Website builders are all the rage today and among them, Wix is one of the top names in the business. These agile tools offer non technically inclined users the opportunity to quickly and painlessly piece together websites without much help.
The type of website builders I’m talking about are the ones that offer their building tools online as a service. These are usually packaged in with web hosting and other utilities that can help users build and manage their websites.
The heart of the service is the builder which lets users take advantage of a graphic user interface (GUI)-driven utility. This allows them to either work with templates or build sites from scratch. Think of it as being like Lego blocks. You can either work from a picture or completely customize your own design.
The Problem with Wix
Although this article is about alternatives to Wix, don’t get me wrong. Wix is an excellent platform and in some cases, may even be an ideal solution for you depending on your exact needs. Yet no platform is perfect, and I felt compelled to offer solutions due to some pet peeves I had with Wix.
Can’t move out once you are in
Perhaps the biggest gripe I have with Wix is that they do not allow users to migrate their websites away from the Wix platform. Essentially, what they are doing is locking in all their customers forever. If you want to move, you’ll lose your website.
While I understand that offering service costs money, I have always felt that if you really want to give something away, do it honestly. Instead of charging users a small token sum (maybe even 50 cents a month?), Wix has decided to force its branding onto users’ websites. The problem is that it does this even for users of lower tier plans – so you’re paying them, and they get free advertising to boot!
Because Wix is basically idiot proof, it tries to make things easy to everyone by having lots of guidelines and limitations. Unfortunately, for more advanced users this can be frustrating. For example, if you want to dabble in SEO, there are limitations in place which won’t allow you to do certain things.
Limited to one site
Unlike web hosting where more expensive plans offer extra resources – meaning you can host more sites, all Wix plans only let you apply the benefits of that plan to a single site. That means that if you want to run multiple websites on Wix it can get ridiculously expensive.
Try These Alternatives to Wix
Although Wix is one of the top dogs in the website builder game, let’s look at some viable alternatives;
If you want a quick and easy to construct website that will cost, you nothing then Weebly is your solution. It offers users free accounts that you can even use to sell stuff online. Of course, there are caveats to ‘free’ but if you’re not too fussy it is something for nothing.
For those more serious about the business, Weebly has better plans and upgrading will open new features for you including getting away from those pesky ads, freeloaders get stuck with. While Weebly is relatively cheap at the lower end, it doesn’t rally match up to other dedicated eCommerce site builders in features.
If you take those into consideration – for example, shipping management, abandoned cart recovery, sales analytics – then the rates for Weebly begin to get on par with market prices. This doesn’t mean that Weebly is a con, but rather it opens more possibilities to new users still experimenting with the eCommerce concept.
Weebly also has a powerful app center that helps users extend the functionality of their site. Unfortunately, not all of these are free and adding too many can cause a serious impact to your bottom-line if you aren’t careful.
Weebly Ratings & Performance
- Free domain name (except on free plan)
- Free customizable responsive templates
- Easy to use drag-and-drop site editor
- App Center useful for quickly adding features
- Integrated site statistics tracking
- Mobile editor let’s you work on the go
- Multi-user support
- SEO tools included
- Drag-and-drop blog option
- Ability to add own HTML code
- Can handle marketing newsletters
- Cheapest plan still has Weebly ads
- Drag-and-drop customization slightly limited
- Almost no developer tools
Weebly Past 30 Days Response Speed
Shopify is another of the top dogs in the site builder space but unlike Wix or Squarespace, it is mainly meant for eCommerce stores only. It’s relatively steeper starting price reflects this since all plans on Shopify support online sales.
It does this admirably and the key difference between Shopify plans is that as their tiers move up, online store owners get more benefits. Amongst these are better transaction fee rates, bigger discounts on shipping with key partners, and more.
Many other eCommerce-oriented site builders have focused on helping business owners make stronger pushes online. They do this via the opening of multiple sales channels which are then integrated with their software. Shopify goes one step further by helping with physical store integration.
This means that traditional shop owners can work with Shopify to not only establish a digital presence but have physical and retail work together seamlessly. This is achieved through Shopify’s POS system. Shopify has standard plans for sign up, but enterprise-scale solutions are also available in the form of Shopifyplus.
Shopify Ratings & Performance
- Unmetered storage and bandwidth
- List an infinite number of products
- Multiple online sales channels
- Website builder with free templates
- Multiple discount code formats
- Fraud analysis with Shopify payments
- Unified dashbaord with finance reporting
- 24/7 Support via chat, phone, and email
- Lite plan allows easy sales on existing websites
- Integration with Facebook and Google ads
- Retail integration with POS system
- Access to discounted shipping rates
- Discounts for annual and biennial plans.
- Free trial available
- Multiple fees and commissions payable
- No free domain name provided
- Limited SEO options
Shopify Past 30 Days Response Speed
BigCommerce, as the name implies, is a quick way to grow a large eCommerce site. It is designed from the ground up to support this and stiff entry fees discourages casual users from using their platform to create simple, run-of-the-mill sites.
Because of this, everything that BigCommerce does and has to offer is centered around supporting online stores. It integrates many popular forms of payments processing ranging from Apple Pay to credit cards, and more.
More importantly, BigCommerce offers eCommerce stores quick and easy access to value added features that are vital for online stores. This includes services designed to help customers of your store at all points along the way, including the handling of shipping, access to multiple sales channels like Facebook and Amazon, and even professional reporting tools for you.
More advanced users can leverage on their better plan to extend those impressive features even further with Google customer reviews, price lists, product filtering, all while getting professional priority support from the staff.
Although BigCommerce doesn’t charge transaction fees, there are some exceptions to this such as with the use of credit cards under some circumstances.
BigCommerce Ratings & Performance
- Agile drag-and-drop website builder
- Customizable pre-built themes
- Complete mobile-responsive capability
- Supports coupons and discounts
- Bulk import tool allows easy migration
- Digital Wallet compatible
- Choose from over 65 payment gateways and supports over 250 currencies
- No transaction fees
- Pricing customization for B2B sales
- Analytics Dashboard has comprehensive reporting
- Supports cross-channel sales
- Integrates with WordPress
- Extensive and powerful APIs available
- Pricing can be prohibitive for new stores
- Limited add-on applications
- Complicated to migrate away from
BigCommerce Past 30 Days Response Speed
SiteGround isn’t a website builder per se but it is one of the top names in web hosting. It offers users a strong and stable platform from which they can do practically anything. The reason why this is here is that some users might be interested in the possibilities of building the online stores from scratch.
There are pros and cons of doing this, but SiteGround is the perfect candidate for doing so due to two key reasons. The first is that it is one of only three hosts recommended by WordPress.org. This makes it idea as a platform for one of the most powerful eCommerce software around – WooCommerce.
The second is that even if you decide to build a site with your own web hosting like that from SiteGround, not all of them offer access to excellent website builder software. SiteGround users can use the Weebly platform as their tool to quickly and easily build their websites.
As you can see, these are two compelling options for users who want to avoid website builders that can’t (or won’t) let you customize the environment you work with. Using your own hosting opens a lot of possibilities where your website is concerned, least of all, you can easily migrate if you aren’t happy with the host.
SiteGround Ratings & Performance
- Unmetered bandwidth
- Choice of five server locations
- Highly scalable plans
- Excellent customer support via live chat
- Automated backups with self-restore
- Free site migration for new customers
- HTTP/2 enabled in all plans
- Free SiteBuilder
- Shared plans offer limited storage
- Relatively high renewal prices
- Limited developer options on some plans
SiteGround Past 30 Days Response Speed
At this point in time, Squarespace is easily among the top five of all website builders offering their product as a service. It was founded by an undergraduate at the University of Maryland in 2003 and has helped build millions of websites.
With prices from as low as $12 up to $40 per month, Squarespace has opened the eCommerce space to everyone. Do note though that the lowest tier plan is meant for users who simply want to build a basic site quickly and doesn’t allow the creation of online stores.
Online stores are were Squarespace excels and it has a lot to offer digital entrepreneurs. It takes the normally arduous tasks of configuring all the elements needed for eCommerce and packages them into neat add-ons for users to simply plug in the sites to extend functionality.
The monthly rates you pay are for the use of the website builder, some additional tools, and powerful web hosting. The catch is that Squarespace, like many other eCommerce site builders, will take a cut of your earnings in the form of transaction fees.
Squarespace Ratings & Performance
- Good selection of free templates
- Easy drag-and-drop site builder
- Great content management features
- Includes marketing tools
- Powerful add-on apps
- Multi-user support
- Personal plan has limited features
- 14-day Refund policy
- Relatively high pricing
- Add-on apps may cost extra
Squarespace Past 30 Days Response Speed
Conclusion: Focus on Your Needs
As with everything else in the world of web hosting, website builders also offer varying benefits. The key to finding the right one for you isn’t just how brig the brand of the solution you’re looking at is, but how well it suits you.
If you’re new, look for something that’s reasonably priced and experiment with it first. In fact, website builders are great for this since many of them offer free trial accounts that are easy to sign up for. Once you gain a bit of skill and know what you need, look towards research to find your ideal fit.
Again, this reminds me of how Wix locks customers in – so keep that in mind!