With a vast array of different website platforms available, it can be a daunting decision for web newbies wanting to create a small business website. Do you go for features, simplicity, flexibility or price? Which is better and more popular?
I’ve been using WordPress for a number of years and love the flexibility it provides. However, I appreciate that when a business owner or blogger is looking to create a website, it’s good to discuss some other options on a level playing field. So let’s analyse WordPress vs Squarespace vs Wix.
WordPress is a content management system that’s been around since 2003. It enables users to build simple and more complex websites with or without the need to code. If you do have the skills then you can take full control of any customisations required.
Squarespace is a simple and easy to use platform that’s been in existence since 2004. It’s lack of choices means even beginners can create content and design beautiful looking sites.
Wix is a web development platform born in 2006. It allows users to create websites using drag and drop tools, and easily add more functionality using third-party applications. They are currently one of the most popular platforms for novice web builders.
Pros – WordPress vs Squarespace vs Wix
WordPress features open-source software and it’s free. As a result anyone can create a theme or plugin which means there are thousands available to the general public – Both free or paid for. It offers a lot of choices and flexibility once the platform has been mastered. It’s user interface is solid and structured so you maintain a structure to your site builds. You can change themes as often as you like, although there will be some layout issues to fix of course.
Both Squarespace and Wix are easier to use than WordPress and the learning curve is faster. All the website building tools are built using the same team, hence there are no compatibility issues. So a good choice for beginners who want something that’s fast and simple. Wix features a drag-and-drop interface which makes putting pages together a breeze. Similarly Squarespace’s site interface is easy to pickup once mastered.
Cons – WordPress vs Squarespace vs Wix
Once your page has been designed in WordPress, you have to click the Preview button in order to view how the web page will actually look. If you are serious then you’ll require a custom domain, hosting and theme where charges will apply. There are occasionally problems with plugin compatibility which can temporarily break your website through.
Wix’s drag-and-drop platform can be too unstructured, as result this causes layout inconsistency issues. So a website can take some time to create and to be made acceptable. Some of the app add-ons are buggy. Oh and once you create your website you cannot change the template, otherwise you lose everything!
Because of the large number of customisation features, Squarespace can be a little confusing for some. Patience, time and some trial and error may be required to learn this platform.
Who each platform is aimed at
If you are comfortable with web development and some coding then WordPress could be for you. If you put in the effort to learn its finer points, it provides a powerful platform to which you can design and create blog sites, business sites, landing pages, portfolios, e-commerce stores and more. Most web designers like myself like it, as once the build is finished, the site can be updated by the client.
For the less tech-savvy, Squarespace and Wix are both good choices. With powerful tools and visually interesting layouts, the easy setup and functionality is a good choice for designers, business owners, photographers, wedding organisers and shop owners. Everything is all in one place so you don’t need to go outside of the platforms for extra features.
Costs and setup
The WordPress platform is free to download via wordpress.org – You then need to setup hosting which can cost around $3 per month. Registering a domain is as little as $0.99 up to hundreds of dollars for more exclusive urls. You’ll also need to setup and sometimes pay for an email address configuration.
If you are not that technical then you’ll need to hire a WordPress web designer. Depending on what type of site you intend to build, it may cost anything from as little as $600 up to a few thousand dollars.
Squarespace provides a range of different plans. $10 to $15 per month for a basic website, and $20 to $30 per month for an online store. This includes access to templates, a free custom domain, SSL security and 24/7 support. The more expensive plans provide email, ad words and mobile metrics.
As above, Wix also has a range of plans from as little as $3 per month up to $16 per month. The plans include a free domain, ad vouchers, form builder app, site booster app and email campaigns.
Themes and templates
Via the WordPress interface, you can access a number of free themes to base your site build on. However, like anything you get what you pay for. So I’d always recommend purchasing a premium theme that in some cases offers an off-the-shelf ready made website that just needs content and branding. A good WordPress theme will cost anything from $40-80.
Both Squarespace and Wix provide a large number of high quality ready to go templates for free, that should suit most situations. Having looked at both, I can confirm the design is top class.
Site engine optimisation (SEO)
To optimise WordPress correctly for SEO, you are required to add a number of plugins to improve the site speed and SEO. You can get most of what you require for free. Once loaded, you add your titles, meta descriptions, keywords and image titles. A plugin such as Yoast will guide you through what needs to be done and it provides a handy traffic light system so you know what page improvements are required.
Squarespace and Wix both have inbuilt SEO apps included in their packages. Originally this tool wasn’t that great, but now experts from the likes of SEOMOZ are endorsing them for being pretty good. And in some cases better at boosting rankings than WordPress.
Generally there is no direct support for WordPress. However, because it has a massive user base there is no end of websites that provide tips and advice should you need help.
Equally should you purchase a premium WordPress theme, then you will receive at least 6 months of free support. Having gone this route myself, the help is always good and response fast.
Both Squarespace and Wix have a dedicated team that provide 24/7 support should you need it. There are also numerous support files you can access to help you setup your site plus a forum of users to chat with
In the great battle of WordPress vs Squarespace vs Wix there is no clear winner. But I can summarise below which one might be suited to your own particular needs.
If you want more flexibility, have some coding skills, are comfortable with online marketing, and have some design skills, then I’d pick WordPress. Ok there is a lot to learn, but once you grasp the basics, you can produce a great looking site. The cost per month is cheaper in the long run and you have the knowledge that you can move your site to another web host if you are not happy.
Squarespace is a great solution for the beginner who wants a platform that provides numerous options. Some elements can be quite technical though, so you’ll need some patience and tech savvy knowhow. The templates are responsive and beautifully designed. The monthly plan prices may put some people off as it can be quite expensive. But if you want everything all in one package then give it a try.
For simplicity and popularity Wix surely is worth considering. With it’s easy drag and drop interface and smart looking templates, it provides simplicity for web design beginners. It’s probably not the best of the bunch if you intend to start a blog as it offers limited bells and whistles in the form of SEO. Hence you can’t optimise those long keyword phrases.