So you’ve made the decision, you need a new website. Awesome!
Now you just need to figure out the best way to launch it. You know you want the site to have a content management system (CMS) so that you have greater control over your content, but you don’t have, a) the time to learn how to code, or b) the budget to hire a professional web agency. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of CMS options with website builders, such as Wix, Squarespace or Weebly or perhaps a more advanced CMS like Umbraco.
So, with all that choice comes a little confusion. Which platform will work best for your website? We’ve had a look at all of the above options and broken down the key factors you should be aware of in order to make an informed decision.
First, let’s introduce each option…
What is a website builder, such as Wix, Squarespace or Weebly?
Website builders have hosted solutions that allow users to create websites without manual code editing. They do this by offering a combination of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) text editors and drag-and-drop interfaces. Being a hosted solution means they come with an ongoing monthly fee which varies from service to service and is typically dependent on what functionality the website owner requires.
What is Umbraco?
Umbraco is an open source - free to use - content management system built on the Microsoft .NET framework and is widely supported by a community of developers across the world. Unlike any of the website builders, there is no website template ready to go following Umbraco installation, it is essentially a blank canvas that affords users complete control in order to shape their website in any way they wish. What Umbraco does provide is a full framework of tools designed to assist you in fleshing out the content editor experience and ultimately your website. Additionally, with Umbraco being built on Microsoft’s .NET you can rest assured that the platform is extremely secure.
Umbraco: The Friendly CMS from Umbraco.
What are uSkinned themes for Umbraco?
uSkinned themes coupled with Umbraco CMS come packed with all the features expected in any modern website under one code base and better yet, it’s fully maintained, continually improved (thanks to user feedback) and will always work on the latest version of Umbraco. Additionally, once Umbraco is installed you can simply drag your uSkinned theme package into the package installer and you’ll have a full demo site up and running in minutes.
One of the most important things to remember is that uSkinned themes don’t just provide the front end theme of a website, they provide everything needed to manage the full website in the content management system. This ranges from simple user interfaces that manage complex designs on the front end to a fully functioning blogging platform built-in as standard. Not only that but the code base is extendable, so if your website or business needs to grow the tools are provided for you to add any functionality you can imagine.
Building an effective homepage with Handyman theme for Umbraco CMS.
Factors to consider before you choose
There are three key factors we believe you should consider before making your decision.
Factor 1: The type of website you’re planning to build
The first factor you need to define is the purpose of your website. Not only will this set the design, content and initial functionality required, but it will assist in whether a website builder will suffice or if you require the full power of uSkinned themes coupled with Umbraco CMS.
Brochure or one-page websites tend to be ideal for Website Builders as they are quick and easy for marketing teams or non-technical individuals to promote a business or service and provide contact details. The key focus for these types of websites is simplicity and ease of use that will help get your message across to site visitors. These websites tend to be:
- Simple portfolios
- Community or local businesses
That being said, the websites offered by Website Builders are not designed for growth. What happens if your business or services grow and you need to expand the content and engagement on your website? Website Builders are closed source solutions, therefore, you would at this point need to start looking at a new solution.
Traditionally when a website is required to have advanced features beyond what a brochure site can offer, including extendability and flexibility then a CMS such as Umbraco would be more suitable. These websites include:
- A website that requires a membership or login area
- A website that includes a database
- eCommerce websites
- Corporate websites
- Web Agency websites
- Software as a service websites
- News or magazine websites
- Any website you can think of really :-)
Although, Website Builders are great for the smaller scale websites listed they may well be an unnecessary expense and effort. Simply because uSkinned themes for Umbraco CMS have been created specifically to bridge the gap between all scenarios listed, allowing users to get the site up and running with no coding experience and at a very low cost. In addition, uSkinned offers all source code for their themes so you can even extend and adapt the website for any purpose in the future or prior to launch. This is a major revelation as it allows individuals, business or organisations to keep their website in the one place without needing to move just because their offering has changed.
Factor 2: Coding Knowledge
It goes without saying that the very reason for the existence of Website Builders is to offer a completely code-free experience for anyone looking to launch a website. And, Website Builders do a great job at achieving this for many individuals. Users are presented with a combination of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) text editors and a drag-and-drop interface. Those types of interfaces can work really well for users with an eye for design, however, they can prove to be difficult and clunky for non-design savvy users.
Whereas Umbraco doesn’t offer an out of the box, code-free experience that would enable someone to launch a website in minutes. However, this is where a service like uSkinned themes come in, you can take advantage of the advanced capabilities found in the CMS to improve SEO, input complex UI components using simple interfaces all without any knowledge of the code that powers your website. Furthermore, as mentioned previously, if you get to the stage where your website needs to evolve then you will have that code available and your website will be able to adapt to your needs.
Factor 3: Budget
Like most decisions, particularly for small businesses, non-profits and individuals, the budget will play a key role in what website solution is chosen. However, the budget should not be the main factor. Umbraco is free to use and a uSkinned theme is a one-off cost of £129*, with hosting starting from around $5-10 a month. Whereas business accounts for website builders (including hosting) generally start at $12** a month. Considering just these costs you can see the difference between Website Builders and uSkinned themes is minimal.
uSkinned themes beat Website Builders in all of the key areas of concern for any business, organisation or individual.
uSkinned allows users to enjoy the best of all worlds, from the ease of use and set up to extendability and future-proofing. There’s a wide range of functionality and benefits from using uSkinned themes, including; SEO, Social Sharing, XML Sitemap, Multi-language support plus loads more. In addition, we believe the following three factors are key to what separate uSkinned from all of the Website Builders available today:
Freedom and Ownership
Once you purchase a uSkinned theme you gain full access to the source code that powers your website. This will be very important for any ambitious website owner, they’ll have a piece of mind that they’re website is in their hands. From choosing a hosting environment to generating leads, each element will give greater peace of mind.
uSkinned themes are built specifically for Umbraco CMS. And, as we’ve stated previously, Umbraco is built on the Microsoft .NET framework which is renowned for its security.
Extendability and Customisation
This factor is a no brainer. The business case of launching any website should always have an eye on the future. If you have ambition for your website, plan to grow your business online and have the ability to extend and adapt to whichever needs you may require then uSkinned themes for Umbraco may well be the perfect fit for you.
* Prices displayed are excluding VAT. VAT means 'value-added tax' and is a tax that is added to goods and services, at a percentage of the purchase price (currently 20% here in the UK.) If you live outside of the EU, you won't have to pay VAT on top of these uSkinned prices. If you do live inside the EU, you may have to. Based on the information you give us, we'll automatically work out if you need to pay VAT and add it to your bill if necessary.
** There may be VAT or other taxes added to the price depending on what Website Builder platform you choose and which country you make the purchase from.