Website Builders vs. Self-Hosted WordPress

Website Builders vs. Self-Hosted WordPress

Somebody from a group of crafters asked me to compare the choices. If you wonder which option you should choose, this article is for you.

As a web designer, I’ve worked with a number of site builders (WIX, Squarespace, Weebly, etc.) and self-hosted WordPress (do not confuse with – I wouldn’t recommend to anyone, unless they wanted nothing more than a blog.) I have no personal experience with Shopify or Square websites; I’m sure they’re very similar to other site builders, but I don’t know their terms, cost, etc. As far as I know, Shopify offers better features than Square, but also has a third-party transaction fee, making it more expensive, while Square is more suitable as a simple solution.

One important thing to note before we begin to compare – make sure you use your domain name. That means, buy something like and attach it to your website; do not fall for free options that come with site builders. If your website’s URL is something like, you will keep it for as long as you’re using that site builder. You cannot take it with you if you decide to switch the provider, and if you purchase your own domain name and start using it, you will lose the visitors and, what’s even more important, you’ll lose your SEO ranking – it goes by the website address (URL.)

Incidentally, that means – if you want to use website builders, do not use free plans. They do not come with the URL option. You can try the free plan for a while, to play with the builder, but once you decide to be serious – get the URL.

I don’t see much difference between Squarespace and WIX. The options are slightly different, but that depends on what you need; the basic set should be the same. The designs are slightly different, but that’s a matter of taste, and there no design available on one builder that cannot be replicated on another one. Squarespace offers more flexibility, but if you can use it, you don’t need my input – that’s mostly for those who know how to use programming languages. WIX is considered more user-friendly. Cost is pretty much the same, I think, unless one of them raised prices lately (more than the other, that is – all the prices went up significantly in the last few years.) But they’re close.

Now, site builders vs. WordPress.

  • Ease of use. Site builders are easier; it’s entirely possible for an amateur comfortable with computers to create a website. It’s unlikely somebody will be able to create a WordPress website from scratch without some basic knowledge of how it’s done. On the other hand, I’ve had clients who hired me to create websites using site builders or adjusting the design of the existing websites they created but were unhappy with, so apparently, it’s still not for everyone, and if you’re only going to update the website, I don’t think WIX is that much easier than WordPress.
  • Cost. It’s a loaded subject.
    • Cost to create. If you create a website yourself, obviously, it doesn’t cost you anything. If you hire a designer, it should cost you less to create a website on a site builder – at least, I charge less.Hosting cost. A *basic* WIX/Squarespace website costs $16/month if paid for a year – that’s $182/year. A WIX/Squarespace website that has a store needs a business plan – $32/month, $384/year and a percentage of sales – honestly, don’t remember how much. WIX usually runs a 50% off special for the first year, though not on the cheapest plan. A basic hosting plan for WordPress starts from $3-4/month when paid for 3 years ($36-48/year), but that’s the discount and then the price goes up to something like $130-150/year. Still, quite a difference. And basic hosting for WordPress means you can have one website – they don’t care if you have a store, it won’t cost you more. What might cost you more is a theme (design) if you want a premium theme for WordPress – I wouldn’t go for more than $60-70, but there are good free ones – and additional features you might want. See next.Store flexibility/cost. I haven’t created a store using Squaresace, so I don’t know what they allow. I was really unimpressed with the lack of options with WIX when I created a store. With WordPress – a good theme and WooCommerce are fairly customizable, besides, you can always add features. Unfortunately, a lot features that allow you to customize sales, cost money. (Surprise!) When I was building my hand-made website, I was curious how far I can go without additional payments. Far enough, it turns out. You can see for yourselves – A couple of times I run into something that would cost me – and decided I really can do without it. The thing is, I don’t sell all that much, so I don’t want to pay anything other than percentage of the sales – and domain name, obviously. I already have hosting, and the theme is free; I would redesign it now, making the home page less busy, but I can never find the time.
  • Ownership. If you create a self-hosted WordPress website and you don’t like the hosting, you can always move – there are lots of hosting providers. If you create a website on any one of the site-builders, you can’t move it anywhere; it’s a marriage for life. You can move the domain name, but if you want to build the website elsewhere, you’ll need to start over.

That’s all I could think of for now. I’ll probably think of more over time.

To summarize – it’s really hard to give a definite answer which platform you should use. If you’re going to build the website yourself – the initial saving might make up for more expensive platform, especially if you’re not sure if you’re going to use the website for more than a few years, want to try it out, so to speak; especially so if you’re not going to have a store. If you’re not going to hire somebody to build you a website – I really don’t see a benefit of using a site builder then.

Also, keep in mind – neither site builders nor WordPress will sell your craft/product/service/etc. for you. You’ll have to do it yourselves, no matter what platform you’re going to use.

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