You can build a Wix website these days in nothing flat so why build a WordPress website?
You can also build a site with DIY website platforms like SquareSpace or even Go Daddy’s Website Building. Oh, wait Facebook and MailChimp are in on the action, too! Why not follow suit?
The quick answer is that if your business wants to benefit from best practices of Search Engine Optimization, Ecommerce, and content marketing, WordPress is your best choice. But there is more to it than that. Let’s look at the real differences between self-hosted WordPress and website builders Like Wix.
Different Editors and Perceived Ease of Use
The number one selling point for the DIY website builders is that you can build the site using a drag and drop visual builder. Design takes place before your eyes at you build on the page, not on the background code. Your design choices may be limited by basic templates and shorter lists of fonts and features, but it is simple to almost plug and play your website in a day.
Building on self-hosted WordPress, on the other hand, is somewhat more complex. There are thousands of choices available from the WordPress community and an endless array of features and functionality that can be included. Some themes require knowledge of HTML and CSS, but this is waning. The trend with WordPress is toward more flexible themes and the use of visual builders that have a drag and drop feature. Using Divi, Beaver Builder or Elementor visual builders you can essentially drag and drop your design with WordPress as well.
Who Owns Your Website?
I have a strong belief that business owners should own their own websites. You should own the code, the design, all images. You should also own “the land” that your house is built on. What I mean in website terms is that you should own the title to your domain name and your hosting. You should have the ability to change and move your website at any time.
Some think it is too complicated with WordPress because you need to purchase a hosting plan (secured space on a server where your website files live) in addition to registering your domain name. Then there might be expenses associated with your WordPress theme or premium plug-ins. However, you have the freedom to change any and all of it at any time without losing the authority or control of your website. I obviously value freedom and flexibility. It’s an American thing. 😉
When building on Wix or Squarespace you are essentially building your website with rented materials and on someone else’s land. You are tied into a contract with a monthly fee for renting all of the above. Isn’t that the same as paying for monthly hosting? Well no. If you want to move to another platform, none of your digital assets can come with you.
Let’s say you are a photographer and you have uploaded images to a portfolio on Wix. When your business grows and you need to add features to your website and want to graduate to a more complex WordPress site you have to leave your photos in control of Wix. Really. This is in the fine print of the contract. They own your images.
If you’ve uploaded images of your business and products, you can’t even export them to take them to another site. I hope you keep copies of all your photos!
Search Engine Optimization
Everyone wants their website to show up on the first page of browser searches. There are many elements involved in optimization such as meta page titles, title tags, meta descriptions that you can manage on site builders. This is good.
However, having a website that is fully responsive and appears properly on mobile devices is a huge factor in SEO these days. Wix and other website builders don’t deliver true responsive websites. Instead these platforms use absolute positioning, meaning that web elements are positioned by pixel rather than relative to the user’s screen; so depending on how much you tweak your template design, or the sort of content you put on your site, your Wix website won’t always adapt automatically to devices with different screen sizes (i.e. it won’t be fully responsive).
Just like a storefront business needs to accommodate the needs of those who are differently abled per the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), so should a website be accessible. Website compliance with ADA and WCAG rules is an increasing concern as there are more lawsuits every year and even smaller businesses have been called to court over it.
Having said that, there are some relatively straightforward steps that a designer can take to create a website that is accessible for all. That is if you are building a WordPress website. It is not easy using a fixed platform like Wix or Squarespace. Again, this is where the fine print hidden somewhere in the contract releases Wix from the responsibility to assure accessibility. It just can be assured.
Why Build a WordPress Website Over Website Builders
- Incredibly flexible platform to build any sort of website.
- A true content management system capable of more advanced blogging functionality
- Thousands of themes and plugins to choose from to add visual appeal and functionality
- Sophisticated lead and data capture options including landing pages and response
- SEO capabilities cover the full-range needed for best practices
- Multilingual websites or multi-site projects
- Easily built fully-responsive sites
- GDPR compliance resources and plugins are available
Reasons to use Wix over WordPress
I don’t want to be close-minded and say you should ONLY build a WordPress website. There really are times that a website builder like Wix is perfectly fine to use. Microbusinesses or those starting out with zero budget can start with a Wix site to gain credibility. My concern is when you start paying for the upgraded functionality the cost-benefit equation very quickly tilts in favor of WordPress. And that would be a big reason why to build a WordPress website.
Here are the Wix-type highlights.
- Easier for the novice to set up and get started– no technical skills needed
- A very basic free plan is available, but features advertising on it
- Templates, e-commerce functionality, and data capture forms are vailable out of the box
- No worry security or site maintenance
- Customer support by email, phone, and live chat
- Limited email marketing functionality out of the box, allowing you to build a mailing list easily and send e-newsletters to it
Investment in a WordPress Website
If you still are not convinced of why build a WordPress website instead of using a website building, you aren’t going to be left entirely out in the cold. Wix and Squarespace have some good tools. You just won’t be positioned as well to achieve the visibility and conversion opportunities you can get with WordPress.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore your website or let it represent your business in an unprofessional light. For many the website is the first experience we have with a business. A sub-par website can significantly dampen your business prospects.
Budget, time, and marketing expertise is a good investment in a WordPress website that serves as your online ambassador and 24-7 sales team member.