Note from the editor: Obviously we are somewhat biased here at WP Dev Shed. We are a WordPress development shop afterall. That said, we do try to be pragmatic in our approach and recognize that WordPress isn’t the ideal solution in all cases. Here we’ve tried to present an unbiased and fair assessment to help you make a decision about which platform will suit your needs.
Even with all of the professional web design tools out there, building a website is difficult. There’s a lot more that goes into designing a website than simply tacking on a few page elements. Or is there?
Website builders are powerful tools that enable users to design and build complete websites by dragging and dropping templates and page elements into place. They make it easier for all kinds of users to create professional-looking websites in minutes.
A Note on Evaluating Website Builders
Website builders are tools that allow users to build websites without having to manually edit code. Generally speaking, they’re ideal for building websites for small to medium sized businesses. And in most cases, the user doesn’t need to be particularly tech savvy to use them.
The website builders we’ve chosen to compare and contrast in this post all have a gradual learning curve making them easy to get started with. While there isn’t one evaluation criteria that’ll help you determine which tool to go with, we’ve decided to assess each website builder against these three factors:
- This criterion gives you an idea of how much flexibility each website builder offers in terms of third-party integrations, add-ons, and extensions.
- Ease of Use. A good website builder is easy to get started with. Its interface should be neat and clean and the main features should be easily accessible.
- How much will it cost to build your website using the website builder?
Now that we’ve established the three-step criteria against which we’ll evaluate the website builders, let’s jump right into the comparison.
Comparing Squarespace vs Wix vs WordPress
In this section, we’ll evaluate the top website builders – Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress – against our criteria and determine which tool wins each round by establishing a decision tree of sorts.
Squarespace comes with award-winning design templates right out of the box allowing you to build your website’s design in a few clicks. Its Google Fonts and Typekit Fonts integration gives you access to high-quality fonts free of charge. With Squarespace, you can synchronize your website with Dropbox, Amazon Associate, Facebook, and several other third-party services to increase its functionality and improve performance.
You also get access to a complete set of e-commerce tools to set up an online store. In addition to this, its suite of marketing tools is enough to help you generate user engagement and reach a global audience through both search and social platforms.
Wix features all of the essentials you’d need to build a high-quality website within a matter of minutes. Aside from a drag and drop editor and free hosting, it offers a mobile-optimized version of your website, custom domain names, and access to an app market for advanced functionality.
It ships with over 500 professionally-crafted templates and high-resolution stock images. What’s more is that you get access to premium-quality functionality such as parallax 3D effects, video backgrounds, and galleries.
Wix’s App Market contains a wide-range of apps and services that you can install to your website to supercharge its functionality and make it look more visually appealing. These apps are categorized into different sections including Social, Forms, Galleries, Online Store, Marketing Tools, and Business Apps.
As of this writing the WordPress Plugin Directory contains over 50,000 free plugins for you to install to your website. In addition to this, there are countless premium solutions on offer by individual plugin vendors and plugin marketplaces.
With WordPress there’s no shortage of functionality or customization power. That said, it’s worth noting that not all of the plugins and add-ons are high-quality offerings. This is because WordPress is an open-source platform and everyone is allowed to contribute to it.
In terms of design, the WordPress Theme Directory is loaded with thousands of free themes for users to install not to mention tons of templates, CSS editors, and page builders that can help you design your site and customize it with ease.
The Winner: Wix
Ease of Use
Squarespace features a powerful, intuitive interface that guides you through the different features you can use to create your website. The entire process is pretty simple: you navigate through the wizard inputting your site’s general information such as its category, title, and location, and then you’re re-directed to the page editor where you can begin building your website. The best part is that you can live preview the changes you make to your site’s design.
To help you get started with a step in the right direction, Wix prompts you to give it some information about your website such as the category of your business. Once you’ve done that, you get access to its template library and built-in design tools that you can use to create a unique-looking website.
As a content management system (CMS), WordPress is incredibly easy to use. However, its website building capabilities can come off as a bit overwhelming – especially for first time web developers and site owners. In addition to this, different themes offer different levels of customization power. While some premium offerings might allow you to use a drag and drop builder, the free alternatives might only be restricted to a few customization options.
The Winner: Squarespace
Getting started with Squarespace will set you back $12 per month on the Personal plan and $18 per month for the Business plan if you’re looking to build a website. On the other hand, an online store will cost you a bit more at $26 per month for the Basic plan and $40 per month for the Advanced plan.
Although it’s well worth the investment, if you haven’t set aside a recurring budget for your website then you might have to look elsewhere.
With Wix, you can get started free of charge and still have access to its drag and drop editor, unlimited web pages, 500 MB storage space, secure hosting, and a mobile site. And when it’s time to take things to the next level, you can upgrade to a premium plan.
The most basic Connect Domain plan will cost you $4.50 per month and Combo will set you back $8.50 per month giving you a completely ad-free website. You also spring for a more feature-rich plan by opting for the $12.50 per month Unlimited plan, $16.50 per month eCommerce plan, or the $24.50 per month VIP plan that gives you everything and more.
Being an open-source platform, WordPress is available free for downloading. However, you will have to self-host your WordPress website. When it comes to WordPress hosting, there are a number of different hosting solutions you can select such as shared hosting, managed hosting, etc. Depending on the company and plan you choose to go with, hosting your site could set you back a few bucks or more per month.
The Winner: WordPress
Although you can certainly create and customize your site using code, website builders are powerful tools that will help you build it in a fraction of the time. The website builder you end up going with will ultimately depend on your level of technical expertise and budget.
- Wix comes with hundreds of templates, an App Market, and third-party integrations to help you get started with designing a fully functional website.
- Ease of Use. Squarespace’s neat and clean interface and helpful guidelines makes it easy to use for both beginners and experts alike.
- With WordPress you’re only paying for hosting services which keeps the costs relatively low depending upon which plan you go for.
What features do you look for in a website builder? Let us know by commenting below!