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Website Builder Price Comparison

Website builder price comparison over 4 years – WordPress, Squarespace, Wix and Shopify

Written by Nadin Thomson

April 2021

price comparison wordpress vs website builders

Website Builder Price Comparison | Website Builder Comparison

Website builders make their packages look incredibly attractive – by displaying monthly prices that are only applicable if paid for the full year. If you switch to monthly payment options, the prices almost double.

Website builders have their place, but I was writing a long a blog post about how to get started with your own WordPress website, when I looked into the prices of the main providers (WordPress, Shopify, Squarespace and Wix).

I didn’t add the The GoDaddy website builder into the mix here. I don’t remember how many customers I’ve “rescued” who had a Godaddy website and they realised it’s not working for them. GoDaddy is OK for you if you only want to have a very small website and you don’t need any additional features. Godaddy gives you a free website builder and they also make you think that a Godaddy website is free. The Godaddy website builder might seem easy to use, but if you have a completely free Godaddy website, there will be adverts displayed on your website – they have to make money somewhere!

A website “site builder” can make setting up a website seem totally easy, they remove all the techie stuff, and when you actually need additional website functionality, such as an online store, a website template (for the design of the website), a certain Ecommerce feature (such as product option selectors), or an advanced feature like email marketing, better website speed, or a proper email address, they then cost you more and more money each month.

When you build your own website – either with a free website builder or through one of the well-known site builders – be prepared for a very steep learning curve!! Web Design is not easy, but thankfully you can learn the basics of website design by watching online video tutorials and also by looking at professional websites and how they display different features.

You probably entered “best website builder” in Google and possibly asked on Social Media, in a Facebook Group too. You will get lots of different opinions about the best website builder – as it’s different for everyone. However, as a professional website designer, I can only recommend what I know it’s working best – and for most web designers WordPress is the best website builder in the market.

Building a website is only the first step to your online presence. In the second step, you really need to think about Search Engine Optimisation so that your website is also found in Google. In WordPress, you can add a handy SEO tool called “Yoast SEO” which makes SEO a bit easier.

Another thing to consider with the website builders is server location.

Server location is important for:

  • website speed
  • search engine optimisation and
  • GDPR (data protection).

When you take out web hosting for your WordPress website, you can determine where your website is located – preferably in your own country. The popular website builders are all located in the United States.

If you are faced with the decision on which website platform to use, think beyond the $8.95 price tag you see online. It might be a good starting point, but if you’re building a business, eventually, you will want to move your website to a properly hosted setup.

Website builder price comparison – two different business models

Both comparisons are based on the following:

  • I am only comparing business packages.
  • The prices below have been calculated into USD for easier comparison and EXCLUDE applicable taxes, such as VAT.
  • The prices below are annual costs if paid annually (you usually get a massive discount when you pay for a full year).

All 4 systems have an inbuilt content management system. All builders come with many different features and can be expanded. Mostly, WordPress plugins are free to use in order to add more functionality to your website. Anything you can think of – someone will have developed a WordPress plugin for it (be it email marketing, an event calendar, contact forms, email marketing and lots more).  However, other platforms and builders charge extra to use an Ecommerce store for example. Website design is not easier on one platform over another. They all require learning and getting used to the native website builder. Therefore it’s not really easy to answer the question what the easiest website builder is. WordPress hosting companies offer have their own pricing plan, Shopify, Squarespace and Wix also have different pricing options. Sometimes, the premium plan can include better customer support, they can offer a free domain (the domain name for your website) and often advanced features – some of which are not really necessary to get started with. 

Some platforms offer a free plan, social media integration, maybe an SEO tool or a marketing tool as well as Google Analytics integration. But I would shy away from free website builders in general as they will often display advertising on your website and you have no control over it. GoDaddy offers a free version, but your website would be full of ads.

Scenario 1: You are building an online business

  • Year 1: simple website with 5 pages, displaying services and 1 contact form
  • Year 2: simple website, but you want to add an Ecommerce online store. Your annual planned website sales is $30,000
  • Year 3: simple website, $50,000 sales, but you now want to sell online subscriptions too
  • Year 4: Same as year 3
Year Self hosted WordPress Squarespace Wix Shopify
1 WordPress Hosting $121.80

Web Hosting
$180

Web Hosting
$141.50
Web Hosting
$348
2 $121.80 $180 + $900 transaction fees $216.43 $348 +$700 transaction fees
3 $121.80 $360 $266.37 (limited to 100 transactions per month and 250 products) Subscription sales not possible on Shopify, you need to move platform – a set up on WordPress will cost you $121.80 + $249 for the theme / template. The Shopify payment can be connected to different card suppliers such as Stripe. Shopify’s web builder is super basic in comparison to WordPress.
4 $121.80 $360 $266.37 (limited to 100 transactions per month and 250 products)
Additional costs

$249 (one-off fee for a professional theme – Divi)

Unlimited email accounts and forwarders are included.

No transaction fee for sales. 

 

Includes only 1 email account. Additional ones cost extra. Wix don’t reveal their prices, but you need to pay extra for email addresses Shopify don’t provide email addresses, so you will need to buy them extra elsewhere.
Total cost after 4 years $614.40 $1,980 $890.67 $1766.80

Scenario 2: You are creating an online presence for your business

You business plan looks like this, you want to keep your options open for potentially selling something online:

  • Year 1: simple website with 5 pages, displaying my services and 1 contact form
  • Year 2, 3 and 4 are the same: simple website, but you want to add landing pages, sign up forms, many blog posts etc.
Year WordPress Squarespace Wix Shopify
1 $121.80 $180 $141.50 $348
2 $121.80 $180 $141.50 $348
3 $121.80 $180 $141.50 $348
4 $121.80 $180 $141.50 $348
Additional costs

$249 (one-off fee for a professional theme – Divi)

Unlimited email accounts and forwarders are included.

Includes only 1 email account. Additional ones cost extra. Wix don’t reveal their prices, but you need to pay extra for email addresses Shopify don’t provide email addresses, so you will need to buy them extra elsewhere.
Total cost after 4 years $614.40 $720 $566 $1,392

In the second scenario, it looks like Wix is the winner, however, the options for search engine optimisation and adding further functionality are very limited. You might have a beautiful website that might not get found in Google.

Which one is the best website builder?

In any case, website design / website building is not something you can pick up over a long weekend. If you want to build a website for your business, add ecommerce features and other advanced website features – and if you want to avoid headaches in the future – stay away from a free site builder. The best and professional option – in my opinion the best website builder – is WordPress. The best option really is self hosted WordPress with a professional website template such as Divi.

Another thing to look at is online reviews and check out what people say about customer support. When you start building your own website, you will have millions of questions and if you have a website builder with a free plan, you will not get any customer support.

You might also be tempted to look at a comparison website, however, the best comparison website is proper statistics! I researched over 1,200 websites. I did lots of random Google searches and checked only the top 10 results for each search. Out of over 1,200 websites, there were only 10 Squarespace websites, 9 Wix websites and a handful of Shopify websites. You can read the blog post here – which website builder is best for Google.

Also check the Google Trends website and compare what people search for.

Especially if you want to build an Ecommerce website with an online store, it’s easy to choose Shopify as that’s what they specialise in. However, every additional feature will cost you an additional fee. If you want to add another Ecommerce feature to your WordPress online store, chances are you can find a Plugin for free.

 

Nadin Thomson

Nadin Thomson started developing websites in 1999 as a hobby and started her business as a web developer in 2004. She has 18+ years of experience in helping businesses of all sizes to create an online presence and improve their website. She's also worked as a photographer in Scotland for 15+ years. The majority of her customers found Nadin through Google as she's continually optimised her website for SEO.

Nadin Thomson has a University Business degree and a Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Marketing.

Find out more about Nadin Thomson.