The WebsiteBasics logos consisting of a black on white computer icon with a green checkmark inside and a green circle around it on a light blue background with the letters Website Basics below it.

Should I Use WordPress to Build My Website? A WordPress Guide

All you need to know about WordPress: tradeoffs, alternatives, hosting options and WP builders.

This post was last updated on November 1, 2023

In this guide

An illustration of a woman standing in front of a big screen with the WordPress logo, blue and green colors on a white background.

What is WordPress?

WordPress (WP) is the leading content management system (CMS) for websites. 42% of the web runs on WordPress source. WordPress functionality can be extended by using plugins, and the layout of a WordPress website is changed using themes.

A screenshot of a website displaying the tabs All, Communnity, and Commercial. The Commercial Tab is selected. Below are 4 cards in two rows displaying the Elementor, Yoast SEO, WooCommerce and Akismet WP plugins
A screenshot of the official WordPress plugins website.
A screenshot of a website displaying the tabs Popular, Latest, Commercial, Community, and Block Themes. The Commercial Tab is selected. Below are six cards in two rows displaying various WP themes
A screenshot of the official WordPress themes website.

There exist free community as well as commercial themes and plugins.

You have to rent web hosting from a hosting company like Dreamhost, Knownhost, or WP Engine to create a WordPress website. WP comes with a web based dashboard to administrate all settings of the website. WordPress builders are plugins that enhance the WP dashboard into a drag and drop website construction kit.

*Siteground's shared web hosting plan includes a WP installer for a very reasonable price and is a great way to start your WordPress website, including email and e-commerce functionality as well as domain registration.

Is WordPress a Good Choice for a Small Business Website?

WordPress is an excellent choice for small business websites, allowing you to utilize a wide range of e-commerce plugins and themes to build flexible websites. The flexibility comes with some complexity though, so I recommend website builders instead of WordPress if you have no experience in building websites and need a website quickly.

WordPress can be a great choice if you are either willing to skill up and put some time into configuring and maintaining your website or have a recurring budget for outsourcing.


WordPress is a content management system that can be extended by themes and plugins. WordPress builders are plugins that extend WordPress into a fully drag and drop interface for building your website.

Wordpress can be self-hosted. In this case you need to install WordPress on the server and do everything, including updates, yourself.

WordPress can be used as a service on a managed WordPress server. In this case the hoster maintains WordPress but does not build and configure a website for you. Not all WordPress builders and other plugins or themes might be available on managed accounts.

WordPress can be used as an online shop with plugins such as WooCommerce.

Website builders like Wix, Square, Squarespace, and Shopify are drag and drop interfaces that come in various degrees of complexity and flexibility. The website and the hosting are one package.

Please read my website builders review for more details.

What are the Pros and Cons of Using WordPress?


  • Flexibility
  • WordPress comes with an excellent plugin ecosystem
  • A wide selection of themes for WordPress


  • Safety is an issue if the WordPress installation is not updated regularly, posing a risk of being hacked
  • Maintenance can be time-consuming
  • More difficult to set up compared to using a website builder
  • The configuration options can be overwhelming for beginners
  • Can be overkill if your website only consists of a couple of landing pages

What Does WordPress Cost?

WordPress is licensed under a free open-source license and can be downloaded, installed and used for commercial purposes without charges. WordPress is not owned by a company. The development and free access of WordPress is controlled by the non-profit WordPress Foundation.

While WordPress itself is free, there is an extensive commercial ecosystem built on top of WordPress. You have many options from running a do-it-yourself WP website with minimal costs in the range of $5 — $15 / month to fully outsourcing the development and maintenance. Please note that more or less the same prices apply in Euro for EU based services.

Here are estimates of the most important costs for running a WordPress website:

Mandatory costs:

  • Domain registration: $3 — $6 / year.
  • SSL certificate for secure https access to your domain: $1 — $4 / year.
  • Web hosting: $3 — $300 / year.
  • Free WordPress themes and plugins: $0.
  • For online shops that ship goods: WooCommerce shipping extensions costs are averaging around $227 / year source.

Costs for optional services:

  • Buying an already taken domain: any one-time acquisition costs are possible.
  • One professional WordPress theme: $0 — $150 one-time.
  • Advanced WordPress plugins: $0 — $1000 / year or one-time costs depending on your website's configuration.
  • Developer costs: $0 — $3000 one-time costs depending on your needs.

What are the Options for Building a WordPress Website?

  • For beginners who need a website up and running quickly without headaches: Avoid WordPress and use a simple website builder, with no maintenance and no expert knowledge required. Square is recommended if you want free and easy, Squarespace is the best choice if you want more options.
  • For beginners willing to invest, who need independence and the best results: Choose managed WordPress hosting from a company like*Flywheel or WP Engine. Hire a WP expert consultant to configure WordPress with an advanced WordPress builder like Oxygen.
  • For advanced and self-confident beginners: Opt for self-hosted or managed WordPress. Set up WP yourself and use an easy WordPress builder like Elementor or Divi.
    *Dreamhost has very affordable self-hosting plans and *Flywheel is a good choice for managed hosting.
  • The most flexible and cheapest option for website pros: Run a self-hosted, self-setup, self-configured, and self-maintained WordPress instance.

Please read on for more details about hosting options:

What is the Difference Between Shared Hosting, Managed WordPress Hosting, and WordPress Builders?

Shared web hosting for WordPress

Shared website hosting involves renting space on a server to install your WordPress instance. The web hoster is only responsible for the server but not for any software like WordPress you run on it. Installing WordPress on shared webspace requires more work and responsibility on your part but also provides more freedom. You can precisely tweak WordPress to your requirements. This way of running a website is recommended for advanced WordPress users as the options of building a website from scratch can be overwhelming. Shared website hosting is the cheapest way to run a website.

Recommended shared web hostering companies are Knownhost, Siteground and Dreamhost.

Knownhost offers an ideal starter package, providing a domain, website hosting with a database, email addresses, SSL certificates, and a user-friendly cPanel administration dashboard. Knownhost has the best community feedback 🤩 source but three year contracts! 😲. Knownhost operates data centers in Atlanta, Seattle, and Amsterdam.

Knownhost's web hosting prices

Siteground offers features comparable to Knownhost and Dreamhost. Siteground maintains multiple data centers in the US, Europe, Singapore, and Sydney. Siteground automatically detects the closest server to the user, reducing website loading times.

Siteground's web hosting prices

*Dreamhost plans start at $2.59 per month, including a pre-installed WordPress site. Please note that email services come at an additional cost, making Dreamhost's basic plan slightly more expensive than *Knownhost or *Siteground. Dreamhost's servers are situated in Virginia, Oregon, and California source.

Dreamhost's web hosting prices

Managed WordPress hosting

Managed WordPress hosting is web hosting customized for WordPress, where most WordPress tasks like installing, upgrading, extending with plugins and themes are either automated or very easy to use.

Support can help you if you have questions or issues with WordPress. It is a premium service that takes care of WordPress for you but does not build the website for you, although design and development services are sometimes offered for a fee. Often you can't use all the WordPress features, and there is a limitation of available plugins and themes.

The server environment is optimized for WordPress to ensure that your website loads fast. Managed WordPress hosting is generally more expensive than shared web hosting but saves you a lot of work with keeping the website up and running.

Recommended managed WordPress hosting companies are Flywheel, WP Engine and Knownhost.

Flywheel is recommended for its WordPress hosting plans, including WooCommerce hosting. Managed WordPress hosting with Flywheel starts at $13 per month.

Flywheel's managed WordPress hosting prices

WP Engine's WordPress hosting plans start at $20 per month. The basic plan includes staging and development environments and 24/7/365 technical support.

WP Engine's managed WordPress hosting prices

Knownhost's very affordable managed WordPress plans starting at $5.98 per month. The downside is that this plan is a 3 year commitment.

Knownhost's managed WordPress hosting prices

What are the Steps to Get a Professional-Looking and Reliable WordPress Website?

  1. Choose one of WP Engine's managed WordPress hosting plans. I recommend WP Engine or *Flywheel, but any provider reviewed in this article is a good choice.
  2. Consider the website's design and structure.
  3. Decide if you can design and build your website yourself or whether you need help from a freelancer.
  4. Select a WordPress Theme from WP Engine's repository and start modifying it.
  5. Consider a domain name.
  6. Once you have your domain name, register it with Namecheap or any other registrar and point the domain to your WP Engine website.
  7. Start enhancing your content with keywords. Learn how to use the proper SEO tools.

Which are The Best WordPress Website Builders?

A WordPress builder or page builder is a plugin to create, edit, and customize your website layout without writing any code source and is installed on top of an existing WordPress instance.

WordPress, by default, comes with a great administration dashboard to configure the most important settings, including themes. WordPress builders add a new drag and drop editor to the existing WordPress dashboard so that you can change the theme and core functionality without touching any code. Builders come with a range of templates for the most common use cases.

WordPress uses the so-called Gutenberg editor by default. You can try the Gutenberg editor on this test page. For more advanced editors, the following builders can be added.

Bricks: Best all-round WordPress Builder


Price: Starting at $99 as a one-time fee.

Bricks's pricing

When is Bricks a good choice?:

  • If you need balanced ease of use and features
  • If you need a clean output
  • If you don't mind touching some CSS code

Oxygen: The Clean WordPress Builder


Price: Starting at $129 as a one-time fee.

Oxygenbuilder's pricing

When is Oxygen a good choice?

  • For more technical users that don't mind a steep learning curve
  • For users that need an established and feature rich WordPress builder
  • Better for website loading speed as it is producing very clean code

Elementor: The Flexible WordPress Builder


Price: Starting at 159.- € per year. I find the yearly licensing model less ideal as price increases are hard to predict.

Elementor's pricing

When is Elementor a good choice?

  • For beginners due to its low learning curve
  • It's the Swiss army knife of WP builders
  • Users report source that this page builder outputs more bloat, which is responsible for slower loading web pages

Divi: The Easy WordPress Builder

Divi is a layer you install on top of an existing WordPress installation. Divi is basically a very flexible drag-and-drop theme with tons of layout options. The Divi theme includes many features that would otherwise require extra add-ons like sliders, forms, call-to-actions. A list of all Divi modules is here.

Price: Starting at $89 per year or $249 for lifetime access.

Divi's pricing

When is Divi a good choice?

  • Beginners who want to tap into a versatile design without extensive coding knowledge

The WooCommerce Online Shop WP Plugin

WooCommerce is an ecommerce platform that functions as a plugin for WordPress. WooCommerce stands as the second most popular e-commerce solution, trailing only Shopify source.

WooCommerce forms its own ecosystem, boasting more than 1,400 plugins and themes alongside the 55,000+ WordPress plugins.

You have the option of hosting a WordPress instance yourself and adding WooCommerce or utilizing a managed WooCommerce service, such as WPEngine's WooCommerce service. Managed WooCommerce hosting offers relief from the responsibilities of maintaining your online shop and handling security updates, while also affording more freedom compared to website builders like Shopify.

Who is WooCommerce Suited For?

WooCommerce stands out as an exceedingly robust and flexible e-commerce system with customization options that seem boundless. Establishing an online store with WooCommerce involves a more intricate process than using Shopify, which may prove overwhelming for beginners lacking professional guidance. WooCommerce is the ideal choice if you desire independence and are willing to invest resources in a long-term solution.


  • A vast array of extensions and themes to choose from.
  • As a market leader built on top of the most popular CMS, it guarantees stable software with ongoing development. WooCommerce is here to stay.
  • If you opt for self-hosted WooCommerce, you have complete ownership of the platform.


  • You will likely require external assistance unless you possess expertise in PHP, CSS, and HTML.
  • Optimizing for conversions and outreach will be your responsibility.

What is the Difference Between and is the website where you can download the WordPress software. WordPress is open-source software that you can install on a server to build a website. You can choose any of the website hosters I recommend, upload the WordPress files to your server, and follow the official installation manual to build your website. is a website run by the US company Automattic that hosts WordPress instances on their server for a monthly fee. Please read the section about recommended managed WordPress hosters in my web hosting review for a list of the best managed WordPress hosters.

Is a Good WordPress Website Builder and Hoster?

While has some website builder features through a drag-and-drop interface, it is not truly a website builder like Elementor or Oxygen.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using


  • All-in-one solution
  • Automated maintenance
  • Safety through automated updates of WordPress and plugins
  • A content delivery network (CDN) for faster page loading
  • Automated backups and one-click restore
  • Collect payments
  • Design service


  • Email accounts cost extra per mailbox source
  • There are some limitations to the available themes and plugins in the cheaper plans
  • Upload of custom themes is only available in the business and ecommerce plans source
  • Limited choice of out-of-the-box business themes
  • Limited disk space
  • You own your content, but can terminate your account at any time
  • WordPress footer can only be removed in the business plan
  • One user reported that displayed a banner for a political cause on websites using the paid plan without asking consent from the account owners source

In my opinion, many of the features offered by are also offered by other managed WordPress hosters for a better price and service.


Receive new guides directly into your inbox. No spam, no bullshit!

You may unsubscribe and delete your data at any time using the link in the newsletter or by contacting me. I only use your email to send newsletters. By clicking the button above you agree to submitting your email address to Intuit Inc. and accept their data privacy statement.

Continue with these guides: