website design

Wix vs Squarespace vs WordPress

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WordPress

About 3 years ago I made a controversial call at our agency. I pulled WordPress as a platform to build websites. This was controversial for a few reasons:

  1. 75,000,000 websites are built on WP. That's a large share of the market.

  2. WordPress is a buzz term. A lot of clients know it and request it because WP is all they know.

  3. My staff were concerned that if we didn't offer WP sites we would get less business.

All are legitimate concerns, however, I didn't make the call lightly. When I looked at the 500 most recent websites we had built at the time, 180 were on WordPress. Of all our support requests for anomalies over 80% were on sites that used the WP platform. Once those websites were swapped with Wix, Squarespace, or custom code, those websites joined the 20% of anomalies support. This means we had had an 80% drop in website related issues since switching away from WordPress. That's a huge decrease!

I, personally think using WordPress for a website is like going to look for a new car in 2019 and leaving with a 2001 Hyundai Accent passed off as a 2019 Audi R8. The platform is bloated, many of their updates have been compiled on top of each other, plugins are only as reliable as the third-party developers, and unless you are excellent with code, you know a WordPress site when you see one. I had other, more technical concerns, but I felt those points were enough alone to switch.

So, let's remove WordPress from the equation and talk Wix vs Squarespace. Before I do though, it's important that you understand I'm talking web design on this post. We offer full-service web development with custom code. Those sites are in the league of their own. Let's keep things on a level playing field.

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Wix Pros

Wix is a great platform when you have no idea how to build a website. If you've ever used Word or Photoshop, Wix works similarly. You start with a template, you drag and drop, and in a matter of days, you can have a professional-looking website. I love their image libraries and access to stock images. Other highlights include their Wix Apps which are kinda like WP plugins but vetted and completed by the Wix team so you know they'll be stable. Wix also offers a cleaner process for edits than WordPress. The Wix mobile editor is aces! It's actually my favourite pro to the Wix platform.

Wix Cons

There are a few big items that really bug me about Wix. Their developer tools are absolute garbage. Custom coding in Wix is kinda like asking your partner for a favour on the same day they learned you cheated on them—just don't do it! Wix is also limited in some functionality that they should have updated forever ago: full-width layouts, eComm first sites are clunky, and no ability to export.

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Squarespace Pros

Squarespace is a modern website builder with incredible templates and an excellent system for custom coding. Most of our SS sites have a lot of custom code and as such, they rarely look like a SS site. Coding in SS is a breeze. The editor is easy to use and the guided block approach will keep even the least organized designer on task (unlike Wix). I absolutely love how they've organized their menus (except code and CSS, which I'll get to) and I'm a pretty big fan of how modern a SS feels. You can build nearly the exact same site on WP, Wix, and SS ... SS will feel the most modern every time. Anyone that knows me, knows I am a fan of spacing out blocks of content equally. SS makes this easier and I think it goes a long way to understanding why SS sites just look awesome no matter what.

Squarespace Cons

While I love SS, there are a few ridiculous limitations. Little things like adding drop shadows or backgrounds to text need to be coded. You can't really scale menu items, which is frustrating. The big piss off with SS though is the mobile editor—there isn't one. That's right, they use automation to create your mobile site, which rarely ever gets it right. Every single SS site we host has custom code to get the mobile layout right. With mobile being incredibly important today it seems absolutely insane to me that they haven't released an update with a mobile editor.

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But What About SEO?

I recently had an instructor for a course I took state that "Squarespace and Wix aren't good for SEO like WordPress is". This statement is flat out wrong. A lot of people believe that WP is better for SEO because of Yoast, a plug-in that walks you through the process. There were several years there when WP was better but that is a thing of the past.

Wix has a great step-by-step SEO guide. Start there. Then optimize your content. After that, make sure you submit your site to Google Search Console and start on off-site SEO.

Squarespace buries their SEO tools a bit more as they automate most aspects. However, at the page level, you can click on the cog and edit SEO settings. Then, just like with Wix, optimize your content, submit to GSC and get to work on off-site SEO.

We have rigorously tested whether WP, Wix, or SS are better for SEO. In the end, we found equal results across all 3 platforms when taking the same actions on each.

And the Winner is ...

If you're comfortable with code and a rigid block approach to editing then Squarespace is hand's down the best host and editor. If you're looking for something easy that makes mobile editing a breeze, Wix is the winner. It really comes down to priorities in your design process.

We at SyncDS love Squarespace and whenever we can, we will use the platform as our #1 choice.

Need help with your website? We can elevate your build above the obvious features of these platforms or get you a custom coded site that meets your wildest expectations. Let's talk.

The Journey to the Perfect Website

If you're thinking about building a website, get ready for a mental overload. First, you have to decide whether you’re going to build it yourself, or get someone to do it for you. Then, you have to find someone that can take the project on. At that point, you have to decide what kind of website you want built.

There are literally, hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of “website developers” out there in the world today, and they will present you with a plethora of options. 

So, how do you make decisions regarding your new site? Here’s a SyncDS cheat sheet.

To Build, or To Let Someone Build

If You Build It

You have full control. You have no middle man to execute changes. You’re working on your timeline, not competing with other outside projects. You’ll get to learn a new skill. You must now take time out from your business to build. There are endless choices in technology. You won’t be able to keep up. Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts will surely be negligible. 

If Someone Else Builds It

You can run your business while the site is being built. You’ll have a wealth of knowledge working for you. You’re paying for results, which means you’ll get them. Your site will [should] be optimized for SEO. An organized workflow, and trackable results.

Now, let’s assume, someone else builds it:

Who Will Build Your Site?

Someone You Know

Examples: Uncle, Friend, Cousin, Nephew, Employee, etc. They will be fitting your site into their daily lives. This is likely someone at a small scale operation with limited resources. You’re probably looking at mixing business and pleasure at this point, which you have to take into consideration. This is almost always, you’re cheaper option.

Someone You Don’t

Examples: Agency, Firm, Web Designer by-trade, etc. You’ll be presented with a proposal, and given options. There will be a structured timeline for completion. All of the latest trends and tech will be taken into consideration. This will cost a bit more, but you’re likely to get a greater deal of satisfaction.

What Kind of Site Should I Get?

Your Options

Examples: Custom, Template, Custom Code, Animation, Graphical, etc. TIP: You probably won’t know what your web dev contact is talking about. Instead of jargon, think about your commitment to long-term online strategy. Most analysts say a website should cost around 2% of your gross annual profit, if your business makes less than $5-million, per year. That’s a part of your overall suggested 7 - 8% marketing spend. You may be scared of the word template. In the 90′s, it suggested that someone was buying a design that would not be reserved exclusively for your site. Essentially, you could end having a site that looks just like your competitors. Today, templates are starting points to get the project launched quickly. If you have a limited budget, ask to start there.Websites have come a long way. Every quote should contain a CMS system (a way you can make small edits), design, options to add 3rd party video, content drafting, and a responsive site (no matter what screen size someone is on, the site is designed for them to view it).

Don’t Get Caught in the Hype

It’s easy to get lost in the words of a developer, but tell them to stop, and consider your industry, your budget, and your timeline. Even if you’re taking percentages into account, you should never spend less than $1000 on a website, before hosting. You want to motivate developers to do a great job for you.

Now, what does a good job look like? 

http://www.newinc.org/

http://darrenbooth.com/

http://lukeslobster.com/

http://live.wired.com/

http://www.innovationme.com/

These are just some examples of quality websites that incorporate the latest trends, and that you can get done within that budget outlined above. Of course, it’s but 5 examples amongst thousands.

I hope this has helped you make a decision. If you need help with your website, let’s talk.

What Makes a Website Great?

Build a Website with Sync Digital Solutions

There's a lot of noise about what makes a website great. In the 1990's a great website had flashy movement. In the early 2000's it was all about big and loud graphics. Now, in 2017 there is a different take on the subject. You see, just a few years ago websites were viewed as billboards and ads by many; some still think this way. You shouldn't.

If you have a brick and mortar location I want you to take a step outside and view your storefront. That's your home page. Now, enter. Take in the decor, talk to your staff about their positions within the company, and play around with your products and services.

If you don't have a brick and mortar location, take a look at your logo and branding package, then proceed with the other steps.

That is your website!

Now of course, there are technical aspects to building a great website, but that's where you should start. Then, once you get to the technical side, here's some quick points to note:

  • Make it responsive: there are endless advantages to making sure your site fits on all kinds of devices.
  • On-Site SEO: make sure big search can find you.
  • Image to Text Ratio: ensure that you have a good balance; go 40:60.
  • Clean and Modern: Don't get caught in the trap of trying to be too fancy. Keep it clean and your customers will appreciate the ease of use.
  • CTAs: Ensure there are regular calls to action throughout the site.

Once you take care of those steps, you're ready to step into a more advanced setup. But first, before all of the technical aspects surrounding website creation, make sure you treat your website like another storefront or office.

If you need help with building your next great website, let me know. I love working with new clients that offer great products and services.