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This month we going to be looking at the leading hosted WordPress competitors, and also the most popular WordPress page building plugins.

What’s going to be our WordPress topic this month? We are going to be looking at the main hosted WordPress competitors. I personally don’t see in the “small to medium business sector” any real competition coming from some of the other leading open-source CMS systems like Joomla or Drupal. Nor do we see any real competition coming from the group of hosted website building solutions which are available at the present moment. Are they any good and can they really be considered as competition to WordPress?

We are going to start this interesting journey by looking at the top three leading hosted competitors to WordPress. Then we look at three of the new breeds of WordPress website and page building plugins that offer a lot more flexibility. Especially to those with some knowledge of how to customize WordPress and are looking for tools that make this process easier.

Then we also have the professional market that are looking for WordPress tools that can help them in the process of rapid development cycles.

Weebly vs. WordPress

http://www.weebly.com

What Did We Think?

Weebly has some of the elements of Wix and Squarespace all mixed up into its own system which has some good points and bad points. The backend website building interface is easier to use than Squarespace but not as good as Wix.

However, the initial set-up and pricing pages of the Weebly system are easier to understand and use than Wix or Squarespace. Nevertheless, we don’t feel the backend page editor is as easy to use as Wix’s editor. We did find the pricing structure to be much more understandable than Wix. With the free and paid basic account you also don’t get any advertisements on your website. The basic paid account starts at $3.29 per month, which is excellent value.

Advantages

  • The Editor is really easy to use
  • Pages are organized logically by the way they are displayed on the menu
  • There are plenty of page templates which are nicely designed
  • Easy to preview and save edits and changes
  • No adverts on the free or basic paid package, unlike Wix
  • You can build full membership websites
  • Full eCommerce functionality
  • Great value for money

Disadvantages

  • No way to export your content. You are locked into their system
  • The inbuilt editor and the basic navigation is not as good as Wix
  • A bit limited if you are a power user

Price
Starts free or at $3.29 per month (amazing value for money)
No page limit
No limit on administrator accounts

Wix vs. WordPress

http://www.wix.com

What Did We Think?

We thought that we weren’t going to like Wix. We had tried it out a year ago and thought it was basically not that good. However, they have improved their system to the extent that we were more impressed with it. Some of the templates are cheesy and not as good as Squarespace. However, they are still quite useable and some of the designs are quite impressive. We thought how the system managed new users was very impressive with the right amount of handholding. If you are totally new to web design/development, then Wix is probably a really good choice.

You don’t get the power or flexibility of Squarespace but if you are a small business and looking for quick solution this probably is a best choice.

Advantages

  • The Editor is really easy to use — anything available by clicking on it
  • Pages are organized logically by the way they are displayed on the menu
  • There are plenty of page templates; however, some are a bit cheesy
  • You can change the entire look of your site with flexible built-in color palettes
  • Easy to preview and save edits and changes
  • Add custom functionality with Wix App Market. Most items are free, but some are monthly charges
  • Page templates already have content
  • The site has a black bar across the top with several options, view desktop or mobile layout, undo, redo, copy, paste, and Quick Search

Disadvantages

  • Can’t download or export Wix-developed website
  • With the free and basic paid level you get advertisements on your website
  • No way to export your content. You are locked into their system
  • One of the more complicated pricing structures we have seen
  • A bit limited if you are a power user
  • They do have bandwidth and file storage level restrictions on the lower paid accounts

Price

Starts free or at $8 per month*
No page limit
Only two administrators

* Be warned the pricing structure is complicated

 

Squarespace vs. WordPress

http://www.squarespace.com

What Did We Think?

We personally thought it is one of the most polished of the fully-hosted solutions of the three. The backend interface is smooth and quick to respond. However, there are a lot of things for you to know and learn if you are going to fully use the power of this particular system. I personally feel it’s not totally suitable for a complete newbie to website design or development.

However, if you’re a graphic designer looking for a flexible but powerful solution for a client this would be a great choice, or for an experienced marketer who has quite a bit of experience using different web-building CMS.

However, you could say the same about WordPress especially with the new breed of page/template building plugins that are now available.

Advantages

  • Free 14-day trial without a credit card
  • A lot of professional and modern looking templates
  • Easy previews of the looks using the different built-in theme display system
  • Has a powerful development backside platform for the more serious developer
  • Nice and easy to use text and image editor
  • Getty Images library is available for the system

Disadvantages

  • Can’t download Squarespace. It’s a hosted solution
  • Their terms of service says that they own everything. This is a big no for me.
  • It’s not the most easy system to use; however, it offers a load of power
  • To use Google Apps for your email solution you need the next higher account

Price
Starts at $10 per month
20-page limit
Only two administrators

Conclusions

We were quite impressed with all three systems; however, they have all got advantages and disadvantages. Though much of this depends on what you looking for from one of these hosted general website builders. This is how we see it.

Weebly if you are a small business owner and you really have limited budget, we would look at Weebly. Its templates are not bad. However, the interface is not as easy to use as Wix. You do get a load of functionality for a very low good value price. Also, you don’t get any advertisements on either their free or basic paid plan that starts at an amazing $4 per month (you do have to pay 6 months upfront to get this price.)

Wix has the most easy to use (semi-ugly interface) of all three; however, the interface is functional and powerful. The templates are a mixed bag of semi-cheesy with some nice looking templates. The pricing matrix is a bit of a nightmare. Also, on the free and low level paid account you have advertisements on your website. We don’t like this. If you can afford one of the higher account levels it offers more ease of use then Weebly or Squarespace.

Squarespace has the best looking templates of all three services and is really a powerful system if you want to truly customize your templates. It doesn’t offer the level of different services that Weebly offers nor does it give you such an easy backend interface as Wix. However, if you are looking for a semi-professional website building tool and Squarespace is the one you go with, you won’t be disappointed. Another good point in using Squarespace is that you can export your code and then use it on another platform.

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