If you’re in the market for a website – congratulations! There has never been a better time than the present. Website builder platforms like SquareSpace and WordPress make it easier than ever to create a fully-functional site with minimal effort.
In some cases, you’ll even be able to leave your programmer’s manual at home – no coding will be required to get the look and features that best represent your brand or business.
That said, the website-building landscape has broadened significantly in the last few years. There are dozens of platforms out there offering ease-of-use and competent functionality at varying prices.
So, if you’re thinking about starting a website yourself, you might be thinking – which one is the best? Weebly? Wix?
The thing is, there’s no definitive winner here – the most ideal platform for you largely depends on what you expect or need from it.
Some platforms offer more functionality, but at the cost of simplicity.
Others may allow you to build your website quickly and effortlessly, but further down the line, may disappoint in terms of features and versatility.
We thought we’d take a look at the big four website-building juggernauts out there and put them to the test. Hopefully, it’ll make it easier to decide which one fits your unique needs, allowing you or your brand to get online ASAP while looking and operating at your best!
It should be noted too, that we’re not looking to sell you on a specific platform out-of-the-gate. You won’t find any affiliate links or paid recommendations here.
Additionally, some of these platforms have free options. In the interest of fair comparison, we’re only going to be looking at the paid versions or tiers of each service.
Let’s get started!
WordPress.com has been the #1 platform for bloggers for quite some time now – and for a good reason. Users commend both its stability and customization options. While you can download WordPress for free or install it on your site from just about any web host these days, we’re going to be looking at the hosting options WordPress.com provides.
Without a doubt, WordPress is the most ideal solution on this list if you’re looking to start your own blog. It’s simple enough to use even without programming or administration experience, allowing you to quickly set things up and get to writing.
It’s dirt cheap, too – for a mere $4/month (CAD, annually), you’ll have more storage space than any other platform on this list (6GB).
Bar none, at the business level paid tier ($32/month CAD, annually), WordPress.com also offers the most functionality and features because of its large number of user-created plugins and themes. It’s extremely versatile and with coding experience can be set up in a variety of ways – as a community-driven website, business portfolio, or even an online store.
The downside here is that WordPress may require some administrative responsibility – it’s potentially less set-it-and-forget-it than the other platforms on this list. This is especially the case once you start playing around with plug-ins, which often require some trial-and-error before running smoothly.
You also won’t be able to drag-and-drop your way to victory with your site’s design, either, unless you find a theme that supports that. WordPress is easily the most difficult platform to customize on this list, and don’t be surprised if you have to get your hands dirty with some coding at some point while setting it up to your liking.
WordPress is very flexible and can be tailored and set up in a variety of ways using theme customizations and plugins (more flexibility at higher-paid tiers such as the premium and business tiers).
It’s most ideal for dynamic, content-driven websites rather than static pages. There are a lot of formatting options that make WordPress ideal if you’re looking to have a site with lots of organized content.
As far as using WordPress as an online store, you definitely have options, such as plug-ins like WooCommerce. However, in order to support these plugins, you’ll need to bump yourself up to the Business plan, which costs $32/month CAD (annually).
At that price point, you may want to look at the other three options on this list, which provide store functionality and are generally easier to use while also costing a lot less.
WordPress offers Jetpack SEO integration across all tiers, providing site statistics and growth opportunities.
There are also many more plug-ins supported at the business tier ($32/month CAD, annually) that will allow for even greater/more helpful analytics and optimization, like Yoast.
Out of the box, WordPress offers the best SEO support of the platforms we’re looking at because of the wide range of options. In fact, Google employees have praised the SEO functions of WordPress in the past.
At the business tier, WordPress.com offers a powerful and incredibly diverse website building solution. However, it may be best suited for those who have some coding and administrative experience in order to take full advantage of the versatility and customization that WordPress offers, as it lacks a drag-and-drop editor.
It’s also more ideal for blogs or content-driven websites than it is for online stores or businesses. That said, with the right amount of programming and customization, nearly anything is possible with WordPress.
Unlike WordPress, Weebly offers a drag-and-drop based interface, making the site creation and customization process nearly effortless. They offer a number of pre-formatted themes appropriate for blogs, business pages, or even portfolios.
Weebly also features integrated eCommerce support, so may be ideal for a site offering purchasable products.
While creating an account and hosted site is free, Weebly also provides several subscription options that extend functionality.
Weebly’s drag-and-drop website editor offers full customization with no coding required. There are no installations or maintenance sessions required, and upkeep is minimal. Set up Weebly to your liking, hit publish, and you’re off!
Weebly also offers mobile apps so you can manage and build your site from anywhere, as well as receive sale notifications if you’re running an online store. No desktop PC or laptop required!
Weebly offers eCommerce options right from the beginning – with a shopping cart feature and secure checkout built-in. It allows for complete inventory management, product organization, and tagging.
There are also options for digital goods as well as services to be purchased at the Business price tier ($30/month CAD, annually). This makes it ideal for running an online store or a service-based business like a hotel, salon, or spa, where bookings can be taken online.
However, Weebly will limit the number of products in your store unless you upgrade to the Business plan.
Weebly does offer blog functionality but does not compare to WordPress regarding features and customization. For example, the community/membership features are limited to Pro and Business accounts.
It should be noted, too, that Weebly’s site editor does include options for further HTML/CSS customization, so you’re not necessarily sacrificing function for ease-of-use.
Weebly claims to offer automatic SEO for site and product pages. It also provides advanced metadata optimization and tracking for its Starter plan ($10/month CAD, annually) and up.
There are add-on apps that can be used to improve SEO offered through Weebly’s own App Center, although these may incur additional expenses.
Starter Plan – $10/month (CAD, annually) with free domain, unlimited storage and limited eCommerce features (only ten products, check-out on Weebly.com and not your domain, 3% transaction fee)
Pro Plan – $14/month (CAD, annually) with free domain, unlimited storage, membership/community features and limited eCommerce features (only 25 products, check-out on Weebly.com and not your domain, 3% transaction fee)
Business Plan – $30/month (CAD, annually) with free domain, unlimited storage, unlimited membership/community features and full eCommerce features (check-out on your domain, offer digital product downloads, inventory management, no transaction fees)
Performance – $46/month (CAD, annually) with all the features of the Business plan plus real-time shipping rates, abandoned cart emails, gift card options, and email campaigns
Weebly is perfect for starting up an online business or service quickly and effortlessly, due to its drag-and-drop site builder and integrated eCommerce features. It offers less customization and functionality than WordPress but is likely easier to use for about the same amount of money (~30/month CAD, annually).
Featuring a drag-and-drop editor, hundreds of templates, free hosting, and options for businesses, online stores, event planning, and portfolios, Wix offers a high degree of customization as well as support for a wide variety of site archetypes.
Similar to Weebly and SquareSpace, you can use Wix’s drag-and-drop website builder to create and publish your site seamlessly, how ever you’d like it.
But where things really get interesting is what Wix calls WixADI, or Artificial Design Intelligence.
This AI “wizard” automates the site-building process for you by asking a series of questions about the site you intend to create. This means creating a website with Wix may be exceptionally faster than other services on this list.
Additionally, like Weebly and SquareSpace, free hosting with Wix ensures administrative duties are limited, allowing you to focus on what’s most important.
With the Wix App Market, Wix offers over 250 available apps and services (comparable to WordPress plug-ins) that can provide additional functionality. These include apps like options for a web forum, photo galleries, an integrated online store, and more.
Some of these apps accrue monthly costs on top of Wix’s monthly fees, but they are available at any account level, paid or not.
Wix also offers a mobile app that lets you manage your website on-the-go.
For online stores, this means you can view orders, edit and add new products, and track inventory. You can also add blog posts and interact with your site visitors in real-time with live chat.
However, unlike the Weebly app, Wix’s app does not offer the drag-and-drop functionality of Wix on desktop – you won’t be able to create and edit your site solely via the app.
Wix offers its “Site Booster” app at the Unlimited tier ($16/month CAD, annually), and is also included with the more expensive eCommerce and VIP plans. This app allows you to grow your site traffic and optimize your Google search visibility, as well as automatically creating listings on various other website directories.
Connect Plan – $6/month (CAD, annually) for 1GB bandwidth, 500MB storage, free domain, with ads, no eCommerce transaction fees
Combo Plan – $15/month (CAD, annually) for 2GB bandwidth, 3GB storage, free domain, no ads, no eCommerce transaction fees
Unlimited Plan – $20/month (CAD, annually) for Unlimited bandwidth, 10GB storage, free domain, site booster, no ads, no eCommerce transaction fees
eCommerce Plan – $27/month (CAD, annually) for 10GB bandwidth, 20GB storage, online store, free domain, site booster, no ads, no eCommerce transaction fees
VIP Plan – $41/month (CAD, annually) for 10GB bandwidth, 20GB storage, online store, free domain, site booster, no ads, no eCommerce transaction fees.
Similar to Weebly with its simple drag-and-drop interface, Wix will likely have your website up-and-running to your liking in no time thanks to its ease-of-use. However, unlike Weebly, it also offers a large selection of WordPress-esque apps that can drastically change what your site can do.
This diversity of choice in both form and function makes Wix suitable for a variety of website types and businesses.
For those who want the ease-of-use of sites like Weebly or SquareSpace, but also the customization options of something like WordPress, Wix seems to be the answer.
Like Weebly and Wix, SquareSpace also features a drag-and-drop interface, making it easy-to-use right out of the gate.
Of the four, it’s easily the most expensive, with its pricing options starting at $15/month CAD (annually). However, it still manages to keep up in terms of features and accessibility, and at its highest tier, it’s an online business powerhouse.
SquareSpace demands minimal coding experience. Just drag, drop, type, and upload your images, and you’re good to go.
The generous selection of templates make SquareSpace very versatile, too – a site can be set up as a wedding site, a podcast page, or for a small business, amongst many other combinations. It’s completely user-dependent.
SquareSpace offers nearly a hundred templates, a drag-and-drop editor, and advanced CSS customization, making it easy to get your site up and running the way you’d like it with minimal frustration.
They also offer online store functionality with no limit on the number of products or services you can have available, even with the cheapest plan option ($15/month CAD, annually). SquareSpace also offers features like order history, customer notes and tags, as well as store statistics, built right in.
You’ll also be able to sell both physical and digital goods, as well as services. This means like Weebly and Wix, SquareSpace can be used for varying types of businesses or services.
SquareSpace also offers Shipstation label printing with its Basic and Advanced store plans, as well as Xero business accounting – two features exempt from Wix and Weebly entirely. These could be potential game-changers if you’re serious about starting an online business.
SquareSpace analytics lets you check-in in page views and user activity. However, beyond this, there aren’t apps or plug-ins that allow you to focus on growing your site’s traffic or user base.
As far as mobile apps, SquareSpace offers a series of minimalistic iOS apps, keeping in-line with their general design philosophy. There’s one for blogging, and another for viewing your site statistics, as well as an app for managing your store.
Unlike Weebly’s mobile apps, though, you won’t be able to edit your site on-the-go – only submit posts or photos. The decision to segregate each feature into a separate app is sort of a strange one, but the functionality is there.
SquareSpace claims to offer automatic search engine optimization that works for you in the background. However, aside from basic support guides, they offer no other features or apps for SEO.
SquareSpace offers four price points, split between whether you’re creating a general use website or an online store.
Unfortunately, by far it is the most expensive, especially when you consider that it costs nearly double the amount of other platforms for full access to the eCommerce options ($51/month CAD, annually).
However, even its cheapest Personal plan ($15/month CAD, annually) offers a store option with unlimited products, unlike Weebly, which only permits this with its Business tier ($30/month CAD, annually).
Personal Plan – $15/month (CAD, annually) for 20 site pages, a free domain (with annual purchase) unlimited bandwidth and storage, two user accounts, eCommerce options (with 3% transaction fee, unlimited products)
Business Plan – $23/month (CAD, annually) for unlimited site pages, a free domain (with annual purchase) unlimited bandwidth, storage, and user accounts, eCommerce options (with 2% transaction fee, unlimited products)
Basic Store Plan – $33/month (CAD, annually) for all Business plan features, plus mobile-optimized website and checkout, inventory management (orders, tax, discounts), label printing via Shipstation, Xero accounting integration.
Advanced Store Plan – $51/month (CAD, annually) for all Business plan features, plus mobile-optimized website and checkout, inventory management (orders, tax, discounts), label printing via Shipstation, Xero accounting integration, abandoned cart recovery, real-time shipping calculator, automatic discounts
Providing simplicity and ease-of-use above all else, SquareSpace can provide you the tools to get yourself online quickly, at a moderate price. It’s very versatile design-wise and the large variety of templates almost guarantees that it can fit any site role, out of the box.
For what you pay, you may not get as many features in comparison to the other platforms on this list, as SquareSpace lacks the plug-in or app support of WordPress and Wix. However, SquareSpace is known for their thorough and attentive customer support, so in that regard, you may get what you’re paying for.
That said, SquareSpace is easily the most expensive of the four platforms we’re comparing, with its entry-level plan costing $15 CAD/month (annually). Unless you really fall in love with SquareSpace’s editor or want the most feature-rich eCommerce solution, you may be able to get away with a Wix, Weebly, or even WordPress site for much cheaper.
We hope that this post has been helpful in narrowing down your options! Certainly, with the diverse range of choices on hand, one website platform can be found to meet your individual needs – whatever they may be.
For more on business strategy, online and off – keep up with us here, five days a week, at the Yocale blog.