Whether you have an existing website or you’re thinking about creating one, chances are that you’ve done extensive research on the numerous website-building platforms available. Drag and drop, lightweight web-building platforms have taken the internet by storm; Wordpress, Wix, Weebly, and the Squarespace are just a few of the ever-expanding platforms that advertise simple website building experiences. But how difficult is it to find information on these platforms? After tirelessly scrolling through endless parallax-style pages in an attempt to find an accurate breakdown of services, followed by sifting through hundreds of message boards, finding the right platform might get a little tiring. We wanted to find out what all the hype was about, so we sent our developers into the field to research three top names in the industry, to provide us with a breakdown of Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace.
Founded in 2006 by Avishai Abrahami, Nadav Abrahami, & Giora Kaplan, Wix prides itself on its drag & drop building platform that now makes full use of HTML5. Built for the non-developer, Wix has 60 million users worldwide as of 2015. It is a free software toolset, that creates Windows Installer packages from XML code. This means that it was, originally, a Microsoft project (and the first to be released under an open-source license). Wix includes a visual studio add-in, called Votive, that makes building websites an extremely intuitive and code-free process. Before March 2012, Wix used Adobe Flash technology, and though they have now moved to HTML 5, sites built in Flash are still supported.
+ Created for non developers
+ Focused support team
+ Large selection of templates
+ Automatic updates
+ Drag and drop builder (possibility to drag elements anywhere on the page)
+ e-Commerce capability
- No PHP, or mysql
- Impossible to transfer content/design between templates. Site needs redesign every time user wants to change template.
- No HTML or CSS editor
- Mobile responsive flaws in pre-designed templates
Between $4 and $25 a month. Primary Packages: Connect Domain ($4.08/mo), Combo (9.25/mo), Unlimited ($12.42/mo), e-Commerce ($16.17/mo), VIP (24.90/mo).*
Weebly is a privately funded organization, originally founded in 2006 by university students David Rusenko, Chris Fanini, and Dan Veltri. Their mission was to create a platform that would make web design easy for the every-day professional. Weebly’s online website creator is free, initially, and makes use of a simple widget-based drag and drop platform. Weebly’s sites are automatically mobile-responsive, and it’s software can be used on Windows, Mac, and Linux machines. Weebly’s free service requires the use of a yourname.weebly.com
domain, though a paid subscription allows for either a standalone domain name, or a redirect to a domain hosted elsewhere. Weebly’s platform does include some simple eCommerce options and payment gateways, as well as a mobile app for monitoring website statistics and modifying content via mobile device.
+ Includes hosting
+ Broad range of templates
+ Acceptable eCommerce system
+ CSS and HTML editor included
+ Pre-defined template areas
- Generally ranks lower in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) than WordPress
- Unable to access databases
- Does not support PHP
Free to $25 a month. Primary Packages: Free ($0/mo), Starter ($4/mo), Pro ($8/mo), Business ($25/mo)*
Founded in 2003 by Anthony Casalena, Squarespace has a little more artistic flare than the previous two platforms. Their mission: to provide creative tools to creative individuals, whether they are tech savvy or not. Squarespace’s style editor, for example, is full of numerous options and color palettes, for each section of the website. Squarespace is, at it’s core, a content management system, which contains a builder, a blogging platform, and control panel. Squarespace is slightly more developer-friendly, though PHP remains inaccessible.
+ Excellent support
+ Drag and drop builder
+ Automatic updates
+ Beautiful template design
+ E-commerce included in all packages
- Does not support PHP or mysql
- Limited ability to customize template
- Slow to moderate page speed
- Minimal customization
- No free plans
Between $8 and $24 a month. Primary packages: Personal ($8/mo), Professional ($16/mo), Business($24/mo)*
* These prices are accurate as of March, 2015
The Good News
The good news is that all three of the above-mentioned web-building platforms are true to their reputation; a simple and intuitive user interface is the key to the functionality of each of these design platforms. In addition, each platform has its own features to brag about: Squarespace’s platform focuses on sleek and artistic design, from the pre-designed templates all the way to the functionality of the style-editor; Weebly provides the user with a full web design and hosting package — everything from hosting to e-commerce is included in their subscription bundles; Wix, as well, delivers on keeping its builder extremely easy to use, and they stay up to date on all the latest technology upgrades. Common to all three is a comprehensive support system, with community forums available on their websites that were created to help users with more complicated problems. In the end, all three options are completely viable for use in creating a functional professional website.
The bad news is that all web-building platforms simply cannot provide you with, arguably, the two most important elements of a successful business or professional website: content and SEO. While design and functionality are important to helping your website provide a solid user experience (Wix, Weebly, SqaureSpace, and WordPress all provide this), what all of the website-builders fail to provide to the user is a solution for creating content, and for gaining rank in popular search engines.
Let’s say you just finished building a beautiful website, in any one of the builders mentioned above. Now what? Is your site ranked on the first page? Is it ranking at all? Or, maybe you’ve had your site up and running for a few months now, but after checking your analytics in Google, you’re seeing that you have an extremely high bounce rate (users who land on your site and immediately navigate away from it, without interacting with anything). The culprit behind low rank and high bounce rate is, almost always, poorly written content, and failure to properly write SEO-driven content. You’ll notice that the word content was mentioned twice - in the land of web design, content is king. Content is almost single-handedly responsible for landing people on your webpage, instead of someone else’s. You cannot be found on the internet if the words people are using to search for you do not appear on your website.
Simple concept, massive results! This holds true for mobile search as well. As of 2014, roughly 50% of search users began their search with a mobile device, with numbers as high as 88% if the search was for a local business or establishment (DMP). And while it’s important to create a mobile responsive website, many companies forget to mention that it is just as paramount that those websites be have optimal visibility on all popular search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). How does this happen? It’s no secret: professionally written content.
So What’s the Bottom Line?
Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace are all excellent choices for building your next website. However, one important downside that holds true for most web-building platforms is that they only take the user so far
in building an online web presence. While each web builder has its own pros and cons in terms of usage, all neglect to provide the client with the skills to maintain a web presence after the website is built.
The developers at Rockland County Web Design can fill in the gaps that the other services neglect. We can build in any web design platform (including Wordpress, Shopify, Magento, and more, in addition to Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace). We can also help you with services such as SEO and content writing, both of which will be highly beneficial to the development of your online presence. Contact us for more information on these services.