I published my first website in 1996. In the pre-historic era of Web, things were different.
There were no fancy tools or services to speed up the web site creation process. You had to do all the work yourself: coding the HTML by hand and then uploading the finished site to the server by using FTP (File Transfer Protocol).
Today we have fancy online tools at our disposal that help you create your site without touching the code, and you can have your site up and running in just a few hours.
In this Wix vs Squarespace review, we take a look at two of these online tools. They are popular website building platforms, and on this blog post, you’ll discover which one is better for you.
- No maintenance work needed.
- Plenty of extensions with App Market.
- Wix ADI.
- No maintenance work needed.
- Getty Images integration.
- Can export content to WordPress.
- Auto post to social media on blog posts.
- User can’t create reusable content components.
- The site can’t be exported to other systems from Wix.
- You can’t change a theme in the middle of the site creation process.
- The user interface requires more time to get into.
- Multiple site trial experience is a bit confusing.
- User can’t create reusable content components.
I had heard about these two platforms before, and I even tried Wix some years ago. It didn’t convince me, and I thought that Wix (and not to mention Squarespace or other site building tools) were for hobbyists and amateurs.
But (fortunately) my mindset changed.
As I started this blog, one goal of it was to see what’s outside the WordPress realm. WordPress is all over the place, and sometimes it seems that it’s the only website platform out there.But because I’m a flexible person, I’m willing to change my views if necessary. And this is precisely what happened with these two platforms (and with website building tools in general).
Who Aren’t These Platforms For?
There is a market for online building tools like Wix and Squarespace.
The fact is that even if WordPress might be the most popular blogging and content management system there is, it’s still more or less geared towards propel heads and tech wizards. WordPress’s site creation process requires technical knowledge, and setting a fully-functional website up and running takes time and effort.
The online site building tools like Wix or Squarespace make things easier, although you may still need a bit of technical knowledge. They are a far better option for a non-technical person than WordPress, with its required plugins and security updates.There are also some reasons why Wix or Squarespace may NOT be for you:
- You want more control over your site, like where it’s hosted.
- You are moving your site to WordPress from Wix platform. In Squarespace, the export functionality (for instance to WordPress) works better, but not necessarily between Squarespace sites.
- Templates can be an issue. So, although you can create a fancy looking site, you have to stick with the template you have chosen. This applies to Wix.
- Support varies based on the platform. If you’d like to have phone support on Squarespace, you are out of luck. Then again, if you’d like to have chat support on Wix, that’s not an option, either.
- You don't like the pricing model. Wix supports multiple sites on a same premium plan. However, If you have two (or more) domains and you want to use them on Wix (so that every site uses their own domain), you have to buy new premium subscription per domain. Squarespace doesn't support multiple sites per plan. You have to buy new subscription per new website.
Enter Wix and Squarespace
Both Wix and Squarespace are drag and drop online website builders. At first, you might think that their only function is just to create, edit and publish simple websites, their purpose is bigger than that.
For instance, with Wix, on top of just creating a website, you can also use it as:
- A blog.
- An online shop.
- As a booking system.
- As a business site related to different industries (for instance restaurant, hotels).
- As an event planner.
- As a forum.
With Squarespace, you can have almost the same functionality as with Wix. The difference is that on some occasions specific add-ons are not available on Squarespace, which are on Wix. This applies especially if you want to build a specific type of site.
For instance, the counterparts for Wix Hotels or Wix Music cannot be found on Squarespace. However, a booking system and restaurant options are on Squarespace, too. Then again, nobody is stopping you from building these sites by hand.
Both platforms categorize their themes based on the usage (like weddings, photographers, restaurants), and with this setting, you can create a site with a specific look and feel, targeted towards specific audiences.
Wix and Squarespace are “complete” platforms. This means that these services provide you everything you need when building the site: the site building tools, the support, and added functionality to expand your site. And you don’t have to install security fixes or other updates either - they are automatically taken care of by the platform.
Building Your First Site
Both platforms are designed to be as simple as possible. However, the user interface differs, depending which platform you use.
With both platforms, you start by creating your first site by choosing the theme that is related to your industry. While the starting process is mostly the same with both services, Wix has an additional way of creating the site.
In Wix’s case, you can also use Wix ADI, which stands for Artificial Design Intelligence. It asks you a couple of questions at the beginning, and the ADI then creates the website for you. The advantage of this is that the site should be unique to you. This is good since there is a much smaller probability of finding the site on the web later.
With Squarespace, the site creation process is more traditional. You choose the industry you belong to, and you then get to pick the template for your site.
Like with Wix (regardless whether you choose the traditional route or the ADI option), choosing the template is naturally just a starting point, because that’s when you start customizing the site for your needs.
I like the ADI option, as it’s something new when it comes to building your site. Nope, Wix ADI is not your mind reader, and it can’t give you site you want, out-of-the-box. Instead, you’ll have to fine-tune the site that it created for you.
Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating idea amongst the site builders.
Features and User Interface
Editing content with Wix is straightforward once you get familiar with its user interface. When you start editing your site, you move your mouse pointer over the piece of content you want to edit:
There are more design elements to choose from, by clicking on the menu on the right:
Some of the options are enabled when you double-click the content. For instance, changing the background image on my test site brought up the possible images that I could use as a background:However, the message arrived my inbox, and I was able to continue with the site editing.
If you’d like to add new components to the site, that’s easily doable by clicking the plus icon the left sidebar. This same sidebar has some other functionality that you can add to the site, in the form of apps or other elements (buttons, images, galleries, etc.).
Finally, you can have some other settings at the top of the page, like switching to a mobile view, to see how the site looks on mobile devices.
In overall, getting around the user interface in Wix is easy, once you get to know the tools a little bit better.
With Squarespace, the overall feeling of the page editing process is a bit less-cluttered than with Wix. Yet, I needed a little bit more time to get familiar with the UI.
Once you are in a page editing mode, you can access the element-specific editing options:
You can then drag elements around, or add new ones, by clicking the grey dots on the page:
What I liked with Squarespace, though, was its “File Manager” editing experience. In other words, you were able to see (and access) the pages on your site easily on the left sidebar:
Occasionally I run into issues with Squarespace, and it cannot create a site right away. When this happened, the following error message was displayed:
While there is a slight learning curve in both tools, I liked Wix bit better. Sure, it could use a file manager approach like Squarespace, but still, the UI is more colourful and suited my needs better.
Integrations and extendibility
Both platforms integrate well with other services. For instance, with Wix, you can connect your site with other systems or applications through its App Market:
Adding new apps is easy, and it reminds me of adding a new plugin in WordPress (which just happens with a couple of clicks). Naturally, you have to set the additional settings to integrate the app into your site entirely.
It’s worth noting that while some of the apps are free, some of them you have to pay for. Keep this in mind, especially since some apps have a recurring monthly fee.
With Squarespace, the third-party integration is also there, but without having to add anything through an app store, like in Wix. While with official integration you also get Squarespace support, you can also add unofficial integrations, too. These are naturally outside the Squarespace support.
Squarespace integrates well with other systems. I liked the Wix App Store experience much better (it reminded me of installing WordPress plugins).
Both platforms offer support, but with slightly diverse ways.
Whenever you are looking for an answer to a question, you are first encouraged to look for a solution in either one of these platforms' knowledge bases. However, if it doesn’t answer your question, they have other options to choose from.
With Squarespace, you can either email the support or use the chat channel. However, they don’t offer phone support. If that’s something you are looking for, you are out of luck.
Wix, on the other hand, doesn’t offer chat support at all. Instead, you can call them (and even request a call back), or enter a ticket to their system. If you have a premium plan, your ticket is placed in a premium queue. Thus you might get faster replies that way.Wix’s support reacted quickly (within one day) to my questions, too. That means that the ticket-based system works out well and is enough if you don’t have any urgent issues to solve.
Considering my personal preferences, I have very rarely called support directly. Instead, I have either submitted a ticket or used the chat. One reason for not using the phone is the costs when I make an international call. In Wix’s case, their call centers are in the US, so making a phone call is not an option.
If I’d like to get an answer to my questions fast, I try to favour the chat channel. This option is only available with Squarespace. Squarespace also offers email support, which also worked quickly (even when submitting a question during the weekend).
While the support works on both the services, I’d still like to declare Squarespace as a winner on this one. The reason is that also give you support through their chat (although it’s not 24/7). I prefer using that, rather than using the phone.
Wix has plenty of plans to choose from. If you want to test the platform, the free plan is right for you. It should give you hands-on experience what the platform is about and whether it is right for you. However, it’s worth noting that with the free plan, you’ll see Wix ads displayed.
If you want to start exploring Wix’s opportunities, you should upgrade to a premium plan. Currently, Wix offers five of these and the price range is between five dollars (4.50 euros) and 29 dollars (24.50 euros).
It’s worth noting, that if you buy a Connected Domain plan (the most inexpensive one of premium plans), you still have to display ads on your site. Therefore, I suggest that if picking Wix as your platform, you choose any other premium subscriptions than that.
There are two things to be said about Wix pricing. The first is Wix-dependent, while the other isn’t necessarily so.
First, even though the prices are on their pricing page, they are based on the assumption that you are going to purchase the premium plan for a one year.
For instance, if the pricing table tells you that a Combo plan costs 8.50€/mo, that’s not the actual price you pay, if you choose the month-to-month billing cycle. In this case, the actual price is 12 euros per month. The same principle applies to other plans as well.
Second, the prices do not include VAT, and it is dependent on your country. This is perhaps out of Wix’s control, but I just wanted to bring that up. The best way to see the actual price is always by going to the purchase page.
If you commit to their service (through 1-year or 2-year plans), you will save money. For instance, if you decide to upgrade to the Unlimited Plan (2-years) get savings up to 50% percent.
In addition to this pricing, Wix also has 14-day money-back guarantee on all their plans.
Squarespace follows the same pricing method as with Wix, although their pricing is a bit more transparent.
The pricing of the premium plans starts from 11€ to 17€ per month, and if you decide to pick either one of the online store packages, the prices differ from almost 24€ to 36€ per month.
So why is Squarespace a bit more transparent that Wix? Well, they at least state on their pricing page that their prices are annual ones and the real, month-to-month price is also shown next to the annual price.
As with Wix, Squarespace’s prices exclude VAT, so you should pay attention to that factor, too.You can get started for free with Squarespace’s 14-day trial phase. At the end of the trial, you can upgrade to a premium plan. Like in Wix, you save money if you upgrade to a yearly plan.
Finally, keep in mind that pricing can be higher than what you'd expect. Like mentioned, if you want to host sites with their own domains, you have to purchase a new premium plan per domain (this applies to Wix). Also, buying premium apps with recurring monthly pricing also increases your monthly payment.
With Squarespace, you can only have one website per premium plan. So if you'd like to run more sites, you have to purchase more premium plans (one plan per site).
Verdict: A tie
The pricing shouldn’t be the only criteria when choosing a service. The price is what people tend to look at first.
At the current price points, Wix seems to win the race. And if you happen to pick the annual or 2-year payment options, you’ll save money.
On the other hand, the pricing is more transparent with Squarespace. You see the actual prices with Wix, too, but that requires an extra click.
For the transparency side of things, this is a tie.
Which Platform is Right for You?
In general, I like what Wix, Squarespace and other similar platforms offer. In other words, you get all the necessary tools to build your site, with the technical support and without many of the traditional maintenance hassles (like installing all the security updates).
Comparing these two platforms wasn’t easy, because they were so similar. Nevertheless, they were both robust platforms to work with.
I talked about a couple of “deal breakers” at the top of these post, and they dictate your decision about which platform you choose.
But if I had to pick which platform, I would choose Wix.
I like its user interface better and it feels comfortable to use. Also, you can extend your site with a variety of apps.The extendibility is an essential part of your website’s future since your site will grow and you will probably want to offer additional services to your visitors at some point.