Do you have analysis paralysis trying to figure out what platform to use to build your website? Are you confused with all of the technical jargon?
Having your own website is like owning digital real estate for your practice. But it can be confusing to search for a website builder if you don’t know what they’re looking for. Even the popular website builders still have various functionalities and design features.
Choosing where to build your website doesn’t have to take months. We want to make starting your website simple, so here’s our quick breakdown of the top providers so you can easily make your decision. We also have our recommendations based on what we work with for our clients.
By the end of this article, you should have a clear idea of who are the main providers for building your website.
Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress may look like three options, but there are actually only two types. It’s split between the all-in-one website build, and the self-hosted build.
The Convenient All-in-One Options: Wix and Squarespace
An all-in-one builder (such as Squarespace) is usually a one-stop-shop platform. They provide the basic tools you need without requiring any coding knowledge. Their pricing plans usually include three essential building blocks you need to have for a basic website:
- your domain (yoursite.com)
- your hosting (which server your website will be on)
- SSL (encryption for website security – technically not a requirement, but it’s best practice to rank better on Google)
They often also have visual building tools that have drag-and-drop or block-based interfaces – both Wix and SquareSpace do. With these, you can edit and see what your website will look like live. You don’t need to code or install any plugins to work with these platforms.
With packaged builders, you just create your account and start building. However, these services often come with hefty fees because of their ease of use and convenience. You’ll pay around 3x to 5x more per month, definitely more premium options than a self-hosted build (i.e. WordPress).
SquarespaceSquarespace is excellent for modern templates and mobile-responsive interfaces. They also provide themes and templates that are easy to make pretty, personalized and professional. It uses blocks on its visual tool to organize and layout your content. They also have a guide for new users on how to use the tools on their content editor. The templates on Squarespace mostly control the layout, so it can be restricting. But this lack of flexibility also makes sure that your website always looks clean across all platforms, including mobile. Squarespace doesn’t have a free plan, but you can give it a try for 14 days, but you’ll have to pay one of their monthly plans after that period to keep full access. If you want to add some marketing integrations, you will need to upgrade to the premium plans that have it.
WixIf you’re leaning towards more design options and flexibility, Wix uses a drag-and-drop design feature for creative beginners. While Squarespace has better themes than Wix, Wix is more flexible with what you can do with layout instead of being restricted with blocks. However, one of the major restrictions with Wix is that you can no longer switch themes after you publish. So you need to be careful with your first choice and stick to it. Mobile responsiveness is also tricky with Wix. While the drag-and-drop works amazing when you’re designing, your template might get messed up when in mobile view. We’ve had many experiences with SLP Wix sites that don’t look good on mobile. This is crucial especially when typically 75% of traffic comes from mobile (based on our experience and access to SLPs Google Analytics accounts). Wix has a free plan on its platform, but it is hosted under its domain (yoursite.wixsite.com) and contains ads for Wix. To get your own custom domain along with more bandwidth, you’ll need to upgrade to one of their premium plans.
While there are other providers, Wix and Squarespace are on top of this service type with 55% of the website building market together. Many are opting for the simple interface of visual builders, but it also means more cost.
There’s also the matter of analytics. For example, setting up proper analytics and conversion tracking can be tricky with Wix. We ran into issues where tracking and conversions are not picking up on mobile. We had to do modifications to make it work right. Successful online marketing (such as Google Ads) relies on functional and accurate tracking on your website.
The Flexible Self-Hosted Builder: WordPress
WordPress is best for those who want more freedom with their website. Many developers are continuously creating a wide range of themes and plugins for WordPress. You can choose from many theme options, some of which are free and some are paid.
You will also have access to your website’s code, unlike the all-in-one options. With the flexibility that this build offers, you can make your website as simple or as complex as you like (but we advise on keeping things simple!).
While WordPress is free to use, it is also less of a web service provider but more of a software that you put in your website to manage your content. This also means that you need to get your three essential building blocks separately: domain, hosting, and SSL.
Most hosting providers often include the ability to buy your domain and often also have SSL included in their hosting plans. We recommend using Dreamhost where you can get all three at once and has good performance at very affordable rates. For your domain, we also recommend Namecheap as an alternative.
There is that initial difficulty, but it also means a cheaper price than the large monthly fees from all-in-one builders. These are also the only things that you need to pay for to run your basic functional website. It’s up to you if you need extra functions for your website, such as WordPress “Themes” that sort of go ‘on top’ to make the user interface and usability easier. The really good themes, like Divi, make designing on WordPress ‘drag and drop’ easy, similar to Wix and SquareSpace.
WordPress can seem overwhelming at first, but it’s not impossible for a beginner to handle. There are also workarounds to get the same visual builder like experience on Wix or Squarespace, like using WordPress Themes such as Divi or Elementor.
Making WordPress Easier: Divi Visual Website Builder
What We Don’t Recommend
GoDaddy started as a domain registrar and hosting option. But they recently added services similar to all-in-one website building providers. Even with their easy web builder, we found their basic functionality—especially analytics and tracking—to be subpar.
Compared to what you will get for the price they are currently asking for, it’s better to go with other options. Even with just their domain registration and hosting, there are far cheaper and better alternatives like Dreamhost.
Weebly (new system)
Since Weebly has been purchased by the giant payment company, Square, they have since appeared to launch a new website builder system. Now when signing up for a new Weebly website it appears to force you to use this new website builder which severly lacks features and flexibility. Even a simple feature like a contact form redirect is missing.
We recently worked with a client who had recently created a Weebly website herself and we noticed it was far different from the old Weebly website builder. There was no way for us to install the analytics and conversion tracking code anymore, and among a few other things lead us to completely rebuilder her website on WordPress as it was simply not salvageable.
Don’t get confused with WordPress.org, which is a self-hosted website, and WordPress.com, which is an online platform primarily used for blogging. It runs with a modified version of WordPress with limited functionality unless you pay for a premium plan.
WordPress.com’s expensive paywall blocks the powerful tools you can get on WordPress.org’s software such as installing plug-ins, full customization and theme options.
You have a few options with how to start building your website, but here is our quick take on it:
If you want to do it yourself and make it look and function well especially on mobile: Squarespace is the best option. With the ease and convenience, of course, comes its corresponding price tag.
If you’d like a cheaper alternative for your website, go with WordPress with a Divi theme. It may have a steeper learning curve, but there’s more flexibility. Plus, you have the advantage of choosing plug-ins that work specifically for you.
Analytics and conversion tracking also works best on WordPress. It will save you the headache when you want to track your lead acquisition in the future. We use the WordPress/Divi combination with our clients for the same reason, as the gathering leads is a major goal for your website.
If you’d like help with your WordPress website, we offer 2 great options: an affordable DIY Option in which we set up all of the hard things for you OR an Everything Done For You Option. Book your free 30-minute consultation by filling out the form below and let’s talk about what we can do for your practice.