Website Builder Review: Wix vs. Weebly vs. SquareSpace vs. WordPress

wix vs. wordpress vs. weebley vs. squarespaceDo it yourself website builders have made giant leaps forward in the last few years.  It is now possible for anyone with a computer and an internet connection to build a professional looking small business website.

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Here is an overview of what we feel are the top 4 do-it-yourself website building softwares, so you can choose the best option for you.

Best Website Builder For Non Tech Savvy Small Business Owners:

weebly---Mini

Best Website Builder For Tech Savvy Small Business Owners:

wordpress---Mini

 

Ease of Use

Easy

Moderate

Moderate

Difficult

Price For Basic
Business Package

$15.95/Month

$8/Month

$16/Month

Free

Hosting Included?

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Support

Phone/Support
Forum

Email/Live
Chat

Email/Live
Chat/ User
Forums

User
Forums

Free Templates

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Mobile Site

Yes

Yes

Yes

Depends

Search Engine
Friendliness

Poor

Good

Good

Great

Business Email?

Yes
($4.95/Month)

Yes
($3.75/Month)

Yes
($5/Month)

No

Business Email?

Learn More

Learn More

Learn More

Learn More

Why We Chose Weebly for Non Tech Savvy Small Business Owners

weebly---300x76

If you want to get online but don’t want to spend a lot of time learning a new system, then Weebly  is the choice for you.

If you have been following my series of articles on rebuilding and marketing my father’s real estate site, this may come as a surprise. I chose Wix for that project over the other options, because I found it easier to use, and it offers the best diversity of free templates for small business owners.

After launching the site however, I started to have issues that I feel are going to prevent the site from ranking well in Google and other search engines.  As Google is a major source of traffic for most websites, this is a major problem.  I talk more about this in the SEO section below.

Weebly does not have these issues.  While it is a little harder to use than Wix, and I don’t like the templates as much, this is a small price to pay for better search engine rankings.  It is also the least expensive option by far.

Try Weebly

Why We Chose WordPress For Tech Savvy Small Business Owners

Wordpress---300x76

If you are a tech savvy small business owner, or willing to spend some time learning a new system, then WordPress is the clear choice.

With WordPress you have full control over your website, there are tons of free and paid templates, and a large community of WordPress developers who can help you make customizations.

What you give up with WordPress is ease of use and time spent maintaining the site.  While you don’t need to know how to code to use WordPress, you do if you want to customize most of their themes.

We use WordPress here at FitSmallBusiness.com and I am going to be transferring my father’s site to WordPress in the near future.

Try WordPress

Wix vs. Weebly vs. SquareSpace vs. WordPress In Depth Review

Ease of Use

wix-126x131A novice with zero technical expertise could easily use Wix to build a site from scratch.  They have a wide variety of templates for all types of businesses, and modifying them to suite your business is a breeze.

weebly-126x131You do not need any technical expertise to use Weebly, but it is not as intuitive as Wix.  However, Weebly does have a really nice feature.  They have a check the box, step by step process, walking you through the entire process of launching your site.

Squarespace-126x131Like with Weebly, I do not find the Squarespace website editor as intuitive as the Wix Editor.  It is however also built for non technical users, and tons of people use it.  One exception is setting up an online store.  The process for doing that with Squarespace is very simple and straightforward.

wordpress-126x131WordPress is the most difficult of the 4 options listed.  You need to be able to setup and install wordpress on your domain.  If you want to modify the layout of most wordpress themes, you also need to know how to write code.

Pricing

Wix, Weebly, and WordPress can be used for Free.  However, with Wix and Weebly, you have to pay a monthly fee if you want to use your own domain name with the service.  If you want to use your own domain with WordPress, you have to purchase hosting.  Squarespace does not offer a free option.

Wix, Weebly and Squarespace all have multiple packages.  The differences are the amount of storage and bandwidth you want  and whether or not you want to have an online store.  For the purposes of this comparison we reviewed their most popular plans.

wix-126x131$149.04 Per year.  This get’s you everything you need to run a small business website with the exception of a shopping cart.  If you want to sell products from your website you will need to upgrade to the $194.04 per year package.

weebly-126x131$79.56 per year.  Weebly is much cheaper than Wix and Squarespace for a basic site.  However the online store that is offered with this option, only allows 25 products.  There is also a 3% transaction fee that weebly charges for each product that is sold.  So, if you have an online store, you will likely need the next version up, which runs $234.48 per year.

Squarespace-126x131$192 per year. This gives you all the features you need to run a small business website as well as an online store where you can sell up to 20 products.  If you want to sell more than 20 products, the price increases to $288 per year.

wordpress-126x131WordPress is open source and free to use.  However, if you want to use your own domain, you have to buy a hosting package.  This is going to run you between $50 and $100 per year.

Support

wix-126x131Offers support via phone, support forum where Wix employees respond to your questions and issues, and email.

weebly-126x131Offers support via email and live chat.

Squarespace-126x131Offers support via user forums, email, and live chat.

wordpress-126x131Offers support via user forums.

Free Templates

A template is basically a ready to go layout and website design.  The idea is you just plug in your text, the design work is already done for you.

wix-126x131Offers a wide variety of free templates.  They also categorize their templates based on the type of business. This makes finding a nice template quick and easy.

weebly-126x131Offers a lot of free templates.  However, they are not categorized by business type, and the quality of the designs is not as good as Wix or Squarespace.

Squarespace-126x131Has the lowest number of free templates.  However, for business related to design, art, and fashion they have the best designed templates.  Most are too flashy, in my opinion, for firms in other industries.

wordpress-126x131Offers the widest variety of free templates.  You can choose from literally thousands.  However the quality of many of the free wordpress templates is not very good.  Because of this many people opt for paid templates.  Paid WordPress templates generally cost somewhere between $50 and $100 as a one time fee.

Mobile Site

Wix, Weebly and Squarespace all automatically convert your site into a mobile version.  With WordPress, it depends on the template you choose.

Many wordpress templates are “responsive” meaning that they automatically adjust the theme for visitors on mobile devices.  For those that are not responsive, wordpress has many plugins that can convert your desktop site into a mobile version.

Search Engine Friendliness

In order for your site to rank well in Google and other search engines, it has to meet certain technical specifications.  This is the foundation of what is known as search engine optimization or SEO for short.

wix-126x131

Although they spend a lot of time defending the search engine friendliness of their product, there are too many open questions about Wix for me to feel comfortable recommending them.  Here are the two major problems I ran into with Wix:

1. There are no 301 redirects.  If you have an old site that you want to move to Wix, then you will have to rebuild your search engine rankings from scratch.  The reason why is that there is no way to redirect the pages of your old site to the new pages on Wix.  This is basic SEO that should be included and the fact that it is not makes me wonder what else it is missing that I am not seeing.

2. The link structure sucks.  Here is what a site url looks like:

http://www.lcrlakegaston.com/#!lake-gaston-rentals/c7tk

And here is what a blog url looks like:

http://www.lcrlakegaston.com/#!Lake-Gaston-Activities/c1yk9/6D61E1EA-C616-4370-8B39-7AFB91554812

Wix defends this link structure vigorously.  However, I have never seen a link structure like this, and even if the search engines don’t mind the junk included at the beginning and end of the above links, it is terrible user experience.  If someone wants to link to one of my blog posts (one of the major factors that would help it rank in the search engines) then they are likely to be scared off by the monstrosity above.

weebly-126x131The two issues above do not exist with Wix and you have full control over the important SEO elements with Weebly.

Squarespace-126x131The two issues above to not exist with Squarespace and you have full control over the important SEO elements with Weebly.

wordpress-126x131WordPress is by far the best from an SEO standpoint.  You can customize it as much as you want and there are lots of free plugins like the YOAST SEO plugin that make SEO a breeze.

Hosting

Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace all provide free hosting as part of their packages.  Wordpress does not offer hosting.  If you choose to go with WordPress, we recommend GoDaddy for hosting.

Business Email

Wix, Weebly and Squarespace all allow you to easily hook up your business email using Google Apps.  Google apps is Gmail’s paid service, which allows you to manage multiple business emails from one dashboard.  If you are a larger company, then the extra cost of using Google Apps for email is probably worth it.  Via the Google Apps dashboard you can easily setup, delete and administer your employee’s emails.

Although it is not part of their service to help you hook it up, you can also use Google Apps with wordpress.

If you are a 1 or two person business, you can save a lot of money by registering your domain with GoDaddy, and using their free forwarding email addresses.  Follow the instructions found here, and you can send and receive email for free using your business domain and a gmail account.

The Bottom Line

If you are in the design, fashion, or art industry then you may want to choose Squarespace for their flashier designs.  For all other types of small business websites, we recommend Weebly as the best do it yourself website builder for non tech savvy small business owners.  It is affordable, simple to use, and offers best variety of templates.

If you are tech savvy or don’t mind spending time learning a new system, then WordPress is by far the most flexible option.

Try Weebly Try WordPress

Comments

  1. damilare says

    Nice review… i like the fact that you give a summary review of the apps before going broader about it!

  2. Mirella says

    Thanks for a great review, wish i’d found it before spending time building sites on wix, I am now learning wordpress :)

  3. Justin says

    Is it possible to keep one’s old website and still launch an updated version using one of these website builders?

    I have been told that one can leave their old website as a “shadow” site and take live the new one.

    The reason is our old site has been around since 2001 and there are lots of links to images on it from people on Pinterest. If the old site goes away, those links go away, too.

    Not the end of the world per se but was wondering if it is possible to keep the old site as a “shadow” website?

    Thank you,

    Justin

    • says

      Hi Justin,

      Good question, you definitely want to keep those links not only so people find you that way but also because inbound links are one of the major factors that affect your rankings in search engines like Google.

      This is one of the other reasons why we recommend Weebly vs. other website builders. They allow you to redirect the old pages/images etc of your site to their new location on your new site. So basically you put the same images on your new site and then redirect the image on your old site to the same image on your new site. Unfortunately it is a very manual process but it is well worth the effort. This is also the type of job that you could outsource on a site like elance if you wanted as well. More info here:

      http://kb.weebly.com/301-redirects.html

      Hope that helps. If you have any other questions let us know.

      Thanks
      Dave

      • says

        Dave,

        Thanks so much for your reply!

        But I thought you had indicated that Wix does not work well with search engine friendliness?

        Was it not Weebly that was your higher recommendation versus Wix?

        Or are you saying that to better preserve the existing inbound links to our old site that Wix does a better job of that?

        Thank you again,

        Justin

        • says

          Hey Justin,

          Sorry I provided the right link to Weebly for 301 redirects but accidentally said Wix instead of Weebly. Weebly is the one you want and I have corrected now.

          If you have any other questions let me know!

          Best Regards,
          Dave

  4. says

    Does Weebly support writers’ portfolios, in the form of posting a ton of downloadable PDFs of writing samples? And if so, are they difficult to upload and is there a limit to how many the site can support? THANKS!

    • says

      Hi Ellen,

      Yes both the free and paid versions of Weebly make it very easy to add documents to the site. Just use the menu on the left when you are logged in to the site editor. There is no limit to the number but each individual file cannot exceed 10 mb in the free account or 250 Mb for the paid account. These individual file size limits should not affect you if you are just uploading PDF’s.

      Hope that helps. If you have any other questions or issues let me know!

      Best Regards,
      Dave

  5. says

    Which builder would you recommend for my small business. We build 50 – 125 different styles, colors and woods of artistically built custom wood pet and human urns, and most shopping carts only give you one picture? I need multiple pictures 2-4.
    I have worked with 2-3 different site builders
    Thanks

  6. David says

    Great article! I am aware this was written for a small business readers yet it was still very informative for a small time, up and coming web designer. I built a e-commerce site with Weebly and ended up starting a web design business from it due to their Designer Platform that makes is such an ease to manage client accts. I quickly learned that I needed to become more efficient with the other platforms as they serve different purposes for the variety of clients I have. Some clients are hands on and benefit from Weebly while others require way more spizazz and flash from Wix. WordPress is definitely not something most of my customers want to get into and is more time consuming, but can still be outsourced due to the popularity of it amongst the web designer circles.

  7. says

    Hi Dave,

    Really appreciate your article and your individual replies to the commenters.

    My question is about WordPress: which flavor, the fully hosted WordPress.com or the self-hosted WordPress.org, are you using in your comparison? It seems like you’re referring to the self-hosted option, but I’d love to see a side-by-side comparison with WordPress.com as well.

    (I didn’t even realize there were two WordPress options until recently, after reading this FAQ: http://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/ – live and learn.)

    Thanks again!

    • says

      Sure thing Laiki. I am referring to the self hosted option. The fully hosted option is really more for bloggers who want something basic than it is for businesses that want a website. Will look at adding a bit more about that next time we update the review.

      If you have any other questions let me know!

      Best Regards,
      Dave

  8. says

    Hi David,

    What a good and balance review! I have a chance to play around with Weebly but for just about 1-2 hours. Based on your review, I think I need to have a look again at the website builder, especially its flexibility compared to the self-hosted wordpress.

  9. Scott says

    Fantastic article David!
    I was recommended to go with Wix but ran into some difficulties early on :(
    After reading your article i think Weebly or WordPress are better suited.
    I have a tennis centre business which offers coaching, membership, pro shop and function facilities. I would like to have a website showcasing the above as well as an online shop and payment option for products, services and bookings.
    Which one would you recommend please?
    Regards
    Scott

    • says

      Thanks Scott! If you are going to build the site yourself then I think Weebly is going to be the best option for you. In addition to the things I mention in the article you can easily add on an online shop with Weebly. I don’t think they do appointment bookings and payments out of the box but it looks like there is a good service which will allow you to add that functionality to Weebly below:

      https://acuityscheduling.com/help.php?q=weebly

      Hope that helps, if you have any other questions let me know!

      Best Regards,
      Dave

  10. Scott says

    Ps. I have an old website with broken links but ranks highly in google search… the hosting of it is out of my control and i dont have access to it. I do have ownership of the domain name so would like to redirect that to the new site.

    • says

      i Scott,

      Yep if you have an existing site that is ranking highly you want to make sure that you do everything you can when putting up the new site to not lose your rankings. Since you own the domain name, redirecting it to your Weebly or WordPress site will be no problem. If you decide to go with Weebly you can see how to do that here.

      If you go with WordPress then you will need to setup hosting and then your host can show you how to point your domain name to the new site once it is ready. For hosting we recommend Godaddy because they have great support who will walk you through everything step by step.

      You will also want to redirect the links from your old site to the same page on your new site, so you do not lose your rankings with the other pages on your site. If you can follow the same link structure with your new site as you had on your old site that is the best way to go. For example if your old site had a page that looks like this http://www.tennispage.com/book-an-appoitment/ then you want to use the same link structure on your new site. If you can’t do that then once you have the page set up on your new site, you will want to create a 301 redirect, which tells the search engines where to go when they hit the old page which is now dead.

      Here is how to do that with Weebly: http://kb.weebly.com/301-redirects.html

      If you use wordpress I recommend using the “re-direction” plugin for this which you can find here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/redirection/

      Hope that helps! If you have any other questions let me know.

      Best Regards,
      Dave

  11. says

    Thanks a lot for this review! few months back I designed my website on Wix and I am really not liking my site from SEO perspective. The URLs sucks! Being a SEO expert myself, it a bit of embarrassing to have my site with crazy URLs. This review really helped me to decide on Weebly. Thanks!

  12. Dorothy says

    Hi Dave-
    I’m new to all this and have zero experience. My question is regarding domain names. Do I need to purchase my domain name and then link it to the weebly or squarespace page? Or will Weebly/Squarespace purchase the name for me? Will they also purchase other versions of the name (e.g., .org, .net)? What does “web hosting” mean, anyway? I’m wondering if I can do this by myself, or if I should try GoDaddy or similar? I’m pretty good at figuring things out – just don’t have any experience with building a website. :-)

    • says

      Hi Dorothy,

      No problem that’s what we’re here for!

      Your web host is simply where the files that make up your site reside. When people type in a web address, that web address points to a server, which is basically just a computer, that then serves up your website to the end user. If you want all the details you can read about them here.

      Website builders such as Weebly or Squarespace take care of hosting for you, so you don’t have to worry about that. You can also purchase a domain name as well as the .org .net and other versions of that domain name through the website builder. The advantage of purchasing it through the website builder is that they set it up for you all you need to do is click a button. The disadvantage is that it’s more expensive to purchase the domain name through the website builder than it is through a domain service like Godaddy. With Weebly it’s around $30 for a domain name a year if you buy it from them. If you go to Godaddy it’s around $10 a year.

      So if you are willing to go through a couple more steps, then buy your domain from Godaddy, and then point it to your Weebly site. The instructions for how to do that are found here.

      Website builders like Weebly were made for people who don’t have experience building a website so you are in good company there. If you have any other questions as you go through the process let me know!

      Best Regards,
      Dave

  13. Tracy says

    I try to use wordprocess, but the business plan of it starts from $99. It’s not free as your mentioned. Is there any way to use it free as eCommerce?

    • says

      Hi Tracy,

      I am referring to the self hosted version of wordpress which you can find at wordpress.org. In addition to wordpress.org which is 100% free, wordpress also has sites that they host for you and which are available from wordpress.com.

      If you use wordpress.org it is 100% free, and there are also free plugins that you can use to add Ecommerce capabilities into the site which you can read about below.

      http://www.steamfeed.com/quickly-set-effective-ecommerce-website-wordpress/

      Hope that helps. If you have any other questions or issues let me know.

      Best Regards,
      Dave

  14. Calvin says

    Your review is a spot on to what I was looking for in deciding which site builder to go with for a small business. I like the section where you note the issues in detail for its SEO capability, very good.

    I do have one question as there may have been a typo on one of the sections, you mentioned that Weebly does not have the 2 SEO issues as mentioned for Wix. Can you confirm that old SEO rankings can be brought forward to weebly once I linked the domain and adjust other settings?

    Cheers!

    • says

      Hi Calvin,

      Thanks for reading and for the comment. Also thanks for pointing out that typo which has been fixed now. Weebly allows you to redirect your old domains to the equivalent page on your new site, so you should be able to keep your search engine rankings. More on how to do that here:

      http://kb.weebly.com/301-redirects.html

      Hope that helps. If you have any other questions or issues let me know.

      Best Regards,
      Dave

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