WordPress vs WIX, Squarespace etc.

The big question.. Should you use WordPress or a proprietary service like WIX, Squarespace etc?

At first this appears to be a very simple question. However, it really does depend on what you want to do.

Opinions on this vary significantly depending on the experience of the person offering them.

The following opinions are from my experience.

What are the main differences between WordPress and proprietary systems like WIX and Squarespace?

Item
WordPress
WIX, Squarespace etc
Code Base
Open Source
Proprietary
Ease of getting started
Moderate. Needs web hosting and initial installation.
Easy. Simple Wizards to create sites.
Pricing
Free Core Code, Hosting costs from $5 - $30 / month
WIX From USD$10 for basic. Gets expensive when you add emails, storage, ecommerce etc
Themes
Thousands of Free and Paid Themes available. Can be changed at any time. You can even delelop your own.
WIX: Lots of good themes. You have to select one when you create the site. Difficult to change later
Plugins / Functionality
Thousands of free and paid plugins available. Custom plugins may be created by an extensive external developers.
Functions limited to what is available. Limited external developer network.
Blogging
WordPress was built around Blogging and sets the standard.
WIX Blog app is clunky and buggy. I have not tried the Squarespace blog
eCommerce
Full and customisable eCommerce solution with the free Woocommerce plugin
WIX, Only available on paid plans. High transaction fees. 2.9% of the transaction amount + 0.30 USD
Ownership of Website
You own the entire website
Because the system in proprietary. The vendor owns the website. They can shut it down if they chose to.
Portability of Website
The website can be moved to any other hosting service if you chose to. The hosting just needs to have PHP and MYSQL, which is common e.g. cPanel.
The website cannot be moved. It has to remain on the vendors platform to work.
S.E.O
WordPress is the clear winner here, with a number of plugins that make SEO easy e.g. Yoast SEO
Limited to the tools provided by the vendor.
Speed / Performance
Can be super fast if set up properly. Can get slow with poor quality hosting, poor quality themes, poor quality or too many plugins and lack of optimisation
Using WIX as an example. Performance for simple pages is fast. Pages with a lot of photos/images can get slow due to bandwidth restrictions.

So which one should you use?

Proprietary (WIX, Squarespace Etc):

If you want a website that is:

  • Super easy to get started
  • Cheap (for simple feature set)
  • Won’t change much
  • Will never need extended functionality
  • Is not critical to your business

One of these platforms will be the best solution for you.

WordPress:

If you want a website that is:

  • Fully owned by you
  • Fully customisable
  • Can be moved to another service provider
  • Extendable by add-ons/plugins to do almost anything you want
  • Supportable by a choice of thousands of developers

WordPress is the right solution for you.

Summary

In my opinion, I will always favour WordPress, whether it is a simple site or more complex. The fact that you own the website, it can be customised and extended to do almost anything you can think of, you are not locked in to a vendor and there are a lot of people who can support it, makes WordPress the clear winner for me.

Proprietary platforms can be good if you just want something quick and simple. However, they cannot be extended beyond the functions  provided by the vendor and a limited developer network, can only be supported by the vendor and generally start of cheap but can get expensive as you add simple features.