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As a business owner, you have many platforms to consider for building your website. Among three top contenders, WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix, each has it’s advantages and plenty of advocates to back them up. But there’s a simple answer to the question “Which one is best?”
When you need a solution that will provide your website and your business the advantages you really need to succeed both today and tomorrow, you’ll find WordPress is not only the best value, but also the most full featured, flexible, and future-proof choice.
There’s a good reason WordPress powers 35% of the world’s 1.3 billion websites. That’s nearly five billion WordPress websites worldwide. Here are the top five reasons you should join them.
The main purpose of your website is to make your company highly visible and easily discoverable by potential customers. Everything else you need visitors to do — engage with your brand, sign up for or download something, make a purchase — depends on them finding your website in the first place.
Without superior SEO, your website won’t appear among the top results when potential customers search for businesses like yours. That means no organic traffic to your website. For example, one study found that 45.5% of WordPress websites get monthly search traffic, compared to just 15.1% for Squarespace websites. What’s more, five times as many WordPress websites get at least 100 organic visits per month compared to Squarespace websites.
WordPress offers a best-in-class free plugin, Yoast, to help drive more traffic from search, attract more visitors from social media, and increase visitor engagement. The Yoast plugin guides you through every step of the SEO process, and can automatically evaluate and suggest improvements for individual web pages. And if you or your SEO guru want to get technical, the open source WordPress platform allows you to customize, tweak, and optimize every individual element of your website for search.
In contrast, Squarespace offers no SEO plugins, nor any native SEO capability. Worse, they fail to provide the basic SEO option to edit image alt tags. (As searchable components of your web pages, it’s crucial that your image alt tags include keywords.) Wix has an SEO Wizard that offers settings to let you optimize for different business niches. But you can’t customize or personalize the optimization to truly reflect the unique attributes of your particular business.
Squarespace and Wix earn high marks for being easy to learn. But unless you’re a web designer, how long it takes to create your first web page isn’t a relevant metric for your business success. What matters is that your site is highly visible and steadily attracts potential customers. Don’t overlook the powerful SEO expertise you’ll get from WordPress. It doesn’t matter how quickly you create a web page if nobody can find it.
WordPress offers more than 54,000 free plugins. Plugins make it easy to customize and automate most anything you need your business website to do, including:
Simply download and install the plugin to extend the capability and functionality of your website in minutes.
You also can choose from more than 6,800 free WordPress themes to create an attractive, professional, fully functional website quickly and easily. WordPress themes come with multiple layout choices, drag-and-drop page builders, sliders, photo galleries, and tons of other features. But you’re not limited to the elements built into each theme. WordPress is an open source platform, allowing you to use your own website logo and brand colors, upload your own images, and customize virtually every aspect of your website to suit your specific enterprise. Full disclosure: Customizing a design theme is relatively easy, but it does require some knowledge of CSS.
In contrast, Squarespace offers just 21 extensions — their term for a plugin — and most of them require payment. There’s a similar lack of themes in Squarespace, fewer than a hundred, and your design options are strictly confined to the set of features available in the Squarespace customizer.
Wix is a drag-and-drop builder, which is why it’s popular with the DIY crowd. The trade-off is limited functionality, and the high cost and hassle of adding those missing functions later. Wix lists a couple hundred free and paid applications (plugins) in their App Market, and they offer around 500 page templates. You can make minor edits to templates with a few limited built-in tools, but Wix templates can’t be fully customized. One major disadvantage is that once you choose a template, you can’t migrate to a new one as your business grows.
WordPress itself is free. And don’t forget the more than 54,000 free plugins and 6,800 free templates. Aside from that, you’ll need to register a domain name and sign up for a web hosting account.
The cost of web hosting varies depending on the provider and what type of resources you require. State-of-the-art, high speed, fully redundant, WordPress optimized, secure shared hosting can be found for as little as $15.00 a month with an annual contract. You always have the flexibility to change your hosting plan as your site grows, so you pay only for the resources you actually use. More important, with that hosting plan you have the freedom to build any type of functionality you wish into your website, including building an online store or monetizing your site with ads.
Squarespace and Wix websites are hosted on their servers, and you can buy your domain name through them if you prefer. You might think a website platform with fewer features and less functionality and flexibility than WordPress ought to cost less, too. Actually, the opposite is true.
The Squarespace personal plan starts at roughly the same cost as shared hosting, but it’s not for business use. It comes with very limited features, you can designate just two contributors to your site, and you can’t sell products. Business plans with ecommerce support cost $18 to $26 a month, but Squarespace charges 3% transaction fees. You’ll need to spend $26 and up a month — twice the monthly cost or more of a full-featured WordPress site — just to build an online store in Squarespace.
As for Wix, a free version is available, but using it depends on how you feel about intrusive Wix ads appearing on your website. Basic plans start at $13 to $49 a month, and business plans are available from $27 to $500 a month. But even at that hugely inflated price you don’t get all the functionality, flexibility, plugins, themes, and customization options you get in WordPress.
As an open source software platform, WordPress gives you complete freedom, ownership, and control of your website and content. They also make it extremely easy to export your content with a one-click exporter and other built-in tools that allow you to download your content in XML format. You’re able to not only save your content, media, and images, but you also can backup your themes, plugins, and even your entire database.
Having the freedom to easily move your content to any other content management system (CMS), transfer your website into a new WordPress template, or migrate your entire website to a new hosting service may not sound like a huge advantage at this very moment… but wait until you need to do it! You’ll quickly discover having complete control over your content can spare you an enormous amount of time, effort, expense, and aggravation. For example:
WordPress makes it easy to continually enhance and expand your website, or migrate it altogether if you need to. Not so with Squarespace and Wix.
The Squarespace export feature is very limited. You can only export certain elements of your content in an XML file, including some pages, galleries, and one blog page with all its posts. You cannot export product pages, album pages, text, audio, and video blocks. If you ever decide you need more design flexibility or functionality, or you grow dissatisfied with Squarespace hosting, you’ll need to entirely recreate your website.
Your website might not even survive Squarespace’s own updates. Current users can’t move their websites between Squarespace 7.0 and 7.1. To keep up with new functionalities and features, you’d need to completely rebuild your website.
With Wix, you don’t own your website, hosting, domain name or content (see the terms and conditions of Wix service). The only thing users can export in XML format are blog posts. Pages, images, videos, and all other content must be downloaded manually. According to Wix documentation, all your content is hosted exclusively on Wix’s servers and cannot be exported elsewhere. As previously mentioned, once you commit to a Wix design template, you can never change. Your website and your business is effectively held hostage on the Wix server.
You can launch an online store within minutes thanks to WooCommerce, the world’s most popular ecommerce platform. The WooCommerce plugin comes with its own ecosystem, add-ons, and thousands of WooCommerce themes. Additional WordPress plugins are available to help you sell physical or digital products, services, events, subscriptions, and more.
There is no limit on how many products you add to your website, how you display them, or how you sell them. You can run your own affiliate program and grow sales without restriction. And WordPress lets you use whichever payment processor you prefer. You’ll find plugins for every kind of online payment, including Stripe, PayPal, Google Checkout, 2Checkout, QuickPay, Authorize.net, Payoneer, Skrill, even Bitcoin, and many more.
With Squarespace, you can use only Stripe, PayPal and Square for payment processing. That’s a problem if your business has a global market. As previously noted, you’ll need a Business plan for $18 a month plus 3% fees, or a Commerce plan for $26 to $40 a month, to sell on Squarespace. You’ll find very few Squarespace extensions (plugins) or third-party apps to help customize the sales process to your particular product or service, nor will you get much help promoting sales to grow your business.
Wix also lacks the flexibility, freedom, and options WordPress users enjoy with WooCommerce. First, you’ll need a Business plan priced $26 to $500 monthly, and payment providers are limited to Stripe, PayPal, and Square in the U.S. As with all design elements in Wix, you have little choice in customizing your store and presenting your products. Confirmation emails to purchasers can’t be fully customized, so if you’re particular about the voice you use when addressing your customers, you’re out of luck. And if you ever need to move your store and all of your products to another Wix theme or hosting service, be prepared to start over entirely.
With nearly five billion websites built, WordPress has proved to be easy enough to use. More important, it has proved to be full-featured and flexible enough to power your website not only today, but also into the future as your business grows. When you add it all up — ease of use, industry leading SEO, thousands of free plugins and themes to extend functionality and customize design, superior value and affordability, full ownership and control of your web assets, and top-rated ecommerce capability — there’s little doubt that WordPress is the right platform for your website.
We have seen websites of all shapes and sizes, from brilliant to completely dysfunctional. Your site may live solidly in the middle of the bell curve in this regard, however that doesn’t mean your site couldn’t stand to benefit from some amount of modernization. Just like all other technology, the technology of websites is constantly evolving and changing. Often times, elements of a site which were highly effective when a site was built lose their effectiveness over time; and depending on the nature of your business, you may not even realize how significantly even a small issue can affect your business.
While it may be difficult to fully comprehend and validate the decision to move forward and modernize, it is important to keep in mind that time flies as it relates to technology and user expectations fly right along with it. Your website is a 24-hour, 7-day a week representation of your organization online. It needs to properly showcase your brand, your message and your mission. It should drive results, rather than hinder your efforts.