Squarespace vs Wix vs Wordpress – Which is Best for You?
There are many popular content management systems (CMS’s) and website builders out there. It can be overwhelming when choosing how you are going to build your new website. We will look at Squarespace, Wix, and Wordpress, three of the major platforms for building websites.
At the bottom, we’ll also briefly discuss other platforms like Shopify, GoDaddy Website Builder, Joomla, and companies that sell template services. Before we start, let’s dive into the most common question we receive: What is the best website building platform?
Finding the “Best” Website Builder
There’s no single answer to this question. We tend to use Wordpress for many websites for various reasons, but we also frequently recommend Squarespace or Shopify to other people. It all depends on what you plan on doing with your website, and where you see it going in the future.
There isn’t one answer that fits every person and organization. Each system has upsides and downsides, and we must figure out what we are willing to work with. At the bottom of this post we have a quiz you can take for free that we developed. It will help you decide which is best for you, and tell you why.
When comparing Squarespace vs Wix vs Wordpress, we thought we’d go through a few points. The cost incorporates costs to get up and going, as well as monthly fees. The ease of use reflects the technical skills needed to update the site. If you aren’t sure about SEO, you can read our post on Understanding Search Engines and SEO to learn more.
- Cost: Reasonable, monthly fees
- Ease: Pretty easy, technical skills helpful but not necessary
- Customization: Decent customization with premium templates
- Support: 24/7 email and Twitter support
- SEO: Decent structure for ranking in search engines
- Additional Features: Some additional features, often at a small fee
First, we have Squarespace, which launced in 2004. With Squarespace, you can build your own website with almost no technical skills. It has become increasingly popular in recent years, as they have a pretty solid system built. You can purchase your website, get hosting, create an email, and choose from a great selection of themes.
Pros of Squarespace
Squarespace is a website builder, hosting platform, and can handle most website needs. There are a few major pros of using Squarespace.
Ease of Use
Although they had major problems with their user interface a few years back, we think theat it is pretty easy and simple. There is some learning curve, but many people can update their site and make changes with little-to-no technical skills or experience. You can drag stuff around for the most part, but some slight HTML or CSS will allow you to make further edits and changes.
Squarespace has a pretty clean pricing system. You pay either $12, $18, $26, or $40 a month, depending on the package you select. You can get hosting, a domain, and email from directly within the user interface. There are not a ton of hidden costs, premium add-ons, or little ways they try to sneak money out of you. It’s certainly not the cheapest, but we do appreciate the clear pricing structure.
Squarespace’s SEO game is pretty strong. It’s not the best on the market, but we’ve ranked quite a few pages on the first page of Google that are made using Squarespace. Although you may need some technical expertise to really rank, the foundation of Squarespace lends itself well to search engine optimization. The URL structure, meta tags, and speed make it a solid choice for marketing. It also has native AMP support, which is going to be important moving forward (read our post 9 Marketing Tactics to Try in 2018 for more about this important new marketing practice).
Additional Features and Customization
Squarespace allows for quite a bit of customization and additional features. There are quite a few free templates, and you can find hundreds of beautiful premium templates. Once you have a template installed, there are often minor changes you can make by yourself. The templates are beautiful, vary greatly, and are all mobile-responsive.
The additional features on Squarespace are decent, but not great. You can add in shopping, affiliate marketing, scheduling, reservation booking, and more. Most of these features are free, and just require basic set-up with little-to-no technical skills.
Updates and Maintenance
Squarespace does all of its updates and maintenance automatically. With a website hosted through them, you should have pretty much no downtime. Unlike Wordpress, you’ll never have to update anything like plugins, themes, or core files. Squarespace handles all of this for you, without you ever even knowing it is happening!
Cons of Squarespace
With any website builder that utilizes drag-and-drop interfaces and is made for ease of use, you’re going to have some cons. We’re not picking on Squarespace here, but want to give you a full view at what it offers.
Some Marketing Restrictions
Yes, we mentioned their SEO game as a pro already, but it’s worth noting there are some limitations on marketing with a Squarespace website. Most notably, rich snippets are difficult to add in, lead capturing is below ideal, and the site structure gets messy with bigger sites. Rich snippets are important (again, read our recent article on marketing tactics in 2018 to learn more), and going to be even more important moving forward. With email forms, you can only subscribe users to one email list, and the lead-collecting forms overall are a bit under-featured.
Cost and Fees
Although we love that Squarespace is straightforward with their fees, it’s also worth noting that it isn’t the cheapest service in the world. The lower-end plans limit the amount of features and pages you can have, and the higher-cost plans end up being rather expensive. With Squarespace, like many other website building softwares, you’re paying that fee every month forever. This adds up, and Squarespace tends to be more expensive than Wordpress, Shopify, Wix, or other options.
Although there’s a pretty good foundation of features, Squarespace does not allow 3rd party applications. This means outside developers cannot develop features, plugins, and additions for the software. Only approved Squarespace functionality can be added in. Things like live chat, membership plugins, and scheduling software can be difficult to work with and run. This limits your options as you expand or add features.
No Phone Support
As a web design and marketing company, support is almost a non-issue. However, for a user building a website themselves, this may be quite important. Squarespace doesn’t offer any phone support at all. They do offer 24/7 support and have email and live chat options, but you won’t be able to actually get somebody on the phone.
Who Squarespace is Ideal For
Squarespace is not necessarily targeted directly toward any demographic, as many other services are. It offers a great set of services and features for most basic websites. It’s ideal for those who wish to create a beautiful, mobile-friendly website with limited features. If you don’t need the extensions like live chat, lots of pages, or perfect SEO, Squarespace may be the choice for you.
- Cost: Most Affordable
- Ease: No technical skills needed
- Customization: Minimal customization, cannot change template
- Support: Limited phone support, email available
- SEO: Generally poor structure for SEO
- Additional Features: Very limited additional features
Wix, by the numbers, is the most popular website builder. With over 110 million accounts created, it boasts a pretty impressive user base. However, we're not sure that 110 million websites have actually been created, as that's just the number of accounts. Anyway, Wix is a platform for building websites with a drag and drop editor, geared toward users without any technical experience at all.
Pros of Wix
The pros of using Wix are mostly applicable to those new to website design or who wish to do their site themselves. These advantages make it a go-to for many small business owners who wish to get something up themselves.
Wix offers free plans, which is a great service to utilize. You can get in there, mess around with the features, and try it out without any commitment. They offer paid plans from $5/month up to $30/month, which still makes it cheaper than Squarespace in general. The one downside with their plans is that you have to pay to get upgrades like more bandwidth, more storage, and ecommerce functionality. However, the pricing plan from Wix is definitely a plus overall!
Wix’s best assett is definitely it’s ease of use. The user interface is geared toward people who are not developers, so you can likely build a website completely by yourself. It’s a drag-and-drop editor, so a true basic website builder. No HTML or other coding languages will be necessary at all, and the onboarding process is likewise simple and straightforward.
Fast and Secure
Like Squarespace, Wix is all self-hosted. You can have your website built, host it, and buy a domain all on Wix’s platform. This means you’re getting their security, server speed, and uptime. You won’t notice your site going down, you don’t have to update anything, and you’re relatively safe from hackers and attacks.
You can’t call in directly and get somebody via phone, but you can request a callback. Because all of Wix is contained, the support staff can help you fix almost all problems. We’ve had great experiences with Wix support. They can fix things for you, walk you through how to make changes, and send emails so you can remember how to update or fix something.
Cons of Wix
As we dive into some of the cons of Wix, it’s worth noting that we have coding skills and technical knowledge. As such, we never use Wix ourselves. However, if you want to build a website for cheap yourself, these may not matter as much.
Wix does have a simple drag-and-drop builder that uses grids and rulers. However, many Wix websites end up being rather crowded or messy. This may not be a result of Wix itself, but of the fact that many people building Wix websites have little experience with design. However, we do find it easy to overcrowd the website with Wix, and it lacks a clean and consistent format for the pages.
Wix has started allowing third party applications, but it definitely is sub-par. Adding in extensions to incorporate things like email marketing, live chat, retargeting, scheduling, memberships, and ecommerce doesn’t tend to end up well. Wix is much better for a super basic website with contact information, portfolios, and bios.
Marketing and SEO
The main reason we almost always steer clear of Wix is its marketing features. As far as SEO goes, it’s one of the worst out there. You’re going to have a much more difficult time ranking a Wix site in Google searches than a Squarespace or Wordpress site. Advanced marketing tactics like Facebook pixels, retargeting campaigns, schema markup, and email marketing campaigns are very difficult with Wix. Even if you can drive traffic to a Wix website, it’s difficult to capture leads and keep the user moving through your marketing funnel.
Although it’s a beautiful drag-and-drop interface that anyone can use, it’s not fully customizable. The simplicity and user-friendliness of the builder means you’re largely stuck with their options. If you want to change something that’s not offered, you’re out of luck. Wix is full of walls and limitations that prevent users from fully customizing their websites.
Who Wix is Ideal For
Wix is ideal for those who wish to create a cheap website and get it up themselves. You don’t need a developer or designer, and can get something live pretty easily. It’s great for people with small budgets, who want to do something themselves, and who don’t require anything too special or advanced.
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- Cost: Reasonable, no monthly fees
- Ease: Some technical skills required
- Customization: Full customization, especially with premium templates
- Support: Forums only
- SEO: Full customization allows for strong SEO
- Additional Features: Full of free and premium plugins for all of your needs
Wordpress is a great option in many ways, but also has some downsides. If the budget is there, we often recommend Wordpress as it allows for a lot of freedom without carrying the cost of a custom-built website from code. We will be transparent and say that Wordpress is our overall favorite on this list, although it does not fit everyone’s needs.
Pros of Wordpress
Wordpress has many great advantages, and over seventy-five million websites are hosted on Wordpress. It offers quite a bit of customization with technical knowledge, freedom to add in third party plugins, and a great marketing foundation.
Developing a Wordpress website may require you to hire a designer or developer, but the ongoing costs are practically nonexistant. Wordpress is free. You can install and update Wordpress without paying a dime. There are additional costs like hosting your website, premium themes, or premium plugins, but you don’t have to pay a penny to actually install and use Wordpress. Furthermore, there are hundreds and hundreds of free plugins and themes to use.
The reason we use Wordpress for so many websites is its power in marketing. Wordpress offers beautiful site structure, great SEO (through plugins like Yoast), and great social integration. You also can incorporate Analytics, Facebook pixels, schema markup, and any other marketing techniques you want. If you want to rank in search engines, collect leads, and market yourself most effectively, Wordpress is often the best way to go.
Wordpress is open source and has a huge community of users and developers. This means that you can find almost anything you need in their plugin database. Right from Wordpress, you can download plugins to sell products, boost your SEO, collect email addresses, and much more. There are also many websites offering premium plugins to increase functionality even further.
When comparing Wix, Wordpress, and Squarespace, Wordpress is the most customizable by far. It will require some coding abilities to fully customize, but you can do almost anything with a Wordpress website. There are many free and paid themes, but a developer can jump straight into the file system to make changes. This is unlike Squarespace and Wix, in that the direct files and database are accessible. This means you can edit almost every aspect of design and functionality.
Cons of Wordpress
Wordpress is our go-to, but it certainly has some downsides. If you have a developer, most of these won’t matter much. But if you want to build a site yourself, these are important catches.
First, and perhaps most importantly, is the security risk with Wordpress. Wordpress is the most vulnerable to hackers and attacks out of these three. You must update plugins, themes, and the core files yourself in order to help prevent this, and you can also install security plugins. The good news is that you can make regular backups, the updates just take one click of a big blue button, and there are ways developers can help ensure your site safety completely. However, if you build a site yourself with Wordpress, there is a risk of a hack eventually.
Next, speed can become an issue with Wordpress. Most developers will be able to manage this effectively, but we see many people build their own Wordpress sites that load incredibly slowly. This is largely due to plugins and themes. People install themes that are not efficient and sketchy third party plugins that slow the site down. Without some technical expertise, you may find yourself with a website that takes ten seconds to load, or only loads partially.
Needs a Developer
In our opinion, you basically need a Wordpress developer if you don’t have some experience with Wordpress. Without a developer, the interface is not super user-friendly or easy to understand. However, a developer can mitigate any issues, and even show you how to post your own blogs or pages with ease. For updates, changes, and adding features, you’ll likely need to hire someone who knows what they’re doing in order to get it done right the first time.
No Direct Support
Finally, Wordpress has no support mechanism in place. There are forums and you can chat with theme and plugin developers, but you cannot just call Wordpress on the phone with a question. For people building their own websites, this is a problem. However, for developers, support is not as necessary and this doesn’t really matter.
Who is Wordpress Ideal For?
Wordpress is ideal for those who are serious about building a website and marketing themselves online. You can sell products, have live chat, schedule classes or bookings, and do almost anything you want with the website. If you plan on having a site for the long haul, go with Wordpress. You won’t be paying monthly, you have room to grow, and you can always back up and export your site.
We’re looking largely at Squarespace, Wix, and Wordpress here. However, there are a few other website builders and CMS’s that quite a few people use, and we just want to take a second to address them. These are all platforms that are either super specific to an industry or we just plan don’t recommend, so that’s why they ended up down here!
Joomla! is a relatively popular CMS which can be downloaded and used for free. Most comparable to Wordpress, Joomla! is a free software you download and install to your website. Although it allows for a fair amount of customization, it is essentially useless in our opinion. It’s slower, less intuitive, and worse for marketing than Wordpress. It’s basically a more difficult, less smooth, less complete version of Wordpress, and we steer clear of it whenever we can. We do have one client on a Joomla! website right now, and it does rank well and convert leads into customers. However, we recommend you steer clear of Joomla! as well.
Shopify is down here in this section because it is a service for a very specific demographic. Shopify, if you couldn’t guess by the name, is for ecommerce first and foremost. The blogging platform isn’t ideal, the SEO is good but not great, and its functionality is limited mostly to shopping and sales. The pricing model is also a bit messy, as plugins often have monthly costs. With Shopify, many users end up paying more than they realize they’re paying. If you’re going for strictly ecommerce, Shopify is built specifically for this so it may be the way to go!
GoDaddy Website Builder
GoDaddy is perhaps our least favorite company in this market. Their hosting is slow, their costs don’t end up being as cheap as they seem on the surface (you have to pay for emails, decent speed, etc.), and their support is largely unhelpful. Their Website Builder is most comparable to Wix. It’s a drag and drop interface that anyone can use. They offer paid SEO services which will show you no results most likely, and the customization is incredibly limited. Don’t use GoDaddy Website Builder if you can avoid it!
Finally, we have template websites. These are sites that most often offer websites for a specific industry or niche. These are great ways to go if you have a limited budget and just want something to be up online. However, if you’re serious about marketing your business online this is not the way to go. These sites all often look almost the same. For example, take a look at http://www.martaschmal.com/ and http://www.reallifetherapy.com/. These are built off the same template company, and look very similar. This hurts SEO and your marketing efforts. A custom therapy website like www.OneMindTherapy.com is much more likely to grab attention, make an impact, and convert visitors to clients.
Deciding What’s Best
So, what’s best for you? There’s not one single answer. You can take our quiz below that we spent some time creating. It’s based off some questions we often ask clients when jumping into the website building process, and should give you an idea of what may be best. You can also use the contact form below to ask us! We’re happy to give our opinions, help outline what your costs would be, and play a role in deciding what the best option is for you.
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