One question I sometimes get from clients is whether they should use WordPress or one of the online website builder services like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. Unlike some web developers (and designers), I believe those services can be the right choice in some situations.
Just to be clear though, when I mention “WordPress” in this article, I’m talking about hosting it on your own hosting, not at WordPress.com. WordPress.com is a all-in-one hosting service similar to Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. More on this in my article, What is WordPress?
When I mention “website builder services”, I’m talking about services like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace.
When a Website Builder Service (Wix, Weebly or Squarespace) Can Be the Right Choice
Some web designers and developers like to disparage services like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. But honestly, the quality of the templates provided by these services has risen dramatically, to the point where sites based on these services look very modern and are mobile-friendly. So, the previous argument that these sites didn’t look good just isn’t true anymore.
Here are some situations where using a website builder service might be a good choice:
- You have limited budget and web development experience
Unless you create your WordPress site yourself, these builders will get your site up and running for very low cost compared to hiring a web developer to set up a WordPress site.
- Your site is purely informational without unusual functionality.
If you are a small business that just needs an informational website, hiring a web developer to create a site might be overkill. There’s nothing wrong with using a website builder service in this case.
- You don’t want to worry about site maintenance
WordPress sites require maintenance in the way of updates to the core, theme, and plugins. Plus, you’re responsible for backing up your site and restoring it if it gets hacked. If you use a builder service, they will do all of these functions for you.
When Site Builder Services Are Not the Right Choice
Here are cases where site builder services probably won’t cut it:
- You want a full custom design
Site builder services are limited in how much you can modify the design of the site. If you want full control over your site’s appearance, don’t use a site builder service.
- You need special functionality not offered by the website builder services
If you need to interface with an API or have some feature on your site not offered by the builder services, you’ll have to look elsewhere. WordPress has tons of plugins to do almost anything under the sun. If you can’t find what you need in a plugin, a programmer can probably do it for you.
- You want to save on monthly fees
While site builder services don’t have an up-front development cost (except for your time), they do charge monthly fees. Hosting a WordPress site has fees as well, but they are slightly less for the equivalent hosting.
- You want to tinker
If you enjoy tinkering with the nuts and bolts of your site, a self-hosted solution like WordPress will give you much more freedom.
If any of these are true in your situation, WordPress might be a better alternative than one of the online website builders.
My other caveat about “do-it-yourself” builder services is that although they are marketed as being easy to use, they actually do have a significant learning curve. If your time is very valuable or scarce, you might be better off hiring a developer than spending your time learning how to use these builders.
I hope this has helped you understand when site builder services might work for you, and when they won’t. Please leave your questions below in the comments! – Brian