Website Builders vs WordPress. Which One is Right For Your Business?

Gone are the days when building websites required a team of highly skilled developers, months of tedious refinements, sign offs and stress tests before nervously launching as if you’re sending the next Apollo Explorer crew into orbit.

Sure, many businesses out there do require custom developed features that your garden variety plugin can’t give you, but the average service-based business typically doesn’t need a highly complex front or backend to run a lead generating website.

What you actually do need is a website that’s on script with your brand and that builds trust within your market as it nurtures your visitors into brand advocates. And as it happens, building a website that does all that is way easier than ever thanks to a new generation of site builders and the evolution of the mighty WordPress over the years.

“Whether you’re a new business owner, a self-employed freelancer looking to advertise your services, or just a part time blogger who’s happy to share your mid afternoon musings with the world, modern website technologies are making it reasonably easy to build a web presence for yourself.”

This article takes a look at the most popular site builders out there, tells you which ones are best suited for your needs and gives you the lowdown on WordPress and why it’s still the king of the hill when it comes to building websites that kick the llama’s ass.

What are website builders?

Website builders are platforms that allow you to create your online presence using proprietary builder software and managed domain hosting services. These applications offer simple drag and drop design features, prebuilt templates and presets that make them relatively easy to use.

Similar to WordPress, site builders are CMS platforms that take the really technical stuff away and provide you with a GUI-based, drag and drop interface for building a website.

Website builders are becoming an increasingly viable alternative for folks who may be looking to manage their website assets without learning a platform like WordPress. In fact, some would say the market for site builders are being flooded as new flavours of builders begin popup at an increasing rate.

So why is WordPress the boss when it comes to websites?

We could pit WordPress against website builders for plot but we’d rather cut to the chase and come out and say that WordPress is the best platform for a website out there at the moment. Other platforms offer great features and are catching up in many ways, but as things stand, WordPress dominates thanks to nearly 20 years of helping us internet geeks build websites for folks.

WordPress sites also tend to rank better, are more mobile responsive, have better security and provide a wide community based support forum for answers for beginners to experts.

What does make builders attractive, however, is their comparative simplicity that helps you focus on getting a good site up and running without having to go to website school. But if you’re serious about building a website with real kahunas, then WordPress is the word to know.

Here’s a look at the best non-Wordpress site builders we think you should check out and why.

Wix

Wix’s arrival on the scene made a lot of web design agencies shit their pants. These agencies were worried that businesses would kick them to the curb and embrace the new “revolution” in web design and start building their own smashing websites.

But it wasn’t to be. Web design agencies didn’t run out of clients, a sizable portion of businesses, freelancers and bloggers decided to take Wix for a test drive, ended up liking it and built themselves a nifty site in relatively short time. No biggie.

Wix is the biggest site builder out there with over 1 million active users and have grown their services nicely over the years with things like the WIX logo maker new and updated add-ons and SEO tools. If you’re thinking of starting out your freelance career or a small business AND have the time to learn, use and master a site builder then Wix might just have what you need.

Standard Features

  • Over 500 designer made templates
  • Mobile optimised templates
  • Over 100 font styles
  • Easy drag and drop builder
  • Growing collection of apps
  • Ability to optimise for search engines

Premium Features

  • Remove Wix ads
  • Accept payments online
  • Free domain hosting

Pricing

Wix offers a host of features that are available depending on your individual needs with prices starting from $0 to $45 per month. They also offer a free 14 day trial of Wix Premium.

Wix Pros

  • Top rated website builder for active users and customer service
  • Affordable option for new businesses and startups
  • Easy to use interface, no coding required

Wix Cons

  • Requires monthly subscription fee for premium features
  • Difficult to customise website or switch themes later
  • Wix has ownership over your website and code

Wix is an ideal solution if you have a limited budget and want to create a web presence without investing too much time or effort and still get away with a decent looking website. But don’t expect to get the flexibility and power of a platform like WordPress when it comes to making that puppy dance to your tune like a boss.

Squarespace

Stepping into the ring next is Squarespace. Originally founded in a dorm room back in 2003, Squarespace has grown into a leader in its lane with more than 800 team members helping to launch over 1 million websites and counting.

While its offering is relatively similar to Wix, it has been able to differentiate by focusing on helping design agencies incorporate their existing offerings and by allowing customisations to the platform and working alongside developers.

With a growing collection of features, including eCommerce support and online marketing tools, they’ve been able to position themselves as a powerful all-in-one solution for agencies and small business owners who don’t want to deal with the hassles you get from working with multiple platforms.

Features

  • A fast growing collection of modern templates
  • Ability to switch templates and use multiple designs
  • Designed to accommodate all purposes
  • Ability to edit theme styles
  • All templates are mobile responsive
  • Easy customisation of content and layouts
  • Large collection of fonts provided by TypeKit and Google
  • Ability to create and modify CSS
  • Inbuilt restore features
  • Ability to create charts, graphs and more
  • Inbuilt online marketing and eCommerce features
  • Award winning customer support and developer platform
  • Much, much more

Pricing

Squarespace has opted to stem away from a free product offering with their personal plan starting at $16 per month and their business plan starting at $26 per month. They also offer eCommerce plans at $30 per month for basic and $46 for advanced with annual discounts available. They offer a free 14 day free trial (no credit card required) to get you started.

Squarespace Pros

  • Ability to customise code as you wish
  • All-in-one solution for less hassles
  • Large collection of professionally designed templates
  • Award winning customer service and community

Squarespace Cons

  • Requires monthly subscription fee and no free option available
  • Somewhat complex page builder compared to other options
  • Not able to export data should you wish to migrate

Squarespace is definitely a contender when it comes to providing an all-in-one, reasonably-easy-to-use solution for agencies and professionals alike. Backed by award-winning customer support and a growing platform, it’s a great option for businesses who prefer to take control of their web presence instead of hiring a developer or marketing company to do it for them.

Weebly

Weebly may not be as well known as the aforementioned builders but still commands 15% of the market. Weebly gathers most of its praise is for its ease of use compared to its competitors without compromising on features thanks to a large collection of elements.

They were, however, recently acquired by Square and there has since been a concerted push towards focussing on eCommerce, making  it less favoured when looking for a solution catered towards professionals and service-based businesses.

Standard Features

  • Website builder support
  • Easy to use interface
  • Ability to edit website from mobile app
  • Large collection of pre-built elements
  • Professionally designed templates

Premium Features

  • Remove Weebly ads
  • Accept payments online
  • eCommerce support

Pricing

Weebly offers free plans but requires you to sign up for a paid version should you wish to truly get the most out of its features and also avoid pesky advertising. Their paid plans range from $8 to $35 per month when paid annually which gives you plenty of financial flexibility to make sure you get the features you want without breaking the budget.

Weebly Pros

  • Easy to use interface and large collection of pre-build widgets
  • Customisable themes and ability to switch between templates
  • Build in eCommerce and online marketing features

Weebly Cons

  • Requires monthly subscription fee for premium features
  • Editor is a bit limited compared to its competitors
  • Big focus on eCommerce vs service based businesses

While Weebly commands a large percentage of the website builder market, their limited offering in features and focus on eCommerce makes it a difficult contender when compared to Wix and Squarespace. The change in direction makes it more geared to the eCommerce market that will find the builder to be well suited for its host of online shopping features.

Leadpages

Leadpages may be a new player in the website builder space BUT packs a punch as a top contender thanks to its integration with other marketing apps. This gives you great scalability when running a growing business.

With in-built lead capture and email marketing integration features using their partner company Drip, for example, Leadpages has the flexibility to offer you a comprehensive builder that can keep up with you down the line. The platform’s bold claim to being “the only website builder that lets you easily create a high-converting website with code-free customizations.” isn’t just hot air.

Features

  • All-in-one site and landing page builder
  • Easy to use interface
  • Mobile responsive templates
  • Unlimited landing pages
  • Unlimited pop-ups
  • 200+ conversion optimised templates
  • 40+ integrations
  • Facebook & Instagram Ad Builder

Pricing

Plans range from $37 per month to $79 for their pro plan with large discounts on annual and bi-annual subscription which we only recommend once you’re truly committed to the platform.

Leadpages Pros

  • Easy to use interface and large collection of integrations
  • Conversion optimised website and landing page templates
  • Ability to create Facebook Ads directly inside of the platform

Leadpages Cons

  • Requires monthly subscription fee
  • Expensive in comparison to other platforms

With proven conversion friendly templates, this platform is designed to deliver return on investment fast. Having used Leadpages in the past for ourselves and our clients, and having seen great results, we think Leadpages is a great platform for building landing pages and websites.

On the down side, if you’re looking to build a full-featured website, it can be a bit restrictive, but this may change with the launch of their new and improved website builder.

The world of WordPress

Now it’s time to talk about the Mac Daddy of the website world. Responsible for 25% of the web’s addresses, WordPress gives millions of bloggers and businesses a secure platform that comes with a plethora of plugins that stack up to give you a pretty sophisticated web presence that can look like almost any website out there you can imagine.

The platform consists of two major divisions: WordPress.com and WordPress.org that each give users and businesses a range of plans, from free to ecommerce and business subscriptions

The power of the plugin

WordPress’ biggest asset is its vast plugin repository that allows developers to build custom add ons to the already powerful CMS platform. You can find a plugin for practically every requirement from SEO tools, site optimisation software, image management, security and some really great website builders that integrate with WordPress nicely.

WordPress.com features

  • Easy to use interface
  • Large collection of themes
  • Built on the WordPress robust platform
  • Easy content publishing
  • Accept payments
  • Ecommerce support
  • Site monetisation
  • Remove ads
  • Customer support
  • Easy to use interface
  • Build on a robust platform
  • Great for content publishing

Pricing

WordPress.com offers a robust framework and access to a large collection of themes and plugins starting from $0 per month, however, should you wish to take advantage of their premium features it requires a paid annual subscription to do so.

WordPress.com cons

  • Requires monthly subscription fee for premium features
  • Limited access to premium themes and plugins
  • Lacks the full capabilities possible with WordPress.org

While WordPress.com is a relatively affordable solution to creating a website, we would only really recommend using it for personal projects to avoid limitations later on that you would not experience on platforms such as Squarespace or WordPress.org.

WordPress.org features

  • Self hosting required
  • Self maintained
  • Fully customisable
  • eCommerce support
  • Content friendly
  • Access to thousands of themes
  • Access to thousands of plugins
  • Easy to use interface and content publishing
  • Build on a robust open-source platform
  • Complete ownership of website and code
  • Access to thousands of plugins and themes

Pricing

WordPress.org is entirely free to download, all you have to pay for is your domain hosting services.

WordPress.org cons

  • Requires monthly hosting subscription
  • Self updating and maintenance required
  • Requires higher level of technical knowledge

“If you’re looking for a truly independent website platform that lets to manage your website like a boss, then WordPress.org is definitely the choice for you. With access to so many free and premium resources you have full control over your website’s capabilities.”

This goes without saying though that it does come with an additional investment in time as well as some understanding of the technical aspects to get the most out of it, some of which can be managed through the use of a dedicated WordPress host such as SiteGround or Kinsta

Elementor: Our favourite WordPress website builder

WordPress has become an even better platform thanks to its very own collection of site builder plugins like WPBakery, Thrive Architect, Beaver Builder and the increasingly popular Elementor. These plugins each offer you a powerful set of tools to build engaging websites and come with their own set of add-ons that expand their capabilities.

We’ve come to love Elementor over the last few months after using WPBakery and others mentioned for a few years now.

To date, Elementor powers over 2,000,000 websites and is growing fast thanks to its vast collection of templates, plugins and really easy to use builder. Elementor comes with paid and free plans, with the latter giving you ample tools to play with to get a pretty good looking and functional website up and running.

So why on earth do I need to hire a developer, designer or marketer then?

In truth, there are a lot of behind the scenes elements that go into a successful website that takes years of knowledge, daily execution and ongoing refinement that you’ll never master while trying to run a business. Besides, investing your time where it is most valuable is one of the most important considerations for a business owner and building websites isn’t it.

If a website revamp or a brand spanking new one is on the cards for you, then why not familiarise yourself with the tools we mentioned to get an idea of what the building blocks to a great website looks like.

That much you do owe yourself and your business before talking to someone about doing the job of building you a great online space. We love sharing our knowledge and the tools we use with our clients so they know what we’re cooking up behind the scenes.

If you’d like to see more of our work or just have a quick chat about we can do for your online presence, then don’t be shy, book a free introductory meeting with us today.