WordPress vs Wix/Weebly/Squarespace – Best 2019 Review

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After this post you will know which website builder is the best for you and why. Whether it is WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, or <Insert your favorite page builder here> this post will give you the answer. Plus, at the end you will find an extremely important key factor that none of the other reviews out there ever mention.

Introduction

Before diving into the content, let me set three things straight:

1. If you ask 10 people which tool is best, you will get 11 different answers. Seeing this, we decided to contribute our fair share based on our experience and research.

2. There is a big difference between WordPress.ORG and WordPress.COM. WordPress.org is completely free and open source, therefore you need to host it yourself, or have a 3rd party hosting provider host it for you. WordPress.com, however, is a managed blog solution hosted by WordPress with a more limited and controlled environment in terms of available features. When this post refers to WordPress, we are talking about the open source and completely free WordPress.org.

3. Comparing WordPress to Wix/Weebly/Squarespace is like comparing one apple with a sack of oranges. They are both used to build websites, but they don’t do it quite the same. WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System), which gives the ability to easily manage content as the name implies. But it is also a framework for developers to plug in their own custom code and extend the WordPress functionality.

On the other hand, Wix/Weebly/Squarespace are all closed source website builders, which means that they developed their own tool nobody outside their company can see the code of, or develop upon, and they provide you with an easy to use, however limited, drag-and-drop interface to build your website.

With that out of the way, lets break down the pros, cons, benefits, features, etc. each platform has to offer. While you read through the post, make sure not only to keep your current needs in mind, but also what you may be needing 3-6 months or even a year from now. Also, remember that there is never a one solution fits all, and the purpose of this post is to present you all the facts to make an informed decision as to which one is the right one for you.

Setup

Wix

The setup is extremely easy. If you click fast enough, you could get a site online in a minute. Just go to their website, signup, and then either pick a template or answer a few very simple questions about your website. Then, Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) takes care of the rest.

Weebly

Weebly’s setup was just as simple as Wix, with an online site being possible to configure in less than 1 minute. The process is almost identical, with the only real difference being the interface. With Weebly, you just go to their website, click on the big “Create your website” button, and either choose to create a regular website which then will throw you into their editor, or choose create a website with a store only. If you choose the latter, it will ask you some basic information about your website, then allow you to pick layouts, colors, fonts. You are then ready to go.

Squarespace

Surprise, surprise. Squarespace setup is just as easy as the rest. You hit the “Get started” button, enter some basic information, pick a template, and then it drops you right into your site where you can start making modifications to the design.

WordPress

WordPress is an entirely different monster. Due to its open source nature, they only give you the code which then requires you to configure the environment and install the code. Therefore, you need to get a hosting provider, use DNS to point your domain correctly, configure your SSL/TLS certificate (highly recommended), then proceed through their interface to install and configure WordPress. This may sound simple, but even for tech-savvy people this process can take a few hours. There are some hosting providers that attempt to make it a bit easier and give you a package with WordPress already installed which is great, but you still need to do your research to find out which one of the hundreds of hosting providers is the one that will cause the least amount of headache.

Winner: Tie between Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace

When it comes to ease of setup, you cannot go wrong with Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace. All of them have extremely simple and intuitive interfaces to navigate, allowing you to create a website in matter of minutes, whereas WordPress will require you to either hire someone that knows, or spend a few hours researching how to do it yourself.

Ease of use

Wix

Based on how you configure your Wix site, you may be using the full editor or their ADI. The ADI interface is super easy to use but also extremely limited. You are given a list of pages to pick from, that you can then add to your site. Each page is composed of a few sections, and each section has a few layout variations. On each of those sections, you are only given 2 options: to edit the existing layout, or to change to a new layout for that section. So, it is limited, but is so well organized and intuitive that it allows any 8-year-old (or 80-year-old) create a nice-looking website in minutes.

The ADI interface is probably one of the most intuitive and clean interfaces out there, but it is also one of the most limited. That is why when it comes to Wix, the remainder of this post will focus only on the main website builder (not ADI).

The website builder interface has many more options, as this one actually lets you modify the sections of your template and not just replace the text/images. This interface may be a bit too much for a first time user. It has a lot of functionality spread all over the place, pop ups every time you click somewhere, and is a bit clunky when you scroll. There is definitely a learning curve  to use the tool efficiently. Don’t worry, they send email tutorials regularly, and as soon as you start designing, they prompt you with a quick video tutorial on how to use their interface.

Overall, their main website builder interface is good, however may have too much going on, making it overwhelming to the user. At the same time, they offer a lot of functionality and features. Once past the initial learning curve, it is very simple to move things around and modify the site.

Image to show Wix's overwhelming editor.
Figure 1. Wix editor with functionality on the top, left, right, bottom, and middle. Powerful if you know how to use it. Intimidating for first time users.

Weebly

Just like Wix, Weebly offers two different editors. If you selected a website with an online store, it will throw you into a similar setup as the Wix ADI interface. The interface is intuitive, clean, and very easy to use, but also very limited. It has more features than Wix since you can easily change colors and position of the elements without being restrained to a default section, however, it is still lacks a lot of the functionality of their main website builder. For the remainder of this post, we will only be discussing the main, full featured editor.

The full-featured Weebly editor is just as nice to look at overall. You don’t get that overwhelming feeling like Wix for the first time. The interface is very clean, smooth, and intuitive. There are no annoying pop ups, and as you mouse over things, a very subtle box shows up with guidance of the supported actions. The downside, is that the interface doesn’t allow as much functionality as Wix, and may result in a frustrating experience at times when trying to move objects around.

Overall, the interface is very easy to use and requires less of a learning curve than Wix, however does not offer the same amount of functionality.

Image to show the clean and simple Weebly editor.
Figure 2. Weebly editor with a clean and simple to understand editor.

Squarespace

The Squarespace interface is arguably the most elegant interface of the three. Unlike the last two, configuration of a Squarespace site is done all in one page. Any newcomer can find their way around the application by reading the intuitive menu on the left side of the page. For example, to edit the design you must first select a page, pick the section, and then hit edit. While editing, there is no sidebar or random pop ups and you only see the page as you would if you were a visitor. As you move your mouse around the elements, options are displayed indicating what is modifiable.

The challenge with Squarespace arises when you want to change a specific setting, like background color, and you don’t see the option after putting the mouse over the element. Since Squarespace interface takes a different approach than the other two you don’t have a sidebar with all the options or elements, so if you are trying to discover all the styling capabilities of the interface, it will require a learning curve. On a personal note, I usually pick up tools very easily but the first time I used Squarespace I was getting frustrated trying to do simple things such as adding an extra layer of text and changing the background image of a section.

Overall, the interface is very elegant and simple for the basic functions. It can be – however – a double edged sword since it requires a learning curve when you need to navigate through the interface to find specific functionality that is not on the hover of the mouse.

Image to display how elegant and minimalist Squarespace editor is.
Figure 3. Squarespace editor is your website. There are no menus or side bars, other than the “Save/Exit”, and as you mouse over the elements you get tiny pop ups with the allowed actions.

WordPress

WordPress falls very short in the ease-of-use department, as WordPress itself is not a website builder. It doesn’t have any of the nice drag-n-drop tools present in the others. WordPress functions with themes and plugins. Each WordPress installation needs to have a theme, and each theme has a page with controls. There are plugins to make this process easier, but unless you are a developer or rely heavily on plugins, WordPress is not a beginner-friendly platform.

WordPress recently released their Gutenberg functionality, which attempts to build pages and posts using blocks. However, the interface is on its infancy, and there is basically no styling options nor flexibility. Even with Gutenberg you will still need to rely on your theme/plugins for styling and overall look of the website.

Image showing the lack of flexibility with the WordPress default interface.
Figure 4. WordPress Gutenberg editor with blocks functionality, but not really any styling features for the site overall. Website look and feel is managed though many parts of the left menu.

Winner: Tie between Wix and Weebly

Honestly this comes down to personal preference. What you find easy to understand may not be as easy for someone else. There are tons of articles and reviews out there, some opting for Wix, others for Weebly or Squarespace, but they all come down to the same three things:

1. If you find yourself more comfortable with a clean minimalist interface, Squarespace is most likely the one for you.

2. If you are looking for the most functionality, don’t like to be restricted by a grid, and don’t mind sitting through a 5 min video to learn a bit, then Wix will be the preferred choice.

3. If you want a mix between the last two, a clean design that is a bit more intuitive, then Weebly’s interface would be the best choice.

The only definitive takeaway is that WordPress is not easy for the newbie, even for professional developers WordPress can still prove complicated at times.

Page Builder Features

The following table compares the core functionality of each editor without any additional plugins or modifications.

FeatureWixWeeblySquarespaceWordPress
Drag and Drop EditorYesYesYesTD
Default elements in Drag and Drop Editor~3028~50TD
Inline EditingYesYesYesTD
Themes SwappingNoYesYesTD
Theme Restricted DesignNoNoYesTD
Absolute PositioningYesNoNoTD
Responsive EditingYesNoYesTD
Hide ElementsYesYesWorkaroundTD
Customizable MenuLimitedTDTDTD
Version HistoryYesNoNoTD
Parallax BackgroundYesYesYesTD
Parallax ElementsNoNoNoTD
Sticky HeaderYesYes WorkaroundTD
Sticky ItemsNoNoNoTD
Global ColorsYesYesYesTD
Global ElementsNoNoNoTD
Global SectionsNoNoNoTD
Import/Export SectionsNoNoNoTD
Import/Export ElementsNoNoNoTD
Royalty-Free ImagesYesNoNoTD
Image FunctionsYesYesYesTD
Custom CSSWorkaroundYesYesTD
Custom HTMLNoYesPremium OnlyTD
Custom JSWorkaroundYes Premium OnlyTD

* TD: Theme Dependent

Winner: Tie between Wix and Weebly

This is very close call. Wix offers more features and more flexibility (like the version history) but let’s face it, at some point your company is going to grow or your priorities are going to change. when that time comes you WILL want to make changes to your website. Whether it is to change the design drastically or add new features, you will want your page builder to be flexible enough to grow with you. Since Wix doesn’t allow retroactive theme changes or the ability to add custom CSS/JS/HTML, it could be a deal breaker for those who have a more long term vision.

Weebly does give you flexibility to add your own HTML/CSS/JS, and even change themes. But the builder is not as feature rich, lacking very important functionality such as version tracking and mobile editing.

Themes/Plugins

Website BuilderThemesPlugins
Wix510+200
Weebly35300
Squarespace17147
WordPress11,000+50,000+

Note that the numbers above are from the time this post was written and they may have changed by the time you read it. Also, the total count includes both free and paid versions.

The plugin count for WordPress is only considering official plugins listed on their website, while the theme count consists of themes listed on ThemeForest (you can see a full list of WordPress statistics here https://www.codeinwp.com/blog/wordpress-statistics/).

Squarespace doesn’t really have plugins, as they have integrations which are all included in their plans. Squarespace does have a community based website where people sell “plugins”, however, they are just JavaScript animations to make your site look more dynamic.

All other statistics were obtained from each platform’s main website.

Winner: WordPress

One may argue that having many options is actually a downside because it could be overwhelming, however some quick web searches can answer most questions that may arise. Let’s do a quick experiment!

Do a quick Google search for “Flower shop theme wordpress“. You will notice that ThemeForest is a top result (they are the biggest WordPress theme store out there). Following the link will give you about 100 themes related to flowers organized by categories, eCommerce, Blogs, Nonprofit, etc. The more specific your search is, the fewer options there will be. Chances are that one of those last results will fit your specific preferences.

Now let’s go to the main Wix website and search for “flower shop” in the templates section. You will see only about 7 options returned. Not bad, but WordPress more than a hundred options. Keep in mind, we are talking about flower shops, something that is fairly popular, but what about something more niche like custom shoemaking? You have a much better chance at finding a match in the 11,000 themes WordPress offers, however it is doubtful that there are any among the 500+ from Wix, 35 of Weebly, or the 17 from Squarespace.

E-Commerce

Website builders are not really standalone eCommerce platforms , however most have integrations to make adding eCommerce functionality easy for anyone. Functionality can be limited unless you opt for a more expensive plan. For this blog post, we will be talking about the most complete plans for each platform. Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace all offer multiple tiers of eCommerce, each one resulting in an increased price and feature set.

WordPress does not come with eCommerce functionality built in, but there is a plugin called WooCommerce which is the standard of eCommerce on WordPress. It should be noted that when discussing the WordPress eCommerce platform, we are referring to WooCommerce and not WordPress itself.

Let’s review what these tools have to offer in terms of pricing and functionality:

FeatureWixWeeblySquarespaceWordPress
Price$49/mo$25/mo$40/moFree
Tax calculatorNoYesYesYes
CouponsYesYesYesYes
Abandoned Cart RecoveryYesYesYesYes
SubscriptionsNo+$30/moYesYes
Book Appointments+$20/mo+$24/moYesYes
Memberships+$20/mo+$30/mo+$25/mo+4%Yes
VariationsYesYesYesYes
Variations PricesYesYesYesYes
Dynamic PricingNoNoNoYes
Add-onsNoNoNoYes
BundlesNoNoNoYes
WhishlistNoNoNoYes
Pre-orderNoNoYesYes
DownloadsYesYesYesYes
Tickets+$17.50/mo+$0.65/ticketYesYes
Customer Defined PriceNoNoNoYes
DonationsYesYesYesYes
TipsRestaurant OnlyNoNoYes

Here are a few sources: WooCommerce FeaturesWeebly SubscriptionsSquarespace lack of Customer Defined Price Wix Lack of Product Subscription

Winner: WordPress

When it comes to eCommerce the winner is clear. But there are still a few things you should be aware of. WordPress/WooCommerce is not as intuitive as the other platform’s eCommerce solutions. WooCommerce makes it relatively easy to configure the back-end functionality of the store, but the interface is totally dependent on the theme you are using, which doesn’t always integrate well. Also, if you know anything about WooCommerce you may be thinking – “most of those features are only possible with extra paid plugins” – and you are right, kind of. This is due to how the WordPress’s license is structured.

WordPress was released under the GPLv2 license which basically says that it is free to use, modify, and share and any “derivative work” (themes and plugins), are required to inherit the same license. What most plugin and theme vendors really charge you for is the effort that goes into development, maintenance, and distribution. So technically, you don’t need to pay for WooCommerce at all, but it is strongly advised you do, to support all their amazing work and receive the additional support from their team.

The license under which the WordPress software is released is the GPLv2 (or later) from the Free Software Foundation. […] Part of this license outlines requirements for derivative works, such as plugins or themes. Derivatives of WordPress code inherit the GPL license. […] There is some legal grey area regarding what is considered a derivative work, but we feel strongly that plugins and themes are derivative work and thus inherit the GPL license.

https://wordpress.org/about/license/

One last thing worth mentioning: even though these website builder tools do offer some flexibility with eCommerce, the extent of functionality may still be limited. For example, if you want to offer subscriptions with your website, you would expect customers to have the ability to do basic things like pause the subscription, updating the products they are subscribing to, or maybe just skip a month of the subscription. Well, if you are using Squarespace, you are out of luck. With Squarespace you are limited to creating and deleting a subscription, without any in between. Another issue comes with limitations on product variations (such as shoes coming in different colors). Wix will only allow you to add a maximum of six per item.

Blogging

All four platforms share core functionality. They all let you create a blog, add tags and categories, share posts on social media, and provide a nice interface to create posts. However there is one which sets itself apart. WordPress, originally intended as an open-source blogging platform, is the most feature-rich in this domain (especially now with the new Gutenberg editor featuring drag-and-drop functionality).

It is still worth mentioning a few differences they all have just to be aware of their limitations.

Wix

Wix lacks important functionality, such as archiving posts, one would normally expect a blog to have.

Weebly

After WordPress, Weebly would probably be next on the list. It has some extra features like comments, ability to archive, and even the ability to schedule publishing posts. All these features are present in WordPress, but it is good to know you also have them with Weebly.

Weebly may be okay for blogging, but if you intend to be a heavy blogger, you will find yourself limited. And planning for the future, if you ever outgrow Weebly, you would have to move all your posts manually. That is a lot of copy/pasting and re-uploading images.

Squarespace

Like the others, Squarespace also features comments, scheduled posts, and an archive, but the interface may not be as intuitive as the others for beginners.

WordPress

Chance are that any idea you can dream up for blog functionality has a corresponding free WordPress plugin to implement it, if not already part of the core WordPress features. If you want the least amount of limitations and most possible functionality, WordPress should be the platform of choice. It is simple to manage posts, themes are designed with a blogs in mind, custom side bars, archive, featured posts, sticky posts, hidden posts, private posts, password protected posts, and ability to restrict your posts based on user roles are just a few nice features. The options are truly unlimited with WordPress.

Winner: WordPress

Performance

Performance is always a fun thing to review specially because there are always a ton of different ways you can do it, and even all things done the same you still will get slightly different results each repetition. Because of that, we decided to ignore all the research out there from other people and do it ourselves by testing speed and server uptime.

For our speed test we asked the following question. If you need to create a website RIGHT NOW, which platform would end up with the fastest website? We created a home page with a background color and a line of text reading “Hello World” on each platform. Once all the pages were ready, we test their speed with GTmetrix 5 times and averaged the results. Here is what we found:

Wix

When it comes to uptime, Wix doesn’t publicly disclose their metrics but the people at Website Tool Tester have some metrics for a demo site they put up which records 99.95% availability. Of course, it is not fair to say that this accounts for each of Wix’s servers’ uptime percentage, as Wix has many servers all around the USA and one crashing will cause downtime for some but not for others. They may also have repeated crashes during the same month, and then go for an entire year with no issues at all. That’s why it’s better to look at the uptime of all servers and over a long period of time. Unfortunately, we don’t have that number, but Wix support claims it to be 99.80%. (https://support.wix.com/en/article/about-the-wix-servers)

99.8% is actually pretty bad when it comes to server uptime. It means that your website is offline for about 1.5 hours each month and 17.5 hours each year.

In terms of speed. Using the free plan, Wix adds extra content to the page such as a chat popup and a “Powered by Wix” banner which does slow down the site. We published our page and then browsed to it with GTmetrix. On average, the site fully loaded after 5.4 seconds, with a total size of 1.65 MB, and making 110 requests to retrieve resources.

Image shows the gtmetrix results for a custom site made with Wix.
Figure 5. GTmetrix scores for the test Wix site.

GTmetrix provides an average full load time of all the pages it has scanned in the past 30 days. At the time this test was performed, the average was 6.2 seconds. The Wix site we created is better than average, but 5 seconds is still not great. An optimized website should load in under 1 second.

Weebly

Researching uptime was much easier with Weebly since they are transparent via statuspage.io. You could go to their status page and check their historic uptime via this link https://weebly.statuspage.io/uptime, but in effort of saving you time, we did this for you. Between June 2014 and June 2019, the average uptime is 99.99% with some years where it was at 100%. That is very good! it means that on average, your site will only be down 4 minutes each month or 52 minutes per year. Taking into consideration that maintenance needs to be performed periodically, this is a very positive number.

In the speed department, Weebly performed better than Wix. Making the website was again straight forward. Starting from a “coming soon” template, we removed every single block and left a text block reading “Hello World!” in the middle. Browsing to it with GTmetrix, the results were substantially faster with an average of 1.1 seconds to load 0.6 MB, and only 33 requests.

Image shows the gtmetrix results for a custom site made with Weebly.
Figure 6. GTmetrix scores for the test Weebly site.

Squarespace

Like Weebly, Squarespace also uses statuspage.io for their uptime tracking (https://status.squarespace.com/uptime). Squarespace uptime is 99.96% from June 2014 to June 2019, which is 17 minutes per month or 3.5 hours of downtime per year. It is not the best, but also not horrible. It is also worth mentioning that during all of 2014, 2015, and 2016 they had a stunning 100% uptime. It wasn’t until 2017 that they started having issues, with 99.91% uptime in 2017, 99.94% in 2018, and 99.89% up until June 2019.

For the speed part, since Squarespace does not offer any free plans, we didn’t want to go through the trouble of paying them for a month just to run a speed test. Instead, we decided to do a quick Google search for Squarespace websites. We picked the simplest one that had minimal content. GTMetrix reported an average load time of 1.3 seconds, 0.3 MB of size, and 29 requests to load resources. Lighter than Weebly, but the loading time wasn’t as good. 1.3 seconds is still pretty good load time though.

Image shows the gtmetrix results for a custom site made with Squarespace.
Figure 7. GTmetrix scores for the test Squarespace site.

WordPress

For WordPress, there is no way to test for uptime or speed since it is entirely dependent to the hosting provider you choose and how well optimized your WordPress website is. So we decided to use our site 200sites.com as an example. This website is hosted on a shared hosting using InmotionHosting, using CloudFlare as a CDN, using one cache plugin, and one performance plugin, and with 3 very heavy/resource intensive plugins that we should probably limit. This setup was made with price in mind instead of performance and there is still a lot of room for improvement but lets see how it compares to the other three.

For uptime, InmotionHosting claims to have 99.9% uptime. Unfortunately, they do not provide tools to actually test their uptime, but we do use the free version of UptimeRobot (https://uptimerobot.com) which gives you uptime metrics for up to 2 months. As of this writing, 200sites.com has an uptime of 99.98%, and as far as I can recall, it was 99.96% a few month ago.

In terms of speed, I created a blank page on the site that is just a black background with a heading that says “Hello World” just like the others. GTmetrix reported an average of 0.9 seconds with a high of 1.2 seconds and a low of 0.6 seconds. A total size of 0.2 MB, and 7 requests to fetch all resources.

Image shows the gtmetrix results for a custom site made with WordPress.
Figure 8. GTmetrix scores for the test WordPress site.

Winner: WordPress

Wix is the worst when it comes to performance. Squarespace and Weebly are not bad at all, but keep in mind that those tests were with a website with pretty much nothing on it. The more things you add the slower it could get, and there is not much you can do about it, due to the limited functionality offered.

It should be said that since WordPress offers its users much more control, it could go horribly wrong if you pick a bad hosting provider and bloat your installation with tons of plugins. However, with little effort you can optimize the site and definitively beat the performance of the other platforms.

Support

Wix

Wix has a very well documented knowledge base where you can find detailed answers to most questions. In case you have a question you cannot find a documented answer to, they offer 24/7 phone support regarding billing and other account questions, and 5:00am to 5:00pm PT Mon-Fri for all technical questions. They also offer a VIP Support plan on their most complete package available to take calls 6:00am to 5:00pm PT Mon – Thu.

Weebly

Weebly also has a great knowledge base with tons of information in addition to email support. Unlike Wix, Weebly offers chat support for all plans. On the downside, they only offer phone support for paying customers, and priority phone support to their most costly plan.

Squarespace

Squarespace offers 24/7 email and chat support included with all their plans. The support team also seems very knowledgeable and have complete access to the application. Unfortunately, they do not offer any phone support.

WordPress

WordPress does not offer any support, as this is normally done through hosting providers. They are usually pretty good, but some are better than others. If you think you will be requiring a lot of support with a WordPress installation, it may be worth shopping hosting providers with technical support mind.

Winner: Wix

Wix wins this one mainly because their knowledge base is very complete and easy to navigate. They may not have interactive online chat, but the fact that they offer phone support to everyone in addition to support straight through the editor makes it very easy to find the help you need when you need it.

Pricing

Wix

Wix offers a free version which has Wix ads everywhere, but is perfect to play around with while deciding if it is the right platform for you. The paid version of Wix without eCommerce is $13/month or $22/month with all the features aside from their VIP support. If you want eCommerce, it goes up to $23/month for the basic offering and $27/month for their most popular package which includes everything but the support. They will give the first year of the domain for free, with subsequent years using the domain costing an additional $15/year.

The only other cost you could incur would be for any extra plugins (be careful as these can add up). Do you want the possibility of more than 10 comments on your blog posts? That will be an additional $4/month. Want a more than 5 forms? $10/month. Want a chat on your site? $10/month. Something small like a counter? $2.50/month.

They used to offer a cheaper package at only $5 per month, but recently discontinued it in the USA and will discontinue it for the rest of the world soon, if they haven’t already.

Image displaying Wix prices.
Figure 9. Wix current pricing, starting at $13 a month all the way to $49 a month.

Weebly

Weebly also offers a free version, also containing ads, however it is great way to become familiar with the Weebly platform. The paid plans are cheaper than Wix, with their cheapest plan costing $5/month and $38/month for their most complete (and expensive) plan. Aside from their page builder, Weebly also charges for an email marketing campaign plan which goes from $8/month for their most basic plan, to $75/month for the most complete plan. Also, do not forget that there are extra charges for plugins on Weebly as well. Just to name a few, a chat is $8/month, forms $8/month, testimonials are a flat $3, and Google Ads support is $50 a month. The domain is always included the first year and then is $20/year after that.

One thing I personally did not like about Weebly is that if you start with a free plan and then try to upgrade to a paid plan, package options differ from those offered during the initial signup. The packages offered during upgrade are slightly more expensive, and offer a hybrid feature set of those offered initially. So you pay a little more, but you also get additional functionality. Also, I don’t know if I ended up being part of an A/B test, but I was also being shown an extra, more expensive plan, which was only offered sporadically.

The upgrade packages were $6 a month for their most basic plan, going all the way up to $72/month for the most complete package. Based on the description, the only difference between the $72/month upgrade package (Premium) and the previous highest package at $38 (Business Plus), is that the new package also includes a real time shipping rate calculator. However, after looking at their documentation, the $38 plan also includes that feature. So how did it go from $38 to $72? No idea.

Image displaying the variety of Wix prices.
Figure 10. Series of images showing Weebly pricing. Including the public pricing, their upgrade pricing, and their Email Marketing pricing.

At first, their business model seems straight-forward and simpler than Wix, since Weebly has less packages which are better organized. That is the impression before seeing hidden packages when upgrading and their lack of clear documentation anywhere online explaining the change in prices. This may be worrying to some, and it doesn’t help build trust with customers.

Squarespace

Squarespace although not the cheapest it is the simplest to understand with the cleanest interface. They allow you to design your website for free but you won’t be able to make it public until you upgrade to one of their paid plans. Meaning that to have a Squarespace website you have to play at least $12 a month, and up to $40 a month for their mos complete plan. Plus another $20 a year for the domain after the standard “free domain for 1 year” offer expires.

Another point of interest is that Squarespace does not offer a free package. They allow you to create a free account to design your website, however it won’t be public until you subscribe to a paid plan.

Image displaying Squarespace simple pricing scheme.
Figure 11. Squarespace pricing ranging from $12 to $40 per month.

WordPress

WordPress pricing is not as straight forward because WordPress itself does not offer hosting or domains, which can run anywhere from $2 to $200 and $8/year to $25/year respectively. You should also consider the SSL/TLS certificate for a domain, which can be free, but some hosting providers still charge over $100 per year. Not required but useful, is a CDN (Content Delivery Network), which can speed things up for people visiting the site and improve security (a good free CDN to check out is CloudFlare). Lastly, you need to consider additional plugins and themes of which many are free, but some cost significant amounts.

In summary, a basic installation of WordPress itself does not cost money. The hosting and domain licensing will incur costs dependent on the hosting provider, domain registrar, and preferences for configuration. But if you are more technically advanced and comfortable using a Linux terminal, then you can get away with free cloud based trials and yearly migrations to maintain the free hosting.

Winner: Wix

Wix is considered the best all round in terms of pricing because you can get a website free of ads for a very reasonable price ($13/month + $15/year), with the most complete package priced at $27/month, compared to $72 on Weebly and $40 on Squarespace.

Extra Categories

There are additional factors not previously covered in this post worth considering when choosing a platform. They are not covered because they are minor features and all the platforms either natively support them, or support third party tools to accomplish them.

SEO

Wix already has a lot of Search Engine Optimization built-in, which is transparent to the end user, plus it offers the Wix SEO Wiz. This tool takes you step by step through things you can do to improve your website ranking with search engines. Weebly also offers SEO plugins in addition to optimizing the website for you. It doesn’t offer interactive help, but gives you a thoroughly complete checklist on things you can do to improve the ranking. Squarespace does not offer additional SEO features because they create their templates with SEO in mind, and all technicalities are taken care of for you (https://support.squarespace.com/hc/en-us/articles/206744067-What-Squarespace-does-for-SEO). Like Weebly, Squarespace offers an SEO checklist.

A core WordPress installation itself doesn’t do any SEO, but it has amazing plugins that give you checklists, suggestions, and a lot of automatic optimization. The most popular plugin being Yoast SEO.

The whole purpose of SEO is to rank higher on search engines, but at the end of the day content is king. It doesn’t matter which platform you use, as they all offer plenty of features to take care of the SEO, but if your content is subpar, search engines will not rank you. You could follow every step of the best SEO checklist, but if you don’t have good content, you will not rank. On the other hand, if you haven’t done any optimization, but your content is amazing, there is still a chance you could rank.

Analytics

Wix has a free tool for basic analytics and offers a more advanced tool for an extra monthly fee. Weebly has basic analytics baked into their dashboard and allows you to add Google Analytics to get even more metrics. Squarespace and WordPress are the same in this category. They all provide you with the basic analytics one would expect.

Marketing

Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace all have proprietary tools to help you to build and launch marketing campaigns. WordPress has plugins to do the same. Regardless of the platform, marketing offerings are either limited or cost an additional monthly fee. If you are serious about wanting to market, it is better to research Email Marketing companies specializing in that, such as SendGrid or MailChimp. They will give you a much better value and cause less stress.

Security

Some will argue that WordPress is more “hackable” than the rest, due to its third party plugins which can be developed by anyone. As a multi-year penetration tester and security researcher, I can tell you that all platforms can be vulnerable and all can be secured.

WordPress plugins can all be set to auto-update which increases the chance of remaining secure. These plugins can make a core WordPress installation more secure as well. For instance, WordFence is a plugin which serves as a Web Application Firewall (WAF) and blocks malicious attacks, such as SQL Injection, in real time. WordPress and all its plugins are open source, meaning that anyone can read and audit the code. There are thousands of (good) people constantly trying to hack WordPress in efforts of fixing issues and preventing other (bad) people from finding them first. That is basically what I do for a living as penetration tester.

On the other hand, Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace are closed source, meaning that no one can see their code other than them. That model has some security benefits such as ensuring plugins and the application itself are coded securely, and no code is pushed without being tested first. But does it really happen that way? For most companies, security is a luxury. Testing products takes a tremendous amount of time and money, all while being very hard to prove valuable towards the bottom line. For this reason, they usually either don’t do it at all, or don’t do properly due to being unable to allocate the necessary resources.

When companies like these ones don’t properly test their product, we end up with situations like Sammy, the computer worm that hit MySpace on 2005. This was a simple attack which compromised over 1 million sites in less than 20 hours.

Weebly uses a network of penetration testers to constantly test their sites through Cobalt.io. Squarespace is the same, however uses HackerOne (different network of penetration testers). Wix claims to use one, but it is not publicly disclosed. There are, however, a few Wix bugs reported on OpenBugBounty. They are all good solutions, but will never be as effective as having security consultants test your application with knowledge and understanding of the code and workflow.

Conclusion

Now that you have all the information, lets compile the results by category. Giving four points to the winner of each category, three points to 2nd place, two points to 3rd, and one point to 4th.

CategoryWixWeeblySquarespaceWordPress
Setup+4+4+4+1
Ease of Use+4+4+2+1
Editor Features+4+4+2+1
Themes/Plugins+2+3+1+4
E-Commerce+2+1+3+4
Blogging+1+2+3+4
Performance+1+3+2+4
Support+4+2+3+1
Pricing+4+3+2+1
SEO+1+1+1+1
Analytics+1+1+1+1
Marketing+1+1+1+1
Security+1+1+1+1
Total30302625

If we take the matrix above at face value, Wix and Weebly would be the ultimate website editors. Easy right? Not quite. The reality is your choice is going to depend largely on your needs. Ask yourself the following questions:

Do you mind doing some research to configure things and possibly getting involved with code?

What is your budget? Do you mind paying for plugins every time you want something slightly out of the ordinary?

Is speed an important factor on your website?

Do you want to have full control, or is limited, basic control sufficient?

Looking at each platform’s most complete package, are they going support your company growth? At what cost?

In my personal opinion, the choice is very simple. If you enjoy having full control, flexibility, and don’t mind the learning curve (like me), go for WordPress no questions asked. If you value elegance, design, and good support, without worrying about plugins or add-ons, choose Squarespace. If you value ease of use and want enough flexibility to make it look the way you want but don’t care about anything else, choose Wix or Weebly.

I’ll even add another caveat and say that if you have some sense of positioning and understand the logical space a block takes on a website, then choose Weebly, but if you are completely clueless with web design and just want to drag an object where you want without having to worry about overlap and other CSS tedium, Wix is the way to go.

At the end of the day, no matter which tool you pick you will realize that it has limitations and will give you headaches from time to time.

Thanks for reading!

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What Nobody Ever Mentions

Now the bonus part of the post. At this point you should be pretty confident about the abilities of all of these tools, and let’s be honest. There are countless reviews just like this one out the on the internet, and they all always stop right there at the conclusion. They expose the features, pros and cons, and they always end up with something like “pick what you think is best”, “they all do the same”, which it is true. But let’s analyze the capabilities and limitations of each one for a second in a different angle.

Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace they are great website builders but they have pretty strong limitations in terms of what you are allowed to do. They provide you with the most common things people usually do on a website, but when you need to do something more unique, you are left all on your own. What can you do about it? Nothing… Just wait and hope they add that functionality. Let me give you 3 examples to further dissect the idea.

Example 1. Let’s say you are in Wix and you want to add border around a block of text, or make it fade out as you scroll down. Now what? Now you have to get dirty, find workaround, and figure out how to write your own custom CSS/JS. Not pleasant, but still possible.

Example 2. Now with a more complex problem. What if you have an online store and you want to add a mega menu under the store. In case you don’t know, a mega menu is a big drop down sub menu which in this case will have the store categories and a few featured products. Now what? Now you will really wish you put a little more though into which tool you picked to build your website. You can ask support, and if you are lucky, they will point you to an extra plugin for an extra $30 a month. Or they may give you a long process that will involve a lot of configuration steps and 8 pieces of code that need to be added as custom JS code to your page which probably no one understands other than the person who wrote it. If you decide to add it, there is no guarantee it works or that it will continue to work after they push an update. Pretty bad, but still solvable.

Example 3. How about adding a sub menu to one the items in that mega menu? Or you want to sell a bundle of products on your website? Now you are truly out of options. You cannot do anything other than submit a feature request, and hope their developers will work on it.

The point is, with Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. If you try to do something out of the ordinary even if it is a little bit. You have to really get out of your way and it may not even be possible.

In the other hand, as you know, WordPress is open source and heavy into the development community. Of course you cannot expect all people to learn to develop and make their website be great. But it is totally reasonable to expect that companies will make great plugins to make WordPress more user friendly. In fact, they are already out there, and they are rocking it.

What if I told you, that with WordPress you can also have a Drag-and-Drop website builder with ALL the functionality Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace offer and much more. A page builder that will let you export templates, sections, and elements for you to use anywhere you want. Couple that with an amazing community that will happily compile a library of thousands of custom made sections and elements you can import into your site with just a few clicks. Pretty amazing right, but wait it gets better. Just like any other page builder it does come with certain limitations, for example creating a sub menu on a mega menu is not possible out of the box. But another developer thought of that, and guess what? That is right, there are plugins to extend the functionality of the page builder which was made by an entirely different company.

Honestly, there are no limitations with WordPress. If you do an hour or two of research you can figure out the best tools for WordPress which will make all the “not user friendly” downsides disappear. You could even find people out there that compile courses/videos that tell you which best plugins to use.

Setup aside, with the right theme and plugins, any WordPress downside can be fixed without you ever writing a line of code. That is something you cannot say and probably will never be able to say about any of the other proprietary website builders.

Keep that in mind next time you need to build a website.

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