Creating your own website is a rite of passage for many new business owners and freelancers. One decision you need to make early on is which platform to use you create your site.
Three of the most popular are WordPress, Wix and Squarespace. Each tool has its pros and cons, but they all provide the same basic functionality. We’ll discuss the common features first, and then dive into some comparisons.
All three tools allow you to create your website from a template, adjust the design to your preferences, and load up your own content. You can do this for free, and then pay an upgrade fee to put your site live and add your own custom web address (URL) to share with all your customers.
You’ll be able to include:
- Written content, images and videos
- A blog section that allows you to post regular articles or news
- Any number of static pages that provide information about your business and services
- Links to your social media profiles, including live feeds of your posts
- Contact and enquiry forms to gather customer data
- A shop where you can list products with images, descriptions, and payment.
Depending on your choice of template, you’ll also be able to customise your website with your brand’s logo, colours and fonts. In some cases this is a premium feature.
Ease of use
Out of the three tools, Wix has the most intuitive interface. You click and drag elements around the screen to create the website layout you want. Text and styles can be edited directly, and can be easily copied and pasted from one page to the next.
Squarespace is also very intuitive although slightly less flexible. Again, you can click and drag elements around and edit text directly. On the other hand, it’s harder to navigate between pages and sections in the editor.
WordPress requires the biggest investment of time to learn how to set up your site initially. Some aspects of the appearance can be adjusted in the Customiser window, where you can see changes in real time. The majority of the time, changes are made in the control panel where you cannot see the full effect until you’ve saved and made the changes live. Although everything is clearly labelled, and you don’t need any technical knowledge, it can be challenging to get your head around it at first.
Squarespace templates are limited in comparison to the options on Wix, and pale in comparison to the sheer volume of choices available on WordPress. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Psychologists have shown we make poorer choices when we have more options. The Squarespace designers have prioritised quality over quantity, and every one of their templates is stylish and up-to-date.
Wix have a bigger variety of templates. You can slide things around by the millimetre, align blocks as you choose, and even adjust line and letter spacing within the text. This level of control is useful, but also a potential downfall if you don’t have a keen eye for design. If you keep things simple and consistent across pages, you won’t go too far wrong.
WordPress allows anyone to create and upload templates to use with their software, and as such, the range of choices can be truly overwhelming. Many templates, especially premium versions, are highly customisable, so your design options are pretty much infinite. Make sure you have a strong idea of what you’re looking for before you start, and make sure you read the guide that comes with your template so you know how to get the most out of it.
WordPress has a few of significant benefits over both Wix and Squarespace, which you may decide are more important to you than the simplicity and design factors in their favour. Various features make WordPress a better choice if you expect to make significant changes to your site in future.
First, all the content of your WordPress website is stored separately from the design. This makes it a cinch to replace your template, as the new layout and your old content adapt to each other. On Wix and Squarespace, text and image blocks are stored as part of the design of each page. This initial flexibility means a replacement template will fill your pages with default content. You can copy and paste sections into the new template, but it’s a slow and manual process.
Second, the WordPress software which powers your website can be downloaded and installed through any hosting service. Wix and Squarespace websites can only be hosted by Wix and Squarespace respectively, so you’re in a bit of a bind if you have problems with the service available.
Finally, the design, content and functionality of your WordPress website can be downloaded, backed up, and restored relatively easily, so you don’t need to worry about losing it. There are plug ins within WordPress that support this, or you can use a file transfer service (FTP) to copy files from the website to your computer and back again as easily as dragging them from one folder to another. Wix and Squarespace keep your site backed up, but you have limited control over the process.
Have you used Wix, WordPress or Squarespace? What did you think of them?