Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, Webflow, etc…
The market for website construction tools is extremely active, with many companies trying hard to innovate and win market share. However, not all these platforms are created equal…
WordPress and most subscription-based website builders differ notably in their basic structure.
WordPress is an open-source platform, meaning that all the code is available to freely use and modify. The organization that maintains and advances it is a non-profit, and WordPress has amassed a massive active community of developers creating tools and features for other users.
Squarespace, Wix, and most other website builders are closed-source – the code powering their sites is kept secret. They have a number of built-in options, but allow prohibitively little modification beyond that. These platforms also have communities of developers extending them, but they are much smaller and less active (in line with their market share below).
There are lots of other website builders, but they’re all more similar to one another than to WordPress. There are also many other custom development and eCommerce frameworks, but we’ve yet to run into a challenge for our clients that WordPress can’t handle.
Market Share & Notable Brands
Spoiler alert: WordPress runs way more sites than these other pagebuilders.
Wix and Squarespace power 2.5% and 2.4% of the CMS-powered websites on the internet, respectively; Shopify comes in at 4.9%. Combined together, they don’t account for even 1/6th of the sites running WordPress.
Notable brands using Wix and Squarespace are… hard to find. There are some very nice-looking sites on Wix and Squarespace, but very few large companies. Some recognizable names appear, but they typically use these platforms for an auxiliary site, not their main operations.
Flexibility – Design
Not every platform lets us build anything we want, and do so without fighting against other code to accomplish it.
WordPress is a blank canvas. But we create our websites from scratch to tailor to our clients’ unique needs and sensibilities. There’s no design that can’t be created in WordPress; the only limitations are our imagination and our budget.
These platforms provide a selection of design ‘themes’ that establish the look of your site, with some built-in options for customization. Custom code allows for a bit more modification, but without access to the underlying code of the site, many layouts that are straightforward on an open platform are simply impossible here.
Flexibility – Functionality
Some features might not be available at all.
WordPress allows us to build any functionality we can dream of into our sites. We’ve used it to create filterable databases, interactive charts, seamless page transitions, shops, a project management tool, and plenty else beyond simple informational sites.
Aside from the flashy features, WordPress lets us create custom structures for our clients to organize their content, as well as countless invisible improvements to make the browsing experience fast, crisp, and responsive.
This is the real limiting area in Wix and similar platforms. Without access to the core of the site, we’re limited to only modifying what these systems let us generate. Some hacky solutions can be employed to extend things, but they’re fragile and ill-advised.
Generally speaking, the rule of thumb is if these systems don’t already have a way built for you to do what you want to do, assume it’s just not possible.
The Bottom Line
Website builders can be fantastic for getting your website off the ground. If you’re willing to spend some time dialing it in, you can have a professional web presence for next to nothing.
However, their limitations mean that these sites are ones that businesses inevitably grow out of. Once a brand requires full flexibility to shape their online presence, there’s no other choice but to move their site to a platform that allows it.
WordPress is a complete framework on which anything can be built; these other systems just let you adjust the knobs they provide. If you want a site that fully realizes your online vision without compromise and grows with you for years to come, WordPress is the your best.