Web Development

Introduction

This is the age of the bold website that captivates users with a striking image, clean text, and easy to navigate built-in apps. Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly are the most popular website development tools available. Based on the design of these tools, Squarespace is similar to the layout and functionality of the Mac operating system, while Wix and Weebly are more similar to that of the Windows operating system.

All three of these website development tool providers offer inspiring examples of websites that web designers have made using their templates. The website builders provide similar versions of the most of the same features. However, some of these services are at cost. Pricing of these features and services was assessed to determine the range of price plans offered for each web development service provider. The editing view interface can be a deal breaker for some web designers since this is the portal where you would spend the most time detailing your website. One addition that would put these no code website development services over the top is the inclusion of a database management tool. It is likely that this feature will be incorporated in the future.

Table 1. Highlighted Features Comparison of Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly

Squarespace Wix Weebly
Free Version No Yes Yes
E-commerce Capability Yes Yes Yes
Visitor Membership No Yes Yes
Custom HTML Yes Yes Yes
Blogging Features Yes Yes Yes
Mobile Editor No Yes Yes
Usability Score
(out of 3 pts)
2 3 3
Template selection variety 2 3 1

Table 2. Highlighted Features Comparison Legend

Free Version The website development builder will host your website for free with a subdomain of that company.
E-commerce Capability The website development builder has pre-programmed services for online retail store websites.
Visitor Membership Visitors can have their own secured account through your website.
Custom HTML You can integrate custom HTML code into your website template.
Blogging Features The website development builder has pre-programmed services for blog websites.
Mobile Editor You can customize the look of your website for mobile devices.
Usability Score The score reflecting how easy it is to use the website development tool for a first time user.

These top three web development tools were further analyzed in detail on their selections and offerings for the following categories that are most important to web developers and designers:

  • Features
  • Pricing
  • Templates
  • Editing View Interface

Squarespace

Features

Squarespace embodies the minimalist idea with the company’s site and templates. Even though Squarespace was created in 2004, it did not become a mainstream website building tool until about 2014 with their relaunch and rebranding efforts. While the websites are beautiful, the learning experience for a new user is not considered to be the same. The functionality of Squarespace is not as intuitive as Wix and Weebly. As a result, the website development tool does have an associated learning curve. Squarespace offers email and live chat support for users to assist in minimalizing the confusion when using the no code website development tool.

Fortunately, Squarespace does have responsive designs and templates, meaning that your website automatically resizes to fill the screen of a desktop computer, tablet, or mobile device. This built—in feature replaces the need for a separate mobile editor for websites. In this case, the mobile site will look exactly like the desktop version. If you are interested in customizing or optimizing the layout of your website to display differently for mobile and desktop devices, it is recommended that you build your website using Wix or Weebly.

Pricing

Unfortunately, Squarespace only offers a 14-day free trial for their services. After this trial period, monthly payment options are available for Squarespace to host each of your sites. Hosting packages range from $5 for cover pages to $70 for advanced e-commerce websites. The positive is that there is an unlimited number of websites that you can create within your account.

Templates

Squarespace has a large selection of bold templates geared towards information and image presentation focused websites rather than e-commerce websites, yet there are e-commerce add-ons available. Squarespace provides users with minimalist and artistic templates for websites including samples for:

  • Businesses
  • Portfolios
  • Personal
  • Musicians
  • Restaurants
  • Weddings

Templates on Squarespace
Image 1. Templates on Squarespace

Editing View Interface

The Editing View Interface optimizes the left hand side. By selecting any of the categories on the left, the menu is instantly replaced with the options for the category of interest such as the Design category. At the top of the left hand side menu is a back arrow to navigate up one level.

The Pages category allows you to navigate to all of the webpages within your website.

The Design category allows you to customize the design for your website for the following items:

  • Logo & Title
  • Template
  • Style Editor
  • Checkout Page Style Editor
  • Lock Screen
  • Announcement Bar
  • Mobile Information Bar
  • Squarespace Badge
  • Custom CSS
  • Advanced

The Commerce category allows you to add e-commerce elements to your online retail website such as orders, inventory, discounts, and payments.

The Metrics category allows you to view your site analytics including:

  • Traffic Overview
  • Mobile Usage
  • RSS Subscribers
  • Referrers
  • Popular Content
  • Search Engine Queries
  • Site Search Queries
  • Activity Log

The Settings category allows you to manage settings for your account for billing, domains, notifications, and more.

Editing a Template
Image 2. Editing a Template on Squarespace

Squarespace is a suitable option for those looking to craft a simple and elegant website that exemplifies images and uses minimal text. This type of website can be made very quickly since the templates require very little adjusting and are a great choice for tablet display.

Wix

Features

Wix offers hundreds of templates and regularly releases new templates with a Wix subdomain for free. Users can select templates that fit the objective of their site with pre-formulated pages, e-commerce tools, and social media connections. You can also save, preview, and publish your website directly from the editing view interface. The always visible tool bar on the left of your website in the editing view eliminates virtually any confusion in the design process. The FAQ support network for Wix users is vast and the help desk team is very responsive in answering personal questions. Wix works to incorporate feedback and suggestions from users into the functionality of their websites. Wix also loads a tour of the Editing View interface for first time users. While all three website development tools have SEO sections, Wix’s SEO page is the easiest to understand.

Pricing

There is an unlimited number of websites that can be created with one account. Upgrading to one of Wix’s five premium plans allows you to select the combination of enhanced features for your website. The pricing options range from $4 for the most basic plan to $24 for the VIP plan.

Templates

Wix.com provides a plethora of interesting templates for websites including samples for

  • Business
  • Technology
  • Online retail
  • Photography
  • Music
  • Fashion
  • Education
  • Restaurants
  • Events
  • Health and Beauty
  • Blogs
  • Portfolios and CVs

Templates
Image 3. Templates on Wix

Editing View Interface

The Editing View Interface has a low learning curve with a cabinet layout. By clicking any of the design tabs on the left hand side, a drop down menu with additional options becomes available within the same view.

The Background tab allows you to customize the background of each page with a color, image, or video.

The Add tab allows you to select enhancements for your website from an entire collection of the following categories:

  • Text
  • Image
  • Gallery
  • Button
  • Box
  • Strip
  • Shape
  • Video
  • Music
  • Social
  • Contact sections
  • Menu
  • List
  • Blog
  • Store
  • HTML & Flash
  • Site Login Buttons
  • Paypal Buttons
  • Anchors
  • Document attachments

The Wix App Market allows you to embed publishable apps directly to your website from the following categories:

  • Analytics
  • Blog
  • Bookings
  • Business Tools
  • Chat
  • Design Tools
  • Forms
  • Marketing Tools
  • Music
  • Photography
  • Restaurant
  • Social Media
  • Video

The Uploads tab provides a portal to organize uploaded images, music, and documents for your site.

The Blog tab is a handy new feature that creates a prepared blog page on your site.

Another great feature of Wix is the ease of managing the external elements of all your websites in your account including:

  • Connecting an existing domain or registering a new domain
  • Transferring the website to another Wix user’s account
  • Upgrading the website to a premium plan

Editing a Template
Image 4. Editing a Template on Wix

The mobile site is just as simple to edit as the desktop site.

Website in Mobile View
Image 5. Website in Mobile View on Wix

Wix is a fantastic tool for creating interactive websites without requiring code that can be used for all levels of website designers.

Weebly

Features

Weebly.com was created in 2006 around the same time that Wix.com was established. This website builder has seen a dramatic growth of services offered, features enabled, and templates available. Fortunately Weebly and Wix also offer a tour of the Editing View interface for first time users. Weebly provides the option to choose your website domain as soon as you select a template. The developer can select the option of using a Weebly.com sub domain, registering a new domain, or connecting an already registered domain. Weebly does, however, limit the maximum number of websites created with one account to ten sites. Weebly also offers responsive themes and templates which allow your website to automatically resize to fit the size of the user’s screen. Another useful feature is the ability to integrate icons to your website for full and easy access to Google’s App Suite.

Pricing

Weebly’s price plans are comparable to those of Wix and the pricing structure is very simple. There are four packages ranging from free hosting to $25 per month for a business website with fully integrated e-commerce features.

Templates

Weebly offers 24 multi-purpose templates in three different formats (Site, Blog and Store) that specialize in layouts catering to the following topics:

  • Business
  • Blogs
  • Restaurants
  • Personal
  • Retail

While Weebly does offer more modern templates since their rebranding effort, the variety of templates is limited. After selecting a template on Weebly from the themes page, the editable version is initially quite sparse. In order to populate sample images and text, click “Choose a Layout” within the designated area of the webpage. The absence of a complete template forces the designer to be more creative with the template, but can result in longer website creation times.

Templates on Weebly
Image 6. Templates on Weebly

Editing View Interface

Weebly’s interface is a marriage of the visibility of tools of Wix and the clean minimalist approach of Squarespace. The option to publish your website is readily available within the Editing View Interface. All of the options of elements to customize are readily visible which helps make designing a quick and effortless process.

The Elements tab allows you to customize elements on your website from the following categories:

  • Text
  • Image
  • Gallery / Slideshow
  • Button
  • HTML code
  • Maps
  • Social Media
  • Contact forms
  • Documents
  • E-commerce product listings
  • Google Adsense
  • Search boxes
  • Surveys

The Apps tab allows you to enhance the experience for your users with the addition of customizable apps.

Editing a Template
Image 7. Editing a Template on Weebly

The mobile editor for Weebly is straight forward and allows you to tweak your website for cellphone and tablet viewing.

Website in Mobile View
Image 8. Website in Mobile View on Weebly

Weebly is a decent option for a starting no code web developer to learn about layouts and selecting images to fit your website objectives. It is an attractive choice mostly due to the navigation bar in the Editing View Interface and the available pricing plans. You will, however, have to put in a bit more work to make your website appear as sleek as some of those created using templates from Squarespace or Wix.

Final Verdict

If you are looking forward to developing a no code website, designing webpages with Wix is the smartest choice. With the most affordable pricing options, the most customizable templates, and the largest variety of embeddable apps, Wix graciously provides you with all the tools you need to create a stunning website and publish it within a few hours. Wix also boasts an amazing gallery of photos that you can incorporate into your webpage. This development tool is the easiest to learn and navigate.








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