When you’re starting a new business, you’ll likely be building a website. Maybe not right away, before your product is fully realized, but eventually you’ll need a solid website to go to market. There are a few choices out there for website development platforms, and they all have strengths and weaknesses.
SquareSpace, Weebly, and Wix are the cheapest, easiest to use, and are often recommended for small businesses. They all use drag and drop interfaces that make website building super simple, which is great. That said, we tell clients that SquareSpace, Weebly, and Wix are terrific for small businesses that don’t plan to become large businesses. For startups that aim to become larger companies, we recommend WordPress.
You don’t really need to do a feature by feature comparison to understand why WordPress is a better choice for a business that plans to expand. There are three basic reasons.
- First, with SquareSpace, Weebly, and Wix you don’t own your content. With all ‘host their own’ sites, it’s nearly impossible to transfer a site to another server and to export and access your content. WordPress, on the other hand, is an open-source platform that can be hosted anywhere and you always own your entire site and all of its content.
- You’re limited to the features SquareSpace, Wix, and Weebly support. With these platforms, you get what they give you, and you’re limited to the capabilities of the platforms. As your business grows, you’ll want more functionality. With WordPress, you have access to 37,000 plugins for everything from e-commerce to form-builders to SEO. Odds are, if there is a feature you want for your website, there is a WordPress plugin for it.
- When it comes to e-commerce, SquareSpace charges a 3 percent transaction fee on top of credit card fees on its $12/month Personal plan. The transaction fee drops to 2 percent on its $18/month Pro plan. Weebly charges a 3 percent transaction fee on all purchases or you can upgrade to the business plan for $25/month to eliminate transaction fees. Wix does not charge a transaction fee but does require that you use its $16.58/month e-commerce plan if you are selling through your website. WordPress has free e-commerce plugins like WooCommerce and MarketPress, with paid customization options for advanced features.
Professional Looks vs. Professional Performance
SquareSpace, Weebly, and Wix make it extraordinarily easy to build beautiful, professional looking websites–and that’s why many small businesses use these platforms. They are inexpensive, beginner-friendly, and you can get up and running pretty quickly. Professional looking, however, is different that professional performance. If you are building a business that you hope will grow into a large company, it is a better idea to start with a strong foundation using WordPress.
WordPress is free, is capable of doing anything that you can design it to do, and it will be portable should you decide to switch hosting platforms or even migrate to a different content management system like HubSpot COS.
The flip side, however, is that WordPress is not a beginner-friendly web development platform. There is a significant learning curve. Once you get your site set up and functioning, it is not difficult to manage in the form of adding pages or modifying images or content. But when you want to make design changes, you’ll need an experienced developer.