With the advent of the internet came a whole host of website building solutions, from no-code solutions to hybrid no-code and code solutions. I am talking about the advent of simple website builders such as Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress. These solutions have gained traction in the last decade, with Wix even touting that “every 1.7 seconds, someone builds a new website in Wix”. Yet, which one of these solutions is the best one when it comes to growing a professional business?
Before we start comparing which of these platforms will be best in running your professional business, it is important to briefly know how they all came to be.
Wix.com Ltd. is a software company in Israel founded in 2006, providing cloud-based web development services, specifically to create websites through the use of drag and drop tools. Users have the option of importing a template, or they also may opt to create their web sites from scratch with the drag and drop tool. In October 2013, Wix introduced a mobile editor to allow users to adjust their sites for mobile viewing.
Wix has a free plan that allows users to setup a website up and running quickly, but users will always be having limitations in it, such as having the “.wix.com” suffix in their domain names, having Wix advertise their service in your website, limiting bandwidth and storage, and locking you out of advanced functionality like e-commerce and creating forms. Purchasing premium packages will allow users to get over the limitations.
Even if they are one of the most popular and heavily marketed website builders out there, Wix only powers 1.5% of the web.
Squarespace, Inc. is an American website building and hosting company founded in 2004, which is based in New York City, United States. It provides a SaaS for website building and hosting, and allows users to use pre-built website templates and drag-and-drop elements to create and modify webpages. Its have the option of importing pre-built website templates and a variety of drag and drop widgets to add elements. Its developers also create custom templates that are sold to users.
Squarespace was initially built for creating and hosting blogs. Though in 2013, E-commerce features were added. In 2014, even more commerce features were added; the service has become mobile responsive; there became a dedicated space for developers writing custom templates and features; and they introduced a logo-creation app. As of 2016, Squarespace had hosted more than one million websites, and they also started selling domains, putting it in more direct competition with GoDaddy.
Unlike Wix, Squarespace has no free plans.
Squarespace powers 1.6% of the websites in the world wide web.
Founded in 2003 on top of another blog creation software that was on the path to becoming discontinued, WordPress (WordPress.org, not to be confused with WordPress.com) is a free and open-source content management system (CMS). WordPress was originally created as a blog-publishing system, but due to widespread use, it has evolved to support multiple web content types, including more traditional mailing lists and forums, media galleries, membership sites, learning management systems (LMS), and e-commerce stores.
The beauty of WordPress is that it’s a hybrid code and no-code solution. If the use case would require custom functionality, you can hire a developer easily to create something to your liking. Even though it isn’t as easy to get started with WordPress compared to their drag-and-drop counterparts Wix and Squarespace, WordPress features a plugin architecture and a template system, referred to within WordPress as Themes. Making it easy to customize and manage, even with someone without any coding experience. By setting everything up properly, end-users without much technical experience can manage everything on their own. Once the whole system is up and running, it can be as simple as installing and uninstalling parts you need.
While WordPress is free to use, it doesn’t come with its own hosting, unlike Wix and Squarespace. To function, WordPress has to be installed on a web server one has to purchase separately, either part of an Internet hosting service, like WordPress.com, or a computer running the package WordPress.org in order to serve as a network host. A local computer may be used for single-user testing and learning purposes. This can either be a pro or a con, depending on the end user.
Because it is free to use and has released in a time before drag and drop builders, WordPress is used by more than 60 million websites, including 39% of the top 10 million websites as of January 2021. It is the only web platform that has grown aggressively for many years now, and it is not showing any signs of slowing down. WordPress is one of the most popular, business-ready, and scalable content management system solutions in use, with out-of-the-box Search Engine Optimization (SEO) capabilities that is the most Google-friendly out of all the choices here. It had a lot of time to grow that it even stacks very well against new drag and drop builders in the market. In fact, it is so popular that almost all apps that relates to running a business on the web will be compatible with WordPress, such as e-commerce, email marketing, analytics, etc. A WordPress website is not locked to a certain ecosystem.
Now that we know about the three different platforms, we will now compare them based on what’s important for a business: ease of use, business scalability, page speed, and SEO.
Ease of Use
There is no question. Wix and Squarespace are built with beginners in mind. It can go either way with both of these platforms. Their drag and drop interface makes editing your website a breeze. This is as visual as you can get. You can drag and drop items anywhere on your site, rearrange things on your pages, write content, and add media in a user-friendly environment.
WordPress also has its own way of visually editing the website, but it’s not its main focus, as it started out more as a blogging platform than as a website builder. However, with enough work, it can also easily reach the same beautiful designs that Wix and Squarespace are able to showcase, albeit with a bit more work. However, once everything is all set up and done, managing it is hassle-free. It’s just setting things up where most of the effort will come from.
So when it comes to ease of use, Wix and Squarespace make it easier to create websites over WordPress.
We define business scalability as the ability for a website to scale with a business as it grows. This can either mean that it can grow with a business slowly and be able to adapt with it, or when a business suddenly experiences sudden growth, that they may need more custom functionality with a website to accommodate for such growth. In our case, we want our websites to be future ready by being able to run blogs if press releases are to be done for a business, and we also want it to be ready for any custom-coded functionality, should we plan on implementing one down the line.
Unfortunately, that’s where the pros of both Wix and Squarespace end. When it comes to business scalability as we defined it, both Wix and Squarespace are limited on that front; you are limited only to the drag-and-drop website builder that they offer.
One of the features that businesses do not usually need right now but will be glad that they have is the ability to write blogs, especially if you plan to integrate an SEO marketing strategy in the long run.
This is what Wix’s blog editor section looks like. It has a text editor interface that allows you to create a basic blog. You can basic elements in it, like categories, tags, photos, videos, and archives.
However, it lacks the more necessary and advanced features a robust blogging system should have, like featured images, backdating posts, creating private posts, and more. And another crucial component is missing: the ability to post comments on a certain blog post. While not mandatory, one of the best ways to increase brand value and have better brand perception towards a business is the ability to interact with it directly. Wix not having a native commenting system in their blog is, sorry for not using a better term, shooting themselves on the foot.
Squarespace also has a very similar blogging system like Wix, although now they have a native commenting system. Squarespace can make simple blog posts like Wix, but again, the content creation experience is minimal with the text editor interface.
WordPress started out as a blogging platform and evolved into a full-blown website builder. Today it powers 39% of all websites. Having started out as a blogging platform, it is the most mature out of all the platforms compared. It has all the blogging features you will need like a native commenting system and all other advanced features that are missing from Wix.
It comes with a powerful and rich block editor which allows you to create beautiful layouts for your blog posts. Most importantly, you can extend your blog using plugins, custom code, and add any feature that you can think of.
This is an important one, especially when you plan to rank in Google and make Google Ads with your website. Google mentions that pagespeed is an important factor if you want to rank for Google searches, meaning you can kiss ranking in Google goodbye if your site loads slowly. Speed is also a landing page factor for Google Search and Ads, meaning you cannot make an ad with your website if it loads way too long.
This is one of the tools available online: Google Pagespeed Insights, which is a tool by Google that reports on the page performance on both mobile and desktop devices. They also provides suggestions on how that page may be improved.
This is not to say all Wix websites are slow. There are fast Wix websites out there, and you can make your Wix website fast with work, too. But it’s harder if you cannot get under the hood to do your work.
To Squarespace’s credit, they are running on more modern architecture than Wix currently is. They load much faster than Wix sites. They have an article for lowering page speed times, but you are limited in what you can do and control because they handle most of the work on their end. While this is a pro for some, this is a con for most people, especially if you will have a dedicated SEO team and strategy for your business down the line.
If you really are serious in making your website competitive in the online space, look no further than having WordPress as your platform of choice. There are so many tools and tweaks you can do when using WordPress, such as choosing the right hosting, image optimization, caching (both on the website front-end and server-side), database cleaning, and many more. Here’s a good example: my website. When you really want to tweak your website down to the best that it can perform, WordPress outranks the other platforms when it comes to page speed.
The capabilities of your platform of choice when it comes to SEO is one of the most important and deciding factors when choosing between these 3 platforms we are discussing. After all, if your website cannot be easily be found by Google, what’s even the point of a website? Even of SEO is not a strategy that pays off instantly (in fact, run away from anyone promising you specific results in a short amount of time), you will thank yourself for picking the right platform the moment you decide to run a serious SEO strategy.
Wix comes with an SEO wizard that automatically optimizes your website, making it painlessly easy for beginners to do basic SEO. So, if you are looking to do very basic SEO and not much else, Wix does the job.
Squarespace also has a simple SEO editor for small businesses that don’t know much about SEO. Also, Squarespace supports functions like XML sitemaps, one of the most popular file formats that helps with indexing your site in Google.
The platform is great if you just want simple SEO, but it falls short for more advanced SEO configurations. For one, you cannot edit and modify your XML sitemaps and deeper nitty-gritty files for SEO. Not to mention, customers and Squarespace users have also complained that it is also taking them way too long to have their website indexed.
Finally, their SEO editor also has their own naming conventions for their fields, such as “meta description” (the standard naming conventions) being called “SEO Description”. This is not a problem if you are coming in new to doing SEO, but only Squarespace does this. If you really want to work on your business and not in your business, you will need to have a system that makes it painless for an SEO specialist to work on your website.
Finally, we come to WordPress. I will have to say that unlike Wix and Squarespace, you will need to go through a bit of a learning curve to perform SEO on a WordPress website.
However, since WordPress has started out as a blogging platform, its SEO capabilities are honed over the years and allows for total customization and optimization for your website. You can change your page titles, add meta descriptions, change your URL, add alternative texts to your images, and many more. Options that are missing in Wix and Squarespace. The options can sometimes be overwhelming, but tweaking each and everyone of each fields will inch you closer and closer to a good ranking in Google, and in turn, more organic traffic to your website. Leading to more warm leads and more sales.
WordPress is also one of the most prevalent platforms in the web, so looking for labor to manage your SEO is also not a problem.
When it comes to organic traffic, there is no question. 46.1% of WordPress domains on the web get organic traffic, while only 1.4% of Wix domains on the web get organic traffic.
On another separate study, 45.5% of WordPress domains get organic traffic, while only 15.1% of Sqaurespace domains get organic traffic.
Big Organizations Using WordPress For Their Online Presence
WordPress has been around and matured for so long, that even big name brands you recognize choose WordPress as their platform of choice to run their business online. Some of whom include:
This article is not meant to attack or bring down Wix and Squarespace in any way. Instead, I wrote this with the intention of helping business owners make the decision of choosing the right platform to run their business online.
Even with all the downsides I have mentioned with Wix and Squarespace, they have their own place and use cases. If you are someone who started a new online business and want to quickly setup an online presence ASAP, Wix has a free plan that helps with that. Or you can pay for both Wix and Squarespace a small amount monthly to have your own domain name used. If you are tight with money while starting a new business, they are not a bad option to start with.
However, if you do have the money and are looking to run your business for the long-term, I will highly suggest using WordPress to run your business online. With some adequate training, you can quickly navigate around your way in the back-end, and you can also manage your content without touching a single line of code, too (unlike how other custom-made and coded websites charge you for every single change you make). WordPress also has no competition when it comes to SEO. The platform as a whole loads much faster because it doesn’t load a lot of unnecessary code, and it has a lot of tools and options you can change and modify to optimize your website for SEO.
The main issue I have with Wix & Squarespace is that YOU are the target market. This is a lesson in business, too: if you go direct to the consumer, you can definitely charge more because they can see the value you can bring. Wix & Squarespace, if you’re not careful, can nickle & dime you for every single functionality you can actually get for FREE or cheaper in WordPress. WordPress is an open-source platform with the largest market share on the web, that almost all integrations you may be looking for are either free or are already integrated to WordPress in the first place, because it’s a huge market not to.
One more thing, changing the website that will be linked to your domain name can also negatively affect your Google search rankings. That means if you have been using a Wix website for a while which also ranks pretty well in Google, changing your website to a completely new WordPress down the line for the extra customizations can bring your Google search rankings down temporarily, but we want to avoid complications with SEO in the long term.
If you are interested in having a website made in WordPress, I create websites made on that platform. You can reach out to me if you need a website done.