Wix, Weebly, WordPress or Squarespace: Which Website Building Platform Should I Use For My Business In 2019?
WordPress, Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix: Which Website Platform Should I Choose For My Business?
When you're building your business, and you're looking into launching a website, there's always that question of "What website platform should I use?" It’s a really common question…and one I feel is deserving a proper explanation.
Being a fellow entrepreneur I have built and managed over 25 websites in the last three years on all of these platforms. And this is the article I wish I would have read 6 years ago when I journeyed down the rabbit hole of building a website for my business.
Tip #1: You Get What You Pay For…And Your Website Is Not Something You Want To Skimp On.
Alright, here's what I did: I was on a shoestring budget, and I went through GoDaddy and bought a web domain for some $.99 deal. I got an email account for another $2-$3 bucks a month, and then created a $5 a month website on Weebly (a platform very similar to Wix.) My goal? To create a website with the lowest monthly expense possible, blind to the real COST of those discounted prices.
I skimped on all the upsells around SSL privacy, data protection… "An additional $10-$15 a month for whatever that is? Pffft, I'm not going to be upsold today!" The thing is—when you don't pay for privacy and data encryption and keeping your WHOIS directory information private, do you know what that means? Your phone number, email address, business address (which, lets be real, when you first start rolling, 90% of the time that's your dang home address), your corporation name…basically, ALL OF YOUR $#!T…gets sold and then re-sold and then re-sold to third party scammers, "business services" vendors, and allll of the like. They end up bombarding you with phone calls, emails, people calling making you think you owe them something, rando's calling you saying your business information is out of date unless you call them back… and the list goes on.
The Real Cost Of Choosing A Cheap Website & Web Domain
I was getting 6-8 phone calls per day, 10+ emails a day from these B.S. vendors that are selling you magical Google Analytics services at reasonable rates made of the finest Pixie dust. And while you’re getting pitched magical solutions that will let you rank #1 on Google, your actual business calls are constantly getting interrupted. It came to a point where it induced a Pavlov's law of insta-RAGE every time my phone rang. My peak insta-rage moment was telling an auto-audio recording selling knee braces to shove one of those knee braces up their a$$, only to realize to my absolute horror it was an actual human, NOT a recording (again Tom, I am so sorry.)
My point is: Do NOT skimp by wheeling and dealing and penny-pinching with three different companies with their bargain deals for website hosting, purchasing domain names, and email hosting. Literally one of the biggest and hardest lessons I learned in the aftermath of going "frugal" in those early years was that your time, money, and sanity is not worth skimping on a few dollars. That’s basically two years of frustration I had to live with because of that decision.
Remember: buy it once and buy it right.
—And this leads me into the other huge assumption…
Tip #2: Unless you are a major, bluechip conglomerate entity that needs a custom website with 50 user logins, 3 different portals to access different areas on your site, and tens of thousands of lines of unique code for your tech-intensive business: you do not need a WordPress site.
WordPress is an incredible platform that lets you build out anything and everything you need for a crazy high powered, high-volume website. Which is awesome, but for 95% of the small businesses out there, that’s a little bit of an overkill.
Here's my angle: My goal as a business owner is to build systems in my business that are streamlined, and create results in the most efficient way possible.
As an entrepreneur or a team leader, you're wearing (God bless you) I don't know how many dozens of hats to run your business. So, if you're ramping your brand up, the last thing you need is a website with a learning curve so drastic you waste 6 weeks having meltdowns, eating Skinny Cow and procrastiwatching The Crown. When you’re trying to sell cat hair yarn, you don’t need a computer engineering degree to do it—and sometimes, that’s what working with WordPress can feel like.
Your website is a marketing tool and a platform you can use to tell the world, "Hey guys, I'm creating this freakin' awesome cat hair yarn. I'm passionate about cat hair yarn ethics, so I make my yarn from locally sourced organic cat hair from my couch. My cat yarn comes in 10 colors. It costs $100 bucks a skein. You can buy it here and here. On my blog, you can see my favorite crafts to use cat yarn for fall. And you can call or email me here. Kthanksbyemeow."
Your website serves the function of answering the who, what, where, when, why, and how of your business, with clear calls to action for how prospective clients can buy/participate.
If you have to spend 120 hours building out a working 6-page website, only to be too scared to navigate through it because it'll shut the whole right side of all of the pages down, that doesn’t sound like a very effective, efficient solution, does it?
Tip #3: Remember The Big Picture Purpose of Building Your Website
If the goal of your website is to inform and engage your audience so you can ultimately introduce your product or service, you don’t really need a deeply technical WordPress platform to achieve that. Given how complicated WordPress platform can be, and the learning curve that inevitably goes along with trying to understand how to work it is so unnecessary and restrictive for a lot of business owners.
We’re Not In 2010 Anymore
It’s 2019. 10 years ago, yeah, you maybe did need a WordPress site to create a website that was SEO-friendly and could be built out well. But these days, are so many experts out there that have created these GORGEOUS platforms that are equally functional and significantly more user friendly. .
Squarespace, Wordpress, Wix, Weebly: A Little Context To Why My Personal Two Cents Might Be Worth Considering
I rarely will come online and say hard, opinionated statements like this article. Those conversations are usually saved for tequila-infused evenings in the company of close friends in the industry. So in all fairness, I'd like to state 2 angles of why my opinion should bear any weight on this topic:
1. I used to get paid to test websites to see how user-friendly they are. And after building websites through Wix, Weebly, Hostgator, WordPress and Squarespace, I take this same approach for the business owner's experience of a website platform.
Before I spread my entrepreneurial wings and started building my business, one job I had through the years was being a website usability tester. I would get paid to get mic-ed up and have my computer screen recorded while testing out client websites for end-user processes.
Websites like Forever 21 would ask me to go through the women's clothing section on their site and pick a pair of pants and a top and then go through the check out process. I would then provide feedback on what I liked, what I found confusing, and offered ideas for what I thought would make more sense. Or I'd work with a client like Sears and go through the check out process of buying a washer machine and take their latest website design for a test run so the client could have live user feedback on how easy or confusing their latest site design was.
Having this background, I was trained to notice systems that are inefficient or not user-intuitive. It has made me an advocate for the back-end website design experience for entrepreneurs who aren't tech-inclined and tricked out computer whizzes. I am partial to websites that look awesome and are functional as heck; easy to use, and pumps some serious business their way.
2. We've built, rebuilt and/or actively maintained 25 different client websites in the last 3 years.
Given that we rebuild/rebrand client websites and actively take over managing their ongoing content marketing and search engine optimization strategies, I can't tell you how frustrating it is to try to maneuver within the constraints of a client's WordPress site we inherit.
Adding something as simple as a popup or a call-to-action button in the middle of a page requires emailing their webmaster, explaining what we want, waiting 3 days to hear a response, giving corrections to what was built out. In contrast, if they were on a site like Squarespace, a platform which is intuitive, drag and drop, SEO friendly and easy to navigate—site additions are done literally in a matter of seconds, not weeks.
Tip #4: We judge the book by the cover! Always!
Here's ground zero and the crux of all marketing: It doesn't matter how much incredible content or how great of a service you have if your website looks like it's from the early 2000s!
The bar for clean lines, clean aesthetic, and a pleasant experience on a chic website is set high these days in our age of graphic design and social media. If your website isn't up to snuff, your prospective customer doesn't give two carrier pigeons about what you're selling.
We judge the book by the cover. Always. So, why would you exert hours and hours learning a Wordpress platform that is rigid, and to be frank dated, when you could choose from dozens and dozens of gorgeous dynamic templates (which are included at a reasonable monthly cost on a Squarespace platform) with easy drag and drop functions and dozens and dozens of helpful videos in case you do get stuck.
Hosting, web domain, email synched (through Gmail, which is also very intuitive)—all on one platform. Secure. No spammers. No one selling your information. No updates you have to maintain or your site disappears or has a meltdown. And your site looks freakin' awesome.
Addressing the age-old myth: "But WordPress is the SEO giant, Squarespace isn't SEO Friendly."
WordPress does have handy app plugins like Yoast for helping fine-tune your SEO article content on your site, but big picture, these days content writing isn't so much about keyword stuffing or using keyword anchor text and links any more — Google is wising up on these algorithms. The bottom line Google wants to see? Valuable content—helpful tips, tools, and resources about your product or service that's adding value to your client.
I could explain this myself - or just let SEO mastermind's over at Quicksprout knock this one out of the park really quick with this little excerpt from their article on the 23 SEO Mistakes To Avoid In 2019:
If you want to rank for a term like "business credit cards," you would need that phrase on your web page, right? WRONG. That used to be the case, but Google's algorithm uses latent semantic indexing.
Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is an indexing and retrieval method that uses a mathematical technique called singular value decomposition to identify patterns in the relationships between the terms and concepts contained in an unstructured collection of text. LSI is based on the principle that words that are used in the same contexts tend to have similar meanings.
In other words, Google sees the phrase "corporate credit card" as being similar to "business credit cards." That means if you use the word "corporate" instead of "business," you would still rank for both terms.
Instead of trying to write keyword-rich content, write user-friendly content. If you put your users first and you write what's best for them, Google will naturally figure out what terms you should rank for and will place you there.
Plus, no one wants to read keyword-rich content. If I mentioned the word "SEO" 100 times within this post because I want to rank for SEO, you'd get tired of reading Quick Sprout and probably stop linking to the site, which would hurt my rankings.
Avoid writing keyword-rich content as it doesn't help with rankings anymore.
Boom. When you write to humans, not algorithms, around the products and services you offer — Google will take care of the rest. That's what was meant to happen in the first place.
Don't go for the "cheap" stuff when it comes to website hosting, website design, and data protection because you get what you pay for. Pony up and pay $20 through Squarespace to get a secure domain and you won't have a bunch of scammers calling you during all hours of the day and night.
You don't need a clunky ol' WordPress site.
People judge the book by the cover. Always. Squarespace is the way to go to shout from the rooftops how awesome you and your services are for 95% of small businesses.
Unless you're a computer programmer or have 120 hours this month, have nothing better to do than have meltdowns watching YouTube videos on how to set up your WordPress site, Squarespace is SEO-the-rest-of-us user-friendly way to go
Remember that your website should serve as a sharply welded sword in your tool belt. It should make your life easier, do the selling + telling for you, and convert cold leads to warm leads through the content on your website.
Comments? Complaints? Hatemail? Anyone else have any horror stories of doing the ol' penny pinching when it came to setting up your business and then paying for it dearly? Was this article helpful in trying to decide for your business the best direction to go with your website? I would love to see your entrepreneurial battle scars in the comments below! Cheers guys!
About The Author
Shelby Ring is the Chief Cat Herder and Storyteller at Ruby Riot Creatives; a digital marketing firm based out of Charleston, South Carolina that specializes in brand + SEO content strategy, and video production. When Shelby’s not directing a shoot or geeking out over Google Analytics, you might find her teaching Buti yoga, stuffing her face with fried chicken, or blasting electronic dance music way too loud in her car. Shelby is a champion and an advocate for woman-led businesses and believes business is one of best way to make huge, sustainable changes in today’s society.