3 design choices

WordPress, Wix or Squarespace – which one’s best?

It’s the perennial question for business people looking to get their organisation online – why do you choose WordPress?

As a professional website builder, I’m biased. I like to continue to be involved with business partners in supporting and updating their websites all year round. If this ongoing maintenance is not done, sites become outdated, insecure and detract from marketing tactics.

So here’s a review of the 3 major players in the website builder universe. Each has its pros and cons and it largely depends on skill, budget and time. If you are short on funds but your new business is not taking up all your time, a D.I.Y. solution may be the way to go for you. Things included in the review consist of:

  • Design interface
  • Ease of use
  • Feature set
  • Scalability
  • SEO ready
  • Customer support
  • Ongoing management
  • Cost to build

WordPress (market share 39%)

WP is a powerful free-to-use content management system (CMS) that’s best for serious business owners who need their website to grow with their business. You can build a WP site yourself or engage a WordPress specialist to get it going for you. A good designer will create an Administrator account for you to self-support post-launch day, or you can retain them on a Website Care plan and leave all the mundane stuff to them.

Design interface – WP is the best option for designing a professional business website. There are thousands of free and premium themes to get started. Because of its worldwide popularity are many self-help groups (eg Facebook) and video tutorial channels on YouTube.

Ease of use – WP is highly customisable. There is an in-built page builder that has limited appeal and a range of 3rd-party page builders that will deliver a better user experience and cut time to complete. I recommend Elementor. 

Feature set – Natively, WP comes with basic components such as a blog, but there are thousands of top-notch free and paid for plugins that enable just about anything. This can be a huge time-suck for the DIYer though.

Scalability – Hands down WP is the best solution for a scalable site. I have business partners asking all the time “can you add [essential widget] to my website?”. Yes – I haven’t found any case where adding a new function has been impossible.

SEO ready – in a standard WP installation, it’s very basic. Using free plugins will all the meta fields required to satisfy our friends at Google and get your website found by potential customers online.

Customer support – Zero. You are pretty much on your own but what do you expect from a free product? The good news is that there are heaps of support groups online where you can see answers to every imaginable question. Again, this can be a time-suck when you D.I.Y.

Ongoing management – WordPress (unlike Wix and Squarespace) is not a “hosted” site builder. This means it’s up to you to get your own web hosting account and domain. This allows you shop around, but the management piece falls on you. If you want to keep your site speedy and secure, you’ll have to learn how to do this or hire someone like me to help.

Cost to build – WordPress itself is free to install and use. You should expect to pay for your domain name and hosting as well as any 3rd-party plugins that add essential functionality such as e-Commerce and bookings etc. 

Squarespace (market share 1.5%)

The Squarespace site-builder platform is easy to learn and use and includes online marketing and e-Commerce features in their higher plans. The final result can be a visually pleasing marketing asset for any business and a good choice for non-professional website builders.

Design interface – What you get out-of-the-box from Squarespace is visually stunning – but there’s a limit to the templates you are required to use. This is why it’s easy to tell a Squarespace site when you see one.

Ease of use – It’s pretty simple to use and master. Squarespace guides users as soon as you start which is great for non-professionals. 

Feature set – Most of the templates are feature-rich, so if you are looking to create a basic website you shouldn’t have to do much. If you’re looking to add marketing features such as a Customer Relationship Management integration (CRM eg. MailerLite, Mailchimp etc) then you will need to upgrade to the premium plan..

Scalability – There’s not much you can do to scale your website in terms of design and content. Squarespace doesn’t have a marketplace of plugins and add-ons need to be added via code snippets. This may not be a problem if you have a very simple website that doesn’t require smarts and doesn’t change very much.

SEO ready – Hmm – not great. There’s not much you can do. You add search metadata for the home page only – all other pages auto-generate from your content, which may not deliver what you need to be found.

Customer support – There’s a good knowledge base to search for answers. Or you can contact a team member via email or engage via live chat (weekdays).

Ongoing management – Good news – Squarespace handles all the technical stuff including hosting, domain name registration and email.

Cost to buildSquarespace has monthly plans ranging from $22 to $60 (at time of writing)  depending on the functionality required. All plans include a domain name, SSL certificate and 1 Google GSuite email address.

Wix (market share 1.3%)

The Wix site-builder platform is simple and fast to get up and running and has modules for most online businesses. It’s a good choice for D.I.Yers looking to create a static brochure website that won’t be changing very often.

Design interface – You can use a  template or let the Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) tool build it for you. The designs convey a nice contemporary look, but like Squarespace, it’s easy to spot that it’s not a custom-built site.

Ease of use – Signing up for a plan and getting started is seamless and fast. All you need to do is choose a template and start building your pages using an intuitive drag-and-drop interface. Designing a responsive mobile device/phone version of the site is less intuitive and requires double-handling. 

Feature set – Unfortunately, if you need a blog, which is a pretty basic component, you have to layer it on top of the website. This can impact negatively on page speed performamce. Sam deal for e-Commerce and bookings modules.

Scalability – Wix is great for building very simple brochure sites. However, if you plan on doing anything more, it’s not the right choice to start out with. Often, businesses don’t realise that they will want more from their website and if extending is not possible with Wix you can’t take it somewhere else to upgrade.

SEO ready – This is still a work-in-progress at Wix. There’s only very basic optimisation available, so if getting onto the first page on Google is your goal, it’s going to be tough.

Customer support – Wix are pretty good in this regard. There’s a solid Help Center. VIP Customers can access help via phone support and Non-VIP customers can submit help tickets.

Ongoing management – No worries – Wix handles all the technical stuff.

Cost to buildWix has monthly plans ranging from $25 to $50 (at time of writing)  depending on the functionality required. All plans include a domain name and SSL certificate.

I hope this helps you decide the best way forward for your new website. If you need more information about any of the options please feel to reach out and ask a question.

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