SMOB – Website builders: WordPress vs Squarespace vs Weebly vs Wix vs Shopify
In the last post, I talked about buying a domain and sort out hosting. This time, I am going to talk about the actual making of a website.
Unless you are a skilled programmer and you really want to make your website from scratch, you will probably end up using one of these website builders.
Website builders have completely changed the world of web design. Gone are the days you are obliged to hire a web designer or that you need to know how to code. These days, even without knowing a single piece of code, you can have your website up and running literally in minutes. (I don’t suggest you to get your website done in minutes, I have seen very bad results from people doing that, I will explain below…)
Among all the most popular website builders, I have experience with these 5 and I will compare them so you have a better idea their pros vs cons and what to expect. I will also includes the websites I made using these options so that you can have a look around at them as examples.
As always, information here on SMOB (Start My Own Business) series is my personal experience and opinion, I am not a professional web developer, my comparison is not technical at all. I am just sharing with you a comparison of my experience as someone who is not technical, which I would imagine is the majority of people who want to start being self employed!
WordPress.com is an open source software, you can make a website paying nothing at all. In principle, you don’t need a buy hosting when you use WordPress.com. Even if you want to use your domain name, you can purchase an option to direct your website to your domain name, there is no need for hosting. WordPress is hosting for you. There is also WordPress.org which is also free but it’s a self hosting option, which I am going to talk about separately in a minute.
- Truly free
- Great with google SEO
- Very versatile, you can change most of the stuff if you know a bit of coding and buy the CSS upgrades
- Not as easy as other website builders because it’s not real time website building where you can just move the objects around on the screen
- Limited options to personalise colours and font if you don’t buy any upgrade
- No customer support if you don’t buy any upgrade, well it’s a FREE software, what do you expect?
My experience with this option includes this blog you are reading right now and the website for my doula service – Little Peanuts.
WordPress.org is different than wordpress.com. It’s the same free software but it’s a self hosting option. That means you will need to purchase hosting.
- Truly free
- Great with google SEO
- Very versatile
- Unlike WordPress.com, this time you can REALLY change EVERYTHING if you know the codes.
- You need to know some codes
- No customer support, this is free and you are expected to know what you are doing, there is some online peer support, but that’s all.
My experience with this option is The Warmest Spot Cat Memorial page that I make.
Squarespace is a real time drag and drop website builder, meaning you can move the objects around on your screen when you are making your website. It’s extremely user friendly and have lots of complex ready-to-go functionality.
- Very easy, you can just move stuff around the screen, you will see in real time how it looks the finish website.
- You can change almost everything on the page – colour, font, etc
- 24/7 customer support, and I have very good experience with them helping me out immediately
- Much more modern, clean and sleek look template
- Lots of complex function ready to go, e.g. e-commerce store, Amazon affiliate link, gallery, testimonial page, etc.
- Probably the most expensive option
My experience with them is my main business website for Maow Care. I need the complex functionality because of the big variety of services I provide. I also need the 24/7 customer service support because Maow Care is my livelihood and cat sitting is a 24/7 on call deal, I cannot afford to have service disruption if something happen to a piece of code on my website!
Weebly is another real time drag and drop website builder, it’s extremely user friendly and I find it gives even more personalisation option than Squarespace. However, they really pissed me off! I will tell you why now.
- Might be even easier than Squarespace, you can just move stuff around the screen, you will see in real time how it looks the finish website.
- You can change almost everything on the page ON SCREEN. With Squarespace you need to go into a separate page to set up these things for a website wide choice, but with Weebly you can just change where you are at, no need to go to another page to do so.
- You can get your website done and ready to go very quickly
- NOT HONEST PRICING! I originally use Weebly to make the Warmest Spot Cat Memorial page, since it’s a charity initiative, I would rather go with a free option. They advertise making a website is free so I spent about an hour to make a draft. When I try to put on live to see how it looks, here they told me I can’t use my own domain name (without weebly.com at the end) unless I join one of the plan. And their pricing starts from 6 months contract!
My experience is I was pissed off by Weebly. I think it’s a very good web builder for people who want to have a website up and running real quick. But the fact that they advertise it as FREE is very dishonest. It’s FREE only if you use THEIR domain. And what’s up with 6 months contract? This day and age, lots of things can happen in 6 months on the internet!
Weebly is another real time drag and drop website builder, it’s extremely user friendly, they have 501 ready-made template for all sort of different businesses, e.g. restaurant, spa, etc. I actually haven’t a real experience with Wix, and I will tell you why in a minute.
- From what I heard, they are the easiest to use among all of these website builders
- 501 ready made templates for all different industries, you can literally be up and running in minutes
- You can change almost everything on the page ON SCREEN.
- You can change almost everything! Sometimes that’s a very bad idea. I married to someone who used to be a graphic designer and he is very pissed off at people who THINKS they know graphic design. There is a reason why the default colours are there because they are the colours that WILL go together. Primary colours are usually bad idea, for example, but since my husband that he sees amateurs doing that, I now see it everywhere…
- The standard template for your industry, e.g. spa, restaurant, health care, etc. can easily look like everyone else. I am not sure it’s very good idea to have a website “off the shelf” so to speak. Please at least change things up a bit and don’t take “making a website in minutes” literally.
- This is the deal breaker for me and that’s why I will never consider using Wix – you cannot change the template unless you redo the whole website!
- Another deal breaker for me is – you cannot export the website in case you want to move to somewhere else in the future!
- Not really free if you want to use your domain name without wix.com at the end
I don’t have an example to show you on Wix because the two deal breakers stop me using them before I even start.
Some of you might have already known, I have started a business recently with a friend. Since the business needs an e-Commerce store, we decide to go with Shopify. Shopify is probably the most popular e-Commerce option out there at the moment.
- Very easy to use
- Very sleek design
- Have all the function you need for an e-Commerce store
- Lots of app that can be added on (with a fee) to use different sophisticated functions, e.g. discount code, pop-up, etc.
- Expensive, no free option
- None of the app is free and the apps are very expensive! We used a discount app once during Black Friday, you know those little stickers you see that say “SALES”? Yes, those! The app costs 18 Euro A MONTH! That’s a bit mental. It does look really good and professional though. If you have a huge sales volume then it’s a small cost to pay but if you are a small e-Commerce store starting off, it’s quite expensive.
My experience with Shopify has been positive so far and LOVA Sling is the website built by Shopify.
I hope this post and the last post will be helpful and have clarify the mystery around making a website. As I said, they are not technical advice, it’s just my experience as someone who don’t know code but have a few businesses to run.
Do you have any experience using any website builders? Share your stories below! I would love to hear from you!