Why I prefer WordPress to other CMS or online web builders (I apologize in advance to those who love Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly).
WordPress (self-hosted installation):
- Highly flexible and powerful.
- Complete control over site design (with a custom theme).
- Over 50,000 plugins to extend functionality and incorporate third-party applications.
- The most widely used CMS in the world, with 60% of the CMS market–more than 27 million websites are WordPress sites (including sites on WordPress.com).
- Tons of online articles, support, and experienced designers to help you.
- Choice of content layout methods: drag-and-drop, classic editor, or layout plugin.
- Your site or content cannot be used to “market” the hosting company.
- Numerous web-host providers to choose from, many of which offer free SSL certificates and tech support for a low yearly hosting fee (e.g., at Bluehost.com, you can purchase a three-year basic plan that includes hosting, domain name, domain privacy, and SSL certificate for $39.36 per year).
- Are there any disadvantages to a self-hosted WordPress site?
- If you want a custom designed site, you will need to hire a designer to code a custom theme (although if you are tech-savvy and know CSS, you can create a semi-custom site from an existing WordPress theme).
- Because your self-hosted WordPress site is akin to a house (and not a condo), you are responsible for security. Install a limit logins plugin, a security plugin such as JetPack or Wordfence, and an anti-spam plugin if you allow comments on your site or have a contact form.
- You must regularly log into your site and run any updates of the core WordPress program and plugins.
WordPress.com (website builder—includes hosting):
- $96 per year for Premium plan includes domain, SSL certificate, premium themes, CSS customization, and several built-in plugins.
- $300 per year for Business plan allows installation of custom themes and most third-party WordPress plugins.
- Highly flexible and powerful (with Business plan, which allows complete customization).
- Premium plan ideal for owners of smaller sites who want little to no maintenance of their website and don’t need a custom-designed site.
Squarespace (website builder—includes hosting):
- $144 per year for Personal plan (includes domain and SSL certificate)
- $216 per year for Business plan allows for more than two contributors, premium design blocks, and CSS customization.
- $312 per year for Ecommerce plan.
- Less control over site design (unless you know CSS and have at least the Business plan).
- Templates rely heavily on professional images (actual sites can end up looking amateurish or even unreadable on smaller devices).
- Only one sub-navigation level on menus.
- Limited SEO and marketing features.
- Lack of integration for third-party apps and extensions.
- No phone support.
- Cannot easily export site (export limited to blog posts and basic pages, but not event or product pages, audio/video blocks, or custom styles).
- Squarespace can use your content for their marketing and promotional activities.
- Only 2.8% of the CMS market.
Wix (website builder—includes hosting):
- $156 per year for Combo plan (limited bandwidth and storage).
- $204 per year for Unlimited plan allows for unlimited bandwidth.
- $264 per year for Pro plan includes events calendar.
- Cannot change design template once you have started your site. If you decide a different template would look better, you would have to create a new site.
- Custom coding not allowed—cannot modify design template, only the content.
- No FTP access to files or server.
- Drag and drop functionality can lead to overlapping elements.
- Uses iframes (not responsive on smaller devices) to implement third-party applications.
- Cannot migrate site to a different platform (no ability to export content).
- Wix can use your content for their marketing and promotional activities.
- Only 1.9% of the CMS market.
Weebly (website builder—includes hosting):
- $144 per year for Pro plan to remove Wix ads (includes domain and SSL certificate).
- $300 per year for Business plan (ecommerce).
- Little control over site design, and no control over blog design.
- Limited apps for expanded functionality.
- No FTP access to files or server.
- Poor management of pages and images; particularly difficult to organize larger sites.
- Cannot restore site from an archive (site backup).
- Export of site contains only pages, not blog posts or ecommerce product pages. A Weebly => WordPress converter has recently been made by wpbeginner.com (however, this requires several manual steps to fully convert Weebly pages and posts to WordPress).
- Weebly can use your content for their marketing and promotional activities.
- Only 0.7% of the CMS market.