If you are not familiar with Wix, SquareSpace or Weebly, they are proprietary content management systems that charge a monthly fee to host and manage your website (Wix is $15-$40 per month as of the date of this article). They typically offer a simplified drag-and-drop page builder, and a selection of templates so that you can build your own site without the expense of a professional website developer. There is typically e-commerce capability, and integration with a variety of SEO and other tools. You won’t need to know a line of code, although it will be helpful to have a vocabulary of basic terms. It’s fairly hassle-free, and you can have a site up and running in no time.
WordPress is an open-source content management system (read: free) that was originally developed as a tool to create blogs, rather than more traditional websites. WordPress has since evolved into a massive ecosystem of plugins, themes and integration tools that power about 35% of all websites. WordPress offers a variety of drag-and-drop page builders, themes, robust e-commerce solutions, membership management, SEO tools and a dizzying array of other integrations. While the core software is free, you’ll be responsible for purchasing your domain, hosting and any premium extensions.
I won’t be exploring all the pros and cons of each CMS in this article, but I’d like to point out an important issue that may impact your choice of CMS, and that’s the ownership and portability of your site design and content. If you’re ever ready to scale your site beyond the capabilities of your Wix plan, or move your site to a new hosting provider for any reason, there is no tool for exporting or migrating your site. You could manually copy-and-paste your text content, but that’s an enormous time-waster, and an awkward solution for larger sites. The fact remains that all the work you put into creating and designing a successful site is locked into Wix’s servers, and must be manually re-built if you want to move the site to any other host or CMS.
One of the greatest strengths of a WordPress site lies in its open-source nature, and the availability of a variety of free tools to export, migrate and backup your website. In this case you own and control your work, your design and your content, and possess the freedom to host it anywhere you choose. Until proprietary website builders like Wix, SquareSpace or Weebly provide a portability solution for their users, I can’t recommend them as an option for website hosting and creation.
In the next article, we’ll explore some additional differences in CMS systems, and how to choose one that’s right for you.