Building a Website – WordPress, Squarespace or Wix?
Regardless of the size of your business, your website is the epicentre of it all. It’s where customers go to learn more about you, determine your legitimacy and possibly purchase your products and services. With 80% of purchases starting with online searches, your website needs to be informative, easy to find and easy to use.
Many businesses find that the first (few?) iterations of their website didn’t quite cut it. Or it’s simply that your business has grown, your digital strategy has changed or you are adapting with updates to SEO and lead generation techniques. Whatever the reason, when it’s time to update your website, we have many clients who ask us which website building platform we recommend using.
The honest answer is that you need to use what fits your needs, budget and skill set, but that comes with a ton of caveats. Deciding how to create a website is about so much more than your needs right now. You need to determine the goals of your business over the next 2-5 years (depending on the size of your site) and anticipate what may be needed.
If you are a small business that will only grow minimally, a templated site from Wix or Squarespace may be perfect for you. The design work is done which reduces the time and cost required to get the site up and running and usually won’t require a developer or designer. You can find plug ins for e-commerce and do it all at a minimal cost. This is also a good option if you use lead generation methods such as offline interaction, social media groups, Shopify, Etsy or Amazon and rely less on SEO to drive traffic to your site.
But if you anticipate growing, needing to make frequent adjustments or need to use complex lead gen funnels, SEO work and/or custom coded sections, you’ll want to invest early in an OpenSource platform like WordPress. By the time we are working with a client at Digital Monk, they are typically ready to upgrade to a more custom site that allows for coded adjustments rather than needing plugins and bolt ons, which complicate your site and can create a variety of back end challenges, including SEO issues.
To make things a bit easier to put into perspective, let’s take a deeper dive into each option based on important key factors such as ease of use, design, features, SEO compatibility, scalability, management and cost.
Wix is easy to use with templated designs that are nice, but do look like templates. Adding on any of the basic marketing tools such as blogs, e-commerce, lead forms or appointment schedulers involves layering over the site which affects your site’s performance and can negatively impact your SEO efforts.
While Wix does it all as far as hosting, site management and security, you can’t take your site with you so scalability is limited. Overall, Wix is an excellent, and very affordable, option for small businesses or those that really just need a place for prospects and customers to land, find basic info and that’s about it. Good for a business where the majority of your lead generation is done offline or with very specific outreach.
Squarespace offers features that are a bit more robust for small businesses such as e-commerce and marketing options. Squarespace is very easy to use and though you can only use one of the limited number of templates, they do look great. Squarespace’s limitations come in that you are not able to add plugins or add ons, so you end up with various snippets of code to incorporate these. While Squarespace is quite affordable, if you are in need of more than a basic site, you’ll need to work with a developer for custom code, which can get costly, and eventually the site gets convoluted with too much customization on top of the template.
This also creates limitations on your SEO efforts as well. Other than some metadata, all other pages are auto-generated, which leaves you with little ability to make adjustments and tweaks to maximize online search and digital lead generation.
Squarespace does handle the technical aspects for you, which is easier and more affordable, so we suggest opting for using it when you need a little more than basic functionality but don’t need customization, plugins or to rely on SEO to drive traffic to the site. This is great for small businesses that do most of their outreach and sales process offline, but use their website for additional information, to maintain professionalism and for direct sales.
As you may have guessed by now, WordPress is the best platform to use for most growing businesses. If you are working with a digital marketing agency in any capacity, they will likely recommend a WordPress site so your SEO can be maximized and provide full control and customizations for blogs, e-commerce, lead forms and various other design elements and technical specifications.
WordPress is a full content management system, so the capabilities are endless. WordPress can be used self-serve, but it is a good idea to work with a developer if it’s within your budget. They can look at your site and your business goals holistically to plan for future scalability and ensure what you are doing now will enhance, or certainly not impede, future growth requirements.
WordPress incorporates a ton of plugin options and functionality from the get go, with many more available for purchase. This allows you unlimited options for what you can do now and how your site can grow with you.
The one challenge with WordPress is that you are required to find your own web management including hosting and domain. If these are not in your technical skill set, you will need to shop around. The positive is that you are able to source local hosting which is a huge benefit for small businesses.
Surprisingly, the WordPress is not as expensive as you may think. The actual site itself is free, with charges based on the plugins and options you choose. There is also the added cost of hosting and domains, but those can be found at a nominal cost which means that the price is actually comparable across all 3 options.
With costs in a similar range, the real difference between WordPress versus Squarespace and Wix is the need to host and register your domain independently and the customization options. Overall, we recommend Wix or Squarespace if you do most of your customer building offline and need a simple place for potential customers to land and find basic information about your company. For all other business types, WordPress is our recommendation. And we recommend getting started as early as possible in your business because as your grow and the demands from your customers (and digital marketing requirements like SEO) change, you want to start from a place that can easily adapt rather than having to reinvent the wheel while trying to grow – which we all know makes things more challenging!
If you need advice or resources on building (and promoting) an awesome website that can grow with your business, reach out to us any time.