WordPress vs. Website Builders
If you’re asking yourself what to do about your small business website, WordPress vs. website builders, here are the pros and cons.
I have written before about my enduring love of WordPress.
It was not love at first sight; it was one of those on-and-off relationships where you eventually realize you were meant to be together all along.
(This is not a paid promotion. I just really like WordPress.)
If you run a small business, you need a website. You don’t need to break the bank on a website, but you do need one, and there are lots of elements to consider.
Will your website need to be updated regularly? Will your website be a source of new customers, or will it be an information hub for customers or both?
A Website is Like a House
All of the options I’m going to be talking about are content management systems. A CMS is software that allows you to build a website without writing the code from scratch. Besides a CMS, you also need somewhere to host your site.
If your website is your house, your web host is the land it’s on.
Why WordPress for a Small Business Website?
WordPress is a free, open-source CMS. That means you own what you build, and you can also use tools created by other people using WordPress.
We create a custom site for our clients, and we also use popular and well-tested tools that make it easier to do things like measure traffic and improve SEO. Because we build it on the commonly-used WordPress framework, virtually anyone can make minor updates. If you can figure out Facebook, you can figure out how to update a WordPress site.
In my opinion, it’s the only platform that allows infinite customization but still allows a layperson (i.e. you) to make small changes.
- -t’s impeccably maintained. When Google changes its algorithm, or there are new security standards, it won’t take long for the folks at WordPress to ensure it is up to date.
- Your site is 100% owned by you.
- Anyone can learn to update it, and it’s easy to find people who already know how.
- You need to host it yourself or pay a web host. That isn’t expensive (as little as $15/ month), but it is an extra step.
- You may need someone to build the site for you. Updating it is easy, but the building is more complex.
WordPress vs. Squarespace
Another appealing option for small business owners is using all-in-one software like Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly. These drag-and-drop builders allow anyone to create a pretty website, plus the company hosts it for you too.
Unfortunately, Squarespace’s combination of building and hosting the site together means that you don’t really own your website. In their terms of service, Squarespace says you own your content. But Squarespace content without the Squarespace platform is useless.
Back to the house analogy, it’s all well and good to own a home, but if you don’t own the land it’s on you may have problems.
As a reporter, I did a couple of stories about a mobile home park that was closing down. All the residents owned their homes, but they didn’t own the land. There were few alternative trailer parks in the area, and the ones available were much more expensive. Many of the homeowners were stuck with nowhere to put their home.
Squarespace is basically that mobile home park.
Say you start getting more traffic and your site slows down. If you’re using WordPress, you can simply find a new web host that will be faster. You can’t do that with a consumer builder.
Lack of flexibility is the main problem with these types of websites. You have lots of variety for how it looks but virtually zero for how it’s set up.
- It’s pretty affordable. Some plans are as little as $12/ month, and you won’t spend more than $50/month.
- It looks fantastic; anyone can build a professional-looking site.
- There is a wide variety of templates, so you don’t have to worry about your site looking just like someone else’s.
- You lose essential control over your website.
- Limited customization.
- SEO is, in my opinion, terrible. I don’t care how many times Squarespace and the other drag-and-drop builders say, “wE hAvE SeO TOolS,” these sites do not perform as well in Google search as custom sites, including custom WordPress sites.
What CMS is Best?
Consider how you intend to use your small business website. Is it just a digital brochure? Or do you plan to use it as a tool? I recommend a website that can really work for you.
A well-designed small business website can:
- -Create community;
- -Convert leads; and,
- -Conduct transactions.
However, in order to do that effectively, the site needs to a) be fast and b) appear on the first(ish) page of Google search results. In my experience, the best platform for accomplishing this is WordPress.