First, a bit of background. Over just the past few years, website costs have plummeted and technology to get a website from idea to reality has blossomed. Whether you are using a text editor and uploading to the Amazon cloud; hosting your own site powered by WordPress or using a drag and drop website builder, there’s never been an easier time to create a website.
On the wide spectrum of website building solutions, they lives on the end that is all-inclusive and provides everything you need to get started and grow your website. It’s in contrast to solutions where you buy, install, and manage all the “pieces” of your website separately. That’s not a good or bad thing. But it is something to be aware of when you’re choosing one of them as a solution since it affects your website both long and short term.
In the long-term, it affects your versatility, functionality, and, of course, your brand. In the short term it can certainly add/take away a lot of headaches. That said, just like choosing a physical house or office, there is no such thing as an absolute “best” or “top” choice. There’s only a such thing as the right choice relative to your goals, experience, and circumstances.
Using a website builder is sort of like leasing and customizing an apartment in a really classy development instead buying and owning your own house. You’re still in control of decor, cleaning, and everything living-wise – but you leave the construction, plumbing, security, and infrastructure to the property owner. That point is key because there’s usually a direct tradeoff between convenience and control.
Squarespace, Weebly and Wix as a group compete with options like WordPress (which provides the free software to build a website that you own & control – see my WordPress setup guide here) all the way to options like typing actual HTML code into a text file. Make sense? Awesome, let’s dive in to the comparison.
Side note – if you want this comparison in a BuzzFeed-style quiz, you can take my website builder quiz here…
You can also look at my posts on –
Otherwise, we’ll look specifically at pricing, onboarding/user experience, design features, technical features, marketing features, and customer support.
One other quick aside – a disclosure – I receive referral fees from all the companies mentioned in this post. My opinions & research are based on my experiences as either a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.
Comparing pricing among Squarespace, Weebly and Wix is tough because their tiers are completely different. Weebly tiers based on technical and ecommerce features. Squarespace tiers based on number of pages and extras. Wix has several tiers based on a wide range of factors. And both Wix and Weebly have free plans.
The short version is that Weebly offers the most feature value and fewest real caps at each tier followed by Squarespace. Weebly’s cheap tier is a particularly attractive tier for most small business and personal sites.
Wix is not competitive at all on any tier. They don’t even remove Wix ads on some premium plans.
Squarespace offers solid value on each tier and is particularly competitive with Weebly on the top tier.
Weebly wins here.
*Reminder – these costs are all very different than if you are looking at building your own site with WordPress or a something else. Part of the point of website builders is the bundled pricing. It’s possible to get a custom website with unlimited functionality for much cheaper if you build it yourself.
Onboarding & User Experience
No matter how intuitive and simple a piece of technology is, there’s always that moment of “what am I looking at and what do I do now?”
Onboarding is the process of guiding you past that point. In theory, a huge selling point of website builders is that they have near zero learning curve. They have a straightforward process from website concept to website reality.
On this point, Weebly wins hands down with Squarespace and Wix doing fine. I love how Weebly has a way for you to immediately segment yourself by type of website. They also offer plenty of unintrusive info buttons, pop-ups, a checklist and an email sequence to make sure you’re on track.
Squarespace sort of drops you into their interface after choosing a design. The interface is fairly intuitive, but it takes some clicking to figure out where everything is, how stuff works, and what to do next.
Squarespace has greatly improved their onboarding email sequence though – so props to that.
Wix is fine. They have an email sequence, which is mainly focused on hard selling their premium plans over helping. Their backend is straightforward, but requires some clicking and strategizing to decide what to do next.
Weebly wins here.
Part of the overall value of website builders is design.
Design is hard. And it matters – a lot. A lot of people can spot a good looking website, but have a harder time figuring out how to get there. Using a template for a foundation and then customizing it is a good way to get the site you want without paying for a custom design.
On this point, Squarespace shines. Their platform is all about design (their tagline is “Build It Beautiful) and you can tell. The front and backend looks and feels beautiful.
Squarespace has a diverse set of templates that are built so that they do become unique with some photography and color scheming. One quick aside with Squarespace is available imagery. If you do not have high resolution, professional imagery to replace the template imagery…you’re site will not look as good. Their templates are only as good as your photography.
Weebly has a diverse range of templates. They are solid, but even as a non-designer, I can tell that they are more functional than anything.
Wix’s designs are good. They’ve improved a lot over the last year. Additionally, Wix doesn’t allow any CSS customization, so you’re really stuck with whatever templates they have.
Squarespace wins on design…if you have the imagery to fill their templates.
Technical features are all the web development best practices that don’t really matter…until they matter a lot. I’m talking about generating clean URLs, editable meta data, allowing page-level redirects, etc.
On this point, Squarespace and Weebly are both good. They both have things they could do better. They both have things they do particularly well.
For Weebly, they have plenty of front end tools. They automatically generate permalinks and well-coded HTML. Squarespace offers more access to advanced tools, especially via their developer platform.
The laggard is Wix. Not to keep jumping on Wix, but they use an HTML5 / AJAX engine to build and serve their pages. The system is a lot better than their old Flash technology, but is still incredibly clunky to use. Wix websites get a URL structure that works, but is not ideal. It runs more like a game application than a website.
In Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s character famously says “if you build it, they will come.” Sadly, that is not true about websites. Just like any business, you have to actively promote and market your website for anyone to show up.
Marketing features like custom meta data, open graph information, Schema markups, email signups, share buttons, landing pages, etc all make marketing your site a lot easier.
For marketing features, both Weebly and Squarespace do well. Squarespace requires some workarounds for custom meta data and can be hit or miss with Open Graph information. But overall both have the tools to do the job.
Support & Service
All three have knowledgebases and customer support. Wix and Weebly do phone during business hours, in addition to email tickets and customer forums. Squarespace does not have phone support, but they do have 24/7 live chat and email.
If phone is important to you, then I’d rule out Squarespace. If not, Squarespace does offer the best hours and quick response.
Squarespace wins on design and brand.
Weebly wins on functionality and most everything else. Remember there is no “best” – only whichever platform fits your goal.
If you’re interested in building your own website on your own hosting, check out my step by step tutorial here.