If you’re building your first website, you may be wondering if you should use a WordPress hosting service or a website builder like Wix or Squarespace. It can be a tough decision – WordPress has been the gold standard for years, but other builders are quickly rising in popularity.
In this article, we’re going to give an overview of all three platforms, discuss their key features, and highlight their pros and cons.
By the end, you’ll be able to make an educated decision on which platform you think is best.
- What is WordPress?
- What is Wix?
- What is Squarespace?
- How do They Compare?
- Which One Should You Choose?
What is WordPress?
First, it should be noted that there are two versions of WordPress: hosted and self-hosted. For the purposes of this outline, we’ll be focusing on self-hosted.
Self-hosted WordPress is a piece of software that you download and install on your own web server. It’s open-source, meaning that absolutely anyone can modify it (if they have the know-how). This feature allows for greater customization, more flexibility, and (often) a more secure product.
Don’t worry if you don’t know how to code, though – with over 20,000 plugins and 10,000+ themes, you can easily customize your own site without the requisite skills. In addition, there are dozens of different website builders available that help make the design process completely pain-free.
Now, the important stuff: What does it cost? The WordPress software itself is free, but you have to pay for web hosting and domain fees. These costs can vary greatly, depending on the hosting service you use and the plan you sign up for. In addition, while most plugins and themes are free, some premium options can cost quite a bit of money.
All-in-all, if you take the time to research hosting services and you only use free customization options, your costs will be minimal.
What is Wix?
Wix is an online web development platform that started in 2006. Users can design and build their websites (either HTML5 or mobile) using a drag-and-drop utility with no coding experience necessary.
Similar to WordPress, Wix users can customize the appearance or add functionality to their site through the use of plug-ins and templates. The website builder includes features such as graphics, image galleries, fonts, apps, and more.
In addition, Wix allows developers the opportunity to create their own web applications and market them to other users. It is not, however, open-source software, so users can’t just go in and change things.
Users must purchase a premium package to connect their sites to a custom domain, remove Wix ads, access the form builder, and add e-commerce (amongst other things).
If you decide later to go to another web hosting company, you will have to start over as your Wix website is not transferable. It is owned by Wix.
What is Squarespace?
Squarespace is a SaaS (‘software as a service’) site. That means you pay a monthly fee to use it, but everything you need to build and maintain your website (templates, a content management system, hosting, etc.) is included in that cost.
Squarespace has built quite a reputation in recent years as being an easy-to-use, all-in-one website-building solution. Like most website builders, it employs the use of pre-designed templates and drag-and-drop elements.
There are two different versions: “standard”, which is designed to be used by regular people with no coding experience, and “developer”, which is designed to be used by . . . well, web developers. Using the developers’ version, if you have the skills, allows for manipulation of source code and, therefore, greater customization. Similar to Wix, you can’t transfer your SquareSpace website.
How do They Compare?
Now that you have the basics, you may be wondering, “How do they all compare?” And, really, is there much of a difference?
Here’s a quick breakdown:
Target audience: All three platforms are aimed at users with no coding experience. The idea is that any person on the street should be able to use any of these platforms without much hardship.
- WordPress: Variable, depending on the cost of your hosting plan, domain registry, website builder, and any add-ons (like premium themes)
- Squarespace: personal plan – $16 per month, business – $26 per month, commerce Basic – $30 per month, commerce Advanced – $46 per month (these costs work out to be a bit less if you pay for the whole year in advance)
- Wix: basic plan – free, combo – $14.50 per month, unlimited – $17.50 per month, business basic – $25 per month (like Squarespace, it is a bit cheaper if you pay for a year in advance)
- WordPress: Out of the box, WordPress can be a bit tricky to set up – but with a quality website builder like BoldGrid, it’s a snap. Once you have it up and running, WordPress is very easy to maintain, update, and modify.
- Squarespace: The drag-and-drop interface is simple to use and making basic changes is pretty straightforward – though it should be noted that the changes you can make are often limited.
- Wix: Super easy to set up and customize though, like Squarespace, the customizations are limited.
- WordPress: WordPress is the clear winner when it comes to customization. With over 20,000 available plugins and 10,000+ themes, you can do practically anything you want.
- Squarespace: Currently, Squarespace provides 22 ‘families’ of templates, each with a few variants – and a while is a decent number, it pales in comparison to what’s available with WordPress.
- Wix: Wix offers 510 templates and they have 280 ‘apps’ in their marketplace (the equivalent of a plugin) – far more than Squarespace, but they also pale in comparison to WordPress.
Which One Should You Choose?
We could break this down in a million different ways, but we think it’s clear that WordPress is the best choice for most people. While it may not be as beginner-friendly as either Squarespace or Wix, it’s still easy to use, and the customization options and functionality just blow everyone else out of the water.
Worried that WordPress is too ‘advanced’ for you? The right hosting service and website builder will help. Reach out today to see how we can get you on the road to owning your own WordPress site (without the headache or stress).