Wix or Squarespace? It’s the modern iteration of the 90s-era personal computing conundrum Mac vs PC. Commanding almost 60 percent of the cloud-based website building services, they’re the only game in town for many SME owners who consider HTML a foreign language. And like Mac vs PC or iPhone vs Android the answer isn’t blind ideology but your starting point and what you hope to achieve.
Launched in 2006, Wix is an unstructured visual editor, that lets you place any element anywhere on any page like you might in a product catalogue. This setup offers website builders a lot of flexibility in how their pages look, but as we’ll see below, that can be both a good or bad thing.
Predating Wix by three years, Squarespace was an effort to democratize fine design, making it available to anyone rather than the luxury item it had been in website development. Squarespace websites are more constrained by page layout principles than most other editors, and while that sounds restrictive, it can be a blessing. Its designs suit businesses who want to appear classically refined – think boutiques or artisanal foodstuffs.
Like any other web design platform worth its salt, your fee with both services includes hosting. That not only takes the hassle of procuring a host and setting up a database out of the equation, it works out cheaper than what you’d pay if you did all that yourself.
Their pricing structures are similar, the only real difference is that Wix’s most basic option tends to give you lower than normal storage. It’s undoubtedly to encourage you to move to the next tier when your storage or content needs reach the top of the threshold, but you’ll ultimately pay little more than $20-25 per month for perfectly workable service levels from either company, so that’s far from a dealbreaker.
Wix has more templates than Squarespace—a little over 500 versus about 100, but if you can’t find one to suit on either platform, you should think about investing in a self-hosted WordPress site. Wix designs are a little easier to change since Wix’s editing tools are very intuitive, and if you’re an absolute beginner Wix guides you through choosing and working with the right design for you.
Wix also offers a questionnaire that guides you through selection and set-up. If even that sounds like hard work, the Wix ADI machine learning algorithm asks a few quick questions and builds your site for you, ready to populate with content.
Squarespace is a little less free-wheeling. The reason its templates are clean, modern and (it must be said, however subjective) beautiful is because they’re not easily broken. It’s harder to make small, granular edits without workarounds. And the templates can be fiddlier than usual because you can’t easily access the code to make such changes.
And while you use a similar drag and drop interface to Wix, Squarespace is more rigid with element placement. Pages are made of content blocks that adhere to sound user interface (UI) design principles, which means your site will always be beautiful and UI friendly. It’s easier to make a Wix site chaotic or messy if you don’t appreciate the intricacies of online design.
Wix lets you build from scratch even when you pick a template where Squarespace is more premade, all the heavy design lifting done before you even sign up. One reason that’s important is because in an age where most of your visitors will be on mobile devices, Squarespace designs are ready to view on any browser or screen size out of the box. Not all Wix templates are mobile-ready, and sometimes you’ll need to build the mobile version of your site in a separate Wix project.
Both platforms have app environments that make email marketing, advertising, analytics, social sharing and other popular functions easy. As with the number of templates, Squarespace’s plug-ins framework isn’t as broad as Wix’s, but the plugins are programmed to adhere to the Squarespace aesthetic.
In Wix, app quality can be a little more piecemeal. Not that they’re badly programmed (they’re all vetted in a fully enclosed, Apple App store-like marketplace), but applying them to a site that’s already an uneasy blend of creative and visual languages can muddy the UI waters even more.
And while Wix has more plug-ins, Squarespace isn’t light on features — some of the best tools are included rather than add-ons. Connectivity to Instagram is built in, for instance, where it requires a third party app in Wix.
Both platforms have unique tools that make them a compelling buy. Wix offers to hold your hand more at the beginning with its AI engine, so it tends to attract those with no web design knowledge more than Squarespace. It also gives you a little SEO guidance as you insert content, an arcane but very important art that can be a godsend if you’re going to rely on searches to drive traffic.
The Squarespace native blog tool is baked right into the templates, so it’s created by and behaves like every other facet of the site. That lets you jump from applying static content to blog posts without skipping a beat if you have regular updates about new clothing lines or comment on your industry if you’re in business advisory like accounting.
With a fairly negligible price difference between the two platforms, it’s down to features and ease of use to pick the one that suits you.
Wix is broad. It allows for rich customization, the flipside of which can be a tumultuous mess if you get too heavy handed. By contrast, Squarespace won’t really let you go wrong once you pick a template. It means Wix has more features but Squarespace tends to do the features it has better.
If you choose a basic Wix template and go easy on the customization, you can be up and running faster than with Squarespace. But if you edit a lot there’ll come a point where issues like mobile suitability will increase complexity and need tweaks. And tweaks, if you’re not a pro web designer, can mean developer costs.
Considering it’s the more pro-level product, Squarespace might ironically be better for the beginner because Wix gives you more power to play and potentially spoil.
If you’re in a very visual industry where you’ll rebrand as you change and grow, Squarespace also lets you apply a new template in a few clicks, where Wix will make you start all over again.
Both services let you populate and deploy a basic design that works for the modern web without any fuss, and they both have robust ecommerce engines, so they suit small businesses that rely on cash flow like a restaurant or store perfectly straight out of the box.