Small business owners have several choices when it comes to the platform upon which they create their website. But which of the three leading providers is the best option for your business?
This review of the most popular content management systems will look at essential evaluation criteria such as ease of use, search engine optimisation (SEO) performance, web design features, and a few other factors. We’ll then give you our take on which we think is the winner and the best choice for your business.
But first, what do we mean when referring to a content management system?
What is a Content Management System (CMS)?
In the context of a website, a content management system (or CMS for short) is a software platform that helps users create, manage, and modify content on a site without the need for specialised technical knowledge. These tools allow web designers and business owners alike to build websites from the ground up without writing any code.
The most popular CMS platforms use what is known as a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor, which allows those building websites to edit their site without looking at lines of code. This format often enables webmasters to drag and drop website elements and design them on a visual basis instead.
In the UK, and for most of the Western world, there are three contenders for those looking to build and design a website: Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress. Let’s make a start by reviewing the pros and cons of the first of those options, Wix, which is often considered the most user-friendly of the bunch.
Wix CMS Review
Wix is so popular because a) it’s a cheap CMS platform and b) it uses a drag-and-drop page builder that does most of the heavy lifting for you. You can have a website designed within a matter of minutes using Wix. However, the site you create will have that distinct Wix template feel to it (seasoned web designers can spot them a mile away) and thus they often don’t “feel” very customised.
Concerning e-commerce, tools in the Wix app are not only limited; they soon add up on your monthly subscription plan. If you want to run an e-commerce store, Wix is still a country mile behind WordPress solutions such as WooCommerce, and it’s more expensive to boot.
Another reason for Wix being so popular is because it’s an all-in-one package. They handle hosting, site security, and they can also help you with a domain. However, having them take care of the website’s technical side makes taking it with you impossible if you want to switch platforms. Keep this in mind if you aim to continually scale your business.
Lastly, excellent SEO performance is not something with which Wix is associated. In fact, Wix used to be known for its poor SEO functionality. However, they are taking strides to address this issue, and as time progresses, they may slowly start closing the gap on SEO-friendly CMS platforms such as WordPress.
Overall, Wix provides a cheap all-in-one package for website hobbyists and businesses looking for a simple website while primarily relying on other forms of marketing to grow their business.
Squarespace CMS Review
Squarespace is another website builder that is pretty intuitive, and the templates provided on the platform look absolutely stunning. These beautiful templates have earned this CMS the title of “Wix’s creative sibling” and are best-suited to creative industries such as interior designers and photographers.
The problem is that the selection of templates isn’t exactly vast, meaning you could end up with a website looking very similar to hundreds of others.
Another reason a lot of Squarespace websites look similar is that these aren’t particularly easy to customise. Some customisations such as adding live chat, email opt-in popups, have to be inserted via their “Code Injection” box on the backend. Not ideal if you’re a business owner with limited technical knowledge.
Like Wix, if you’re an art gallery owner looking to sell pieces online, expect to pay top dollar for the necessary infrastructure. In fact, the lack of pricing plan options leaves most webmasters choosing the business plan, since almost all features added above that plan are e-commerce-related.
On the SEO front, Squarespace has an even worse reputation than Wix. The data from studies undertaken by SEO companies such as Ahrefs is pretty damning regarding organic traffic (only 15.1% of Squarespace sites attract organic traffic). You couldn’t even add basic SEO necessities like post or page meta descriptions until the company finally added an SEO tab to the backend in 2019.
If you’re looking for a website that is more beautiful than anything else, then you’re in luck. But perhaps don’t expect to gain too many leads from your website, with poor SEO performance and coding knowledge required for most high-performance marketing integrations.
WordPress CMS Review
WordPress is a powerful content management system that’s best for the serious business owner who wants their website to grow with their business.
It’s fair to say that WordPress is the least beginner-friendly of the platforms. But that is a result of the sheer volume of themes, tools, and plugins available inside this CMS. That’s why most small businesses outsource the website design of their WordPress to professional web designers who know how to get the best out of the platform.
In terms of features, WordPress once again wins hands down. Not only does it contain the best blog functionality as standard (which is so vital for getting your business found online), but there are thousands (if not millions) of plugins that you can add to perform specific functions on your website.
Whether you want to add AI-powered live chatbots, industry-leading e-commerce solutions, or high-performance SEO tools such as Yoast, there’s a plugin to help you achieve your business goals. The best part? Many of the plugins (along with the CMS itself) don’t cost a penny.
Speaking of SEO, Matt Cutts, Google’s former Head of Spam, has stated that a standard WordPress website handles 80-90% of on-page SEO optimisation for you. All you have to do is take care of the remaining 10%. There’s no contest concerning the best CMS for SEO; it’s WordPress.
But it does have a few drawbacks. Firstly, you have to handle everything on the technical side yourself. It requires you to set up the website hosting and domain name, and it requires frequent updates to ensure the platform’s security. However, the good news is that we can handle all of that for you here at McGinn and Dolphin as part of our monthly website maintenance packages.
The Verdict – Which CMS is the Best?
As you can probably tell, we prefer WordPress for building and designing websites. Don’t get us wrong. There is a time and place for the sheer ease-of-use of Wix and the beauty of Squarespace. Our current website is built in Squarespace in fact and in the midst of transferring the site over in the near future. But you soon become constrained by those platforms, and you’re stuck with them once you sign up.
With WordPress, sites you can win better search ranking positions, continuously scale, and customise design and functionality to your heart’s content. Yes, it’s a more complex CMS, but that’s where we come in.
Here at McGinn and Dolphin, we are expert web designers and have years of experience working within multiple CMS platforms. Working with your business we will work with you to create any website style to suit your specific business needs and subsequently maintain it for you thereafter. How’s that for a hassle-free solution?
So if you need to overhaul your existing business site, or you’re starting a new venture, why not book a discovery call with a member of our team to discuss your specific website requirements. We look forward to hearing from you.