Using a website builder for your business site can save you a huge amount of time and money. These platforms allow you to launch a professional website in hours and on a budget, where hiring a developer or web design agency might have previously cost thousands. Many also include an in-built hosting service and content management system that make updating and populating your site with content as easy as sending an email.
In this article, we provide a direct comparison of three major platforms. Pitting Wix vs WordPress vs Squarespace, we explore their respective features, customer support, and pricing plans, to help you determine which is best for your operation.
Before we dive in, it’s worth understanding the background of these platforms. WordPress is by far the most popular provider, claiming to power 38 percent of the world’s sites. It comes in two forms—WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Whilst the latter com used to have a somewhat basic offering, it now has four tiers business and ecommerce plans. Beware—on the WordPress.com free plan, your site will have “wordpress” in the URL and adverts that you won’t earn anything from.
However, the “real” WordPress is WordPress.org, an open-source content management system that requires self-hosting. When people talk about WordPress, they usually mean this, and it is what we’ll discuss in this article. It has incredible customizability, although its user interface feels slightly dated in 2020.
Squarespace and Wix, on the other hand, are website builders, operating as a kind of one-stop shop for all your website creation needs. They include website hosting, a wide range of sleek and modern templates, drag-and-drop design creation tools, and maintenance of your site as standard. Therefore, they have a much shallower learning curve than WordPress.
Every time someone accesses your URL, they will be redirected to your site, the data for which is stored on your web host. Squarespace and Wix are hosted website builders, which means they handle the hosting in-house.
WordPress is a self-hosted platform, however, so you’ll need to set up your own host. Self-hosting is more complicated, but allows you greater control over your storage space, traffic capability, and pricing. Some of the best website hosts also offer a bespoke WordPress linking service to make the process easier.
WordPress offers unlimited customizability when it comes to design, allowing you—or your hired freelancer or agency—to endlessly tinker with your site’s coding. Thousands of free and paid-for WordPress themes instantly allow you to change the styling and layout of your site without affecting its content. When it comes to designing your site, WordPress allows you to add page builder plugins, such as WP Page Builder, Beaver Builder, or Divi. These often come with free templates and can allow you to construct pages with a drag-and-drop tool, making the design process more similar to what you might experience with Wix or Squarespace.
Squarespace doesn’t let you build a site from scratch in the same way as WordPress, but its templates are stunning and simple—ideal if your business has a visual product. Squarespace’s design tool can take some getting used to and tends to constrain you to your template’s parameters, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you don’t want to make major adjustments.
Wix is certainly the easiest platform for beginners to use, and offers more than 500 templates. Its drag-and-drop editor makes the design process incredibly intuitive. There are two forms of Wix to choose from: Wix ADI and Wix Editor. The former uses AI to generate a site for you, whilst the latter allows you to build a site manually. Wix ADI is quick and easy to use, but uses predetermined content and sections. The editor, on the other hand, is more customizable, but makes it difficult to change your template after your site is set up.
WordPress was originally designed as a blogging site builder, and its content management system is second to none, allowing you to add video, images, and third-party apps with just a few clicks.
Squarespace’s content management system almost rivals WordPress. It includes categories (a way of organizing your posts) and post scheduling, as well as a live preview of your site as you write. Wix, on the other hand, is more limited and doesn’t, for example, allow for custom layouts. But if you just need a simple blog with images, text, and video, it won’t let you down.
There have been some reports that Wix’s e-commerce functionality can impact on performance, but overall its offering is impressive, even including an all-in-one management tool to help you keep track of sales and shipping progress.
Squarespace also comes into its own in this area. Its e-commerce solution has all the features a professional store would need, including coupons, no transaction fees, and product image zooming.
WordPress doesn’t offer any kind of built-in e-commerce functionality, so you’ll need to import a plugin, the best of which is arguably Woocommerce. Totally free and easily scalable, it has a large community of developers to help get you set up and is owned by the same company as WordPress.
WordPress’s incredible array of functionality makes it the best platform in terms of features. Whilst it does have a steeper learning curve, the ability to make your site do almost anything is worth the time and effort.
Squarespace and Wix both offer customer support, as well as support forums, articles, and video tutorials. In fact, it’s pretty difficult to split them—whilst Squarespace offers 24/7 email support, Wix has phone lines where you can actually speak to someone, so it depends on your communication preference.
Both are undoubtedly better in this regard than WordPress, however. As it is open-source, WordPress is free to use, but offers no customer support. Your only option is to head to a public forum or go the DIY route with a YouTube tutorial. Plus, because your host is separate from the platform with WordPress, there’s always a risk of going round in circles when trying to find the source of a problem.
Pricing and Plans
WordPress is free, but almost always comes with unavoidable costs worth being aware of. First, you’ll need to find a web host. They massively vary in terms of price and add-ons, but a solid solution for a site with less than 10,000 users per month can be found for around $5 to $15 per month. Plugins, which are additional bits of code to enhance your site—for example, to let you run ads—are usually free, but can cost $200 and can be charged as a one-off or recurrently.
WordPress design templates vary in price from free to thousands of dollars, but we’d recommend a solution in the $30–$70 range, where you’ll find lots of attractive options for a reasonable cost. Overall, then, you’re looking at around $300–$400 for a respectable WordPress site over the course of the first twelve months.
Squarespace and Wix both have recurring payment plans which include a domain, hosting, and web design as standard, and offer various pricing structures depending on your needs. Sites on Wix’s Basic plan include ads, so this isn’t really a serious option for a business site. Their first professional offering is the Unlimited package, for $22 per month, which offers 10GB storage and more than $250 worth of advertising vouchers as a sweetener. Squarespace’s Business plan chimes in at $26 per month, and has both unlimited bandwidth and storage and a free email address for the first year.
In both cases, you’ll pay around 20 percent less if you decide to pay annually rather than monthly. All included, Squarespace and Wix tally to around $250—over the course of the first year—for the kind of site a small- or medium-sized business will require.
Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress all allow you to make a professional website without breaking the bank. If you’re happy to spend a little more and invest some time into learning how to manage your site, then turn to WordPress, as its level of customizability is immense. With a whole ecosystem of freelancers, agencies, and third-party content available to help, you’ll be able to build something that exactly suits your needs.
However, if you want a professional-looking website made quickly, Wix and Squarespace are fantastic options. In our view, Wix’s slightly more intuitive design process makes it marginally stronger for small and medium-sized enterprises than Squarespace—unless your business requires a particularly artistic design. That’s where Squarespace comes into its own, with templates that are, visually speaking, the best on the market.