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A WordPress vs Other Comparison

How do you measure CMS solutions as different as Wix, Squarespace and WordPress? Below, we suggest some possibilities. Because Wix and Squarespace are doing a lot of advertising, it may give small business owners the false impression that their market share, capabilities, monthly cost and performance are more exceptional than they really are. 

Here are some findings and resources to help you make a more informed decision if you are trying to decide on what CMS to use for your small business website. 

CMS Cost Portability Design Flexibility Market Share FCP Speed SEO Tools
Wix $17/mo Low Low 1.9% 8% Medium
Squarespace $18/mo Low Medium 2.8% NA NA
WordPress $9-14*/mo High High 60.7% 30% High

The big picture indicates that WordPress dominates in every imporant category. *Cost if pro theme is factored in.

 

Market Share

One way to determine the best CMS solution is to look at market share, because market share can determine the degree to which the product has been successful with other users, and predict how easy it may be to find help, plugins, etc. So what CMS solutions have the biggest market share?

According to W3Techs.com, as of May 2019, here are how the rankings fall out (below). The two similar contenders in the user-friendly website creation category, Wix and Squarespace, do not add up to even 5% of the market even when combined – in spite of the massive Wix ad campaign many of us see regularly on YouTube.

 

CMS May 2018 May 2019
WordPress 59.9% 60.7%
Joomla 6.1% 5.1%
Drupal 4.1% 3.3%
Shopify 2.1% 2.8%
Squarespace 2.0% 2.8%
Wix 1.3% 1.9%

This chart built from data retrieved from W3Techs.com illustrates the dominance of WordPress over the other platforms.

Corporate Adoption

One measure of capability is, who else is using this CMS? WordPress can count the following companies as customers – there is quite a range of customers here. 

TechCrunch, The New Yorker, BBC America, Bloomberg Professional, Variety, Sony Music, MTV News, Etsy, Ted, Home Depot, Whitehouse.gov, Reuters, UPS, AMC, Zillow, Chicago Sun Times, Skype, Yelp, People, IBM, Alanis Morissette and Microsoft.

It has become apparent in the last few years that WordPress has successfully shed its origins as a blog-based platform, and has become the website platform of choice for large and small businesses alike.

 

Usability, Flexibility

According to WebsiteExpertBuilder.com, when comparing Wix and Squarespace, Wix is the easier of the two to learn, but Squarespace is more flexible, design-wise. And where Squarespace is more flexible in how you use it, Wix has more templates (hundreds) to Squarespace’s 60. For more on flexibility, check the section below on themes. Both Wix and Squarespace may have an edge over WordPress, depending on how you measure usability, but WordPress probably has them both beat in terms of flexibility, due to the wide range of hosting options, plugins and themes available. 

 

Page Speed

Page speed is critical because if the web page doesn’t come up quickly, visitors will get frustrated and leave. Now there are quite a few things you can do to optimize page speed, which we will discuss elsewhere, but if your platform itself is poorly optimized for speed, you have a problem.

Code Bloat ExampleMaddy at the Blogsmith took the time to check the source code of a Wix site and the result was so impressive, I did it myself and will post it here.

This image is just some of the code bloat that shows up on the Wix showcase site louisewhitehouse.com – this bloat is due to a massive amount of Javascript in the top of the page (which affects page load speed) as well as on-page CSS (CSS should be pulled from an external style sheet, according to industry best practices). This made me curious about Squarespace;  found a Squarespace site called cutsandbruisesbarbershop.com and noticed the same thing, a huge wall of code.

When I ran the Wix site in GTMetrix, it had a load time of 5.5 seconds (which is high) with well over 100 HTTP requests. The Squarespace site had an even higher load time and an incredible 297 HTTP requests (every time a site needs to load an image, javascript or css, it can generate an HTTP request).

When I bring up DenverWebAndVideo.com and click Ctrl+U to bring up the source code, I see a little Javascript but mostly I see actual page content – the difference is night and day. My pages usually load in less than 2 seconds with only 37 HTTP requests.

 

First Contentful Paint (FCP)

Another measure of page load speed is First Contentful Paint, or FCP. See the chart entitled Only 8% of Wix websites have fast FCP, whereas 30% of WordPress sites have fast FCP. This kind of disparity indicates a functional advantage on the part of WordPress; obviously Wix is doing something wrong when, even with their automatic, cookie-cutter system they cannot make pages load faster.

You will notice from this chart taken from Search Engine Journal that Joomla and Drupal have an even higher percentage of sites (34% and 45%, respectively) that load with fast FCP.

I would suggest that this statistic reflects the higher level of sophistication of Joomla, and especially Drupal site technicians. I used to teach media at Karlstad University in Sweden, and had direct contact with the staff that administered the university-wide Drupal site. There were at least 20 0r 30 full-time specialists keeping that sophisticated site up.

Although WordPress doesn’t have the code bloat that Wix and Squarespace suffer from, what W0rdpress does have working against it in terms of page upload speed is the fact that, being a popular solution, most WordPress users are not even thinking about optimization. 

FCP is a critical indicator of page load speed – and, according to Google, “For bounce rate, which measures the percentage of people leaving your… site without exploring beyond the first page, speed has the most impact”.

 

Price

If you have a Wix site, it must be hosted by Wix, and the same goes for Squarespace, whereas WordPress sites can be hosted by any number of hosting providers. I compared Wix and Squarespace pricing with two popular WordPress hosting providers, BlueHost.com and InMotionHosting.com.  Here’s how the prices fell out:

CMS Personal Site Business Site
Wix $13/mo $17/mo
Squarespace $12/mo $18/mo
BlueHost NA $8/mo
InMotionHosting NA $9/mo

The pricing per month shows that WordPress is less expensive than Squarespace or Wix, at least in terms of hosting costs.

 

SSL

To be objective, you have to also roll in the costs of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) security; SSL ensures the security of data sent via the Internet using encryption. Wix and Squarespace include this at no cost, and some WordPress hosting providers provide a free SSL that puts a small padlock next to your URL, but others offer a free SSL that is inadequate, forcing you to spend a small sum (~$100) for a higher-quality certificate.

 

Themes

There are of course good themes available for Wix, Squarespace and WordPress.

Warning: As mentioned earlier, if you build your site on Wix in a particular theme, you cannot transfer that site to another theme without doing a total rebuild.

Once you commit to the Wix or Squarespace CMS, you cannot easily migrate your website to another hosting provider; you are stuck on the Wix or Squarespace infrastructure – whereas if you are using WordPress, you can choose from hundreds of hosting providers all over the United States and even the world.

Theme prices: To create a professional WordPress site, you either have to use a professional theme, or use a free theme and put a lot of work into it. Here at Denver Web & Video, we prefer the Divi theme; it’s powerful, popular and flexible, but it does cost $89/yr – however, if we build your site for you, we can get you the theme free for the first year, and half-price for subsequent years.

 

Overall Costs

If you add the theme costs at roughly $5/mo to the hosting costs, all of these CMS solutions are still in the same ball park. Wix and Squarespace at $17-18/mo, vs BlueHost and InMotion at $13-$14/mo.

 

Search Engine Optimization Tools

According to the blogsmith, WordPress has a better SEO toolset than Wix, thanks to the Yoast SEO plugin. I’ve been using Yoast’s free SEO plugin for several years and it is a huge help in optimizing for search. The Wix SEO Wiz doesn’t provide SEO insights, just the ability to setup a unique page slug, meta title, and description. WordPress also has a wide range of additional SEO tools if you should find a need to go beyond Yoast SEO tools.