What's the best website platform for my business?
When we start talking to a potential new client, and part of the project scope includes revamping their website for growth, we usually get asked about our opinion on platforms.
We truly believe that there’s not a one-size fits all platform for every single client. And we try to become acquainted with a client’s needs before making a suggestion of platforms to explore. However, when it comes to websites there are a few options that come up frequently enough we decided to do a pro-con comparison between them to help you choose.
Squarespace for growth
The most beautiful of ready-made landing pages and site templates. Many designers, photographers and creatives I know prefer Squarespace because their templates are extremely powerful, the flexibility of the editor allows for easy content and layout updates, and the site is responsive out of the box allowing for easy “plug-in-your-content-and-go” functionality.
All that awesome out-of-the-box simplicity does come with a price tag varying from $12 to $40 a month depending on your ecommerce needs.
Our own website is developed on Squarespace. We think it’s perfect when you’re not going to be using lots of marketing automation (although it does work with Drift, Mailchimp and other basic integrations); and the updated SEO capabilities now mean that you can even ensure you hit the proper rankings in Google Search. The simple drag and drop structure, also allows for you to be pretty self-sufficient with your setup and not require a “real” developer to get your website up and going.
If you like pixel perfect design, though, Squarespace does present limitations when its comes to manipulating the existing templates and bending them to your design-loving will. Some people find the platform hard to understand, but the Squarespace customer service is pretty top-notch as is their library of corporate and user-generated tutorials.
Wix for growth
The Wix platform has come a long way from its beginnings as an SEO unfriendly platform. The drag and drop feature allows for a lot of freedom when you have a specific idea in mind of what your site should look like. The independent responsive mode editor means you can modify how your site looks in mobile screens independently than the desktop version. Clients like this flexibility.
Wix offers a wide variety of templates, for many different industries. It allows for elements to be moved around—something that can be hard to accomplish on Squarespace, for example.
It also allows for you to add and control animations on text and image objects. The multi-language feature helps you create variants of your website in different language with the touch of a button, you can easily integrate ads and widgets for extra functionality.
In my experience, Wix is great for a person who has a great eye for design, beginner to intermediate level knowledge of how websites work (note I am not saying you have to specifically know how to code) and has a specific vision of what the final product should look like.
The ability to control every single element in both desktop and mobile can become overwhelming very quickly, and I have experienced clients who “drown” in the website builder and are unable to understand how to apply style sheets throughout, or how to make pages that feel “uniform” within the same site.
Pricing varies from a free version (with ads) to a $23/month plan that allows for Business and eCommerce capabilities.
Their tutorial and customer service are less responsive—in my personal experience— than Squarespace. And while they have a pretty good selection of “How-to” articles, you still need to have a pretty solid understanding of the basic building blocks of a website in order to successfully produce quality product.
Wordpress for growth
There are two different versions of Wordpress.
Wordpress.com takes care of all the hosting for you, you don’t have to pay for hosting, download software or manage a server. You can choose from a variety of themes, but you cannot upload your own plugins.
Wordpress.org is a free CMS platform you can download and install in your own hosting account. Wordpress.org allows the most flexibility out of the platforms we are reviewing today. The ability to upload your own plugins means your site can be as small and simple, or large and complex as you prefer for it to be. Whether you’re blogging, pushing ecommerce to sell inventory, growing a corporate business or using your website as a marketing tool; Wordpress can be tailored to your specific needs.
There are infinite varieties of themes and frameworks—from out-of-the-box functionality, to drag and drop features, to complicated code-based solutions that require a developer—that allow for people at all levels of the web development spectrum to create, update and maintain a site.
With Wordpress.org, your Wordpress platform will be free but you will have monthly web hosting costs as well as the cost of any premium plugins, frameworks or templates you wish to operate on your site. The good side of this is you can control how much you want to spend every month. The bad side of this is, if your site is complicated and requires a bloated setup you could be paying a lot over a year.
Most complaints about Wordpress have to do with plugins. You can find a plugin for almost anything, but you need to use a sound mind and do your research before installing something. Checking the reviews, and the date of last update are key to ensuring the plugin is safe and won’t break your setup or open your site to safety breaches. Also, like a car built exclusively out of spare parts, you sometimes encounter a problem where all the independent parts just don’t result in a “good” site. Bloat is common, as are slow loading times (which Google hates), and sites that mushroom into giant behemoths of content that nobody can make sense out of.
The user-generated tutorials are plentiful, but the quality of the support and customer service is going to depend exclusively on the specific plugin you need help with. Paid plugins usually have better support than free ones, for example and overall your mileage may vary depending on your specific situation and setup. We always recommend you have a professional on hand for troubleshooting, and unlike Wix and Squarespace sites that update themselves to the latest version of the builder, Wordpress needs to be checked regularly for plugin and platform updates.
In conclusion, the best website platform for our company (Squarespace) may not be the best website platform for yours. Wherever you are in your website journey, we are happy to guide you in selecting a platform that matches your growth goals.