A lot of new businesses come to me with questions about what platform to use for their new site. They’ve seen the ads for Wix and Weebly – they make it look so easy!
So why would someone choose WordPress instead?
It’s true – Wix and Weebly ARE easy. They help you build a website using their own proprietary drag-and-drop interface. You choose a layout, fill in some text and add a few photos, and bam, you’ve got a website!
But they aren’t the answer for everyone, all the time. A third-party WordPress site offers you just about everything you’d need for a little learning investment up front.
I should mention that this article uses WordPress to mean a third party hosted WordPress site, meaning NOT a site that is hosted at WordPress.com. Over at WordPress.com you can get yourself a free website or blog, but it’s just as limited as Wix and Weebly – what we’re talking about here is buying a hosting package at a company like Siteground or BlueHost, then installing the (free!) WordPress software, and building your site from scratch.
Here’s why you should think about building yourself a WordPress website before you jump in with a site builder.
Functionality Is Limited with Wix and Weebly
If all you need are a few descriptive pages and a contact page – plus maybe a blog – then site builder companies like Wix and Weebly will cover your needs.
But if you want more, like say:
- Integration with your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds
- Integration with mailing lists of all kinds
- Integration with YouTube and other video hosting sites
- Popups, landing pages, or other custom marketing tools
- An online shop
- A discussion group or forum
- Membership site or other protected content
…and just about anything else you can think of…then WordPress is a great solution. It’ll do it all.
The Look Is Limited on a Site Builder Site
When you’re just starting out, a template site is just fine. And WordPress has templates too, called themes, that help you launch a site quickly.
But if you want custom backgrounds, fancy graphics, cool buttons, or unique layouts, you’ll need WordPress to make your dream a reality. If you’re the kind of person who gets bothered when a photo is slightly out of alignment, or when that logo isn’t quite big enough, or when all the colours on the site are perfect except for that one button that doesn’t seem to be configurable – then WordPress is your answer. You, or a developer, can get in to the nitty gritty and have full control over the look and feel.
You Have Full Ownership Of Your Site
This is the number one reason I tell my clients to get themselves a hosting package and a WordPress site. When you host your site somewhere like Wix, Weebly, or SquareSpace – or even one of the free sites at WordPress.com – then you don’t actually OWN the platform. The content is yours, but the company where you built your site can change the terms of your hosting there at any time.
They could, for example, decide that your content is offensive and pull it down. They could decide that your site gets too much traffic, and block it. They could decide to put ads on your site, or use screen captures of your site in their own ads.
These situations are, of course, rare. But with a WordPress site, you are the owner of not just the domain name and the words, but of the actual storage location. It’s yours to have and keep and put up what you want – and to exclude things you don’t want.
For a business, having full control over your content like this is essential.
You Can Take It With You
WordPress sites are fairly portable. It’s easy to get your content out of the site and automatically port it to a new host, or new location, or even a new platform should you change your mind in the future.
But site builders use proprietary codes and proprietary platforms, and they don’t want you to go anywhere. So it’s very hard to extract your content to move somewhere else.
If you’re thinking – “oh, I’ll get a quick site up now, and then move to WordPress someday when I’m ready for those awesome fancy features” – then beware you could be setting yourself up for additional charges in the future. As a developer who has moved Wix and Weebly sites in the past, I know getting your data out of that system is pretty terrible and requires a lot of manual intervention. If you only have a handful of pages, it’s not a huge deal, but if, say, you’ve been blogging on your Weebly site for a year – that’s a lot of manual transfers to be made.
So if you think you’ll EVER want the functionality and power of WordPress, go there now and save yourself a headache down the road.
Work that SEO
WordPress has a ton of built-in SEO features and I’ve seen from experience – Google loves WordPress. In addition to its native features, there’s even a couple of powerful plugins – additonal programs that run on top of WordPress – that will superpower your SEO with a few clicks.
I use Yoast SEO on all my sites to make sure keywords, Facebook and Twitter tie-ins, links, and other technical behind-the-scenes config files are all just the way Google likes them. And you can even get deeper into SEO if that’s your thing, with evaluations and suggestions on each post as to how to improve the content for SEO purposes.
There’s a Massive Community for Help
Okay, here I must admit that one of the big pluses for Wix and Weebly and other site builders is that they have support in place. WordPress doesn’t have a 24/7 support staff to answer your questions and help you resolve bugs.
But, if you do run into a problem with the site, it’s unlikely a site builder will be able to find a creative solution – it’s more likely that the answer is, “we don’t do that.”
If you need help with your WordPress site, there’s literally thousands of people out there in the WordPress community to give you a hand. WordPress is in use on millions of websites worldwide, so if you want to do something a little offbeat, chances are good someone else has been there first. There are forums, bulletin boards, and other blog posts to help you find the answers you need. Chances are very high that there’s a plugin available for whatever specialized job you want your site to do. And if it comes down to it, you can definitely find a designer and developer to make it all happen – while Wix and Weebly don’t allow access to developers to do that kind of skilled customization.
So, What’s the Down Side?
Here are the two big downsides to choosing WordPress:
There will be maintenance! WordPress is a software program you are running on your site, and for security reasons it should be kept up to date frequently. You can learn to do this yourself, or hire someone – your site designer, or your hosting company – to do it for you. But you’ll be in charge of making it happen.
Also – there will be a learning curve! Since WordPress is so flexible, it’s more complicated to learn. If you are keen and have the time, though, you can pick it up quickly – and remember there’s that great community available to help. Or, you can hire someone to set it all up for you and then teach you the essentials (like me!).
Whichever you choose, it’s important for any new business to have a website presence. If you’re not sure what’s right for you, please contact me and I’d be happy to answer all your questions. One way or the other, we’ll get your message online!