You do not have to be a website designer to create a great website. There are many website building platforms on the market today. You hear them advertised as sponsors podcasts, youtube channels and have television commercials saying that you can build a beautiful website in a matter of hours. With all the options available, business owners wonder what site builder is best and how to get started.
What Are The Different Website Building Options?
Before You Get Started: Write Your Content In A Word Document First, And Rework It Until You Get It Right. It Is Inefficient And A Pain In The Ass To Develop And Edit Content Directly On Your Website.
As a website designer, I would build every website on the content management system (CMS) WordPress.org. However, to get started, you need to purchase your domain name and hosting package. This extra step means that it is not the most straightforward platform, so I often steer customers toward more user-friendly website builders.
When working with any client, my goal is to ensure their website features the most up-to-date information. At the beginning of any job, you should consider the time and energy it takes to maintain the site. You should not just worry about the initial build, but updating your site monthly or quarterly.
Let’s start diving into the pros and cons of each website building platform, beginning with Wix.
What is Wix?
Wix is a drag-and-drop website editor that allows users to make a great professional website within hours. Wix’s headquarters is located in Tel Aviv Port, Israel, and it’s creators are Avishai Abrahami, Nadav Abrahami, and Giora Kaplan. Currently, the primary owners of Wix are T. Rowe Price (14.1%), Mangrove Capital Partners (9.7%), Steadfast (8.5%), Fidelity Investments (5.5%).
Wix is one of the most widely used website builders on the market and deserves a second look. Wix has hundreds (and possibly even thousands) of website templates. You can search for templates based on your business’ industry and the look and feel you want.
Is It Easy To Get Started on Wix?
The start-up time between typing ‘wix.com,’ pressing enter, and building my site was roughly 5 minutes. After you register and confirm your e-mail address, Wix asks you a series of questions. The questions are simple and are the same that a web designer would ask you.
Some of the questions include, “what industry are you in?” “do you want to sell products online?”. I liked that Wix positioned these questions upfront and in ordinary language. After you answer the questionnaire to the best of your knowledge, they will show you all the website designs that fit your needs.
I love any website builder that helps the user narrow down the hundreds of options. All themes offered to you at the end of the questionnaire will help you reach your goals. By narrowing down the options, you are less likely to get discouraged by decision fatigue. I don’t want you to give up and quit before you get started, and I like Wix for this feature.
How much does Wix cost?
Overall, Wix is an affordable website solution. Considering that the paid option pays for both the custom domain name and hosting package.
- Free $0 $0
- Combo $17/month $13/month
- Unlimited $22/month $17/month
- Business Basic $28/month $23/month
What makes Wix good?
Quick and easy set up
Wix has positioned itself as the web design platform for the small business owner. Their platform has a lot of informational blogs and step-by-step common language tutorials. Many of the videos are 3-minutes or less, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by information.
One bonus that Wix included in their premium packages is access to their e-mail marketing feature. This feature could save you money and time if you were looking to set up an account with Mailchimp or Convertkit. Wix allows you to save time by including social media and e-mail marketing in one place.
Drag and Drop Interface
Wix’s drag-and-drop interface makes it easier than ever to make the website you always wanted. If you do not use a template precisely as it’s constructed, it’s easy to make the changes you’d like to see. Just simply click on an image, shape, or textbox and drag it where you want it. My one note on this is- depending on-page edits, the content may not appear correctly on mobile devices, so sure to double-check.
Search Engine Optimization Walk Through
It’s essential that your website looks good and ranks well on search engines like Google and Bing. Wix has a comprehensive SEO walk through that ensures your business will look good in search results. It takes roughly six months for search engines to index a new website. Wix’s helps you put content where it needs to be, so once indexed, it has a higher chance of appearing on the first, second, or third page of search results.
When you build a website, you want to make it as easy as possible for your users to find the information they need, effortlessly. Wix allows users to create click-to-call or click-to-email buttons without knowing HTML. For example, you do not need to know the following code:
<a href=” tel:1518451004″>Call us today</a>.
Similarly, Wix allows you to easily create anchor links, which will enable you to jump to specific sections on the same page or other pages. I find this feature is especially helpful for single page websites and restaurants. Users can quickly navigate to different parts of the menu within a matter of moments.
Now, Wix has many great features; let’s talk about some of the not so great features.
What makes Wix bad?
Editing the footer
Footers are a great place to add secondary links. Often these are links that you do not use at the top of the page but are still very important.
I adjusted with the footer for quite a while, trying to change it to the size I wanted. Eventually, I was able to figure it out, but it was not as intuitive as the website’s body section.
Editing the contact form
The other item I spent significant time trying to edit was the “contact us” form. I’d try to move the whole contact form to a different section of the page, but then maybe just the name field would move. I spent a significant amount of time putting the name field back and trying to move the whole contact form as a unit. Eventually, I was able to get everything where I wanted, but it wasn’t as seamless and intuitive as other parts of the build.
Overall these were minor inconveniences for me. While it took roughly a half an hour to get things where I wanted them, it wasn’t overly frustrating. I don’t doubt it will take long before the talented developers at Wix improve this aspect of the website build.
Can You Build a Professional Website on Wix?
Absolutely, Wix is one of the best when it comes to DIY web design. I love how they have been building out their platform. Their developers have worked hard to build an intuitive platform with a lot of tutorials and walkthroughs.
They have drastically improved their templates over the past decade. A small business owner can easily find a site that will work for their needs and fits their taste. Their customer service is some of the best in the industry as well. There are a few minor annoyances- but honestly, they are negligible.
Wix can help you build your site and jumpstart your marketing- which shows their commitment to entrepreneurs and DIY web design.
The free builder still left plenty of services on the table, and their monthly rates are very, very reasonable for the services you get in return.
What is Weebly?
Weebly is a hosting web service that offers easy to use templates. Their headquarters are in San Fransisco, USA, and they were founded in 2006 by David Rusenko, Dan Veltri and, Chris Fanini. Currently, Weebly’s parent company is the merchant service Square.
Weebly is not as widely used at Wix and Squarespace. However, for some, it may be a great platform to make a straight forward website. Let’s dive into Weebly and check out the pros and cons.
Is it easy to get started on Weebly?
Absolutely. Weebly makes it incredibly easy to get started. You don’t even need to confirm your e-mail address before you get started. Simply add all of your information, and they will send you through their set-up questionnaire.
How much does Weebly Cost?
Package Monthly Cost
- Free $0
- Starter $8
- Pro $12
- Business $25
- Performance $49
What makes Weebly good?
One of the best things about Weebly is that it is very straight forward. If you are looking for something where you love the template and just replace the stock photos with your own, Weebly is your best option. You will not feel overwhelmed with the possibilities that Wix gives their users.
For some, they would see this lack of customizations to be a negative sales point. However, the overwhelming amount of options can lead some just to give up. If you wish to make a simple, straight forward website, Weebly is what I would recommend. It doesn’t ask you a bunch of questions about ‘margins’ and ‘padding’- it just asks if you “do want to link this?” or “add a caption?”.
Weebly also offers a specific page for search engine optimization. Simply click: Pages> SEO Settings to access the Title and Metatag features for your website. This page is the place where you can customize how your web pages appear on search results.
Weebly has some beautiful templates, a plus for those who don’t want a lot of buttons to click. You can browse their catalog and find a basic model, change the colors to your brand colors, insert your photos, and your written content.
What Makes Weebly Bad?
The most frustrating issue I have had with Weebly is that you do not have access to the documents you’ve uploaded to your site. On nearly every other website, you can see a list of all the files you’ve uploaded. Maybe you need a file you may have uploaded in the past, or just want to sort through old content, it’s not possible here.
The second part that irritated me is that some of the objects, such as the “team card,” are difficult to edit. The team card features two different interfaces, one where you write content and another for formatting and linking the content. It’s annoying as you try to add someone’s title, and the formatting interface pops up — Uggh, it is irritating.
Can you build a professional website on Weebly?
Yes. If you are using Weebly, you are looking for simplicity. Your website may have that premade template look. With Weebly, I highly encourage you to focus on the words you use. As of writing this article, I feel that Weebly has the most rigid feeling templates. You can use this to your advantage if you choose high-quality photos and clearly share your brand’s story.
What is Squarespace?
Squarespace is a hosting web service that promotes its beautiful and user-friendly templates. Their headquarters are in New York City, USA, and they were founded in 2004 by Anthony Casalena. Squarespace has pioneered the drag-and-drop website building interface. Their user-friendly platform has made it easier than ever for small business owners to build their sites.
Is it easy to get started on Squarespace?
Thankfully, like Wix and Weebly, Squarespace is a platform where it is effortless to get started. Simply enter your information, and answer the same standard questions. After roughly five questions, you will see a list of great templates that are perfect for your needs.
How much does Squarespace cost?
Unlike Wix and Weebly Squarespace charges based on the nature of your website.
Basic websites cost $12 months for a personal website, $18 a month for a business website, $26 a month for a primary e-commerce site, and $40 a month for an advanced e-commerce site. You can upgrade as your business grows, and their e-commerce features make it easier than ever to start selling online.
What makes Squarespace good?
As their tagline implies, “build it beautiful” holds with all of their fantastic templates. After a few quick onboarding questions, Squarespace will show you several website templates that you can choose from to build a professional site for your business. I liked the simplicity in which they describe each design- outlining how one is different from the other in one or two sentences in an everyday language.
The second pro for the non-web designers out there is that the back end is user-friendly. Check out this great feature when you want to add a page to your website. You click the plus sign- then you’re greeted with a friendly interface of types of pages you can add to your site. Select the page that best fits your need, and it’s like a web designer created a new page for you to fill in your information. However, editing the page is a little more complicated, but I’ll talk more about this in my con’s section.
Search Engine Optimization Tools
Squarespace has continued to build out search engine optimization tools. When you hover over an editable section of a page, a black toolbar will appear. Select ‘settings,’ and a pop up will appear, showing you a suite of necessary SEO tools.
I enjoyed that Squarespace gives you access to the SEO title/ SEO description and tags and categories. Categories and Tags are an excellent way to organize your site and increase your search engine rankings. While the average small business owner may not use these right away, it is impressive to have access to these tools as a web designer and search engine optimizer.
What makes Squarespace bad?
Between Squarespaces great templates, search engine optimization features, and e-commerce integrations, you will be able to get the job done. However, it is noteworthy to bring up two things you should keep in mind if you choose Squarespace to build your site.
Not Good For Low-Quality Images
Squarespace templates indeed enable you to make a beautiful website. However, it is crucial to keep in mind what makes the templates attractive, the photos. Often it is the eye-catching professional photos that drive the content and create a beautiful aesthetic.
If you are not at the point in your business when you can afford a professional photographer to take crisp, clear, and well-composed photos- you may have trouble making your site look as good as the templates. You can turn to stock photo sites to get images for your header or hero images, but your site may not look as good as the display design.
My second issue with Squarespace is regarding the drag-and-drop interface. Unlike Wix, where you can drag and drop to your heart’s content- Squarespace is a little more complicated. You’ll have to become well acquainted with spacers to make your content look like a rockstar.
It will take a page or two to get the hang of how everything works. Overall it is not the most intuitive and sometimes makes me downright frustrated as a web designer. I can only imagine how annoying their interface is to a small business owner.
Can you make a professional website on Squarespace?
Squarespace is an excellent option for most small business owners. It may take you a page or two to get used to the Squarespace builder- but it by far is not the worst. If you have high-quality images and well-written content and a little bit of time, you’ll have a great website in no time.
There you have it, a break down of the three major options for do-it-yourself web design for small business owners. While each platform has its quarks, they all offer their unique advantages. No matter what option you decide is best for you, and I am confident you will have a great professional website when you put your mind to it.