There are many user-friendly website builders on the market, but how do you know which one is right for you?
I’ve used over a dozen platforms to create websites, ranging from rinky-dink platforms to pricey enterprise systems used by large corporations, and can say that there is no one answer – it depends on the type of business you have.
In this post, I’ll break down the best website builders for different types of businesses and list the pros and cons of each.
Wix versus Squarespace
Wix and Squarespace are the two leading website builders for small to medium-sized businesses. So, how they are different, and which one suits your needs better?
Wix sits at the top of my list for being an all-around solid choice suitable for many businesses.
Wix is the easiest website builder to use and comes with a huge library of pre-built designs to get you started. Among website builders, Wix wins as the most creative option. Its templates offer eye-catching, cutting-edge designs and are easy to customize.
There are over 800 templates with designs tailored to a range of businesses.
Wix website builder is best for these businesses –
- Creatives – architects, writers, graphic designers, and musicians
- Professional services – coaching, dog grooming, consulting, advertising, and real estate
- Nonprofit businesses – foundations, local chapters of national nonprofits, nonprofit organizations and groups
- Brick-and-mortar businesses including hair salons, restaurants, and gyms
Wix is also a great choice if you’re looking to put your resume online. Check out this lovely template … who wouldn’t notice you in a stack of job applicants if they looked at this online resume?
Creating a website in Wix can be as easy as choosing a template and swapping out the dummy content with your own. Or you can use the template as a starting point, customizing as you wish.
This is where I want to throw up a quick flare. Customizing in Wix comes with a few drawbacks.
First, it’s so easy to customize in Wix that it’s almost too easy: while it’s fun to play around with options, you can quickly end up with a Frankenstein design if you’re not careful.
The second thing to note about customization is that it often screws up how your site looks on a tablet or phone – the “mobile view”. You can fix this, but it requires more manual work and, if you made a lot of changes, this can amount to building a second website!
Wix comes with many add-ons that are helpful for small businesses. Basic features like calendars, portfolio galleries, and email sign-up forms are free and easy to add. While Wix isn’t my top choice for bloggers, the blog add-on works well for businesses wanting to add a blog section to their website.
Wix also has e-commerce capabilities, but it wasn’t built for e-commerce. So if you have an online store, opt for Shopify (and keep reading….) 😉
What does Wix cost?
To get rid of the Wix branding on your website, you have to purchase a Premium plan. Premium plans range from $16 to $45 a month, with the $27/month Pro Version being a sweet spot that will satisfy most small to medium-sized businesses.
Pros of using Wix for building your website
Cons of using Wix for building your website
Squarespace is comparable to Wix, but there are differences with these two platforms that are helpful to know about when choosing which one is right for you.
First, Squarespace’s template library is much smaller than Wix’s. Squarespace has about 100 to choose from, and the designers are more cookie-cutter. Sometimes I feel like I can spot a Squarespace website a mile away – lots of large rectangles and overlapping squares with a good amount of white space.
Squarespace websites look like …. square spaces! 😜
While I would say the software is user-friendly, Squarespace’s interface has a steeper learning curve than Wix. Recent improvements have made it more visual, but you will still have to do a good amount of clicking around to figure out how it works.
The flip side of this is that Squarespace is more bulletproof than Wix. Once you get your site looking the way you want, you won’t have to do a lot of extra work to optimize your site for mobile so it will look right on your phone.
Squarespace’s greatest strength is in its lovely photo galleries that serve up large pictures quickly and beautifully. It’s my top choice of website builders for photographers and artists. You can upload many, high-quality pictures without having to worry about slow loading on Squarespace, and the result will be a beautiful looking web page.
Squarespace website builder is best for these businesses –
- Creatives: photographers, artists, clothing brands, and any business wanting to showcase a large number of photos
- Service-based businesses: interior design, event planning, real estate, coaching, wedding planner
- Local brick-and-mortar businesses: yoga studio, acupuncturist, gym/personal trainer, small manufacturer, antique shops
Squarespace is comparably priced to Wix but the support is much better. If you’ve never built a website before and don’t need a lot of customization, Squarespace is an excellent choice – especially if you’d like the security of knowing help is just a phone call away.
What does Squarespace cost?
Squarespace charges $23 to $65 a month, with discounts available for annual plans. Most businesses will do fine with the Business level, which costs $33/month.
Squarespace also offers e-commerce. If your business sells a limited number of products or sells digital products, you’d be fine with Squarespace. For larger catalogs, Shopify is the way to go.
Pros of using Squarespace to build your websites
Cons of using Squarespace to build your website
Want to learn how to create web content? Read this post.
WordPress: the best website builder for blogs
WordPress, a free website builder used on over 60 million sites worldwide, is the best choice for bloggers.
Having built multiple websites in WordPress, including this one, I will say upfront that I don’t recommend it for any other type of website. Let me explain.
I have a love/hate relationship with WordPress. I chose it for my blog because its content management capabilities and customization potential are second to none.
One example is the ability to redesign your website without rebuilding by moving all your content from one theme to another. It’s a flexible, adaptable framework.
The sky’s truly the limit with WordPress: you can build anything in it, and there are thousands of tools made especially for blogs.
WordPress is not going anywhere and is continually being improved because it’s an “open source” platform. This means its code base is public, so developers are free to use it to create a seemingly infinite amount of tools for WordPress users.
These tools include website themes, page builders that help you customize your website, and plugins that add functionality.
There are plugins for everything – from making your site faster, more secure, optimized for SEO (search engine optimization), and integrating it with other platforms such as email software or e-commerce. And much, much more. There are even plugins for plugins! Most of them are free.
Oh yes, speaking of free … let’s get back to that.
Having the most robust website builder out there to power your blog, and paying nothing for it, is pretty awesome. Keeping costs low is no small consideration if you’re a writer. Blogging is hard, time-consuming work that takes time to monetize.
But with this flexibility comes trade-offs.
WordPress has the steepest learning curve of the top website builders.
While you don’t need to know how to code to use it, WordPress is not intuitive, and the platform isn’t drag- and-drop. That’s not to say a beginner can’t use it; you will just have to budget time to learn how.
Does it cost anything to use WordPress?
No. But you will have to pay for hosting and your domain separately. You can purchase both of those inexpensively through Bluehost.
Pros of using WordPress to build your website
Cons of using WordPress to build your website
Shopify vs. Woo Commerce: what is the best website builder for online stores?
In a Woo Commerce vs. Shopify showdown, Shopify wins for the best way to sell products online.
This platform nails all the essentials for creating and managing a well-designed website built for e-commerce.
It’s easy to use, offers great support, and gives you the tools you need to run your business. It has attractive templates you can use for free. Or, you have the option to buy your template elsewhere and upload it to your site.
With its suite of services, many available through its app store, Shopify is really more of an e-commerce solution, but its website framework is top-notch.
I’ve created online shops with both Shopify and Woo Commerce, which is a free add-on for WordPress, and Shopify blew Woo out of the water.
Shopify is lightning fast. This is critical for selling products online. Buyers are known to quickly scroll past products that load slowly, resulting in missed sales opportunities for the seller.
By contrast, Woo adds weight to your WordPress site and can slow it down. This happened to me. Not only was my entire site slower with Woo, my products were also slow to load – so much so that I removed them from my website.
Woo was also more complicated to set up and customize than Shopify. And when I had issues with Woo, I was left to solve them myself because Woo lacks live support. Shopify, on the other hand, offers round-the-clock live support by chat or phone.
What does it cost to use Shopify and Woo?
Woo Commerce’s platform is free to use – there are no monthly set-up fees. However, when you make sales, Woo takes a cut of 2.9% + $0.30 for each credit card transaction.
Shopify isn’t free.
Starter packages run anywhere from $1 to $5 a month, depending on the deal being offered, but those are time-limited.
Regular fees range from $29 a month for Basic to $299 a month for Advanced. On top of that are transaction fees starting from 2.9% + 30¢ per online transaction. Most Shopify stores will do well with the $79 a month plan. Transaction charges drop to 2.9% + 30¢ at this level.
Pros of using Shopify to build your websites
Cons of using Shopify to build your websites
Should I hire someone to build my website or do it myself?
If you made it this far, you may be asking yourself whether you want to build your own website or hire someone to do it for you.
With today’s user-friendly website builders, the answer to this question really has more to do with time than skill.
If you think your time is best spent on building a website for your business, go for it!
To help answer this question, spend a little time in your website builder of choice and see how it feels. Then think about the other demands of your business.
If you do decide to hire someone to build your website, you can still have creative control. You just won’t have to do the work.
I hope this post has given you some good direction no matter which way you go!
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