I often get asked the question by new clients, “What is WordPress and how is it different from Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly?” Rather than a technical answer, they want a general understanding so that they can make an informed decision about how to proceed with their website. If you were building a house, you would want it to have the right design and be in the right location. The same is true when building a website.
Full-Service Website Companies
An analogy that I like to use for products like Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly is gated communities. Imagine that you want to build a new house but you are a bit tentative about the whole process. You want to make sure that the house design meets your short and long-term requirements, is safe from intruders, can host many guests if needed, has uninterrupted water, gas, and electricity, and is easy to decorate and maintain. Gated communities might appeal to this type of home seeker. Like gated communities, full-service website companies provide the convenience of one-stop shopping by bundling website hosting, domain registration, email, security, website development tools, and other services within a choice of subscription plans.
WordPress, on the other hand, is not a gated community. Rather, it is the most popular content management system (CMS) in use today with over one-third of the top 10 million websites using it. And it’s open-source, which means it’s free. A CMS is a software application that enables the creation and maintenance of websites without needing to know the underlying code. As CMSs evolve, their user interfaces become more powerful and simpler to use. For example, to add an image to a webpage, a user can drag and drop it from a palette that includes headings, text, buttons, videos, music, sliders, maps, and much more.
If a full-service website company like Squarespace is a gated community, then a CMS is like a set of tools to build a house. If you decide to build your house inside a gated community, the gated community will provide a proprietary CMS for you. If for whatever reason you want to move your house to a location outside of the gated community, it’s not so easy.
Likewise, full-service website companies also require that you host your website with them as part of a bundled service plan. Once you are part of a gated community, you are limited to receiving services provided primarily by them. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as such services meet your requirements (including cost) now and in the future.
By now you may be asking, “If I build my website using WordPress, what are my hosting options?” As with full-service website companies, there are many web hosting providers to choose from. You want to make the right decision here because essentially the website you create using a CMS, combined with a web hosting service, becomes your gated community! While there is not a one-size-fits-all web hosting provider, Power Ten Web Design recommends SiteGround for small businesses and individuals that expect moderate website traffic.
Most web hosting providers support WordPress out of the box, which means that installing WordPress within your web hosting environment is usually accomplished by pressing a button. Simple. In addition, if you become dissatisfied with your web hosting provider for whatever reason, you can transfer your WordPress website to another web hosting provider as long as it’s not a full-service website company that uses a proprietary CMS.
You have several choices concerning how to build your website and where to host it. If you prefer the convenience of bundled services and don’t mind paying a little more to keep everything under one roof in a controlled but limited environment, then a full-service website company like Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly may be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you prefer a less-constrained environment where you are not locked into a particular web hosting service and you want the freedom to adapt your website to your business as it evolves over time, then using an open-source CMS like WordPress may be the best approach. Both choices have learning curves. It all comes down to your requirements and comfort level. If you are leaning toward using an open-source CMS, be sure to do some research to ensure that you choose the right combination of CMS and web hosting service for your gated community!