If you’ve ever wondered what a banshee sounds like, it’s a lot like me screeching at the second person in two days who claimed the best website builder for clients is Wix.
As we both recoiled in horror from my ear-splitting shriek, I realized I wasn’t operating with a full working knowledge to back up my harsh recriminations.
Where to build a website – Wix vs Squarespace vs WordPress
My experience of building websites stems from building my own as well as building for clients. I also manage and update websites, from weekly plugin updates and backups to adding new content or designing new pages.
I’ve used Squarespace and WordPress extensively, Wix not as much. I have used custom coded sites as well, whether built off the WordPress content management system (CMS) or coded from scratch by developers. Throughout all this, my preference has been to use WordPress but in accepting my ignorance about Wix, I’ve had to reevaluate.
Who should use Wix?
According to their website, Wix is a easy drag-and-drop website builder with over 500 mobile-friendly templates. This means users can choose the website elements they want and drag them onto the screen to see exactly how they’d look in real life. Then, the user can go ahead in editing the element within the same screen for real-time page review. Users must publish their work for it to be live on the web, but they know exactly what they’re getting before they do.
It does seem super easy, with your domain costs included, to set up a site with Wix. While you can’t custom code your site at all, basic users and small businesses should have all they need from the template. Prices started at $5USD per month, when you choose annual billing.
Points of note:
- I’d recommend your minimum starting point be the $11/month (with annual purchase plan) to get rid of Wix’s advertising. The only call to action on the page should be yours.
- Choose your site template well. Content isn’t transferable between templates and your website can’t be moved to a new host. Both mean you have to start from scratch when you start new.
- Wix is mobile-friendly but what this means is you build two websites simultaneously. One optimised for screens, the other for mobile devices. The destination is the same as mobile-responsive sites, but takes some work on your part.
Who should use Squarespace?
Squarespace sites are elegant and modern with 40+ high-quality design templates. They have considerably less templates available than the other CMS’s do, but do allow for custom coding. Squarespace also offers drag-and-drop functionality, making the site simple to design, though not as simply as Wix.
Squarespace also includes your domain registration within your subscription fee, which begins at $12/month when billed annually.
Points of note:
- Change your templates to your heart’s content but not your host. If you move away from Squarespace, you will need to start from scratch.
- Don’t be swayed by ‘less’ templates. How many do you really have time to look at anyways? 40 is plenty, especially when you can introduce custom coding.
- As a mobile-responsive website builder, don’t forget to resize your window and double check the published site on a device to see how it looks.
Who should use WordPress?
Not to harp on numbers (again, choice can be more work than it’s worth), but there are thousands of WordPress themes available to build your website with. There is also a steeper learning curve with WordPress. It’s so customizable that it can be quite difficult to keep up with what does what. The introduction of the Gutenberg update means WordPress is also a drag-and-drop builder now, though many still use the classic editor for creation.
WordPress may sound geeky and that’s because it is. There’s a whole community behind the CMS – it’s an open source platform that anyone can build with or on. Which also means it’s free. The costs you incur come from your hosting service and domain fees, as well as any premium plugins or services you purchase when customizing your site.
Points of note:
- Don’t be fooled by free – you can find cheap hosting and domain registration, but you can also find pretty pricey options. It will be what you make of it.
- Mobile-responsiveness is based on the template, theme or builder you choose. Double check for that before purchasing as mobile device usage continues to rise.
- You own your content. If you wanted to leave WordPress, you can download your files and work with a private CMS when your business goes big international. This also means you’re also responsible for backing up and securing your content, though.
- Bonus: WordPress meetups and WordCamps are held around the world for designers and developers to nerd out together. Newbies and old pros join together to discuss the platform and how it’s used. And it’s not just the tech – bloggers, business owners and ecommerce sites will find useful knowledge and networking, too.
Which will you use? Wix? Squarespace? WordPress?
I didn’t compare SEO, page speed or ecommerce capabilities in this review as all three platforms are good-to-go in these regards. I did enter into this with preconceived notions regarding SEO but my research assures me that all three are fully findable by search engines.
I couldn’t keep my own bias from showing in this comparison. However, I am much more willing to use Wix or Squarespace than I was at the time of banshee shrieking. And while I will continue to use WordPress, I am much more open to using an alternate platform for a tech-challenged small business who doesn’t have big aspirations for world domination.
Which platform do you or will you use?