I had a client years back ask if I was afraid that Wix, Squarespace and other DIY web builders would put WordPress developers and custom website designers out of business. I’ll be honest, it got me a little worried. But as time went on, I realized the many issues that these builders and platforms present and how, oddly enough, I had many clients come to me after bad experiences with them and they ended up being great lead generators for me.

In this episode, I’m going to dish out the top 10 problems with Wix and Squarespace along with why I DO NOT believe they are a threat to custom WordPress web designers.

P.S. These are things you can relay to your clients when they ask about building their website on these platforms ๐Ÿ™‚

In this episode:

01:30 – Featured podcast review
04:03 – Ever a time to use?
05:28 – Owning your space
08:04 – No control
09:50 – Expensive upgrades
12:25 – Limited add-ons
13:56 – Customization issues
15:30 – Designer nightmare
17:14 – Terrible for SEO
18:55 – Moving means recreating
21:03 – No support, lack of community
24:20 – Rare time that it works
27:33 – Final thoughts

You can also view the full transcription of this episode below.

Listen and Subscribe

Episode Transcription

Josh 0:16
Hey, Hey, everybody, welcome into the podcast. This is Episode 60. And in this one, we’re going to be diving into a question that I’ve got a lot from students over the past several months, actually over the past several years. And it’s a question that I had myself for a very long time and it’s something that I had to address with my clients. And the question is, is Wix and square? Well, let me be chromatic grammatically correct? Are Wix and Squarespace a threat to custom web design. Now, the good news is, the answer is no. And I’m going to explain why in this episode. But this is a great question understandable that clients are asking this because over the last handful of years, there’s been so many DIY builders, these do it yourselfers, like Wix, like Squarespace and stuff like that, that really can compete with WordPress and custom web development. But I’m really excited to give you some encouragement, and some confidence on how to talk to your clients about this because we’re actually going to cover a lot of the main problems and cons with going with these DIY builders.

Josh 1:25
Now before we get into this episode, I want to give a quick shout out. I want to give a quick shout out for everyone who has been leaving a podcast review these really means so much to me. And they go such a long way. I actually wanted to highlight one in this episode before we get going. And I’m going to start doing this moving forward. So first things first, I really want to encourage you to leave a review if you’re listening to the podcast, ideally on iTunes, if you listen to it there, just subscribe and leave a review. But you can leave one wherever you listen to the podcast because I do have a platform I’m involved with now where I get to see all the reviews. And I’m going to be highlighting some of these moving forward and I want to highlight one by metal bag, fun little headline and tag for. For this. Um, I was gonna say gentlemen, I’m guessing it’s a gentleman, but who knows but metal bag says this guy is worth listening to. I’ve been building my web design business for more than 10 years. My weapon design skills have grown tremendously in this time. But my business skills have always lagged a bit. And just the last week I’ve devoured dozens of justice podcasts. And I will admit, he has not only provided me with tons of valuable and actionable strategies, but he’s actually shifted the way in which I view projects and clients now, there’s so much more than the one and done mentality he has given me real hope, making six figures as a web designer, and doing what I love is a real possibility. This fella is doing more good than he knows the advice and stories he is sharing has a potential to literally transform freelance web designers businesses. Thanks, Josh, I look forward to trying out your courses sold. Metal bag. Awesome. Thank you, thank you so much for this really great review. It was awesome. This is the kind of stuff that keeps me going and really fires me up to continue to put out the best content for you guys, and to share my experience and to help you as well. So thank you so much for leaving the review. Just a reminder, if you’re listening to this on iTunes or wherever, please consider leaving a review. I do see them means the world to me. And it also helps people who are checking out the show. It helps them to actually listen to it because a lot of people want to see the reviews and hear what people are saying before they invest the time and listening. So it would really, really be beneficial and I really appreciate it. So Metal Bag. Thank you so much. Whoever leaves a review next, maybe you’ll make it on the show.

Josh 3:45
Alright guys, well let’s dive in. Why Wix and Squarespace? Are they a threat to web design? And WordPress? I think no. And we’re going to cover the top 10 reasons why I think they are not a threat to custom web design. Now. First things first, though, is there ever a time to use Wix and Squarespace? That’s the question I get that I’ve got that question a lot over many years working with clients. And I actually say yes, you might be surprised to hear that. But there is a minor situation where one of these DIY builders will be okay. But it’s only if the person creating the site is creative, competent, meaning they have a good understanding of design and images and basic web principles. If it’s only for a portfolio or brochure style site that doesn’t need any SEO value. That’s the only reason and I would never suggest Wix or Squarespace. I would even suggest just a basic WordPress install or a basic theme or something or a child theme or something. So I would actually never suggest Wix or Squarespace. But I can foresee in a situation where somebody is competent, they’re creative, but they have zero budget to either hire a WordPress developer or For an agency, you could get by with a Wix or Squarespace site. But that’s it. And don’t plan for it to be something that’s going to last a long time. And it’s going to build a solid foundation. It’s strictly, you know, kind of a last case scenario. That’s the only time I think it would be okay. But, again, there are a ton of problems with Wix and Squarespace, which is why I think it’s not a threat to custom web design and WordPress for the long run.

1) You Don’t Own Your Content

Josh 5:26
So let’s get right into it. Number one, above all, you don’t own your content. When you use Wix or Squarespace or a lot of these other DIY builders, you do it yourself builders, you essentially rent your website there you rent, everything that is there, even the content that you publish you you don’t own it. The beauty about WordPress is that it’s what’s called Open Source. And this is the same for all other content management systems. I don’t use Joomla or Drupal or some of these other ones. WordPress is obviously the most popular but most of these other software and even like Dreamweaver, which is dated, but still works, and there’s a lot of other custom coding software’s you actually own the content. Now, you might be saying, well, WordPress is owned by something, right? Yes, WordPress is owned by a company called automatic. However, you still have full control over your site, you have access and control over all the content, all the files, the database, the code, you have access to everything. That is not the case with Squarespace and Wix and some of these other ones, you are essentially just renting a website there. So you’re in a very, very vulnerable position, if you have your website on these platforms, for those reasons, primarily, but also you just have no idea. First of all, what that platform is going to do if they end up changing their hosting or if they end up making new policies, or God forbid, if they close down now are Wix and Squarespace as a company going to close down anytime soon. unlikely, but it’s very possible that they could one day there could be a competitor that comes out that squashes them both in the DIY market. And then anyone who has their websites, they’re completely screwed. So it is very possible that if they close down, if you have your website there, you’re screwed. And one reason it’s so important to own your own content is because of just this, and I did an episode with a colleague of mine, Augustine Mack, I would highly recommend checking that episode. It’s Episode 30. The reason I want you to listen to that as we talk about his experience with posting some of his score as courses on a platform called Skillshare. And they randomly just closed his courses, no email about it, no heads up, he just logged in and solid, his numbers had dropped to zero revenue. And he looked in and all of his courses were closed, and he still never got an explanation as to why. So even if they don’t shut down, you never know what they’re going to do you have zero control of your website. So that’s the biggie. And again, just keep in mind, this is all stuff that I want you to make sure you relay to your clients, when they’re asking you about the difference between Wix and Squarespace and WordPress. So that’s number one, you don’t own the content.

2) You Don’t Control Hosting

Josh 8:05
Number two is that you are in an uncontrolled hosting environment, meaning you don’t control at all where your site is where it’s hosted. So with WordPress, this is the beauty about WordPress, is because you can control it. And in fact, if you’re new to WordPress and web design, you can actually change hosts and move your website from different hosting companies if one isn’t working out, or if it’s loading slow, because a bad servers like GoDaddy. So you can’t do this with Wix and Squarespace you are essentially locked into whatever they provide, no matter how bad or terrible it might be. So even if your site’s really slow, because of the servers that it’s on more than likely, it’s images and poor best practices. But even if you’re if you have all that in place, but your site is still slow on Wix and Squarespace, you’re screwed, it’s often going to be messing up any SEO value in Google knows that you’re on bad hosting, and you can’t do anything about that you’re locked. That’s it again, whereas with WordPress, if you try a host out, and you just it’s not going well, maybe you’re on a shared server, and you just feel like it’s slow. You’ve run some tests. And it’s obviously it’s slow, you can always move your site I’ve moved my website, well, not just code because I’ve always been with siteground. But I had moved my business site in transit studios to three different hosts before eventually coming to siteground. So it’s a bit about WordPress, I own my site, own my content, and I can easily migrate those two different hosting companies. And because I know how to manually migrate a website I’ll put that tutorial in the in the show notes as well I have a tutorial on how to do that. It was not that bad. wasn’t that bad to transfer, so you don’t own the hosting environment and that my friends is a biggie.

3) Expensive Upgrades

Josh 9:47
Now number three nickel and diming upgrades. What I mean by this is that anytime you are working with a cheap entry point type of subscription based software The upgrades is where they get you. So a lot of these DIY, this can be DIY platforms, it’s very cheap to get started, it’s cheap to host, it’s cheap to use their templates and stuff. But a lot of the functionality that you want to add later on, that’s where they get you. And it can actually be very, very expensive to do that. Whereas with WordPress, even a lot of custom website design, the project itself initially is a higher price up front for it to be built. But once it’s built, it’s built, it’s there, all you need to do is maintain it. If your work, you know, from a client perspective, all you need to do is pay the initial investment. And then your web designer or their agency should be having hosting and maintenance for you. And then it just needs additional upgrades and retainer of hours for content updates and stuff like that. whereas in the case of Wix and Squarespace, if you want to add more stuff, it can be very, very, very expensive. A lot of these add ons are crazy. And even like in e commerce, for example WooCommerce, which is what I use in WordPress, and what most WordPress developers use for any sort of store. Yes, there are premium tools that you purchase for upgrades and add ons to WooCommerce. But they are very cheap and affordable compared to a lot of these DIY platforms with the same type of functionality. And Shopify is actually a great example of that Shopify is very similar to these there. It’s not necessarily a DIY, I wouldn’t necessarily link it in with Wix and Squarespace and I’m not against Shopify. However, I did work on a Shopify site back in 2015. And man, was that a nightmare? Oh, my god, it was a nightmare. I just when I was building that site, I missed WooCommerce. And I miss Divi I missed WordPress, so much. So anyway, where it was I just had a terrible flashback. Yeah, Shopify, the thing with the thing with that is same thing, these add ons can be very, very expensive. And we’ll get into some other reasons why this is an issue. But it can actually be very costly in the long run with these extra add ons, because it’s like a nickel and diming upgrade. Whereas Yes, there are upgrades with WordPress and custom stuff. But more often than not, you’re going to pay more initially. And it’s going to be much more reasonable and manageable moving forward. So number three nickel and diming upgrades, man, what a pain.

4) Limited Functionality

Josh 12:24
Number four, this is a biggie too. There’s very limited functionality and add on. So as we’re talking about adding more to a site, whether it’s an events plugin, or whether it’s certain, you know, SEO tool, or maybe it’s a certain plugin or add on or if it’s e commerce or something like that. The problem with a lot of these DIY builders and these self hosted platforms is that they have very limited tools and add ons for that you, they may have some of these options, but it’s very limited, and you really are, you’re just stuck with whatever they provide for you. Whereas with WordPress, you have access to the world’s widest array of themes, plugins, add ons, and literally any other tools that you can imagine to help you with your websites. And those of you who have been developing with WordPress, you probably take this for granted honestly, because I do I kind of forget and overlook the fact that what an amazing tool we have with WordPress, even if you’re not using Divi, even if you’re using Elementor, or different themes, like we have that option, I have students who most of my students use Divi, but a lot of them use Elementor. And we share a lot of the same plugins and stuff. But we can use a different theme. It’s very customizable to what we want to work with and what we’re familiar with where with these DIY platforms, you’re stuck, you’re stuck with whatever they provide. And it can be very, very limiting. And again, as we just talked about, it can actually be very expensive moving forward. But you are just you’re kind of stuck there.

5) Limited Customization

Josh 13:54
Now that leads us to number five. Speaking of limitations, we’re going to stick with this limited theme for the next couple ones. And that is that it’s very limited as far as what you can do with customization. So a lot of these builders like Wix and Squarespace barely offer any options for customizations for stuff like Custom CSS. I think by this point, you guys probably know that I love CSS and I do custom CSS all the time. I have a course on how to customize sites with Debian CSS, I’m that passionate about it. And it’s just awesome. I love CSS. Same thing is true for PHP, or for those of you who are doing any sort of JavaScript or jQuery, any of that functionality that is very available to us with WordPress and WordPress actually empowers designers and developers to utilize that stuff to take their sites to the next level. I think the case with Wix and Squarespace you’re often stuck with what you get. Now I know there are opportunities and chances for you to customize things, but you don’t have access to the file and database structure like you do with WordPress. You can literally customize whatever you want to do with a blank free WordPress install. That is not the case with Wix and Squarespace, all that stuff is gated. It’s also protected under their own hosting and their own platform. So you’re just kind of stuck with what you got very, very limited from the custom customization standpoint. And if you ever need to try to find a designer or developer to work on a Wix site, or Squarespace site, good luck, good luck.

6) Limited Dev and Designer Network

Josh 15:22
Which leads us into number six, which is the fact that it’s a very limited designer and developer network for these platforms. And I think for a couple different reasons. For one, I think it’s just because they’re terrible platforms to work with from a designer and developer standpoint. But also, it’s because these platforms are geared for diyers. They’re geared for people who want to build their own website fairly quick and then move on with their business. So naturally, it’s going to create a very limited resource professionals who are going to be okay with working on these sites. I had opportunities in the past where people wanted to hire me to work on Wix sites and Squarespace sites. And I always said no, because i don’t i don’t i don’t work on those sites. I work on WordPress sites. And then eventually I got to where I only worked on Divi WordPress sites. So the difference with WordPress though, as you know, listening to this more than likely, you can never run out of options for trusted competent freelancers and web design agencies who can literally do anything with WordPress. So the network is huge. This is something that needs to be relayed to clients. clients may often don’t understand that. Maybe they could, they could be that person who’s creative and competent, and could put together a website. But if they ever want to take it to the next level, or they want to not do the site themselves, and they want to hire somebody, you might be able to get somebody on Fiverr. But I can tell you right now, the work isn’t going to be very good. And it’s just it’s going to be a big old pain because the designer development Developer Network is just barely anything for these diyers. So that’s a big one. That’s actually really, really important. And if you are a web designer, more likely you’re not using Wix or Squarespace, but we’re going to talk about community a little bit. You’re also just putting yourself up in a very limited network. So that’s a biggie. That’s a biggie but Wix and Squarespace.

7) Bad for SEO

Josh 17:08
Now number seven is maybe the biggest Biggie of all. And that is it’s terrible for SEO. These DIY sites are so bad for SEO, I think mainly because of the poor hosting. And yes, Google does know if a site is utilizing bad servers and is on bad hosting. But I think it’s also because of the lack of tools that are available for optimization, even tracking and, and just best practices. And that kind of actually goes back to the idea that most of the people who are using and building sites off of Wix and Squarespace are di wires, they have no idea. They don’t know anything about image optimization. They don’t know anything about best practices about how to structure an HTML page with one h1, h2, h3, paragraph, text, etc. They don’t know anything about this, oh, they’re just making terrible practices on websites. And Google knows that. I think Above all, though, it’s because the hosting environment and the fact that these systems are very limited, but I mean, you can get Wix and Squarespace sites to rank but they’re not going to do good like they are for WordPress, where it’s built for us. I mean, that sucker is built for SEO. And you don’t really have to do that much with WordPress to start getting rankings depending on what you want to go for. So WordPress is so that’s where WordPress really shines. And that’s something that needs to be articulated to clients is that WordPress and custom development, you have full control over every aspect of the website. So it’s really good for SEO in the long run, not the case with Wix and Squarespace.

8) Nightmare to Move

Josh 18:41
Now, Number eight, it is a nightmare to move. So yes, if you have a site that’s been up for months or years on Wix or Squarespace and you want to move it to a different platform, in short, this is what I would tell your clients, you’re gonna have to recreate the entire site from the ground up with WordPress, the beauty about WordPress is you can again migrate it to different hosts, you can put different themes on it, you can do all sorts of different exporting for different post types. You can go into the database and pull the content from the database, you can go into the file manager, get all your files, there’s a lot of different ways that you can export content from a WordPress site. Whereas with Wix and Squarespace again, it’s their stuff, you don’t own that content. So you are literally screwed. There’s no way to export stuff and move it to a WordPress website. Because Wix and Squarespace don’t play nicely with WordPress, they want you locked in with their hosting and their platforms. big big point to relay to your clients. So you want to make sure everyone knows if you do if you do move for Wix and Squarespace, you’re going to be there until you want to move and then you’re going to have to completely blow up your entire website and start from the ground up. Now you can copy and paste your articles and images and stuff like that, but it’s a lot easier to do with WordPress to move from different platforms. And actually I know WordPress is compatible and a lot of different ways not necessarily with Joomla or different content man But systems but again, there’s a lot more features with export and content that are much more pleasing because it’s an open source type of software type of platform because I’ve actually heard horror stories from clients who tried to move from Wix, and were Squarespace and they would try to keep them there. And support wasn’t really nice with them wanting to move on. And it’s not the case of WordPress. So it’s a nightmare to move, consider that from the ground up from from day one.

9) Lack of Community

Josh 20:24
Now, number nine, kind of going back to what we talked about earlier, just a little bit ago is that there is a massive lack of community. So it makes sense, right? For a DIY buyer who wants to build their website, they’re going to figure it out, they’re going to patch it together and try to do the best they can with a template. And then their website is there. But they’re not interested in joining a Facebook group or any forums or helping other people out with what they just learned. No, they’re busy doing their own business, which is again goes back to the demographic that wicks and Squarespace are appeasing. It’s not designers and developers, it’s diyers. So if you are going to use Wix and Squarespace, if a client is going to there’s going to be no community whatsoever, you’re not going to get any sort of support, other than just the support that comes out of the gate with those platforms like their support forums and stuff. So the as you probably know already listening to this, if you’ve been using WordPress for a while, it is just the best, most amazing community out there. And there’s sub segments of the WordPress community. There’s the Divi community, which I’m obviously an authority in and has just been where my heart’s been at for several years now. Even other themes like Elementor and other other tool even tools have their own communities around it, other WordPress and Divi is none other. But the community is just amazing. It’s it’s supportive, it’s robust. And you can often get a lot of help through there that’s free. You can also hire people, there’s just there’s so many pros about that, that you’re just not going to find with Wix and Squarespace. And again, it goes back to the fact that these DIY sites are built for customers who want to throw up a site and then move on, they’re not interested in helping others. So just remember that obviously, we know that as developers and designers, but just, if you’re talking with clients who are considering Wix and Squarespace, let them know, you’re kind of on your own, it’s you and then hopefully you get a good support tech, but they’re going to be rotating in and out like crazy. Because you know, the support tech companies just move through people like crazy. So good luck with that, but lack of community, that’s a big one.

10) Very Costly in the Long Run

Josh 22:27
And then finally, number 10. Ah, what a bummer. It can be very, very costly in the long run for clients, really all of these things combined, the nine things that we’ve talked about combined, can really make for a very costly experience monetarily, but also of time, and you’re just again, you’re not building your site with a successful online presence for the long run. So, you know, apart from just the subscription based tools, and the nickel and diming approach that these cars, these hosting companies, or these these platform companies have, it’s going to be very costly in the long run, those prices often go up. And yes, I know hosting costs generally go up anyway. But it’s nothing compared to what you’re going to get with Wix and Squarespace and all the tools you have to buy to keep these things running. And again, you’re probably losing so well, I know you’re losing a lot of SEO value on Google. If you’re putting up a site yourself, and you’re not a designer, it’s just not gonna look great. You’re not a web designer most most these people are not web designers who are building sites off this. So more importantly, the traffic that is coming to that site is not going to convert. So if they’re hiring you as a custom website designer using WordPress, hopefully you go through my courses. And hopefully you do a lot of training and level up one step at a time, you can build beautiful websites that are made to convert leads into clients. And it’s actually going to be an investment that’s going to help grow their business. And it’s not going to be a costly liability, which is essentially what a Wix and Squarespace site is I view it as a costly liability. So those that’s the big one, it can honestly just be very costly. All these all these problems together can be very, very expensive in the long run and cost a lot of potential business.

Josh 24:07
So there you go, guys, those are my top 10 reasons why Wix and Squarespace are not great, and they’re not a threat to custom web development and WordPress. Now there are again, I mentioned briefly in the beginning, I’ll just echo that there may be a rare case where somebody could get by with a Wix Squarespace site I a company that I actually worked for. After I got laid off from my job as a cabinet maker. I did some work for a cleaning company locally. I knew the owner. He knew I was doing design. He was asking me about doing a custom website, and he ended up going with a Wix site just because he was somebody who was very creative and he was very competent. And he just ended up doing it in a few hours was a very simple, not great looking site but it suited him for his business then I don’t know if he ever moved on from it but it did suit him them and it was fine. I told him like you’ll get a lot more with it. Custom website with WordPress but I mean, this will get you by it’s basically like an online brochure. That’s the only situation these are beneficial. I truly believe that. And our struggle now as web designers is we have to kind of deter clients from going this route, we also have to explain to them why a $1 $1 Do It Yourself website is not a good idea. And these 10 reasons are going to help you with that.

Josh 25:24
Let me just recap them real quick for wrap up here. Number one, you don’t own your content. Number two, you’re in an uncontrolled hosting environment. Number three, you’ve got nickel and diming style upgrades. That’s a whole lot of fun. Number four, very limited functionality and add ons that you can put into your site. Number five is the limited customization if you want to customize the coding and CSS and stuff like that, number six, very, very limited designer and developer network, which as we talked about, for the long run is not good. Seven, probably the biggest, terrible for SEO and ain’t no good. Number eight, that’s actually the biggest thing for clients to make sure they know Wix and Squarespace are not good for SEO, that’ll pique their interest and help them go with you. Number eight, it’s a nightmare to move if you do want to move it.

Josh 26:09
Also, I didn’t mention earlier, but if you do have your emails and your domains and stuff associated with that, that’s a whole nother nightmare. Whereas it’s much easier to transfer stuff between hosts with WordPress, I meant to mention that earlier. But there you go. Number nine, the lack of community around these platforms, and number 10. All of these combined just make it very costly in the long run. So those are the 10 things, I want to encourage you to relay to your clients. Make sure you go to the show notes for this episode, you can just go to Josh Hall co slash 6060. You’ll find this episode, I’ve got this all transcribed. For you, I’ve got the outline there for you. And just bookmark this. And this will be a good reference for you, hopefully to tell clients, you can actually if you want guys, take this post, you can literally just copy and paste from my site, don’t plagiarize it, don’t put it in your own site and plagiarize it. But just take this and make it your own. You could put your own like PDF together or maybe a hidden, or even your own blog post, you’re welcome to take this and make it your own again, make it your own. But you can take this and relay this to your clients however you want to that way when your clients ask you about this, you can say Oh, actually, I’ve got 10 reasons why. And then they’re gonna be like, wow, Jimmy knows his stuff. And Jimmy’s like well, thanks. Just client doesn’t know that. But I took this from you. So I’m all about it, guys. Go ahead, take this and run with it. So hopefully this is helpful. If you have any questions, leave a comment on the the show notes.

Josh 27:30
The last thing I wanted to say before we wrap up is again, this is our job to let clients know why. But the cool thing about this, if I can give you some encouragement is that this can actually be really good lead generator for us. I’ve had several clients in the past that had tried to build their own site with Wix and Squarespace and then they came to me and they were so frustrated. They were like, you know what, Josh, whatever you want to do, I don’t care what you build it with how you build it, I just I had a nightmare experience you do it. So it can actually be a really good lead generator and a lot of ways so all is not lost, you can actually get away Even if a client tried Wix and came back to you. You have to charge them to get out of there but it can actually be really good lead generator. So there you go, guys. Hope you enjoyed this episode. Again, I would really appreciate a review if you’re listening on iTunes or wherever you listen to the podcast. And until next time, enjoy. Hope this helps you relate this to your clients and I’ll see you guys on the next episode.