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 on 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?
Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace are the market’s most popular and user-friendly website builders. How well the website functions and looks depend on the person building the site.
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, you must purchase your domain name and hosting package to start. This extra step is not the most straightforward platform, so I often steer customers toward more user-friendly website builders.
When working with any client, I aim 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 its 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%), and Fidelity Investments (5.5%).
Wix is one of the market’s most widely used website builders and deserves a second look. Wix has hundreds (and possibly even thousands) of website templates. You can search for templates based on your business’s 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 the same as 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 users 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 start, and I like Wix for this feature.
How much does Wix cost?
Overall, Wix is an affordable website solution. I was 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 setup
Wix has positioned itself as the web design platform for small business owners. Their platform has a lot of informational blogs and step-by-step common language tutorials. Many videos are 3-minutes or fewer, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by information.
Wix included one bonus in their premium packages: access to their e-mail marketing feature. This feature could save you money and time if you want 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 making the website you always wanted easier. If you do not use a template precisely as it’s constructed, it’s easy to make the changes you’d like to see. Click on an image, shape, or textbox and drag it where you want it. My one note on this is that depending on-page edits, the content may not appear correctly on mobile devices, so 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’s comprehensive SEO walkthrough ensures your business will look good in search results. It takes roughly six months for search engines to index a new website. Wix 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 and jump to specific sections on the same page or other pages. I find this feature especially helpful for single-page websites and restaurants. Users can quickly navigate to different menu parts 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 the footer for quite a while, trying to change it to the size I wanted. Eventually, I could 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 page section, but then maybe just the name field would move. I spent significant time putting the name field back and trying to move the whole contact form as a unit. Eventually, I could 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 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?
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 many tutorials and walkthroughs.
They have drastically improved their templates over the past decade. A small business owner can easily find a site that fits their needs and tastes. 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, showing 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 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, it may be a great platform for some to make a straightforward 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 need to confirm your e-mail address before starting. Add all your information, and they will send you their setup 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 straightforward. If you are looking for something where you love the template and 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 to give up. If you wish to make a simple, straightforward website, I would recommend Weebly. It doesn’t ask you 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. Click Pages> SEO Settings to access your website’s Title and Metatag features. This page allows you to 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, and 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 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 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 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 for writing this article, I feel Weebly has the most rigid feeling templates. You can use this to your advantage if you choose high-quality photos and share your brand’s story.
What is Squarespace?
Squarespace is a hosting web service that promotes its beautiful and user-friendly templates. Its headquarters are in New York City, USA, founded in 2004 by Anthony Casalena. Squarespace has pioneered the drag-and-drop website-building interface. Their user-friendly platform has made it easier 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. Enter your information, and answer the same standard questions. After roughly five questions, you will see a list of great templates 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 their awesome templates. After a few quick onboarding questions, Squarespace will show you several website templates to build a professional site for your business. I liked the simplicity in describing each design- outlining how one is different from the other in one or two sentences in an everyday language.
The second pro for non-web designers 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 and are 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 discuss this in my con section.
Search Engine Optimization Tools
Squarespace has continued to build out search engine optimization tools. A black toolbar will appear when you hover over an editable section of a page. 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, having access to these tools as a web designer and search engine optimizer is impressive.
What makes Squarespace bad?
Between Squarespace’s great templates, search engine optimization features, and e-commerce integrations, you will be able to get the job done. However, it is noteworthy to consider 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 remember what makes the templates attractive, the photos. Eye-catching professional images often 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 everything. 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 is not the worst. You’ll have a great website if you have high-quality images, well-written content, and a little time.
There you have it, a breakdown of small business owners’ three primary options for do-it-yourself web design. While each platform has its quarks, they all offer their unique advantages. No matter what option you decide is best for you; I am confident you will have a great professional website when you put your mind to it.