I recently moved my blog over from Wordpress to Squarespace. I love Squarespace’s simply functionality and dearth of spammy tools (there is an upcoming post on the exact reasons why I chose to switch).
However, choosing Squarespace isn’t the best option for everyone… and neither is Wordpress.
When starting your blog, it’s important to figure out which website designer is best for you. Do you want something that’s easily set up out of the box? Or a system that’s completely customizable? Would you prefer something incredibly cheap or something worth a few extra bucks? How important is support to you when choosing the best website designer?
Never fear, I have a guide. The infographic is below.
Choosing the best website designer for your blog
Your website designer may be the most important decision that you make following the decision to start blogging for money. It's difficult and complicated to move your site from one platform to another, so choose wisely.
Some of you might be asking why this is the only section where I've opted for a paid instead of free tool. The reason is simple: when you're starting your blog, you don't want outside branding to get in the way.
Which site looks more polished to you at first glance?
(Yes, Forbes does use Wordpress as its content management system of choice.)
You want your audience to trust you. Forgoing a paid option for a free site tells your audience that you're too cheap to invest $8 a month in yourself and in your product.
I've selected these sites because they're intuitive, trusted, fairly-priced, and beautiful systems. Like many other blog posts on this site, they are listed solely alphabetically and not by endorsement.
Squarespace is a gorgeous website that is simple to use and customize. The site offers polished design templates that are all stunning and easy to set up with Squarespace's drag and drop website design system.
All of their designs are optimized for mobile. The plugins are all designed in-house, which means that the plugins are all of high-quality, but that the site may not have as many plugins as other alternatives.
Squarespace has been up and coming for a while now and has been clawing at Wordpress’s dominance over the web. It is an especially good tool for users with a bunch of visual content and for bloggers who don’t want to spend a ton of time coding.
The major drawback to Squarespace is that it can be a pain to blog directly into it--it doesn't automatically save nor does it allow for keyboard shortcuts, like ctrl+K for links.
Support: Email and Live Chat
Price: Starts at $8 a month
Webs was specifically designed for entrepreneurs and bloggers. It's also drag-and-drop like the sites listed above. The site designer is not as flexible as Weebly or beautiful as Squarespace, but the site does offer a unique feature.
Webs allows its users to create a membership site. This means that if you want to build a base that logs in and out of your website, Webs is the only option on this list that allows you to do so. And that’s pretty valuable--you can build a whole community with forums right inside your site without any difficulty.
Webs also has an App Store, which you would want to visit for search engine optimization (SEO) and list-building tools.
Finally, in terms of price, it’s incredibly cheap--for less than a quarter a day, you get a nice website designer along with hosting.
Price: Starts at $5.99 a month and includes a custom domain nam
Weebly is similar to Squarespace in that it has a drag-and-drop user interface, making it ridiculously easy to build your website. It's immediately intuitive, offering website authors the ability to include buttons, contact forms, maps, pictures, text, and videos wherever they'd like.
Like Squarespace, Weebly runs on a closed system which means that it's fully responsible for your site's security. However, Weebly also allows third-party widgets and plugins, adding further customization options for your site.
Weebly is one of the better options for beginner blogs because it’s so easy and includes hosting. Tinker around with a free site first, see if you like it, and then upgrade if you love it for your own domain.
Support: Email, live chat
Price: Starts at $8 a month and includes a domain name for free for a year (and then charges $19.95 a year after that)
Wix has hundreds, hundreds of templates to choose from; its main competitor in the sheer scope of templates would only be Wordpress. There is no doubt in my mind that you will find the right template for your niche. Additionally, Wix requires a grand total of 0 coding; its layout is exclusively drag-and-drop. It is the easiest site to get up and running out of all of these options.
Unlike the abovementioned sites, the intuitiveness and ease of Wix come with drawbacks. Users cannot alter which theme they are using after the site has gone live.
Adding to Wix's simplicity, the site is well respected for its customer support. Even if you don't buy into Wix's VIP customer service plan, you'll still have access to their support services during most hours of the day.
Wix is great as an all-inclusive, easy website builder for anyone looking for a quick professional site.
Support: Training videos, forums, and a hotline
Price: Starts at $9.29 a month and includes a custom domain name and free hosting
Full disclosure: I used to use Wordpress on my website. In fact, a whopping 24% of websites use Wordpress in some capacity.
Wordpress, unlike the options that I listed above, is not a drag-and-drop interface. Because it's open source, there are thousands upon thousands of third-party themes for you to choose from. In a certain irony, many users struggle with the vast amount of options available to them and quit before even getting started. There are a number of really good integrations, including SumoMe (for list building) and Yoast. I’d recommend both of them for Wordpress, hands down.
Because Wordpress is so massive and is run through no single person, they have plenty of plugins and widgets that you can use to optimize your site. It is completely customizable.
However, if you're not a coder or are unwilling to pay for one, Wordpress can quickly get overwhelming, and their support is laughable.
Support: Forum, email
Price: Starts at $99 a year (or $8.25 a month)
Voog is best known for offering websites that need to be translated into different languages. Seriously. Voog will translate your text into whatever language you need it to.
Voog is also simple to use. It runs off a drag-and-drop formula so you won't need any coding experience to use it. Unfortunately, Voog is so easy to use that it skimps out on many features. For example, you can't edit your lightboxes' images. Voog also doesn't have many templates to choose from, so make sure to look at their templates before purchasing.
Voog is optimized for mobile and its price sort of depends on the strength of the Euro, as the company runs out of Germany.
Why don’t I recommend it for everyone? First of all, if you aren’t experienced with HTML, it may be confusing to insert third-party widgets into the system. Secondly, for its price, there are competitors offering more for less.
Finally, and on a purely personal note, look at their advertising on their homepage. It’s literally filled with young women, in their panties, getting their faces smashed with ice cream and cream pies.
I don’t know what that has to do with building a website, but it’s not a company I would morally support.
Support: Forum, email, phone (on Berlin time)
Price: Starts at €8 a month
So where's that infographic on website builders?
Check it out!
From this, you can appropriately prioritize what's important to you: ease of use, price, and aesthetic. Again, I opted to go for Squarespace because the designs were so beautiful and because it's intuitive.
More website builder reviews?
Is there a website builder that should have been on my shortlist but wasn't? Or do you think I mischaracterized a site?
I'd love to see your comments about your experiences and recommendations; website building can be intimidating, and I think stories and recommendations from other users would really help other content writers and bloggers pick the best site for them.
Stay tuned for my piece on why I turned my back on Wordpress for Squarespace later this week!