Jan 30 2019 · By Steve Benjamins
I typically recommend Squarespace over Wix— but you won't be unhappy with either choice. The key is to know the differences.
Squarespace lets you drag elements (called Content Blocks) up and down the page and into columns— but there's a limit. You can't just drag elements anywhere on the page. There's an inherent and sensible structure that you stay within.
Elements (called Content Blocks) can be dragged into columns— but there's a structure that you stay within.
Wix, on the other hand, is a blank canvas. You can drag any element anywhere on your page— there's no structure holding you back:
You can drag any element anywhere on your page with Wix.
Being able to drag elements anywhere on a page is freeing but can cause problems. Let me explain through an example.
In the video below you can see that when I add more text to an element, the elements below it move further down. This is smart. In most blank canvas website builders, the elements would just overlap. The problem is once I remove the text, the elements below don't come back up again— fixing that can be tedious if your page is long. This isn't a problem you would find in Squarespace's structured editor.
Squarespace offers a wide selection of elements (called Content Blocks). Each one is thoughtful and fully featured. Nothing is half-baked.
Squarespace has a wide selection of Content Blocks.
One of the most thoughtful Squarespace content blocks is the Restaurant Menu. Restaurant menus are a challenge for website builders because they have unusual formatting. So Squarespace created an inventive markup language that automatically converts into a stylish restaurant menu. It's a simple and elegant solution to a tricky problem.
Another example of Squarespace's thoughtfulness is image cropping. In order to display images in a perfect grid, they need to be cropped into squares. Most website builders will crop around the centre of the photo and leave at it that— not Squarespace. Squarespace goes a step further. They let you to set a focal point to crop around. Handy.
Setting a focal point to crop images.
Wix has a huge selection of elements. Everything you could need is here— plus a bit more. On one hand, some users will love the freedom. On the other hand, the sheer amount of options could overwhelm.
Wading through Wix's options.
Some elements can feel half-baked. For example, in contrast to Squarespace, Wix's restaurant menu editor feels unintuitive. It has two interfaces— found in two different places. It's difficult to get a handle on.
But the great thing with Wix is that it's so flexible. There's such a broad selection of elements: navigation options, shapes, arrows, lines, icons and lots of buttons. You could even design your own theme from scratch— which is something you can't do with Squarespace.
Website builders often advertise a low monthly rate that's actually the annual rate divided by twelve. It's confusing, I know. The real monthly rate is often higher.
Squarespace is pretty transparent about this— it's right there on their pricing page:
Wix isn't quite as transparent. They don't make it clear that the prices you're seeing is the annual rate divided by twelve:
Because of this, I created a spreadsheet of the real prices that can help with the comparison:
As you can see, annual plans are cheaper than monthly plans and often include a free domain name— so if you plan to have a website long-term there are strong incentivizes to choose an annual plan.
Wix's first two plans are the cheapest but have limitations. The Connect Domain actually still displays Wix ads on your website (see an example of the ads)— so that's a dealbreaker. The next cheapest plan is the Combo plan, which I'm hesitant to recommend because it has a 2GB bandwidth limit per month.
How limiting is the 2 GB / month limit? Calculating bandwidth usage is tricky but an average Wix webpage is 1.4 MB. So I'd estimate you wouldn't want more than 25 visitors per day to your website.
So the comparison between Squarespace and Wix plans really begins with Wix's Unlimited plan and Squarespace's Personal Plan— these are the first two plans to offer unlimited bandwidth. They have the same monthly cost ($16/month) but Squarespace offers a cheaper annual plan:
When it comes to ecommerce, Squarespace is more expensive. Wix's eCommerce plan is $240 annually ($25 / month) and Squarespace's Basic plan is $312 annually ($30 / month). But as you'll see in the ecommerce section, Squarespace has better ecommerce.
Note: I bought and cancelled plans with both website builders using my own credit card. So I can confirm that both have good billing and cancellation practices.
Domain names cost $20 / year on Squarespace and $14.95 / year on WIX. Here's the thing though: Squarespace includes WHOIS privacy in their annual price (domain names require public contact information— WHOIS privacy anonymizes your contact information). WHOIS privacy on Wix costs an additional $9.90 so it can actually be more expensive than Squarespace.
If you really want to save money on domain names, you can register with a domain name registrar such as Namecheap. Namecheap domain names are around $14 year and include free WHOIS privacy.
Themes are a good example of the differences between Squarespace and Wix.
Squarespace provides a curated set of around 70 themes with a definite look and feel:
Wix offers 500+ themes with more variety in quality. Plus they give you an enormous degree of flexibility:
I've always really liked Squarespace's themes. It's subjective, but I think they have the best themes of any website builder. Themes are clean, modern and great at showcasing photos.
You're not going to find any corny small business themes on Squarespace. It's too curated for that.
Squarespace has an excellent style customization tool. It's a clever click-to-reveal options system (see the video below). It manages to be both flexible and easy to use.
Customizing a Squarespace theme.
With Wix you can't change your template without losing all your content— which is unusual. Most website builders let you do this. So when choosing your theme, make sure it's the one you want.
The great thing about Wix is that you can really customize themes— to the point where you can even design your own theme from scratch.
Example Wix theme
Setting a consistent style to Wix websites can be a pain— it usually involves tediously changing individual elements to establish a consistent look and feel (technically you can set global styles, it's just practically speaking it's never that simple with Wix).
Squarespace has the best blogging of any website builder. If the primary purpose of your site is blogging, just use Squarespace.
It's not that Wix's blogging is bad— Wix actually has a decent blog editor. It looks a bit out-dated but everything you need is included (scheduled posts, post tags and categories, drafts and Disqus and Facebook comments).
I just recommend Squarespace for blogging because they have excellent blogging. Squarespace supports a long list of features: post tagging, categories, drafts, comments, moderation, customizable urls and more. And they go a step further by adding support for contributors with different roles (example: comment moderation, content editor) and even multiple authors on a single post— a minor feature but handy for a team!
Squarespace has the best ecommerce of any website builder (Weebly is second best). There's a long list of features:
But it’s not just about the features— because like everything Squarespace does, it’s also intuitive.
Wix also has good ecommerce— but it's just not as fully featured or intuitive as Squarespace. For example, I wasn't able to edit the email receipts customers receive. These are the kind of limitations that keep me from recommending it.
One note: If the primary purpose of your website is ecommerce you may actually want to try Shopify. Shopify is the best ecommerce website builder available. It's not meant for creating general purpose websites (like Wix and Squarespace are) but for ecommerce websites it's easy to use and highly scalable.
Ultimately the difference is about preference: Wix offers a high-degree of control— to the point where you could even design your own theme from scratch. Squarespace is much more of a curated degree of control— they offer smart, well-designed defaults that you can use confidently.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!