The Best Three Website Builders
Wix vs Squarespace vs WordPress is a comparison that can be boiled down to Drag & Drop vs. Build. It’s rarely that simple and for people starting out on their digital journey, other issues such as hosting, SEO, E-Commerce will certainly have a bearing. The reason we’re interested is that we’re not a single solution supplier. Different people have different requirements and so we help our clients choose the solution that delivers the best returns for their website investment. For those who haven’t invested anything yet, it makes good sense to look at a range of the products available.
You can build a website from scratch (almost nobody does this now), use a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, or use a hosted ‘one stop’ solution like Wix or Squarespace.
Some context. Only a few years ago, in order to get a stylish, modern looking website you had to build it yourself. Or get an Agency to build it for you. Then along came Wix offering rudimentary template driven web site builders for no money. WordPress designers quickly caught up – with sophisticated “builder” themes like Divi, Semplice and Elementor. These themes offer very attractive looks with very fast delivery times, accessible SEO and E-Commerce. Along came Squarespace offering sophisticated and stylish templates initially targeted at photographers on a hosted platform. Wix caught up very quickly. So in a few short years, the web site design landscape changed from a simple choice between ‘Build’ with a CMS or ‘Drag ‘n’ Drop’ with a hosted solution. And a number of vendors offering packages that look superficially similar.
We’re going to try and shed some light on the factors that should influence the question so that the solution chosen is the right solution.
First thing to say is that there are two versions of WordPress – WordPress.com which is a hosted solution similar to Wix and Squarespace and the much more powerful WordPress.org which is a downloadable CMS system. WordPress is very successful and powers 35% of the internet’s web sites. We’re primarily interested in WordPress.org and anytime we mention WordPress from now on we mean WordPress.org.
We assume that you are a small independent business intending to promote your Brand, your services or goods via a website. The first choice you need to make is driven by the first impression you want to give your customers. We assume that you want to appear Stylish, Modern and Professional. So far, any of Wix, Squarespace or WordPress will tick this box.
If you want E-Commerce, then all three platforms can provide rudimentary E-Commerce. When your requirement is simply to enable a buyer to use a shopping basket application and a payment gateway to take payment then all three of these platforms can do that. If you need something more sophisticated with features like stock control and integration with other platforms you should also look at Shopify & Big Commerce. We’ll be reviewing these in more detail in a future post.
If you want your website to grow then you need to start thinking about the scale and consequences of that growth. Are you simply hoping for more traffic? How will you get that traffic? Will the site slow down under load? Will your hosting charges go up? Will the site be secure in terms of accepting payments and processing client data?
If you are expecting your site to grow very large in terms of transactions then you should be thinking more carefully about WordPress. Wix and Squarespace are excellent solutions for small companies at the beginning of their journey, WordPress is used by all manner of companies large and small.
In terms of expense, both Wix and Squarespace offer monthly payment plans. Wix range from £3 to £22 a month, excluding VAT. Squarespace range from £10 to £30 a month. WordPress.com, the hosted version costs between £3 and £36 a month. WordPress.org is free, but you’ll need to host it and maintain it, which will come in at a combined fee of £10 – £12 a month minimally. Taking expansion out of the equation, Wix and Squarespace offer elegant well designed themes that work quickly. WordPress offers more flexibility than either, but comes at a cost of extra complexity. If you’re technically minded or using a Design Agency then we think it’s a cost worth paying.
Wix has basic support for SEO – you can easily integrate with Google Analytics and Search Console and if you’re a small business or blogger, Wix has got you covered.
Squarespace doesn’t have the best reputation for SEO, but like Wix has decent cover for small websites and sole traders such as photographers.
WordPress has a range of specialist plugins that allow you to carry out advanced SEO on the site. Head and shoulders above Wix & Squarespace in this respect. If you’re building a site that you hope will become a saleable asset you should be looking at WordPress.
Wix, Squarespace and WordPress.com are hosted solutions. This is a good thing if you want simplicity in your life, but it comes at a cost. WordPress requires hosting. The benefit of having a solution like WordPress is that if your hosting arrangements don’t work out due to cost, performance, downtime, reliability etc you can pick up the website and move it to another host. You cannot migrate Wix or Squarespace sites away from their hosting and so the long term health of your web presence is tied to that vendor.
Wix and Squarespace cannot be extended – what you get on Day 1 is what you will continue to use until it is replaced, upgraded or dropped by the vendor. This could be a blessing or a curse. WordPress is almost infinitely extensible. There is a huge ecosystem of plugins that allow you to change almost every aspect of your site from Security to SEO to Picture Galleries and Style Sheets. We recommend using Security and SEO plugins at minimum.
All three of these solutions come with templates that you can modify to various extents. Remember that Website Design is only about the look and feel of the site and all the rest is about building. So Design is an art form in itself. The lure of templates is that they provide a design “out of the box”. This adds speed to your build and the only downside is that somewhere there will be a website just like yours!
So far as Wix and Squarespace are concerned it’s a simple matter of choose a template and add your content. WordPress is another matter entirely. Justly renowned for the richness of its Themes, WordPress has taken a giant step forward in recent years with the introduction of “Builder Themes”. We have worked extensively with two of these, Semplice and Divi and can recommend both, unreservedly. This site was built with Divi, our sister site Helter Skelter Studios, with Semplice.
Wix vs Squarespace vs WordPress
The best three website builders? It was unthinkable a couple of years ago but all three of these solutions are making their presence felt in the Web Agency community.
A few years ago Web Designers were selling themselves on the basis of fully customised coded web site design. These days the excellence and ubiquity of WordPress has altered the landscape permanently. For once, you can get more for less.
There is no reason you can’t get a simple, elegant and professional looking website built in a matter of days. We build sites with all of these tools, Wix vs Squarespace vs WordPress (Divi, Semplice etc) and will happily guide you through the process from Hosting to Domains, Design and Build.
We help clients at the beginning of their digital journey to make the right choices. We look at your requirements and recommend the best product for your budget. We will make sure you’re fully aware of the pros and cons of each solution you consider. Give us a call or drop us a line – we’re happy to talk about any aspect of your online journey – remember, we speak geek so you don’t have to!