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A client recently asked us to give a rundown on why someone would choose WordPress over a hosted solution such as Wix, Weebly or even Shopify. This is the quick reply I wrote back that I felt was worth sharing.

The decision on WordPress vs online systems is a matter of budget, flexibility and ultimately what they need the website to do.

Budget
WordPress will cost more upfront and either require a monthly “maintenance contract” to keep up to date with upgrades/updates of the WordPress Core and any plugins used.  Letting these get out of date is a security risk and it could get hacked (which is a huge pain).  Often times the monthly maintenance of WordPress will equal what they would pay in monthly fees to a hosted system.  If they have someone advanced enough to handle the WordPress monthly updates (and any conflicts that could arise if an upgrade goes awry), then they can save the monthly fee and only have the one-time build fee. Make sure to compare Astra vs oceanwp before you choose one based on your preference.

Flexibility
The hosted systems are great if you are okay staying within their confines.  This means that simpler sites will often be better served here.  If they need anything that is not offered “out of the box” from these systems, then going to a WordPress platform is ideal.  That’s why I ask the question of “What do they need the site to do?”.  This is usually the point where you make the decision of WordPress vs. hosted systems.

Design
The hosted systems typically have some pretty good templates to work from.  If these are okay for design-sensitive clients, then great.  If not, customizing them within the confines of these systems can be difficult.  We custom built a design on Squarespace.com and it ended up taking about 5x longer than we anticipated.  WordPress will offer more flexibility here.

SEO
While the online systems are typically built with decent SEO, they won’t go into the fine-tuned detail you can with WordPress.  For a church this may not be a big deal, but for a local business it could be huge.  Items such as Google’s support for Schema may take a while to get adopted.

For us it’s a matter of familiarity and specialty.  We know WordPress inside and out and can move quicker in that system than any other, so we always lean in that direction.  Though for some clients with very small budgets who are okay with an ongoing monthly fee, the hosted systems are usually where we send them.  Even WordPress.com is sometimes a decent segue into a larger site at a later time.