Website builder vs web hosting: What's the difference?

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Are you thinking about creating your first website, but aren’t sure where to start due to information overload? If yes, you’re not alone. While in theory, everyone can create a fully-functional yet fancy-looking site today, it’s a bit trickier once you try to put it into practice. 

For starters, you’ll have to buy a domain name. Then you’ll have to think about choosing the right web hosting service - rich in features but not something only the rich can afford. After this, you’ll want to tackle the issue of site-building tools - that is, how you intend to create your site. And all the while you’ll be coming up with content for your soon-to-be-successful site.

If you’re new to site-building, you’ll probably be using both a website builder and a web hosting service - however, you can go without one of these two. Also, you might be wondering what site builders and web hosts are and what role they will play in your online project.

If all the above is true, keep reading this comparative guide. We’ll clear up what these two products/services are, what makes them similar and different, why you need either of them, and which might be a better choice for you.

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What is a website builder? 

In the old days building a site meant getting to know the lines of code, having web designer skills, and pouring plenty of time and energy into your online project. Now, it’s a totally different story, and fortunately so. 

The number one tool that makes building beautiful sites within everyone’s reach is a site builder. It’s a software solution created for creating all sorts of sites (to put it simply) and it requires no technical know-how. On the contrary, you can have a fully-functional site up and running within hours. 

A website builder is an online platform that allows you to create a website without needing to write any code. Website builders typically use a drag-and-drop interface, which makes it easy for you to add and edit content, images, and other elements on your website. Website builders also provide you with a range of templates and themes, which can be customized to suit your brand or business. 

Some website builders offer additional features such as ecommerce capabilities, blog creation, and social media integration. With a website builder, you can create a professional-looking website quickly and easily, without requiring any technical expertise.

The main advantage of using a site builder is the built-in simplicity and swiftness of creating a site with it. Also, most site builds are budget-friendly, so there’s no need to worry about blowing your budget anytime soon. 

However, this lack of complexity can be suffocating for a sophisticated ever-changing business site. Also, the cookie-cutter principle behind building these sites doesn’t leave much space for advanced customization - which means your site might end up looking like every other site in cyberspace. 

For instance, with site builders, you won’t get to use plug-ins like with some open-source site-building solutions (such as WordPress), and there are some powerful plug-ins for pretty much everything. You name it, there is a plug-in for it out there. 

Unfortunately, with a site builder, you’ll always be a bit short on choices. 

Internet, business, Technology and network concept. Web Hosting

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What is web hosting? 

In a nutshell, web hosting is an online service that makes your site and its content available on the internet - it’s a server where your site “lives”. The service provider that makes this possible is called a web hosting provider, or web host for short. There are several types of web hosting and which one you’ll want to use depends on your personal and professional needs. 

If you wish to start a personal blog or a simple site, a pocket-friendly shared hosting plan should suffice. It allows multiple sites to use a single “shared” server, which makes this option cheap but tight on server resources (CPU, storage space, bandwidth, and RAM). 

However, if you need a web host for a professional, mission-critical site, you’ll want something more powerful than shared hosting. Virtual private hosting (VPS) is probably the first upgrade you’ll want to make and it implies you’ll get private hosting resources hosted on a virtual server. So, while you’ll be using the same server with other users, your virtual space on it and all your resources are yours alone. 

For those who want more, there is dedicated server hosting. As suggested, the whole server will be dedicated to you. Not surprisingly, it’s the costliest type of hosting today.

There is also cloud hosting, which is similar to VPS but hosted by the cloud services provider - which means your site will be hosted on the cloud and using cloud resources. 

Managed hosting is a subtype of several hosting types and it implies that the web host will take care of the setup, configuration, management, upkeep, and support of your server. The most common managed hosting subtypes include managed VPS, managed cloud, and managed dedicated server hosting. 

Last but not least is colocation hosting and it’s a superb alternative to hosting an in-house data center or using a dedicated server hosting service. For this, you’ll be using your own servers, storage, and other IT equipment and putting it into a colocation data center that is optimized for such equipment. This is a solid, cost-saving strategy for large, mission-critical businesses. 

The main advantages of using web hosting include affordable pricing, powerful site performance, solid security, tons of free perks, customer support to rely on, and the sheer simplicity of the service.  

On the downside, web hosting can get from pocket-friendly to costing a pretty penny as your site grows. Also, if you're using a shared hosting plan your site might run out of space for growth and suffer from poor performance. Plus, since no company is truly immune to data breaches, you’ll be putting your trust (and sensitive data) in the provider's hands.  

Similarities and differences 


Both are essential for creating a website: Website builders are used to create the design and layout of a website, while web hosting provides the server space to store and serve the website content.

Both are available as online services: Website builders and web hosting services are both available online, and you can access them from anywhere in the world.

Both offer different pricing plans: Both website builders and web hosting services offer different pricing plans to suit the needs of different websites.


Purpose: Website builders are used to create the website's design and layout, while web hosting is used to store and serve website content.

Functionality: Website builders allow you to create a website without any coding knowledge, while web hosting services offer server space and other resources to store and serve website content.

Control: With a website builder, you have more control over the design and layout of your website, while web hosting providers have more control over the server and technical aspects of the website.

Flexibility: Website builders offer a range of templates and themes that can be customized to create a unique website design, while web hosting services offer flexibility in terms of storage space and resources to suit the needs of the website.

Do I need web hosting and a website builder?

Yes, in most cases, you will need web hosting and a website builder to create and launch a website. Web hosting is required to store the website content and make it accessible to visitors on the internet, while a website builder is used to create the design and layout of the website.

However, some website builders come with web hosting built-in as part of their service, so you may not need to purchase web hosting separately. In this case, the website builder will provide the server space and resources required to store and serve your website content.

On the other hand, if you already have a website design or have created a website using a web development platform like WordPress, you may only need to purchase web hosting to make your website accessible on the internet.

However, the decision to use a website builder and web hosting depends on your website's specific needs and your technical abilities. If you have no experience with website development, a website builder may be the best option, while if you have more technical expertise, using a web development platform with web hosting may be more appropriate.

Web hosting vs website builder: Which one is better? 

If you’re new to all this and want a simple solution for building a stunning site, a site builder is probably the best choice for you. Some of the most popular site builders (such as Weebly, Squarespace, and Wix) also include free web hosting services, so you won’t have to worry about that. 

Meanwhile, everyone else would benefit from an easy-to-use, cost-efficient, and extendable CMS as it is a more customizable and less suffocating solution for complex sites. And if you’re familiar with the lines of code you can go a step further and build your site from the ground up. Simply register your domain name, pick out a reliable web hosting package, and start building your site right now. 

Final thought

Whether you choose a website builder or web hosting will depend on your needs and technical skills. If you are looking for an easy-to-use solution to create a website quickly, a website builder may be the best option for you. 

However, if you want more control over your website and have technical expertise, web hosting may be the better choice. Understanding the differences between these two essential components will help you make better decisions and build a successful website.

Mirza Bahic is a freelance tech journalist and blogger from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. For the past four years, Mirza has been ghostwriting for a number of tech start-ups from various industries, including cloud, retail and B2B technology.

With contributions from