouse over the menu and click on the "Edit Navigation Menu" button. In the menu that appears, click "Add a new page."

Select a page template or create it yourself using widgets.

To connect a blog, select the appropriate section in the admin menu. Activate the blog and follow the link "Write your first article."

Add to the page the necessary widgets, for example, "Image" and "Text". Add content to widgets, save changes and publish the post.

Using the "Add a new module" function, configure the display of the widget with announcements of the latest blog posts on the static pages of the site. To do this, select the item "Show blog".

3. How to change site settings

In the administrative menu, select the "Settings". On the page that opens, you can change the site settings, if necessary. Check out the following features:

  • In the settings block "Web page" add a favicon of the site. Optionally add information about authorship and edit the site name. You can also add arbitrary code to the site header and hide the authorization panel.
  • Если вы используете платный тариф, в блоке "Управление доменами и Email-адресами" можно подключить новый домен и до 20 электронных адресов.
  • Если вы создаете интернет-магазин, укажите информацию об оплате, доставке и условиях обслуживания в соответствующем блоке настроек.
  • Пользователям платных тарифов доступны базовые настройки SEO: автоматическая генерация XML-карты сайта и установки переадресаций.
  • В блоке "Приложения" сайт на Jimdo можно интегрировать с Google Analytics и Twitter.
  • In the Jimdo section, you can remove information about the platform on which the resource is running. For this you need to connect a paid rate.

The settings are intuitive, so special knowledge is not needed to work with them.

In the administrative section of the SEO menu, free rate owners can add title and description meta tags for the home page. If you have a paid account, pay attention to the ability to customize the robots.txt file, edit the URL of the pages, create an XML sitemap. Also use the section "Statistics", with which you can monitor the effectiveness of the site.

Your website will be available at the URL you chose during registration. Through the administrative panel, you can at any time change the settings or publish new information.

Wix - one of the most popular designers in runet

Wix Cloud Website Builder is characterized by wide functionality and flexibility of settings. Users have access to hundreds of design templates, applications and plugins. Owners of paid accounts can connect e-commerce module.

How to create a website on Wix

To make a website on the Wix platform, follow these steps:

  1. Select and customize the theme.
  2. Connect a blog.
  3. Add static pages.
  4. Configure the mobile version of the resource.
  5. Pay attention to the general settings.

1. How to select and configure a theme

On the Wix site, select the appropriate resource type. In the template directory, select a topic. Please note that a suitable template can be quickly found thanks to sorting by categories.

After selecting a template, go to the editor. To customize the template, use the vertical menu on the left side of the screen. You can change the background, add widgets to pages, install applications from the App Market, upload custom photos, videos, documents and fonts, as well as connect a blog.

2. How to connect a blog

In the template settings menu, click on the icon with the letter B and connect the log. After that you will be taken to the blog editing section. Go to the page settings menu. Select the publishing page settings section.

In the settings window, select the SEO tab. Specify the title, description and custom URL. If necessary, change the general settings, select the appropriate layout and set up access to publications. In the same way, customize the post pages.

To publish a post, select the menu "Blog Editor - Add a new post." Add content and post a note.

3. How to create static pages

In the page menu, select the "Add page" option. You can also modify existing template sections.

In the settings menu, specify the page settings. To make a partition a child, position it in the menu below the parent page and move it with the mouse cursor to the right.

Go to the created page and use the template customization menu to add widgets to it, for example, title, text, image, social network buttons. Using widgets publish content on the page.

4. How to set up a mobile version of the site on Wix

In the vertical menu, select the option "Site - Mobile Version". To edit or delete an item, hover the cursor on it and click the left mouse button. Select the gear settings icon.

If you hide one or another element in the mobile version of the site, it will be displayed on the pages for the desktop. That is, with the help of the Wix designer, you get not a website with a responsive design, but two resources for large and small screens.

5. How to set up a website on Wix

In the vertical menu, select the section "Site - Site Management." In the "Overview" section there are general resource settings. Select the parameters you want to change.

Check out the following features:

  • In the "Domain" section, you can add your own domain or edit the subdomain name on Owners of paid accounts can install favicon.
  • In the SEO section, make sure the site is open for indexing. By default, this option is enabled. If necessary, configure permanent redirects. Also in this section, you can add confirmation codes for webmasters to the header.
  • In the "Social Networks" section you can upload a photo that will be displayed when publishing links to a resource on Facebook.
  • In the "Web Analytics" section, premium account owners can connect the site to the Google Analytics service.
  • In the "Collaborators" section you can add users who will receive the right to edit the site.

After setting up the site and adding content, publish the resource. Now users can view it.

Shopify - designer online stores

Shopify is a cloud service for creating online stores. The use of the platform is paid, but a test period of 14 days is available to all users. You can choose a tariff and connect the trial period after registration. To do this, use Select a plan in the Home section of the administrative panel. You will have to enter your bank card details.

How to work with Shopify

After selecting the tariff set up the store:

  1. Select and customize the theme.
  2. Create pages and blog posts.
  3. Add products.
  4. Specify general settings, including billing information and shipping information.

1. How to customize the look of a shop on Shopify

In the Home section of the administrative panel, click the Select a theme button. You will be taken to the topic selection and editing section. Go to the store by the link Visit Theme Store.

To search for a suitable topic in the store, use filters for price and popularity. You can also view only paid or only free themes. Install and activate the selected design template. In the administrative panel, click the Customize Theme button.

Available settings depend on the selected theme. Pay attention to the ability to customize the elements of the site pages: add a banner or slider to the main page, select product categories that are displayed by default.

Download the logo and favicon of the site, set up the display of the navigation menu, add links to the store profiles in social networks, if necessary, change the fonts, background color and links.

The menu of available theme settings is on the left side of the screen.

After setting the appearance, return to the administrative panel. In the drop-down menu, select the Edit Language option. Manually Russify the established theme.

2. How to create static pages and blog posts

Select Blog Posts - Create Blog Post. Use the visual editor to add content. Select an existing or add a new category. Specify the title, description and custom URL. Click the Save button to post a blog post.

To add a page, select the Pages menu and click the Add Pages button. Add content and publish page. Navigate to the Navigation menu to add links to the blog and static pages to the navigation menu.

To change existing menus, use the Edit Menu buttons. Add the desired pages to the navigation and save the changes.

3. How to add products

In the administrative panel, select the Products section. Follow the Import Products link to import products from a csv file, as well as from Ebay and Magento platforms. Click the Add product button to add a product manually.

On the product page editing page add the name, description, images. Specify the price, weight, quantity of goods in stock and other product characteristics. Edit the title and description, change the URL if necessary. Indicate product category, manufacturer and label. Click the Save Product button to publish the card.

In the Products section, use the Transfers, Inventory, Collections, and Gift Cards subsections. With their help, you can record receipts to the warehouse, evaluate stocks, organize products in the collection, and offer customers gift cards, respectively.

4. What are the basic settings Shopify require attention

In the Online Store, select the Preferences subsection. Here you can specify the title and description for the main page, add the Google Analytics code and the Facebook retargeting pixel. In the Settings section, enter billing information, shipping information, and other relevant information. Please note that in the Payments subsection you can connect the receipt of payments using a credit card, as well as payment in cash upon receipt of the goods.


Through the Apps section of the administrative panel, go to the app store. Here you can buy or install free useful add-ins that extend the functionality of the site on the Shopify platform. Check out the following applications:

  • SEO Image Optimizer automatically fills the Alt attribute. This increases the visibility of images in the search.
  • Quick View. This module adds a quick browse feature to the site.
  • Social Login. Paid application, thanks to which users will be able to log in to the site through profiles in social networks.
  • SEO Manager. Integrated SEO plugin. A paid solution with which you can increase the visibility of a resource in a search.
  • Free online chat to communicate with customers.

In the administrative panel, you can take into account buyers, track the effectiveness of the store and organize sales. This functionality is available in the Customers, Reports and Discounts sections, respectively.

After selecting the settings and publishing the products, check how the site works.

Practical advantages and disadvantages of designers compared to CMS

Cloud platforms have advantages and disadvantages compared to traditional engines. The main advantages of designers are presented below.

1. Cloud platforms are easier to use.

This is an obvious advantage of the designer in front of the engine. If you choose a cloud platform, then you get an almost finished website immediately after registration. You can publish content in five minutes.

CMS will have to mess around longer, even if the hoster has installed it on the server. Before publishing the content, you will spend a lot of time on solving technical problems: setting up a site map and robots.txt file, ensuring SEO-friendliness, creating backup copies of the database, protecting against hacking, and many others. When using the constructor, the service provider assumes most of the technical tasks.

2. Designer sites are protected from your creative impulses.

When working with the designer, you have almost no chance to put the site in the next attempt to improve something. Platforms provide limited access to the back-end, so you are unlikely to break something.

You are jealous of the owners of the site on ordinary engines. They often have to write to the support service of the hoster with a request to roll back the resource to a stable version.

3. Designers have broad basic functionality.

To connect this or that function, you just need to activate it in the administrative panel or drag the widget to the page. In the popular open source CMS, for example, WordPress or Joomla!, To extend the functionality you will have to independently find or install a plugin.

4. In popular constructors, you can arbitrarily edit page layouts.

In fact, you can create a page yourself using the available widgets. And in the design templates of popular engines you are limited to the choice of ready-made page layouts. You can also add widgets, but this feature is limited by the structure of the template.

For example, the Weebly constructor allows you to add any widget to any part of the page. And in WordPress, you can add an element only to the widget zones in the theme.

5. Savings

Even if you use a paid rate, the site will cost you less compared to paid engines with a studio design. But when using the popular open source CMS, you can also not pay a penny for the site.

Do designers have flaws? Of course, here are the main ones:

1. You do not fully control the site

What is this about? Pay attention to the illustration with the results of checking the speed of loading the site on Weebly.

If the site worked on WordPress or another CMS, you would quickly set up caching, install a plugin to optimize photos on the fly when loading, remove CSS and JavaScript. With most designers, you can only optimize a photo before downloading with the help of third-party services. You do not have access under the hood, therefore, to improve the technical parameters of the site is unlikely to succeed.

2. For a full search engine optimization will have to use a paid rate.

In the free plans you do not have access to the settings of the site map and the robots.txt file. In some constructors, the free tariff does not even allow specifying arbitrary titles and descriptions for internal pages. How to deal with the prohibition of indexing category pages? How to make non-canonical pagination pages?

If the service provider did not answer these and similar questions during the development of the designer, you also will not have such an opportunity. Unlike constructors, you can easily adapt websites on a CMS to the requirements of search engines using built-in functions and additional modules.

3. To access the full functionality of the designer will have to choose a paid rate.

Most SaaS platforms work on the freemium model. You can use the basic functions for free. Want to access all the functionality? At least remove the link "The site is made on such a platform"? Enter payment card details.

Popular open source engines are completely free. Of course, you can spend money on a paid plugin or theme. But most problems can be solved with the help of free tools.

4. The site may look pathetic

This happens when an inexperienced user adds widgets to a blank page. Due to the lack of a rigid template, a novice can publish a slider, a subscription form and useful links in the center of the page, and stuff the main content into the sidebar.

Sites on a CMS may look patterned, concise, even gray. But they are almost never ridiculous. The user will have to try very hard to disrupt the structure of the page to such an extent as to impair the functionality of the site.

5. You are attached to a service provider.

You can transfer the site to Drupal to another hosting. If necessary, you can even change the CMS. If you use Wix or another constructor, you do not have such a possibility.

Instead of output, or What is better: CMS or site designer

The interest of search engine users to site designers is growing, and to some CMS is falling. Is it worth it on this basis to conclude that traditional engines will give way to cloud platforms?

I do not have an unequivocal answer to this question. After getting acquainted with the popular SaaS-designers, theses appeared. This is not a forecast for the development of the web-building industry, but the fixation of its current state from the user's point of view.

Thesis number 1: SaaS-designers - is a different experience and approach

Here you can use the analogy with the construction. When you use CMS, construction starts from scratch. You yourself build the foundation, choose materials, build walls and a roof. Then you are engaged in decoration and equipment.

When you choose a designer, service providers do some of the work for you. They build a foundation, build bearing walls and a roof. You get a set of materials for finishing and building equipment. Theoretically, you can move walls and change their shape, but this has no practical meaning.

When using the designer, you can immediately focus on the appearance and content of the site.

Thesis number 2: the site can make a student

With a WordPress well-trained, prudent and attentive to the little things a high school student. Primary school students can work with site designers. Are you still spending money on self-made studio engines that only developers can work with? Better support some charitable foundation.

Thesis number 3: website creation is not about the engine or designer

Rice can be eaten with a spoon, fork or chopsticks. If you are very hungry, you can eat with your hands. And your dog can handle a bowl of rice, even without hands. So with the sites: the goal can be achieved using different tools.

Yes, this is an exaggerated example. Yes, even universal CMS and designers have specifics and features of use. But these are details.

Do not lose the forest for the trees. Website creation is about user value, relevance, functionality, content. By and large, the platform does not matter if it provides the ability to publish information, and your users can comfortably consume this information.

In other words, you can make a popular and popular Joomla site! or wix. A resource on a paid engine with an exclusive design from an expensive studio can be covered with virtual dust due to the lack of traffic.

Thesis number 4: the designers will not replace the CMS, the engines will not eliminate cloud platforms

There will always be demand for both designers and traditional engines. Moreover, the so-called CMF (Content Management Framework) has long existed. They combine the properties of engines and cloud platforms. A simple example is Drupal.

Therefore, do not abandon Joomla! or choose Weebly just because of some graphs in Google Trends. In the future, those systems will be relevant, with the help of which you will be able to meet the needs of the audience.

Thesis number 5: you need to choose the engine or designer, taking into account personal preferences and experience

Almost all popular CMS and SaaS platforms follow the path of universalization. Remember how WordPress started? It was a classic blogging engine. Today on this CMS you can implement almost any project.

Кто-то говорит, что для корпоративного сайта лучше подходит "Битрикс" или "самопис"? Do not believe. Кому-то не хватает функциональности, чтобы развивать сайт СМИ или другой контент-проект? Плохому танцору вечно что-то мешает. Где-то слышали, что WordPress не очень подходит для интернет-магазинов? На этом движке успешно работают тысячи ecommerce-сайтов.

Не стоит оценивать CMS и конструкторы по шкале "хороший - плохой". Движок или облачная платформа - это инструмент. Оценивать его лучше с помощью таких вопросов:

  • Могу ли я решить стоящие задачи с помощью данной CMS или SaaS-платформы? В этот вопрос входит оценка технических характеристик.
  • Нравится ли мне этот движок?
  • Can I use this tool? Can I and want to deal with him?

If you positively answer all questions when evaluating the engine or constructor, feel free to use it. Remember, you choose not a goal, but a means to achieve it. And as a bonus, here is a detailed review of popular designers with a comparative table.

Watch the video: 5 open-source CMS alternatives to WordPress (April 2020).


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