What should I use to build a website?

I get asked this question from time-to-time, most recently by a student studying games development. Before that, it’s been from students at Bedford College, where I’ve been lecturing in graphic design and animation.

From time-to-time, I’ve run short courses on the practical side, mainly Photoshop and After Effects as an introduction to help students showcase their work. For design students, it’s essential to be able to present and promote their work and begin to develop their own unique self-brand. Australian Graphic designer, Christopher Doyle took this to the next level with his Personal Identity Guidelines project.

Ultimately the majority of the students will get full-time jobs, but before that happens there are degrees shows, they will meet potential clients or employers and then there is the pressure to become part of the established design industry. All these people need impressing and that is usually with a website. I will admit, with degrees shows it’s all about print — standing out from the crowd in a unique and clever way.

I digress, the point of my courses was to give students the practical knowledge to help them build an online portfolio. Before they even start to design anything though it’s essential to know what choices you have to do that building.

Here is my quick ready reckoner that I produced which covers the basics types of systems, the complexity and rough cost. This is by no means an exhaustive list but it helps define what is possible for a budget and skill level.

Type Platform Complexity Domain Hosting Annual cost*
Manual Code Difficult × × From £20
Software Dreamweaver Difficult × × £250
Adobe XD Medium × × £120
Online builder Wix Easy × £90
SquareSpace Easy × £144
Cargo Collective Easy × £135
WordPress.com Easy £36
System (CMS)
Drupal Difficult × × From £35
Joomla Medium × × From £35
WordPress.org Easy × × From £35

Personally, if you’re interested, I build using WordPress.org. Due to my need to control every aspect of the development of a website. I’ve opted for this service as gives me ultimate control. It’s also really easy to use and this website and blog post have been created using the system.

*Annual cost is based on a basic subscription (for software) or service (hosting), which often has advertising you cannot control or disable. I would urge caution with this as advertising is often displayed from providers or in places that may conflict with your design, views or morals.