Are Custom Coded Websites Better than WordPress?

October 8, 2022

Key points

  • Hand coded websites built from scratch load 11 times faster than websites that were made using a page builder.  If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, a large percentage of your visitors will abandon the site.

  • Google grades your website based on how your mobile site performs.  WordPress and other page builders are not optimized, not fast, not built well, and sometime not even responsive which cripples your search rankings

  • Our websites are coded mobile first. What that means is that we write the code starting with a viewport of a mobile device then add code to fit it into tablet and desktop screen sizes.  This makes your site more responsive, optimized, and undeniably faster to load.  This improves your website’s performance on Google and makes sure that your visitors don’t abandon your site.

  • WordPress is notorious for its security flaws and needs to be updated regularly to patch loopholes that hackers use to compromise your website.  Custom coded websites are much more difficult to break into due to their unique nature and are nearly impenetrable due to the lack of entry points.

There are many different types of websites out there.  At its core, websites are simply bundles of code that a server shoots to visitors through a browser.  The most popular type of site is one built with no code using a page builder.  WordPress and other page builders like GoDaddy, Wix, and Squarespace generate website code for you by using their software.  The other type of website is programmed from scratch.  Custom coded websites do not rely on third party software to generate code.  All of the code is engineered from scratch.  Because each line of code is tailored to render the intended features and content of the site and nothing else, there is no extraneous code and bloatware.  When you load a custom coded website, the browser reads the code for your website and loads it INSTANTLY.  One of the best ways to create a website is to code it from scratch which is what we do best!  We’ll dive more onto how we do this further down the page. 

WordPress and other page builders generate the HTML code to create your site every single time a visitor goes to your domain.  It stores software on a server which has to communicate to a database, run the software on the server, glue all the pieces together, and then finally sends code to the browser to get rendered.  This takes TIME!  Pages are loaded slowly and your website becomes vulnerable to attacks from malware and hackers.  Hackers disrupt the process of the server communicating with the databases and inject their own code into the site.  While these page builders make it easy to create your own website and for cheap, there are HUGE drawbacks when compared to the custom coded websites that we build.

Why are custom coded websites faster than no code options?

How fast your page loads has a direct influence on how your page ranks on Google.  Especially how fast your page can load on mobile devices.  The problem with no code websites (WordPress, Wix, etc.) is that these third party softwares are packed with extra features that your site does not need.  Since each aspect of the website uses your input to determine the correct spacing, the text, the font, and the layout; the software has to use this input and generate HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code to get your site up and running.  Creating a sweet looking website using these tools requires the use of plug-ins, themes, and packages which in the long run slows down your website.  This is critical because research has shown that the majority of users will abandon the website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.  So if your website takes a long time to load, what is even the point of having one if a majority of your potential customers won’t even view it.  That is one of the BIGGEST drawbacks with no code page builders.  They take up your time, your customers' time, and cost you money.

Custom handcrafted websites load up to 12 times faster than a page builder website.  This is because custom coded websites already have the design hard coded into the website so no software is needed to piece together a layout.  There is no need for the server to render new code at each page load because it is already there.  Everything is prebuilt.  There are no plugins, no wasted space, and no bloatware.  Every line of code written on our sites has a purpose and intention.  This makes it easier for Google to read and process.  Page builder sites like WordPress have a ton of bloated and messy code that only slows down load times.

Take for instance you had a box from IKEA that came with a set of instructions along with pieces of wood, metal, and plastic all in a pile and disassembled.  Just looking at this would take time to process and see how the end result will actually look.  It could be a chair, a desk, or a shoe rack.  You wouldn’t know!  It wouldn’t be until you opened up the instructions, read through it, and started to piece together how each component interacts with one another that you would understand how the final result would be.  Then on the other hand, let’s say you had a desk that was already assembled.  It’s a lot easier to appreciate the beauty of the assembled desk than looking at a pile of materials.  This is exactly how websites made with a page builder compare with custom coded websites.  Custom coded websites are prebuilt and ready to go.  

When you only have a pile of materials instead of a finished product, it takes more time for the browser to analyze and load.  Not only do your customers’ browsers have to go through time consuming effort, but when Google’s web crawler robots encounter your website they will also have a difficult time piecing together what your website is about.

The benchmark for loading a website is 2 seconds.  Our custom coded websites can often load in under 0.5 seconds which is considerably faster than most websites out there.  Our code is grouped together and organized so reading it and understanding it is easier for your browser and for Google, which improves load times and in turn keeps customers from leaving your site and improves your websites ranking on Google.  If your website isn’t bringing in a lot of business, check how long it takes to load using this tool from Google.

If it takes longer than 3 seconds, then chances are people are leaving before they even see your website.  Recently Google made an update to their search algorithm where they rank a website.  It’s called Mobile First Indexing.  What this means is that the faster your website loads on mobile devices, the better you score.  That is why our custom coded websites win every single time.

How do you create a mobile first programmed website?

Mobile first websites are not something that can be achieved through page builders and WordPress.  Mobile first is a design pattern that web developers use when they write code.  Web developers first design and program the site to fit in Android and iPhone screens and then add additional code for tablet and desktop screens.  When the browser reads the CSS code, it reads it from top to bottom.  So if we start with code meant for desktop screens, the browser will first load the site programmed to fit a desktop screen then it will keep parsing through the code until it reaches additional rules for different screens.  It will then take those rules and change the site and edit the content to fit into mobile screens.  It has to load a page for a larger screen and then squish it down to fit in a mobile screen.  It’s a waste of time and resources.

With a mobile first approach, pages are simpler and load quicker.  Code engineered for mobile is at the top of the page and is processed first.  I’ve tried coding desktop sites first and it is much easier to make content grow into a larger space than it is to stuff it down in a smaller space.  Mobile first programming and custom coded websites makes your website super fast.  It might even astonish some people.

Why are WordPress sites a target for hackers?

WordPress is a cheap and quick way to build a website, but it comes with a cost.  WordPress powers over 455 million websites worldwide and accounts for over 43.2 % of the total market share of websites.  This makes it a premier target for hackers due to the sheer volume of sites available to be hacked.  In addition, WordPress is open source meaning that the code is available for hackers to read and evolve their hacking methods.  It’s an easy target.

One of the main problems with a WordPress website is the number of plugins which contain proprietary software that can have vulnerabilities.  If you want to make your website look great and have the features, you’re going to need to install plugins to make it work.  If you put up a site and leave it alone for a while, many of those plugins are going to need to be updated to patch new uncovered vulnerabilities and if you don’t update them, your site will not be safe from attackers.  And the more plugins you install, the slower your site becomes.  Who has the time to keep all of these plugins updated and correctly configured?  

I have built many websites using WordPress in the past and all of them had evidence that a hacker tried to attack the site.  I was able to cleanse the sites from malicious code, but doing so involved going through each PHP file and folder and installing even more plugins for increased security.  While it did keep my sites clean, this took enormous amounts of time and effort and the additional plugins slowed my sites down.  This is where using a custom coded website shines and outperforms the competition.  There are no plugins to update.  There is no proprietary software that could be compromised.  By going with custom coded websites, you are no longer an easy target.

What about Wix and other page builders?

Overall, a custom coded hand crafted website will almost ALWAYS beat a page builder.  Hands down.  Coded websites load in milliseconds and the fact that they are virtually impenetrable from being hacked due to their unique and simple nature makes them the clear winner for your business.  

Using other platforms like Wix, Go Daddy, or Squarespace currently do not offer a way to design your site mobile first.  See for yourself and try resizing the browser window on a no code website.  Sometimes, the content won’t fit on tablets.  Or, the website is not as responsive as it needs to be.  This means that content doesn’t change or move as the screen gets bigger or smaller.  On certain screens, text can overflow and get cut off since all of the content is getting squeezed into a container it can’t fit in.  Or text can wrap around pictures in interesting unexpected ways which will distort the layout and theme of the site making it look broken.  Not using code in itself is limiting because you don’t get the full control of web design.  You are constrained to the limits of the software you use.  If you don’t know how to code, can’t interface with the page builder API, and can’t change the source code; then you are limited to what the software can do.  Choosing a custom coded website opens the doors to creativity and design.

Why should I hire someone to make a website when I can do it myself?

Wix and WordPress claim that anyone can make a website for free which is very appealing to small businesses that don’t have the funding to hire a developer like us to make them one.  But, if page speed, load times, security, converting customers, and Google rankings matter to you when building a website then we suggest that you find someone to make a custom coded website for you.  

Think about it like fixing a car.  Anyone could go to AutoZone, buy some parts, and start wrenching on their vehicle.  But not everyone is going to do the job with the proficiency, experience, correct tools, and quality as a professional.  In fact, doing so in the long run can damage their vehicle if you are not competent enough to do the job.  Much like fixing a car, web development is a trade and can get expensive quick.  Having a site built by a developer can range from $2,500 to $10,000+ depending on complexity.  So it is financially sensible to be attracted to page builders and save money by doing it yourself.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  But if you want to elevate your business to the next level, don’t leave money on the table and consider getting a custom coded website built for your business.  Create something that will perform well and beat the competition.

There are many digital marketing agencies that specialize in WordPress sites and do a great job.  We are not saying that WordPress is a horrible product and other developers are swindlers.  WordPress is a great tool with many features but it is like using an excavator to plant magnolias in your garden.  

Chances are that your competition will have a WordPress site too.  Some agencies charge thousands of dollars to make these simple WordPress sites which could have been easily custom coded.  Many of the sites are based on templates and themes which they hand off to you with no support.  So finding an experienced and skilled developer is difficult, but it is worth the effort. 

Invest in your website

There are two types of people who run businesses: owners and leaders.  The mistake that an owner makes is that they see a website as an expense instead of an investment.  Leaders understand that when you spend money on the business it’s an investment INTO the business.  Leaders can justify the value of a well crafted website by seeing the return on investment that a website brings.  Let’s say you buy a website from a digital marketing agency for $3,500.  This seems like a lot of money, but with a well designed and well performing site you might be able to convert those future customers into paying customers.  These are paying customers who would have left the site because it took too long to load or looked like it was made in the 1990’s. $3,500 is now bringing in an extra $15,000 a year after some time.  If you could make more than $10,000 by only spending $3,500 would you do it?  

We do things differently.  We sell websites for $0 down and charge a monthly retainer.  Some of you might be thinking, “why should I pay every month for years to come?”  But think about it this way.  With all of the benefits that our custom coded hand crafted websites have, did it bring in more value this month?  The answer is almost always going to be yes. It’s a snowball effect.  Every new customer you get each month only adds to the value you receive from one of our websites.

When you invest with us, you have someone on call and on staff for you 24/7 to handle your website for you. You have a developer on retainer to make changes to your site and answer any questions you might have.  You are getting more than a website.  You are getting a partner who is also invested in the success of your business.

You get what you pay for with a website.  If you want something that looks slapped together that looks like a free template or something that is outdated; you can easily get that by going on Craigslist or Fiverr.  You need to do some research and find reputable developers who can treat you and your business with priority and make a high quality beautiful product.

With all these cheap and quick options available to build a website, it’s important to know that an awesome website will never come at that price point.  If you want a cheap website, expect cheap results.  If you want it done correctly, that’s where a professional developer comes in.

What are you going to do?

In the end, it comes down to your needs and priorities.  If you don’t have a budget for a website and just need something out there, then it’s okay to use WordPress other page builders.  But if you want something that’s different and sets you apart from the competition, then creating a professional custom coded website is your best return on investment.  

With our business model, you don’t have to make a choice between doing it yourself or shelling out thousands of dollars up front.  We offer it for $0 down so our work is accessible to small businesses who need it the most.  We offer it to those who need a partner they can rely on to handle the internet side of their business while they handle the day to day.  My goal is to build you a website that lasts years and helps you grow your business.  I’ll be a part of it with you every step of the journey.