Know you need a website, but you have no idea where you should put it?
You’ve probably heard that Wix is easy, or Squarespace gives you beautiful templates, or you found a template that you like for ShowIt, or that WordPress is the best for SEO and flexibility (but has a steeper learning curve).
So which one do you go with anyway?
Where you build your website matters.
We’re going to break down the biggest pros and cons of each of these website builders and platforms, allowing you to go into your choice feeling confident that you’ll get what you need – right now.
Your Website is Your Foundation
One thing to keep in mind is that your website is the central hub for your marketing. Your ads, organic social media, email marketing, content marketing, everything should lead back to your website in some way.
Your website is also unique in that it is one of the few things that can be 100% owned by your company. You don’t have to let anything exist on your website that you do not want to; it’s all controlled by you.
Given these two big factors, your website needs to live somewhere that you don’t have to worry about whether or not the copyrights are yours, your data is secure, and will still be there even if one of your website service providers goes out of business.
Website Platforms vs. WordPress
Squarespace, Wix, and ShowIt all have one major thing in common – they’re a website builder program and host built into one.
That means you use their software to build your website and they give it a place to live. You’ll pay so much per month to have your website on their services and you can’t take that exact website and move it anywhere else.
Not being able to move a website that you spent long hours creating to another host can put you at the mercy of a third-party company, and that is kind of the opposite of that whole “you own it” thing with your website.
WordPress.org, on the other hand, gives you a free open-source solution to build a website. A WordPress website can live on a variety of different hosting platforms, including Bluehost, GoDaddy, or WP Engine. If you don’t like the customer service on one, you can move your same website to another company without any changes or downtime needed.
If WordPress itself went out of business tomorrow, its technology would still work for years, giving you plenty of time to switch up your website.
Let’s be real – there’s a reason that WordPress powers over 45% of the internet.
I get that sometimes, you just need to get a website up now and get your online presence running. Website platforms like ShowIt and Squarespace make it look so easy that you are OK with the risks.
So how do the platforms stack up against each other and WordPress in other areas?
WordPress Can be Just as Cost-Effective
Prices have gone up across the board for everything, and website builders are no exception.
One of the main points for many is that a website builder is supposed to be more cost-effective – after all, it’s a host and builder in one – but that’s not necessarily the case anymore.
Squarespace plans start at $23/month, Wix starts at $16/month (though they recommend their $32/month option), and you’ll pay $24/month for ShowIt (unless you want a blog, and that costs at least $29/month).
WordPress.org, on the other hand, is free to use with a lot of free plugins and even themes to extend your website. Your biggest cost will come in the form of hosting that can range as low as $12/month to $24/month and more depending on the size of your website.
WordPress can require some maintenance, but higher-quality hosting companies will help take care of your website for you.
WordPress Grows with Your Business
One big thing to keep in mind – how big are you hoping to grow your business? The bigger your online presence and platform, the more website power you’ll need.
If you have a ton of people coming to your website, giving you their credit card information, or going through an online course, you need to be worried about speed and security.
You’re a bit locked in with a website platform. You can only get so much power and speed and often you’re on something called a shared server. That means if someone else on your server is hogging resources, your website can slow down.
You’ve got more flexibility with WordPress. I have a few clients that pay significantly more for their hosting, but that’s because they need it. They need the security and speed a private server offers them, especially when they’re sending thousands of people to their website for a launch.
You might be thinking, “I’m not anywhere near there yet,” but an important thing to consider is what happens when you grow.
If you’re relying on a website platform, you’re often stuck with what they can give you. And you can’t move easily, which means you’ll be looking at a redesign or at least an expensive migration when your business grows.
Your Choices Are Limited by the Platforms
This is true for all of them to some extent, but especially true with Wix, Squarespace, and ShowIt. All 3 of these platforms were built to make website creation easy and more cost-effective. With that comes specific limitations. There are only so many templates, especially on website platforms. The beautiful website you built for your business might look eerily similar to a competitor’s.
While website design has its trends, WordPress is an open-source platform, meaning thousands of developers across the world contribute themes, plugins, and more to the platform. This increases your options tenfold because you also can customize further through direct code edits which you (maddingly) can’t do with most website platforms.
Another advantage to WordPress? You can always have a WordPress professional custom-code a website for you. That means your website can be unique to you and your company, but still have the same power and functionality of WordPress you’ve become accustomed to.
Beware of Having to Edit Your Mobile and Desktop Separately
When you’re building a website, you want it to work well on a laptop or desktop as well as a phone and tablet. Squarespace claims to build all its themes responsively, which means that it responds to the browser and the size of the screen (something Google prefers and recommends).
However, I’ve noticed that Wix uses a slightly dated approach using adaptive technology. Easily put, that means that Wix lets you create a desktop version of the site and then edit/create a mobile version, with potentially different blocks and content (not something I’d recommend). This can be frustrating, as it means you might need to change something twice for it to appear on the desktop and mobile versions of the website.
If you’re looking into WordPress and themes for it, make sure you choose one that touts its code as responsive and you’ll be good to go. The goal is to minimize your workload, so you don’t want to have to worry about making changes on multiple versions of a website.
WordPress is Better Built for SEO
I’ve seen some arguments for Squarespace, ShowIt, and Wix and their improved SEO experiences. However, most of their SEO tools, like editing meta descriptions and titles, are pretty buried and not intuitive to find (believe me, my office has heard the cursing as I’ve tried to find them for clients).
If it’s buried, that means your average user just isn’t going to take advantage of it. On-page SEO is important because it improves the discoverability of your website, improves click-throughs from Google and search engine listing pages, and helps to optimize any backlinks that are created in an external SEO strategy.
WordPress was created to be the blogging platform, and it shows. Blogging is one of the best ways to improve your SEO and create fresh content that Google and your readers love, so the fact that WordPress handles this the best is a huge plus for your SEO. WordPress inherently comes with some pretty powerful SEO features, including some of the best built-in URL structures I’ve seen in any website creation platform (don’t get me started on Shopify’s).
But taking the lead here, WordPress also lets you add plugins to help supercharge your website, and there’s no better SEO plugin than Yoast. Even the free version helps your website do some pretty amazing things, giving you tips to improve your posts and pages. My personal favorite is how much control I have over what Google indexes and how easy it is to create the vital meta titles & descriptions that Google shows to its searchers (and thus, what encourages your searchers to click on your link versus a competitor).
Want to hear a crazy thing? If you want to blog on ShowIt, it not only costs you significantly more, but you’ll be doing it through WordPress anyway.
ShowIt, from my research, appears to be largely built on WordPress anyway and customized to be “easier to use.”
Why would you make your personal experience confusing and not just go with the original so your entire experience as a business owner is seamless?
Web Accessibility on Website Platforms
Your website needs to be useable by everyone, no matter their abilities.
The sad reality is that most platform builders are simply not built to follow web accessibility best practices.
I’ve seen a significant improvement in Squarespace and its code output, I’ve seen some truly horrendous websites built on those platforms.
What causes these issues?
You just don’t have control over them. You can’t control what code it spits out and whether or not it follows best practices.
While you can make some accessibility improvements in the design and content side of things, a lot comes down to how something is coded.
Unfortunately, many WordPress theme builders like Divi and Elementor have issues with web accessibility so this isn’t limited to a website platform. However, with WordPress, you can have more control over the output and you’re able to make bigger changes that boost your accessibility.
Want Website Longevity? WordPress Wins.
Look, it’s easy to see that I love WordPress. The most important to me is that all of these things combined mean that WordPress also provides the most flexibility for your business’s growth. You may have a larger investment upfront in a customized WordPress website, but that flexibility helps to protect your investment for a much longer term because your website on WordPress can grow more easily with you.
WordPress is also easier to adjust and move around, as needed. You can rest assured that you own your website, versus being dependent on a third-party company and its limitations. WordPress’s open-source approach means you can add powerful features, like eCommerce solutions, without costing you an arm and a leg in monthly service fees as you can see on Wix and Squarespace or even ShowIt. (I once cost-compared a WordPress with Woocommerce website with a ton of features to Shopify…the client would pay 1/3 per month with Woocommerce vs. Shopify’s fees).
If you’re just starting and need a footprint that you can create yourself – and have the time to invest in it – then a website platform might just be right for you. But if you’re looking for a website that will last and be a powerful sales tool, WordPress is always the way to grow.
It just depends on where your business is now and where you want to be in a year, two, or five.
Want a full breakdown and checklist of all the features of various website platforms?
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