When it comes to building your website, the options can be overwhelming. Do I build my website on WordPress vs Squarespace? What about Wix? And Shopify? How do they compare and which one is right for my site? These are all great questions that I get asked by clients all the time! In this article, I explain the difference between the four most popular website builders. Read on to find out which one is right for you.
What Does Each Website Builder Offer?
Before we discover which platform is right for your website, let’s take a look at the key differences between each platform.
WordPress launched in 2003 and according to recent stats, it powers approximately 38% of the internet. That’s a whopping 27 million live websites and potentially as many as 455 million total websites.
There are two different versions of WordPress, which, despite its popularity, can be a bit confusing. Hosted WordPress sites are found at WordPress.com. This hosted option is a software as a service (SaaS) site builder where users pay a monthly fee for a range of features. This option provides hosting and content management, as well as the ability to link third party plugins for added functionality such as e-commerce.
Self-hosted WordPress sites are developed on open-source software that at WordPress.org. Because the code is open-source, it is free to use and very easy to modify. Sites built using WordPress.org, however, do require third-party hosting, the occasional plugin, and domain name registration. These are features often included on full-service hosted builders like WordPress.com.
Squarespace is another SaaS website builder that joined the ranks in 2004. Its popularity has increased dramatically in recent years and Squarespace accounts for over 2.2 million live websites on the internet.
Some of the more popular features of Squarespace as a website builder include a built-in e-commerce solution, hosting, and content management. The site builder also offers a huge selection of unique, easy to update templates. Recently, the company even added in an email marketing solution.
Wix joined the site builder scene in 2006 but quickly worked its way up in popularity. Today, with over 3.8 million live websites, Wix is the second most popular site builder on the internet.
Like Squarespace and WordPress, Wix provides a content management system and web builder that includes varying features based on a monthly subscription. The platform offers a drag-and-drop page editor, hundreds of templates, and e-commerce solutions that can be modified based on your industry. Wix also has a multitude of built-in apps for membership sites, forums, event registration, live chat, and even takeout orders.
Shopify graced us with its launch in 2006 and has since marked itself as the leading solution for e-commerce websites. It is unique from the other site builders, however. It allows you to add a plugin to your existing website in order to manage online sales from your Wix, WordPress, or Squarespace website.
The bulk of Shopify’s features, however, are accessible when you build your website and online store all on Shopify. The site builder is designed specifically for online sales, making it the top choice for e-commerce stores both large and small. Shopify includes everything you would expect in an online shopping experience. Gain features such as abandoned checkout recovery, automatic taxes, flexible shipping rates, and inventory management.
Choosing a Website Builder
Each of the website builders above—WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, and Shopify—have very similar features. Each one allows users to build a fully functional and stunning website. So how do you choose? The choice ultimately comes down to the features or design elements you want or need the most.
The best way to analyze your site builder needs is to decide which category your website falls into:
- Business Website
- Online Store
- Landing Page
Once you know what you need in a website, it is much easier to choose a site builder that offers all the right features.
WordPress vs Squarespace
If you want to build a blog, business website, or portfolio for your creative services, WordPress and Squarespace are top of my list. These site builders also provide e-commerce solutions, though they are limited compared to Shopify. So for now, let’s compare these two options for your business growth needs.
WordPress offers a ton of flexibility for unique web development and design. For large businesses needing a multi-page website, WordPress.org is by far the best solution. The free software allows you to hire a professional developer to create a completely customized website for your needs.
For smaller business websites that are more photo or design-centric (and don’t require quite as much flexibility), Squarespace is a great solution. The design-forward style of the site builder makes it an incredible option for artistic portfolios, minimalist storefronts, or really any business website.
When it comes to choosing WordPress vs Squarespace, the ultimate question is how much you are willing to spend. WordPress can cost more on web design and development up-front vs monthly fees. Squarespace, while more per month than WordPress, provides a catalog of templates that just about anyone can customize. The builder does allow changes to CSS and HTML for further customization, but it isn’t necessary if you are looking for a user-friendly website.
WordPress.org, while free, can cost more up front in web development and design. The monthly fee tends to be lower, as hosting and plugins are often minimal costs. WordPress.com offers a free personal site/blog. In order to gain the easy-to-manage functionality like Squarespace, however, you can end up paying about the same per month.
Either website builder is a great solution for your business. Often the choice really comes down to usability. I recommend exploring the different templates on each platform to get a feel for how they are customized. Typically, one site, either WordPress or Squarespace, will appeal to you. Look for design as well as ease of use in learning how to build and manage a website.
I work with both platforms and I love them both equally. WordPress is a stalwart in the website builder world and continues to lead the way in terms of websites built. Squarespace, however, continues to expand functionality and features, making it a great solution for do-it-yourself website management.
Shopify vs Wix
Looking back at the list above, Shopify is hands down the best solution for your website if you need an online store. This is especially true if you offer more than a handful of products or services. Wix does offer some great e-commerce solutions but is a better option for a landing page, portfolio, or even a membership website.
Wix has some interesting apps that make it a fun option for musician websites, event planning sites, or even wedding websites.
Shopify, however, is the most comprehensive website builder for online shopping. It provides the functionality of a CMS along with inventory management, online payment, and so much more.
The great news is, if you already have an existing website, you can still use Shopify to your advantage. As I mentioned above, for only $9/month, you can manage your store/inventory on Shopify, and still keep your current site. A plugin allows shoppers to purchase through your online store. In many cases, this is the best of both worlds, especially if you love your existing site.
Still Not Sure Which One to Choose?
I’m here to help! I would be more than happy to walk you through the different features of these four website builders. We can discuss your website needs and how each platform compares in meeting those needs. Set up a website consultation here.