We have been working online (mainly blogging) since 2015 and within that time frame, one of the most common questions that we get is, “Should I use WordPress for my blog/website?”. Well, today in this post I answer that very question.
This complete comparison guide to WordPress alternatives does not only include pros and cons of each CMS (content management system) platforms but also will also cover what each alternative excels in.
When you first get started blogging or building your own website, the amount of information out there is overwhelming. Trust us! We experienced the same thing when starting this blog, Adventure In You.
We made so many mistakes that could have easily been avoided which is why as soon as we had a little bit more free time, we started our Travel University as our little way of giving back to the community. We figured, if we could help a few people avoid the silly newbie mistakes we made when we first started, our mission would be complete.
First, before I go discussing each CMS platform, let’s answer this once and for all…
What’s the Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
Now, this has to be one of the most frequently asked questions our there when it comes to blogging. The big difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is simply who is hosting your website/blog.
What I mean is this…
WordPress.org- With .org, you own your business ie website or blog and therefore pay for the hosting of it. You have access to all the files so you can customize pretty much anything. You can also choose from thousands of plugins that you can add to your blog.
These plugins do anything from adding a Facebook like widget to your posts, to making a Pinterest button appear over your images when a reader scrolls over them. While there is practically a plugin allowing you to do anything that you want, be cautious as too many plugins can slow down your site.
WordPress.com- With .com they manage the hosting for you. This will save you paying for the hosting or adding additional plugins. However, with this system, you will not own your business. You also can’t upload any custom themes and will be generally quite limited with what you can do.
WordPress.com is a great option for someone wanting to spin up a blog and just keep a private diary etc. However, if you want to seriously grow your blog and eventually make money from it, then WordPress.org is the way to go.
So now I have explained the difference between the two, I am assuming most of you reading this post are serious about blogging and want to get started the right way. With that in mind, I will walk you through WordPress.org to see how it compares to Square Space, Ning, Weebly, etc.
So let’s get into it…
By far WordPress is the leading choice for building a blog/website. It is known to be powering around 25% of the websites on the internet at the time of writing this post. As with every platform, it also comes with a few cons which I will touch on in a second. Despite these drawbacks, holds the majority share of the market and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. We personally use and recommend WordPress.org as we feel that it gives you the most flexibility, control, and monetization opportunities.
- Powerful and flexible platform in the way that you have full control over pretty much everything.
- Thousands of themes and plugins are available to choose from which you can add to your blog/site.
- Good code and SEO set up
- Constantly updated.
- The learning curve in WordPress is considerably higher than other platforms such as Square Space, Weebly or Ning.
Who Should Use It?
Bloggers (100%), e-commerce companies (can plug into woo-commerce), designers looking to not only have a portfolio but also produce content that will get them noticed. Basically anyone. There is a reason why WordPress is the leading CMS in the marketplace today. That being said, you will see at the end of the post that there are other platforms that excel in certain areas.
Similar to WordPress.com, Square Space is an all in one solution and is a pretty popular alternative. It can be used to easily create a blog, a shop, online portfolio, or all of the above on the same domain. Square Space is a paid service but offers a free trial.
- The learning curve is very low, as Square Space makes it easy to drag, drop and build your site within only a few hours.
- They provide a lot of custom pre-made designs to choose from, which are both well designed and optimised for whatever purpose you want your site to have.
- The site is clean, well designed, and their themes are beautiful.
- Now, this is a big one, as similar to WordPress.com, Square Space takes care of your hosting and your site is on their subdomain. This means that you won’t have full control over your site. The scary part is technically, Squarespace can take your site down at any point should it find it non-compliant with their guidelines. Although this seldom happens, the fact that it’s a possibility doesn’t sit well with me.
Who Should Use It?
Hobbyists, artists, brick and mortar businesses. Basically, anyone who doesn’t have much prior experience building sites and is planning on putting one up, then just leaving it there.
Ning Community has been around since 2005 and focuses around making it easy for you to build a social network. While reviewing the platform, I thought this was pretty smart as community is everything! With Adventure In You, we are trying to grow our Adventure Tribe – A community of adventures and people making the most out of life as we see this as an asset to our brand.
Ning, allows you to not only create a blog easily but is optimised to encourage social interaction. Think, Blog and Forum combined and they call it building a network. So for someone looking to grow a community/network but doesn’t have the time to set up multiple Facebook groups, email lists, etc, this might be a good choice for you.
- Similar to Square Space the learning curve is low as Ning has an easy drag-drop set up.
- A wide range of features, to make sure everything is covered.
- Their connecting features. Ning makes it easy to reward the most active members in your network by making them administrators or co-publishers. It also allows you to easily invite other experts to your blog network.
- They control the hosting, so your business is on their platform.
- It doesn’t have an open source community like WordPress.org, meaning there might be some features you might not have access to as your business grows.
Who Should Use It?
Hobbyists and artists looking to build a social network around either their work or what they are passionate about. If you’re looking at connecting things like a forum to your website, then Ning could be a good choice due to all its features.
Similar to Square Space, Weebly is a one-stop shop for those who don’t know how to code or set up websites. It’s drag and drop site builder is pretty useful to create basically any type of blog template or look that you want. Weebly is a hosted solution provider meaning it already takes care of your hosting.
This company which was founded in 2007 has been around for a long time, allowing you to produce top quality looking websites or e-commerce stores. It currently offers a free and paid plans depending on your website needs.
- The drag and drop site builder is very responsive, allowing you to build a pretty looking site within a couple of hours.
- Optimised for building single page sites like online portfolios, resumes, or business cards
- Very easy to use and intuitive.
- Almost no learning curve as the platform is incredibly simple.
- On their free plan, there is a limit to your storage space.
- Again, you’re hostel on Weebly’s subdomain meaning you don’t have full control of your website.
Who Should Use It?
To those that want a quick and easy website, then using platforms like Weebly (where you can easily create a site in a couple of hours. The learning curve is not difficult making it perfect for people who want a simple one-page website. Weebly is good for artists, teachers, or people who need simple websites without having to go through the headache of making one.
Again, similar to the previous ones we had just discussed, WIX is a website builder and website hosting rolled into one. It has a wizard which guides you through the process of setting up your website, walking you through each step of the way. It highlights that if you use their platform, you can focus on creating content and they will handle all the technical stuff.
- Very easy to use.
- For those that need something simple, it also has a WIX ADI (artificial design intelligence) which can create your sites in minutes based on your answers and preferences.
- 500 design templates to choose from.
- I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record BUT….again, it’s not self-hosted meaning you’re at mercy to the companies changes at all times.
Who Should Use It?
Like most platforms that also offer web hosting, we only recommend going down this route if you need a simple one-page site which you build and leave. If you have no experience in website creation or tech issues for that matter, platforms like WIX are perfect as they take no time at all to create.
Tumbler, Medium, Blogger
The platforms listed above are all quite similar so I will lump them all up. Basically, using these platforms allow you to publish articles on their site, using their ready-made templates and themes.
With Tumbler, your content goes on a microblog and takes zero time to set up as you are only going off their templates and look. It is super easy to use, but again, if you want a complicated blog with different pages, this platform isn’t for you.
Medium offers a similar concept but is quite one of a kind as it is a large online publication with a big user base. If you have a one-off article that you just want to be read, Medium is the way forward as it allows you to write a blog post, get it published on their site, and then helps you get your article views through their editorial curation and algorithms, instantly helping you market your article.
Blogger, on the other hand, is another hosted blogging platform. It offers various themes which you can choose from (although a lot of them look quite outdated). If you want to maintain just a personal site with no intention to monetize it, later on, this platform might be a good option.
Why Do I Need Hosting?
Now that we’ve established that WordPress is the best platform, watch this video I made which talks about hosting, why you need it, and how to find the best one.
Before I begin, let me share this video on WHY you need hosting and how to find the best one.
Conclusion: Which One is the Best?
Ultimately, what kind of blog/website you want will dictate which CMS you should use. As mentioned, we personally recommend WordPress.org as we feel that it gives you the most flexibility, monetization opportunities, and freedom to customize your site. Although the learning curve is hard, it is worth it in the end as you can literally create your ideal website without having to deal with any type of restrictions.
Hopefully, this article has been useful in determining what to use for your blog/website. Again, if you’re a newbie blogger, feel free to join our FREE Blogging Boot Camp Course to help walk you down the basics. Apart from the course itself, you also get access to our private FB group where you can ask us (along with the hundreds of other people who are starting a blog) any questions that you might have.