Wix, SquareSpace or WordPress: what will you choose to build your website?
For many years, WordPress has unquestionably been the most popular CMS for building a website. Recently, however, competitors Wix and SquareSpace have made great progress. But what do they have to offer? And which system is best for you: Wix, SquareSpace or WordPress?
New tools make building websites easy
These are all online tools that offer a wide variety of possibilities: you just need to pick a theme or template, add plug-ins, decide who is allowed to manage the website, etc. And when your website is ready, all you have to do is use an online form to add content, which is then nicely presented in the theme.
The difference between a CMS and a website builder
The big difference, however, is that WordPress is a Content Management System, which is based on the open source WordPress software. This software can be installed on any Linux hosting, and you can link your own domain name to it. Easy, right? But it is even easier when your hosting provider installs WordPress for you: with Combell, you can activate WordPress on your hosting package with a single click.
Using WordPress is like renting your own apartment: you can decorate it to suit your own taste and preferences, depending on your needs. And you are the only one who sets the rules and controls the costs. That is WordPress: you will have to work hard to organise your apartment, but once you are done, you are in full control.
Wix and SquareSpace, on the other hand, are comprehensive website builders that include hosting. Here too, the possibilities are manifold, but there are also many limitations (bandwidth, webspace, etc.). You have to limit your choice to the elements that the website offers, and can usually not edit the HTML or CSS code. But it is incredibly easy: all you have to do is sign up on the website and you can get the ball rolling right away.
Using Wix and SquareSpace is like living in a furnished studio. It is easy, because everything is already there. But you are not your own boss, you cannot drill into the walls to hang your own framed pictures, and you have to make do with the furniture that is already there.
Actually, Wix and SquareSpace are more like WordPress.com, the website that allows you to create a free blog based on the WordPress.org CMS. This also includes hosting and offers a lot of tools for you to use, but the possibilities are limited (find out more about this subject in our article entitled “WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: what is the difference?”).
Wix: free plan with severe restrictions
Wix was launched in 2006 as an Adobe Flash-based website builder. When Apple started phasing out Flash in 2008, Wix unveiled an HTML5-based platform in 2012.
Wix is a one-stop website builder: you do not need any external servers for hosting, and all the themes and building blocks can be found on the website itself. You can go for a free subscription, but then your website will automatically be given an address like youraccount.wix.com, which Google is not a big fan of! Linking your own domain name to your website will cost you $5 per month.
The free plan also comes with 500 MB of webspace and 500 MB of bandwidth per month, which is not really much. Moreover, Wix ads are placed on your website. Paying versions range from $5 to $25 per month.
Wix is very easy to use: first, you have to choose the type of website you want to create (Business, Online Store, Photography, Music, etc.). Then, you can pick a design, after which you get access to the site builder tool. And this is where you can start using drag and drop.
You can choose from more than 500 website designs, which you can activate with a single click. Not all themes are responsive, but using the separate mobile editor will allow you to adjust the layout for mobile devices. But make sure you give your choice some thought, because if you want to switch to a different design later on, you will have to build your entire website all over again!
The Wix App Market offers add-ons to complement Wix's basic features. You have everything you need to create a fully functional website or online store, so there is no need to look for third-party plug-ins. However, you are restricted to the Wix framework, which means exporting your website to another hosting is quite a challenge. Wix is used by 100 million people.
SquareSpace: watch out for hidden costs
SquareSpace is another one-stop online website builder. It was originally conceived to make fine design accessible to artists and small businesses. So, the emphasis here is very much on the visual. SquareSpace does not offer free plans, but its paid plans include a domain name (for the first year) and hosting.
If you choose a web store, you should however be very careful, as with the entry-level packages, you will be charged a 3% commission on each transaction (no commission is due if you opt for the more expensive packages). Prices range from $11 to $17 per month for unlimited pages and bandwidth, or from $24 to $36 for a web store.
SquareSpace is also a drag-and-drop editor. The neat part is that if you want to transfer your website to a different hosting environment, you will be able to export some of your code and use it as WordPress files.
You can only choose from 100 basic and streamlined templates, but what will make your website stand out is the image you will add. Each theme is optimised for mobile devices. What is noteworthy here is the integration with apps (Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, etc.) that can make your workflow smoother.
WordPress: unlimited freedom and opportunities
WordPress is basically just software, which you have to install (or have installed) on a server. You will also need a hosting package and a domain name. Tip: if you choose Combell WordPress hosting, you will not have to pay anything for your domain name, and WordPress will be installed for you right away.
The price depends on the hosting you choose, depending for example on how much web space you need for your files, pictures, etc. But in principle, there are no hidden costs – Combell even offers unlimited bandwidth. You are also not forced to buy ads from the site builder; on the contrary, you are completely free to monetize your website through ads of your own choice.
Regrettably, the learning curve here is a bit steeper than for Wix or SquareSpace, because you do not use drag and drop. But do not worry, as there are several plug-ins, such as Aqua Page Builder, which add this feature to WordPress. By the way, a new WordPress editor, named Gutenberg, will soon be available to facilitate the creation of your website even more. Find out what the WordPress editor Gutenberg has to offer.
If you want to tailor your website to your needs, you already have 6,500 free themes via WordPress itself, or you can choose from more than 50,000 themes available on various websites, including ThemeForest, which is very popular. And there are more than 55,000 plug-ins in total. All easy to install, fairly priced or sometimes even free. Most themes are mobile ready. In addition, elements such as buttons, text boxes, image sliders, portfolio options and many others are available in many variations.
Moreover, you can customise every aspect via the code. And since WordPress is open source, if you cannot find what you are looking for among the many ready-to-use themes, you can always ask a developer to create a custom theme and a custom plug-in that suit your specific needs.
Thanks to its good website structure, WordPress is very effective when it comes to SEO. Moreover, handy SEO plug-ins such as Yoast SEO are also available. Social media are extremely easy to integrate. And marketing tools like Facebook pixels, schema markup and marketing automation platforms can be used without any problem, because you are in full control of your own WordPress website.
WordPress also offers other interesting features, such as:
- Photo carousel: more than 600 plug-ins (free of charge)
- Media Library to neatly organise your images
- Video integration plug-ins (some of which can make your video instantly responsive)
- A wide range of forms
- E-commerce themes (including WooCommerce, which is the most popular)
- Integration with e-mail marketing via the Mailchimp plug-in
|Themes||+500 website designs||100 themes||Free themes > 6,500 > Paid themes > 50,000|
|Plug-ins||+250 apps in Wix Apps Market, including PayPal, Google Maps, Open Table, Soundcloud, etc.||Basic, integration with Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, Google Calendar and Gmail||Plug-ins > 55.000
Almost everything is possible
|Customisation||- Themes cannot be edited|
- No third-party themes
|- Themes can be partly edited|
- You can import themes, but we recommend that you do not do this
|- Themes offer fully editable CSS and HTML files
- Third-party themes and plug-ins (free or paid). You can have a developer develop or customise a theme or plug-in
Get started immediately
Less user-friendly despite the use of drag and drop (even for an external developer).
Installation takes only 5 minutes
|Drag and drop||Yes||Yes||Yes (Gutenberg)|
|Technical knowledge||No||No||No (we take care of the installation)|
|Helpdesk||24/7 helpdesk (in English)||Online support files||Support is not provided by WordPress itself, but is available via the WordPress forum and community.
Combell customers can enjoy 24/7 support in English.
|SEO||No or laborious marketing techniques such as Facebook pixels, retargeting campaigns, e-mail campaigns||Basic, limited to social sharing buttons, integration with MailChimp||- You can use any marketing technique you like.
- Many helpful plug-ins
|Responsive||Not all themes||Yes||Yes|
|Exportable content?||Not all themes||Yes||Yes|
|OK for large websites?|
|OK for small websites?|
- domain name not included
- hidden costs (additional fees for unlimited bandwidth, linking a domain name, etc.)
- domain name not included
- hidden costs, such as commissions charged on transactions
- domain and hosting to be paid separately (€9.33/month)
- no additional fees
|Drawbacks||- Wix can take your website offline if its content is considered offensive|
- Only Wix themes
- Switching templates => rebuilding the entire website
- Websites cannot be exported
|- Squarespace can take your website offline if its content is considered offensive|
- Limited number of themes
- Less user-friendly
- No separate mobile editor
|- Unlimited possibilities make it sometimes difficult to choose!|
Wix, SquareSpace or WordPress?
If you just want a simple static page, a website builder will probably do the trick. However, watch out for hidden costs, and remember that your website is not your own property: Wix of SquareSpace can close your account if your website does not comply with their rules. If you want complete freedom, go for WordPress Hosting.