SquareSpace, Wix and Weebly all appear to be viable alternatives to traditional web platforms like WordPress and Joomla! How do I know which one is right for me?
As you may know, I've traditionally built websites using WordPress or Joomla! both of which are a free open-source content management systems. Both are popular, wildly flexible and have endless features and add-ons.
But now along comes SquareSpace, Wix and Weebly. These platforms aim to take away my free open-source platforms and replace them with proprietary easy to use website building & hosting environments. And they are indeed, very easy to use. At first glance, there are some intriguing advantages:
Simple point & click interface for building a websiteHosting, development and domain names all handled simplyMay be more secureBeautiful templatesMany functions are built-in
Want to see a SquareSpace site? http://www.lodolceelectric.com/ This site came together very quickly and it is looks great. The cost for building this site was approximately 50% below what I would normally charge. So what's not to like?
The truth is, there's a lot to like. I would build on this platform again without hesitation. Or, well, maybe some hesitation. Here are my concerns with proprietary platforms like SquareSpace:
Limited number of templates - and limited customizationLimited feature setMore expensiveAll features are proprietary (so you better like them)The platform is proprietary
It is that last one that gives me the most pause. Proprietary systems come with some inherent risk. Once you build the website, you can't take it with you. If you decide you don't like SquareSpace tough nuts!
Then, also consider, what happens if SquareSpace raises their prices? What happens if they have terrible performance? What happens if they go out of business? What happens if they get purchased by a company you don't like or trust? What happens if you have a dispute? In all of these cases, you are out of luck. You can't take the website anywhere else, and that's the rub with proprietary platforms.
If you go with open-source Content Management System like WordPress or Joomla! you can just pack up your site and take it to another host. If anything goes wrong, no problem, move it elsewhere!
I will be the first to admit that WordPress is not a perfect platform. It requires more technical expertise than SquareSpace, it is more likely to get hacked, and if you get hacked it is up to you to resolve it. So, it is a trade-off. I think it comes down to this:
Proprietary Platform - Easy to Use - Somewhat Limited
Open-Source Platform - Harder to Use - Very Powerful
The choice is up to you. Do you trust SquareSpace enough to place your business on their proprietary platform? For me, I'd say it is worth the risk only for non-critical websites... you can get a site launched quickly and if something horrible happens with SquareSpace, no big deal. Right? Now, choose wisely!