WordPress vs Other Web Publishing Tools

There are plenty of choices when it comes to building a website online. To help determine what your intended website will be built with, it’s important to ask questions like “What’s it going to be used for?” and “Who is my intended audience?” If you’re building a generic site, a website builder may be more useful than WordPress. However, a blog or portfolio may have more functionality in a WordPress website. Regardless, here is a breakdown of the benefits of each kind of system, and why some may be more useful than others.

Some Clarifications

It’s important to clarify that there are plenty of online website builders out there, each with their own functionality and specifics. For the sake of simplicity, we’ve generalized this into a single category: Website Builders. Some of the most popular website builders include Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly. Squarespace has more features, but comes at a premium subscription. Many website builders have free versions, except they limit the functionality without paying for a better version.

When we refer to WordPress, we’re referring to WordPress.org – a self-hosted content management system (and what is available through Plymouth Create). There is also hosted version of WordPress at WordPress.com, although it is essentially an online website builder service using the WordPress platform as it’s content management system. Therefore, we can just factor it in with the rest of the Website Builders category.

All of the services we evaluated were considered “free.” WordPress is provided using PlymouthCreate, where students do not have to pay for hosting for the entirety of their academic tenure at Plymouth.

WordPress
(PlymouthCreate)

Wix/Weebly/Squarespace/
WordPress.com
(Website Builders)

Set Up & Hosting Bad Good
Necessary Experience Bad Good
Content Editing and Layout Bad Good
24/7 Support Bad Good
Longevity Good Bad
Built-In Features Bad Good
Add-On Features Good Bad
Themes Good Bad
Uptime Good Bad
Cost FREE
while a PSU student

Wix/Weebly/WordPress.com:
FREE for Basic; PAY for More

SquareSpace
PAY

Below, we’ve explained a bit about the topics listed in the table above. For brevity’s sake, we’re just comparing WordPress (self-hosted on Plymouth Create) to Wix. However, the analysis on Wix is generalizable to other Page Builder systems (Weebly, SquareSpace, WordPress.com)

Set Up

It’s fair to say that the set up and hosting on sites like Wix is much more straight forward than WordPress. Wix has a much quicker step by step set up. However, it becomes increasingly difficult to change the theme after the setup has been completed. The benefit of using a website builder is that all of the hosting (storing the website), domain name management (controlling the URL), and editing can be done on the same site without too much hassle. It’s all integrated into the same process.

Necessary Experience

WordPress offers more flexibility by allowing you to further customize your content – something that is fairly limited when using a website builder like Wix. However, there’s an important tradeoff. In order to further customize your content, an intermediate knowledge of web development techniques, web programming languages, and web layouts is an important skill set. Certainly, with some technical background, you can more quickly implement plugins and customized themes. WordPress definitely has more of a learning curve than Wix, but will produce more sophisticated results.

Content Editing and Layout

Wix has the advantage when it comes to editing and laying out content. Their drag-and-drop user interface is more straightforward and full-featured than the WordPress editor. However, Wix is limited on the orientation, spacing, and styling of the content. Since WordPress is entirely customizable, with some work you can layout content however you want.

24/7 Support

Since WordPress is an open-source tool that you essentially install on your Web space, it does not have instant person-to-person support (although PSU does have some support mechanisms for students). Wix has a dedicated staff of support professionals who can answer questions and help you with your account. Since WordPress is one of the most popular platforms for building websites, it has much more online documentation and how-to’s and a HUGE community of online users who share their experience and knowledge.

Longevity

Wix is helpful when it comes to getting your website quickly up and running. However, if you want to make large changes to the content, structure, or concept of your website, it becomes a time consuming and difficult endeavor. WordPress is built for expandability, so your website can scale and grow over time. In addition, because WordPress is open-source, your content is extremely portable. If you decide to move your site, you can do so fairly easily. Wix doesn’t allow for content to be exported and imported into other Web site builders.

Built in Features

Straight out of the box, Wix provides you with plenty of scheduling, e-commerce, blog, and publishing tools to get your website up and running. To achieve these features in WordPress, you’ll need to start researching and installing plugins or customized themes.

Add-On Features

WordPress has Wix beat in its flexibility, providing an enormous library of plugins to drastically improve the functionality of your website.

Themes

Since WordPress has been around for so long and is constantly growing, WordPress has an enormous library of Themes far surpassing the quantity of themes on individual Web site builders.

Uptime

For many, this is a crucial category. A visitor’s ability to access a website is dependent on the host provider of that site. This can become a challenge when not hosting a website yourself or paying for exclusive hosting. Website builders like Wix can shut their users’ sites down whenever they want – ultimately, they have complete control. By using a site like Plymouth Create, the university is already paying for exclusive hosting, so the likelihood of having site downtime is decreased. However, it is important to consider that after graduating or leaving Plymouth State, users are responsible for transferring their content from Plymouth Create to a different service.

Summary

WordPress Pros

  • WordPress is Free
  • Many More Plugins than Wix
  • Many More Themes Designs than Wix
  • Most Popular CMS on the Web
  • Better Blogging Module
  • Frequent Updates
  • Extremely Customizable

WordPress Cons

  • Additional Hosting Cost (covered by Plymouth Create)
  • Technical Skills Needed
  • Themes Require Individual Learning-Curve
  • Plugins Require Individual Learning-Curve
  • Admin Dashboard is not very intuitive
  • No support

Wix Pros

  • Setup all within Wix
  • No Technical Knowledge Required
  • Immediate Access to Features
  • Integrated eCommerce
  • Drag-and-Drop
  • Quick Setup
  • Support

Wix Cons

  • Wix has control of uptime
  • Limited Themes
  • You Can’t Change your theme
  • Can’t Install New Features on Your Own

A source for further comparison

License

Materials & Meaning Handbook Copyright © by Phil Lonergan. All Rights Reserved.

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