5 Reasons WordPress Beats DIY Platforms (Squarespace, Shopify, Wix)

December 9, 2018

WordPress beats the other guys because:

  1. You fully own and control every aspect of your site’s design and content
  2. Infinitely extendable function
  3. WordPress is the most cost effective CMS platform on the market.
  4. Owning vs. Renting
  5. Massive support community & free/premium learning resources

1. You fully own and control every aspect of your site’s design and content.

The other guys own the design. Some let you easily export your content (text and whatnot), but if you leave their platform – you can’t readily take your design with you. Ask anyone who’s ever had to migrate from one platform to another. It’s not fun.

With many “themes”, both on WordPress and the DIY platforms, the design of your site can be pretty rigid. That’s to say the look and feel of the site is pretty locked-in. And though design flexibility has increased on all platforms in recent years, the Divi theme on WordPress has blazed the trail in design fluidity. So much so that I exclusively build websites with WordPress and Divi.

With WordPress and the Divi theme/framework, there’s virtually no aspect of your site you can’t control. I’m admittedly very biased on this topic. But the flexibility and user-friendliness of Divi and WordPress cannot be overstated. And with the tools and controls of Divi, you have the ability to edit parts of your website that are often un-editable under other circumstances.

2. Infinitely extendable function.

Hosted-for-you DIY platforms use their own proprietary software. So when you need to add a new function to your site, such as a payment gateway or an email opt-in form, there’s no option but to pay for the added feature offered by the platform. And it’s usually a monthly charge.

WordPress gives you access to tens of thousands of free, third party plugins via the Plugin Repository that provide functionality that the other guys usually make you pay for.

And for users who need to add a function that goes above and beyond what’s offered by the free plugins out there, there are premium (paid) plugins that give you additional benefits and support. The point is – with WordPress you’re not strong-armed into paying for each individual function you want to add to your site.

TL; DR: Hosted-for-you DIY platforms require you to use their proprietary add-ons. So if you need functionality beyond a simple brochure-style site, your monthly costs can snowball quickly – which leads to my next point.

3. WordPress is the most cost effective Content Management System (CMS) platform on the market

Though it’s tempting to try to get a website off the ground as cheaply as possible, it usually comes at the cost of paying A LOT more in the long run. So if you’re planning on being in business for more than three years, you’ll save yourself some serious cash in the long by building on WordPress.

This is particularly evident when you compare the costs of a function-heavy style eCommerce sites built on WordPress vs. some of the other guys. Learn why WordPress eCommerce is more Cost Effective than Squarespace, Shopify, and Wix [Blog Post Coming Soon]

TL; DR: Hosted-for-you DIY sites can be cheaper to get up and running. That may be what’s most realistic for you when starting out. But consider the long-term costs of the platform you choose to build upon, and WordPress is the clear winner.

4. Owning vs. Renting

Like a bought and paid for house, YOU own your WordPress site and content outright. Once you’ve paid for digital assets/licenses, you own them for good.

Other platforms essentially make you “rent” their digital real estate. And as long as you’re occupying their property, rent is due every month. Forever. Until you die. And if they decide to change their business model or do something that ultimately hurts your business, you can’t do anything to stop them. Their house, their rules.

Think about Facebook for a minute. No, Facebook isn’t a CMS in the sense I’ve discussed so far. But many people rely on their Facebook business or Fan pages as if it were their website. So, in a roundabout way, I feel like this is an easy way to explain my point.

Facebook changes its feed algorithm fairly regularly. One day you may be getting traffic on your business page just fine. But if Facebook decides to tweak something that impacts the good thing you’ve got going on their platform, your traffic could dry up. And all of a sudden your marketing strategy needs reworking.

Facebook posts and ads can get buried in the feed as is. But if the algorithm that decides who gets to see what gives you the boot, you’ll have to pivot to regain traction.

And since Facebook wants businesses to pay for ads, paid ads generally get priority in the feed. So while you can publish great content on Facebook, if it’s not a paid ad there’s a chance the majority of your audience won’t see it.

No, the hosted DIY platforms are the same as a social network, but they are still proprietary systems. And when you’re relying on someone else’s platform to sustain your business, there are risks involved.

But when you own your website you can publish anything you want. And if you’ve got an email list (which you definitely should), an email blast puts you in your audience’s inbox. So you can link your subscribers directly to the platform you fully own and control.

TL; DR: when you host your content on someone else’s property – you’re at their mercy (whether it’s Facebook or a DIY website platform). In my opinion, it is unwise to entrust your business’ stability and longevity to any platform you don’t fully own and control.

5. Massive support community & free/premium learning resources

The WordPress ecosystem is huge. And there’s no shortage of YouTube tutorials and walkthroughs that can help you get on your feet with the platform and furthermore, keep costs low. Not to mention, there are countless helpful blogs and podcasts that consistently put out highly valuable, actionable content for free. And if you’re ready to get serious about your WordPress education, there are tons of high-quality paid courses that can speed up your WordPress development skills.

Facebook groups are a great place to go for tips and advice. I’m a member of several myself (mostly specific to the Divi Theme) and the knowledge I’ve gained from these communities is invaluable. And let’s not forget about podcasts. WordPress podcasts are an excellent way to learn about the platform and get new ideas for what you can do with your website. I get new ideas all the time from the channels I follow. I’ve listed a few of them below.

A few of my personal favorite WordPress Facebook groups are:

And my all time favorite WordPress and Divi podcasts are:

A Major Pro of DIY Platforms

DIY platforms generally only let you edit their designs within certain boundaries. And while that can be viewed as a con, I see it as a pro. It’s like bowling with the bumpers up. They essentially won’t let you throw a digital gutter ball. You might some text or an image look a little funky. But there’s really nothing you can do to crash your site.

There’s a lot that be tweaked and edited with WordPress. But that open-endedness means it is entirely possible to break things. Though WordPress has ample safeguards in place to prevent you from accidentally breaking your site, curious users with just enough knowledge to be dangerous can get themselves into a pickle if they start tinkering with live code that is better left alone.

Final Thoughts on WordPress vs. DIY Platforms 

This post isn’t a knock on any of the DIY platform’s designs and functionality. I take nothing away from the beautiful designs, layouts, and UI/UX they provide for their users. Each of these platforms serve their various niches exceedingly well in most cases.

If you prefer a foolproof website framework that you can edit without worry of accidentally breaking something, DIY platforms can be very attractive. And from a cost perspective, it may be more affordable in the very short run to start with a DIY service. So I absolutely appreciate that aspect of these platforms.

BUT, If you’re planning on being online for the foreseeable future you should build your site on a platform that gives you the most power and control for the best price. And there’s no CMS platform more powerful and cost-effective than WordPress.

In my biased opinion (I’m a WordPress guy after all), the pros of WordPress outmatch the pros of the other platforms. And the cons of WordPress pale in comparison to the cons of the other guys.


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