(One of my Montana Arts Council State of the Arts Newspaper Tech Talk Columns)
A few years back, I wrote a series of Tech Talks about a free website service called WordPress and how to get started with it to build a website. WordPress still has the dominant market share when it comes to free (or nearly free) website services, but there are other website builder offerings around these days. They’re not completely free, but they are easy to use and have simpler user interfaces that can be easier to use than WordPress.
What brought these other services to my mind – SquareSpace, Wix, Weebly, GoDaddy and others – is the fact that they have been hawked on TV and radio for a few years now. Once upon a time, website stuff was only for geek types; but maybe that speaks to my generation, as generally anyone college age has never known a time without the Internet, and these kinds of technology are second nature. Closer to home, Jeff Bridges, the actor and Livingston resident, talked about SquareSpace on a late night talk show as what was used for a website for his business that raises money for one of his charities.
These other services can be worth it, if you understand their limitations. Which, depending on what you want to do, might not be limitations at all.
They can be a bit easier to use than WordPress if you want a quick and easy site for yourself or for an organizational event.
I came across a website that gives a good rundown and comparison chart of the most popular services, such as SquareSpace, Wix, Weebly, GoDaddy and more. It’s called Website Builders Comparison Chart and it’s at http://goo.gl/5lKcWs . It was last updated in May, so it’s up to date. The usage stats, as the website notes, can be self-reported in some cases, so take the numbers in the “Websites Powered” column with a grain of salt.
All these services all cost a little to use, but SquareSpace has a free trial. But they can offer ecommerce capabilities, newsletter and membership creators, which require extra plugins for WordPress.
The highest rated – according to reviews around the web – appears to be Squarespace. I’ve played around with it, and it’s interesting. websitebuilderexpert.com rates Wix a touch higher, but I wouldn’t myself.
But Wix is popular, and they have recently started moving away from a technology called Flash that has been falling in general usage by being plagued with security problems. (Some new versions of web browsers, in fact, disable Flash by default.)
And almost all of these services – referring to my last Tech Talk – produce websites that are mobile compatible right out of the box.
You can also Easily Google “Squarespace reviews” and see what others say. The best thing to do is jump in and try them. WordPress is still the most fully featured and still the most popular, running about 25% of websites online and owning over 50% of total market share. But there are other services to try.