WordPress vs Weebly vs Wix vs Squarespace
Everyone needs a website these days… the question is who to make your website with? I’ll be going over the four top builders in the world to help you do this.
WordPress undoubtedly has the most integrated and fully featured blogging system to date. That is how the CMS started after all.
Best feature set
With countless add-ons such as a membership system, e-commerce, music plugins, security plugins, SEO plugins, and endless open-source development, WP is the definition of diversity and has entire websites dedicated to teaching people how to use it.
Nothing makes a website building platform more helpful than having a way to update or edit it on our mobile devices. WordPress comes with Android and Mobile apps to assist with this for the .com and .org builders.
There is no other platform like WordPress and it is the most popular for a reason. While so many competitors have striven to make web development easy, WP has stuck to its developmental roots, allowing for full and entire control or setup of a website. If you want to code the entire thing from the ground up, you can. If you want to use a slew of plugins to make the process so easy a toddler could figure it out, you can.
Perhaps the most intriguing and respectable factor about WordPress is that the entire CMS is open source and maintained by open source development. This is the major reason it is so popular among the world and internet communities.
Old and Broken Plugins
There’s nothing more depressing after spending days finally setting up your entire site, design, security, etc. to find out that the final and essential plugin you need to complete your masterpiece is untested, unsecured, or will downright break the site. If you use WordPress, expect this to happen quite a lot.
The communities that support WordPress are vast and wide, as with the software and apps to assist. Unfortunately, with such a massively growing infrastructure, there tend to be bugs or areas that need improvement. Most of the time, a solution is found. However, many times, as updates and upgrades are made, these methods become deprecated and no longer apply or no longer work. While this is one of the largest issues that plague WP I’d like to note that this is an issue that plagues all development, not just web.
If you opt for using wordpress.com which I highly do not recommend as it offers no better features than any of the platforms I’m reviewing, you will be met with a free plan option, along with several paid tiers. However, if you choose wordpress.org the service I just covered, then the price is FREE. Granted, this doesn’t include any paid plugins, themes, or services you may want to use for the website.
Blogging shouldn’t be a problem with Weebly, as it has put a lot of focus in to building a system for writers of all types.
As with blogs, often come the need for members. Not to mention all of the forums, news, and social networking websites coming in to fruition. Weebly has an integrated membership system as well so you can keep your friends close and your followers closer.
When talking about ease of use, Weebly is the first that comes to mind, the same goes for the Android and iOS apps. They are incredibly fluid and have been heavily merged in terms of functionality with the desktop builder.
Many Templates and Themes
There are a boat load of themes to choose from, all very functional, and all fit to suit someone’s needs. You’ll likely never get bored. Most of these templates are mobile responsive as well.
Weebly’s simple drag and drop interface was without a doubt the most user friendly builder out of the four. Its fluid movement and light resource usage is perfect for anyone looking for minimal input and maximum output. Not to mention, Weebly’s platform could almost run on a potato.
Between longitude/latitude adjustment, color management, and media management, the customization is almost endless, if it wasn’t for the lack of custom coding.
If the basic editing tools don’t quite fit your vision, Weebly offers hundreds of apps to improve your site. In many ways, this is similar to WordPress.
No start from scratch
Sadly, as wonderful as Weebly is to use, there is not really a start from scratch system, where one can literally build a website from the ground up. You’ll find it challenging to get access to custom scripts, and implement them all as well.
Little custom coding
As with little start from scratch, comes little custom editing, code-wise. Adding and implementing custom HTML, CSS, headers, etc. will be a pain and in many cases, simply not possible without source code access and lack of support.
Currently, Weebly offers one free plan and several paid tier to suit your needs.
Blogging won’t be an issue with Wix, there are tons of options and a lot of customization in regards to building the perfect blog.
Editing your website on Android or iOS won’t be an issue with Wix. The apps have fully featured and strong integration with the desktop core, allowing you to update blogs, pages, content, and design structure.
If you’re keen on updating your users or subscribers with changes and updates or simply like to remind them of upcoming events, a newsletter is perfect. Any growing business will most likely need one to spread their image and trust. Wix has got newsletters covered, as well as email integration.
Membership systems are a must for many websites these days and especially blogs. Wix’s is fully fledged with many of the most desired features along with a sleek interface that can be manipulated to your whim.
Best Start from Scratch
When talking about starting from scratch, sure we can chunk up the win to WordPress, which literally lets you start code your entire site. But it can take weeks, months, or even years for someone to do this. Not to mention the fact that most people and small business owners in this world do not have the time for the dedication. Many people also do not have the thousands upon thousands of dollars it can require to pay a web developer. This is where Wix comes in. Their builder allows you to start from a blank page and edit every single element of the page through drag and drop or blocks, while the automated platform does all the coding for you.
While it’s entirely possible to add animations to any website using the builders on the list, none have made it a main focus of their feature set. Wix has a large variety of ways to implement attractive animations to pages allowing them to pop. It contains a large library of pre-rendered animations as well.
Most templates and themes
Templates will be found in any major builder to ease the workload on a website owner, but none will have the absolute insane library that Wix carries. Granted, they are not always the most desirable, you will most likely never run out of inspiration for the design of your site and create visuals like no one else.
Hundreds of apps
Along with an almost overwhelming amount of features, additions, and capabilities, Wix carries an app store with hundreds of community developed add-ons to help you establish an even more unique blueprint.
Can’t fully change templates
As much customization and depth as Wix offers, once you are invested, it’s quite a challenge to get out, design-wise that is. Changing templates is difficult and if possible will often result in a broken or horribly misconfigured look. This can mean that you essentially have to start all over if you ever plan on completely upgrading the visual appeal one day.
No source code
If you are a casual user or someone who is not invested in website development, then this issue does not concern you. But for those who would like to take that extra leap and add custom functionality that even Wix does not offer, or invent their own, it is not currently possible as Wix does not let its customers see the site’s source code. This will also be an issue if you ever intend on moving a Wix site to your own server, FTP, or host one day.
Can seem bloated
All of these integrated features can be a dream to those who are not that incredibly tech saavy yet have no desire for simplicity when it comes to their content. However, for those who are looking for an easy, no-complex website builder that allows them to construct a no-frills website, Wix can seem incredibly overwhelming or simply bloated. Millions of website admin’s opt for builders such as Weebly for this exact reason. Not to mention, the fact that Wix’s features tend to be slightly biased in the direction of social networks.
Currently, Wix offers one free plan and sever paid tiers dependent on your business needs.
While not the best around, Squarespace offers a pretty nice looking blogging system, filled with SEO friendly permalinks, and a somewhat enjoyable infrastructure. For someones creating an artistically oriented site, it is almost perfect.
While the earlier builds were quite bare bones, Squarespace’s Android and iOS apps actually offer quite a lot of functionality on a small screen. You can edit pages, posts, site design, and virtually anything the desktop can do, although depending on the device’s screen size, it can be difficult.
With integrated emailing, setting up a newsletter is easier than ever. Simply elect to use a newsletter, type in all of your information, and Squarespace takes care of the rest.
While many site owners, startups, and foundations tend to use third party methods for donating such as Patreon, it’s nice to know that a well functioning donation system is built right in to Squarespace’s platform to keep your donors safely inside your website’s circle.
Integrated Music Player
Although somewhat of a random feature, the integrated music player for Squarespace is quite phenomenal. For striving and even trending music artist, this can be a major bonus to adding elegance and atmosphere to a website.
High end themes and design
While all builders on this list and in general tend to include pre-designed themes and templates as part of the package, Squarespace undoubtedly carries the best of the bunch. While the list is limited compared to others, the beautiful appeal, strong focus on responsiveness, and almost perfect functionality shows what a quality driven website should look like.
Many editing elements
With many integrated popular add-ons such as AMP or Disqus, you don’t have to worry about being stuck with default website SEO tactics and can still push to the top of the search ranking while maintaining a strong community.
Many website builders, CMS platforms, and web domain providers will promise security. Most of them will then charge you for that promise. Squarespace handles all three of these for you if you wish and is strongly focused on the privacy of their customers, including Whois and DNS privacy for all plans by default.
Along with client privacy also comes user privacy. Squarespace includes a free SSl certificate for all plans, which at this point, is necessary if you expect anyone to trust using your website, including SEO bots.
No free plans
Unlike the other builders on this list, Squarespace offers no free plans and while you can sign up for a trial, once the trial is over, the site reverts to an offline plan only visible to you. After 30 days, the site’s files and database are erased.
Very tasking on low end computers
If you are using a lower end desktop or laptop, editing the site can be a pain and unbearable depending on the hardware. Squarepace’s editor while fantastic uses quite a lot of resources. When using Squarespace with Google Chrome, the editor swallowed around 3GB of ram and around 10-15% of my 8th gen Core i5’s power on one of my machines.
Poor backup process
If you were hoping that you would be able to easily back up your beautifully made website from Squarespace and transfer to another platform, you would be mistaken. Granted it is possible, but painful. To back up your Squarepace site, it requires generating an .xml file that tells importers where your pages and content is located. This works mostly well for pages, however, blogs can only be imported by one category at a time. More importantly, each backup contains a full copy of the rest of your site, requiring you to exclude the duplicates from your importer. Not every importer allows this, as many people find with WordPress for example when using some third party plugins, resulting in a real mess. In addition, images and video content tend to be excluded by these importers, requiring other workarounds or custom implementation of them again.
As of currently, Squarespace offers four essential plans, two for personal owners, and two for businesses in need of strong e-commerce.