You used to have to know a lot of HTML to build a website, and even then it was no guarantee it’d look good. That’s no longer the case!
Now you can build a really good looking website without a ton of time and hassle with some of the What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) website builders out there. Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress are the main options on the market. While WordPress is our personal favorite here at T&S, all three bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table.
Let’s take a look at each of them.
For DIYers that are not professional web designers, Wix is a strong contender for the title of best website builder. It has a slick interface and a variety of both free and paid options.
The free site doesn’t support custom URLs, so if you’re building a site for a business you’re going to want to spring for a paid account. And if you really want the site to be good you need to pay for some of the extra features.
Wix has a lot of templates to choose from, and the site builder has a reputation for being better about customization than some of the other options on the market. One downside, though, is that you can’t really switch templates once you’ve decided which to use. You’d have to recreate the site on a different template.
You can add elements from the Wix’s builder very simply. Clicking, dragging and moving elements around the design is a snap because it uses many of the same intuitive controls that you’re used to from photo editors. Wix also uses the right click menu for its site builder, which adds some extra context-sensitive actions to your toolkit.
You can use Google Analytics with Wix sites but it requires a paid subscription. The built-in reporting is fine but don’t have the same level of flexibility and reporting that Google or Facebook can provide.
There are several extra tools that Wix offers that work with its website builder too, including performance enhancements and niche-specific frameworks for different types of businesses.
But one of the most interesting features Wix offers is its Artificial Design Intelligence. You enter a few pieces of information, then stand back and let Wix procedurally generate a website for you. While not as good as a professionally designed website, they tend to come out better than you’d expect. Wix’s engine works well.
You can customize text and other features after the site comes out of the oven to put the finishing touches on. If you want a site without much fuss it’s pretty easy to put together.
Wix allows you to use photos over again in different places on the site because it saves them in a central folder. That’s not the case for its rival Squarespace, which requires you to reupload each time.
As far as mobile friendly design, Wix doesn’t create a responsive version of your website, sot that’s a pretty big ding against it, since that’s the solution Google recommends. But it does create a separate mobile site.
Wix is one of the easiest website builders to use, and it’s strongly integrated with e-commerce. It’s a good choice for those who don’t want to mess with the back end much, but falls flat for those who want to control their website more.
Squarespace is highly integrated with a wide range of services and has a clear WYSIWYG editor. Its most recent update 7.1 gave Squarespace more options that it didn’t previously support, but it’s also incompatible with earlier sites. Right now the install base is split between 7.0 and 7.1.
As far as pricing, Squarespace doesn’t offer a completely free option, but it is reasonably priced. If you want to do e-commerce, lower tier plans charge a 3 percent fee, while higher tier plans have you pay 2 percent.
Squarespace 7.1 no longer supports template switching. That means at this point that once you choose a template, you’re locked in. You can customize a lot of the options on that template, but you can’t one-click switch between styles the way you could with previous iterations.
The builder is good but has a reputation for not being as intuitive as Wix. It’s also limited in its module options. You have a good mix of colors and styles but less integration with outside tools.
The monitoring tools are robust and allow you to connect to various Google services easily for a full suite of analytics. There are also some add-ons like the included Squarespace Email Campaigns and Scheduling that can help you keep several digital marketing services under one roof. Of course, there are pros and cons to that as well.
All in all, Squarespace is a good middle ground between traditional website builders and newer all-in-one solutions.
First we’ll need to clarify: we’re not referring to WordPress.com here. We’re referring to the software you can download on WordPress.org and install on your own server. WordPress.org is what most of our clients use. WordPress.com is limited in its capabilities and doesn’t have nearly the options that an actual WordPress installation will provide.
There’s a reason so many sites run on WordPress: it’s extremely versatile! You can build just about anything you can imagine through it, and even more if you have some coding experience.
As a platform, WordPress encompasses so many capabilities that it can sometimes be more challenging to figure out how to do something than it would be on a simpler platform. When you’re setting things up and sometimes when you’re maintaining the site, it’s not always as intuitive as other site builders. That’s fine if you’re working with a digital marketing agency, but can sometimes provide a challenge if you’re a DIYer.
To get started with WordPress, you’d have to get some web hosting somewhere, then install WordPress on the space you received from the web hosting company. Some of them allow for quick one-click installs.
Content, design, data and functionality are all separate in a way that Wix, Squarespace and other website builders can’t provide. This allows the site to be portable. Switching themes is easy. There are free and paid themes with varying degrees of customization, but generally the more you want to adjust the more you’ll probably pay. Plugins are also a big part of WordPress, and a site may behave radically differently based on the plugins that are installed.
For example, we tend to use Beaver Builder on the vast majority of our sites, which gives it a design interface that’s both more powerful than the default page builder, as well as simpler to use.
If you’re working with an agency or have some web design experience and want more control over your website, WordPress is a much better option than Wix and Squarespace. If you don’t, or you’re just getting started and have a very low budget, Squarespace or Wix might be a better choice for you.
In my biased opinion, the best option is always a custom site, whether in WordPress or otherwise. But I know not every organization can afford one. If you’re wondering if you can afford a custom site, feel free to reach out to us. We’d be happy to talk and let you know what your budget can get you!