Is WordPress better than Squarespace or Wix for your business website?

Written by John Sharkey

A seasoned website digital marketing expert, John has developed custom websites and digital marketing strategies for numerous businesses of varying sizes. Having an MBA, his expertise is rooted in meeting business needs through a customer-centred approach. He is especially enthusiastic in helping those trying to make a positive change in the world.

7 September, 2022

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Should you use a do-it-yourself (DIY) website builder like Wix or Squarespace for your business? I would recommend not doing so and instead going with WordPress for the 10 reasons below. 

First off, yes, there are some reasons for doing so. A DIY website builder is easy to set up. If you are a good designer or creative person this may be doable as this skill is definitely needed. It is cheaper to get started. For a “throw-away” website that doesn’t need to last a long time or build a brand a DIY tool like Wix or Squarespace can be used, but for a legitimate business I would go with WordPress for the following points. I am comparing this to a privately hosted WordPress environment through a service like SiteGround, rather than the hosted solution.

1- You don’t own the content

Keep in mind you are effectively “renting space” for your website on the DIY builder platform. They are free to change their content guidelines or hosting policies and can decide to remove your content if they wish. Check the fine print on all terms and conditions which include acceptable use policies and limits on the kind of content you can share, which of course can change. While most services would say you own your content, there are disclaimers that go along with that which means you are not totally free to share it through their platform. You may have to agree that they may use your content to promote their services without your agreement. These rules can change and any time, and you are stuck with their service without an easy exit plan.

It is also possible the DIY service can close or get bought out by another service, and your website can get cancelled with little to no notice or they can create more restrictive policies. This happened to me and hundreds of others when a large service that had been bought out eventually closed a number of years ago.

In a private WordPress hosting environment, you are free to choose a host that has fewer restrictions on your content and can more easily change hosts if you like, which brings us to the next point below.

 2 – You don’t control your web hosting

This is important.  You are not in control of your web hosting. You are locked into their hosting servers no matter how bad they may be. They may have a really slow speed and you really have no recourse. With a WordPress host, you can easily upgrade to an improved server or move from shared to dedicated hosting as needed. Some such as SiteGround allow you to choose your server country/city location which may be better for speed if your customers are not global, and for meeting privacy laws which may restrict data flow to other countries. If you need to, you can also move your site to another host quite easily as most hosts offer a WordPress website migration service.  I’ve moved all the websites we host three times to find a host with the best speed, which turns out to be SiteGround.

3 – Upgrades are expensive

While you typically get a cheaper entry point with a DIY platform, once you need to upgrade to do things like add eCommerce or add more users to edit your website, it gets very expensive. Upgrades can include much higher monthly fees along with a percentage of online sales.

That’s where WordPress, a free open-source platform, shines as it also incorporates other free add-ons such as WooCommerce, the most popular free eCommerce software for WordPress. You pay for a developer to add the software as needed and your costs stay more manageable. There are premium add-ons for WooCommerce but these are still more affordable compared to the DIY service pricing.  So while you may pay more upfront to have things developed, this will be a one-off cost that will be much more manageable over the longer term.

4 – Website functionality is limited

This is a real issue as well. DIY website tools have very limited functionality and add-ons that you can enable on your website compared to WordPress. So for example, if you want to add event management, online courses, membership capabilities, multilingual sites, or SEO tools, you are stuck with what they offer. This can be limited or even non-existing, forcing you to use another third-party platform such as Eventbrite or Teachable which can get confusing and expensive.

With WordPress, you have one of the largest available technology platforms with a wide array of choices on different types of plugins and tools to meet your needs. Many of these plugins can be free, or if paid are usually much cheaper and more robust that the DIY offering you are stuck with. You can also keep all the functionality on your website and control user access to these tools, which is much more efficient to manage.

To give you more of a perspective on this at this time SquareSpace has around 31 “extensions”, Wix has about 400 “Apps” and WordPress has around 60,000 plugins.

With DIY tools you typically have a very limited media library to store and manage images and files. If you really have a lot of these, you will definitely want the robust features of WordPress to categorise, reuse, manage and secure files.

If you have a lot of content to manage, your will benefit from WordPress’ robust content tagging and categories which are not always available in DIY solutions.

The ability for common things like making a form available globally across certain pages is also missing from most DIY platforms. To do this you on some you would need to create the form separately on every page! This is easy to do with WordPress as any area of a site can be made global on certain templates/pages.

DIY sites typically restrict you to a flat file structure which is not as good for SEO and terrible for large websites.

The cookie banners for DIY sites typically are not compliant with privacy law as they do not log consent, revoke consent, or block third-party cookies without prior consent.

Some DIY website builders limit the number of products you can export, making an easy migration of a large store impossible. 

WordPress also provides themes that make it easy to edit content and control access to different parts of the website.

5 – Limited ability to customise your web design and code

Many start with a template to design a site. At this time there are around 140 SquareSpace templates compared to 800 in Wix (another DIY tool) and 9,600 in WordPress which gives you much more creative expression and differentiation.

Some DIY builders don’t allow you to change the template once chosen, and most have limited if any access to the page code. With WordPress, you have full access to the code to completely customise a website.

6 – Limited network of developers/designers and support

Because of the limitations already mentioned, most designers and developers hate working with DIY website builders. With WordPress, you have a huge network of trusted designers ready to help.

Customer service for DIY platforms can reportedly be really bad for things that the system can not easily do. With WordPress, you can always find a helpful developer to accomplish what you need.

 7 – Not good for SEO

DIY builders are notoriously bad for SEO. This is mostly due to the lesser quality of hosting, of which Google is well aware. Further, there is a lack of robust tools for optimising pages, SEO best practices and reporting. 

WordPress allows you to do everything for the best technical SEO. There are excellent free tools like Rank Math or Yoast where you can add rich snippets, social media sharing tags, add search terms and check page optimisation and more. 

It is hard to meet Google’s best practices with a DIY tool for areas like site speed, Google Core Web Vitals, and responsive design for different devices.

All of this contributes to a lower domain authority for your brand, which decreases your website value as a business asset. Website with higher domain authority generate more search traffic which has a monetary value, just ask those paying for ads on search! Domain authority is hard enough to build without your website working against you.

8 – When you do want to move, it’s a nightmare

If you do want to move your website from a DIY platform, you literally have to rebuild it from scratch. The great thing about WordPress is you can migrate it to a new host, put different themes on it, and do all kinds of exports/imports for the different types of content, even from the DB and code level. With the DIY builders, you don’t get that level of access.

9 – Lack of community and support

There are a large number of helpful resources and communities for WordPress designers to help each other, of which I belong to several. It’s truly amazing what you can find to help a client meet their goals through supportive and robust groups. Some are based on specific popular toolsets such as the Divi theme or plugins like WooCommerce or LearnDash. There is also a large community of security-aware professionals to help keep sites locked down. It is understandable that this is lacking for DIY builders. But this passes huge limitations to businesses that need help. With a DIY you are more on your own. With WordPress, you have a large community to draw on and even add to your team when needed.

10 – More costly over time

Most of the above points contribute to making DIY website builders a more costly option in the long run. This is true in things costing more, but also in your ability to make a more effective website, which cuts into potential revenue. WordPress has no limits to allow you to build websites that are lead converting, generate online income and grow your business.

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