Updated: Apr 7
A lot has changed in the world of website builders over the past decade.
It used to be the case that if you wanted a website made, you would have to hire someone to build it for you, and most likely they would do so on WordPress. A decade or so ago there were a few user-friendly website builders kicking around, but most of them were garbage; they were clunky, unprofessional and had terrible search engine optimization. To top that off, their sites weren’t mobile friendly and the templates were basic and restrictive.
But the times, how they’ve changed. In the past 5 years, many other smaller CMS (content management systems) have popped up, and existing platforms have become increasingly functional; offering website newbies the opportunity to have an attractive, professional looking website that they can manage on their own.
There is no doubt WordPress is still the most powerful website platform to build on; scalable to any size and sophisticated enough to handle any business.
But the fact is most small businesses simply don’t need the immense capabilities that WordPress offers, and the technical challenges involved with using WordPress can be an absolute nightmare for small business owners.
Most people who hire a web developer to build a site on WordPress are either left on their own with nothing but a login to a system they don’t understand, or they are offered an expensive monthly maintenance package; hand cuffing them to their web developer to ensure that updates are made and the site continues to function properly.
Following the creation of a new website, many small business owners turn down their web developers maintenance package to avoid the extra cost. Unfortunately for them, if you don’t have someone taking care of your WordPress site, there will inevitably be problems, and making changes to your WordPress website is not always simple.
Having a WordPress site built with no one to manage it is like buying a new car and driving off the lot without knowing how to fill it with gasoline. It’ll work beautifully at first, but at a certain point you’re going to run into some major problems.
Incredibly, while 42% of websites are built on WordPress, only a third of them are updated. While this statistic seems hard to believe, we see evidence of this every day as clients often come to us with a WordPress website that they have no idea how to use, and no relationship with the web developer who built it for them.
Whether it’s to change a phone number, tweak the copywriting or add a new product or service, any business large or small will eventually need changes made to their website. And if you don’t know how to make these changes, or have someone lined up to do it for you, your site will quickly fall out of date and become a wasted investment.
Self Hosting: A False Economy
Many people argue that WordPress is the way to go because they can shop around for cheap hosting, and this allows them to have a low monthly cost for their website. While it is true, self hosting or shopping around for the cheapest of cheap hosting for your website can get you a lower monthly bill, hosting your website this way leaves all the technical work up to you with regards to regular updates of plugins and other applications, security, and any other issues that arise.
CMS like Wix, Weebly or Squarespace charge a flat monthly fee that covers the use of their platform, security, and in the case of Wix, the first year of domain. Yes, the fee is slightly higher than sites that simply offer hosting because these CMS are offering it to you in a tidy, user friendly package, along with a website builder you can learn to use quickly. This can be invaluable for business owners who have built a site themselves and don’t understand the ins and outs of website hosting, email, security and other website maintenance issues.
Despite the improvements that have been made to website builders like Wix, there is still a considerable stigma associated with using these platforms. John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analysts for Google recently answered a question on Reddit about whether or not he suggests small business owners build on Wix or Wordpress.
Offering his opinion, Mueller admitted flat out that at this point, given how exceptional platforms like Wix are at managing and designing websites, it is simply a bad idea to move to Wordpress, especially if you’re a small or medium sized company.
He argues that for larger businesses with a hefty budget to keep a web developer on staff, Wordpress is fine, as they will always have someone on hand to keep track of website security, caching, Content Delivery Networks, updates and backups. But for small businesses without a dedicated support team, Mueller does not suggest moving to Wordpress.
“Hosting a site yourself comes with a million tiny hassles, and a business without a dedicated support team will struggle doing the right things, and end up getting hacked and have to invest a ton to improve infrastructure over time (speed, security, functionality).
Wix does all of this for you. Squarespace, etc – similarly.”
Mueller also had something to say about search engine optimization - the deal breaking factor that often makes people avoid website builders:
“ A few years back Wix was pretty bad in terms of SEO, but they’ve made fantastic progress, and are now a fine platform for businesses. The reputation from back then lingers on, but don’t be swayed by it.”
In fact, he argues Wix may actually have an advantage over managed WordPress hosting because of their highly optimized improved SEO and page speed capabilities, which benefit small businesses who do not want to deal with the technical side of maintaining and ranking a website.
Companies like Wix and Squarespace offer a Software As A Service (SaaS) approach, where the platform is completely optimized for businesses, with the goal being to make it easy for businesses to get online and run their business, with the technology part managed in one place by experts so that the small business can focus on their business.
Here at Cat’s Cove, we like to build on Wix because of its impressive suite of business tools, great search engine optimization, incredible design capabilities and relative ease for teaching our clients how to use the platform.