174 – WordPress Page Builders V SaaS Page Builders

Debate – WordPress Page Builders V SaaS Page Builders

Setting up the Debate

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This is the WordPress.org page builders i.e. Beaver Builder, Elementor, Divi, Oxygen, Brizy etc, against Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Moonfruit etc. In this debate we’re talking about building a standard brochure sites that may need a blog or a shopping cart. So it’s not about building out a complex, bespoke site that has masses of unique features. It’s about something that’s simple and can be done with the native features in the Page Builders.

We are excluding more specialist SaaS products like WebFlow aimed at developers. We are excluding WordPress.com too as that’s a whole other debate!

So, here in broad outline is the content of both sides of the debate…

WordPress – the benefits

  • ownership – this is yours and you get to keep all-the-things
  • can keep expanding as business needs dictate (may not always need a brochure site) easy to progressively enhance the design
  • no chance of getting banned from the service and leaving with nothing
  • full control over design (no fighting templates)
  • SEO (handles images better – concatenated blog, better structure)
  • more control over code output
  • more control over speed
  • community – find out from others how to achieve most things
  • market recognition that comes with WordPress 
  • option to take cost down to next to nothing (GPL, caching and cheap hosting)
  • chance to learn more about open source code – not the propriety stuff SaaS has
  • a plugin for everything
  • multilingual options
  • privacy

SaaS – the benefits

  • easy get started – look great instantly
  • one vendor removing the complexities you get with the various plugin developers changing the UI
  • not having to join the WordPress community where they debate all sorts of nonsense
  • clear pricing / lower costs / time saving
  • lots of well tested templates
  • Squarespace include Adobe fonts
  • avoids the hosting going bad
  • no security issues that you have to deal with
  • no endless plugin updates
  • no plugin conflicts – massive UI changes that you did not expect
  • no speed and hosting issue to worry about (global CDN built in)
  • can hand it over to the client or use it for a passive income
  • no rip-off developers
  • support is right where you need it
  • easy ecommerce solutions
  • AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) at least with Squarespace
  • no email deliverability issues
  • they are growing and getting better – open-source has loads of people pulling in different directions

Final thoughts


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I think some of the advantages of open-source has been eroded recently (Page Builders not adopting GPL or a least locking down parts).

Then there’s the uncertainty over where Gutenburg is going and how Automattic can afford to take over what it becomes for their commercial gain… this all opens my mind to the possibility of SaaS. Also low budget sites are quick to do.

But still, I work on the premise that if I am asked to build a site for someone I am giving them something they fully own at the point of payment. I also think, when telling clients about the longer term pros and cons of building on a platform – WordPress is more likely to be trusted without me persuading and taking the responsibility.


I think that if I were a complete noob and needed a site, I would likely explore WordPress, but then I would hit all of the difficulties and problems that are usual when learning WordPress. At this point I would likely just pay the $19 pcm and go with Squarespace et al. because it’s to easy to use!

BUT if I needed more complexity I’d go with WordPress.

I still think that most people imagine that the job of building a website is the role of a professional and they will defer to whatever you suggest, but that’s declining and the marketing of the SaaS players is going to diminish the role of WordPress over time. I don’t mean eradicate it, just consume some % of the market.

I would never (as of now) build a site with a SaaS as there’s less of a path to generate recurring revenue, and with WordPress there is, but this is all in my favour, not the clients!

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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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Nathan Wrigley: [00:00:00] Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Now, welcome your hosts, David Waumsley and Nathan Wrigley.
Hello and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. This is episode number 174 entitled WordPress page builders versus SaaS page builders. It was published on Thursday the 9th of April, 2020 my name's Nathan Wrigley, and I'll be joined in a few minutes by David Waumsley so that we can have our little debate about the subject of page builders.
But before all of that, let me just do a little bit of housekeeping. Yeah. I would love it if you were able to share the podcast. If you get value out of it, I would really appreciate a little bit of a share. You can do that in any which way you like, you could send an email to somebody or do a blog post or something like that.
It's entirely up to you. But another way you could share it would be to go to your favorite podcast player, and if there's a way of rating the podcast, for example, on Apple podcasts, there's a star rating system. I'd certainly appreciate it. That otherwise that you can keep in touch with what we do. Head over to WP Builds dot com forward slash subscribe and over there there's a whole page full of useful ways of keeping in touch with the content that we produce.
There's email lists to join. There's our Facebook group of over two and a half thousand word pressers, and there's things like links so that you can subscribe on your podcast player of choice. That's WP Bell's dot com forward slash subscribe. Another page worthy of mention is WP Builds.com forward slash.
Deals, I say this every week, but it's a bit like black Friday, but every day of the week over there, you can find coupon codes for tons of WordPress related products. So WP Builds.com forward slash deals if you're in the market for something word Pressy this week. Speaking of WordPress, he perhaps you own a WordPress plugin or theme or involved in a WordPress specific company.
Well, the WP Builds podcast might be just the place to get your product message out. You can find out [email protected] forward slash advertise. Right. Let's talk about what's going on in the podcast this week. As I said, it's David Waumsley and I episode 174 we're talking about page builders of the SaaS variety, for example, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, that kind of thing, and also WordPress page builders.
So. BeaverBuilder breezy, elemental, things like that. And we talk about which is better. Are there any situations where one is preferable over another? For example, what if you were brand new to web development? Would you go for SaaS or would you stick with WordPress? Is there any benefits of one over the other?
Is the community better in one than the other? Is it easier to use one than the other? Well, we discuss it all in this week's podcast, and I hope that you enjoy it.
David Waumsley: [00:02:59] Hello. Today's discussion is another debate which for call in WP page builders versus SaaS page builders. So here we're really talking about the page builders that are on WP org WordPress org.
It's not.com with it excluding that. So we're talking about things like Beaver builder, Elementor, DV, oxygen, Brizzy against the likes of Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Moonfruit. I don't know if they're still around. Do you know Nathan
Nathan Wrigley: [00:03:26] now? It's just only occurred to me as you said that though, I really have no, no knowledge of them whatsoever.
I thought they were. I thought they were into like making gift cards or something, but
David Waumsley: [00:03:37] I think that's somebody else. So there were British, Paige Butler, I don't know. There was a few around. There's lots and the in, when I first looked to I think kind of 2014 I was looking at them. Moonfruit were big in the UK.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:03:49] not familiar with them, but certainly Wix, Weebly and Squarespace. Their names keep coming up all the time. So more familiar with them, but as well as, well, no doubt. Find out. Incredibly familiar, much more familiar with the WordPress stuff, so it'll be interesting.
David Waumsley: [00:04:02] Yeah. And just set up the debate correctly. We're just talking about kind of bulk standard brochure sites that might need a blog or a shopping cart maybe. So we're going to exclude, don't from these debates, more specialists, SaaS apps, like web flows, as far as I can see is a more developers and yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:04:24] So that's say, idea is that we would, we would be pitching as a client, we'd be coming to somebody in the WordPress space who builds websites and saying, what can you do for me?
I kind of need a contact form. I might need to sell a couple of things. I need 10 or so pages. you know, a different homepage and a blog. Perhaps just something very. Basic that we can easily throw together and in either of those platforms without having to, to leverage too much in terms of building a, a plug in ourselves or using an API or anything like that.
Yeah, indeed.
David Waumsley: [00:04:56] And, well my wife tossed a coin for us and I got, I was really lucky.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:01] I got SaaS. You got all. See, which means I'm, which means I'm stuck with WordPress, listened to us both where we're already pivoting as if SaaS is going to win. So that was quite interesting. Shall I begin? What do you wish to begin.
David Waumsley: [00:05:19] No, no,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:19] please go for it. Okay. So although I'm going to say these things, we throw together like a Google document and, David actually put together many of the arguments on both sides. So I'm, I'm kinda going to go through this little laundry list because your, your list was incredibly well thought through.
I thought. So the first point that is worthy of mention, I suppose, is the, the ownership. The, that I think is the prime thing that comes to mind is that at the end of the day, if you build your site in WordPress, whether or not it's with a page builder or not, you have ownership. You have the right to zip that up, dump the database and take it any way you like.
It's yours. The, you know, the website builder, depending on what kind of contract you've got with them, they can, they can just zip it up and give it all to you and you can take it somewhere else. You know, you could host it on your own local environment. You could take it to a different host, move it from WP engine over to kin, stir over to cloud ways, whatever you prefer, and you've just got full ownership of it.
Whereas with a SaaS platform, you. You, you don't have anything. You know, you've basically, you're renting that space for the period of time that your contract is, is happening and you're paying the bill on a monthly basis or an annual basis, and as soon as you cease to pay that, it's not, it's not yours. Now, I confess, I'm not that sure about the export options.
But I, I know that you, you don't own the infrastructure on which it's built. You don't own the, the technique for which it's built. You know, you can't claim ownership. And I know we could get into all sorts of GPL crazy stuff at this point about who owns what. But, let's just say that ownership is one point.
Last time we did this debate, David, we, you went through the laundry list first, but I'm interested in this debate if it's all right with you. If I say one thing and then you come back against that, how does that sound.
David Waumsley: [00:07:06] Yeah. I want to counter this one. So ownership. Yeah, cause you hinted at what we weren't getting to, but in
Nathan Wrigley: [00:07:11] a way we have to, cause a lot
David Waumsley: [00:07:13] of the, the WordPress page builders, you kind of locked into them in a way that you weren't with WordPress.
So you, even if the GPL really to get the updates, you're going to need to keep continuing to pay that subscription. So is that that much difference? And then of course a lot of them didn't even adopt GPL or they've got some of the cloud. Service that's attached to it, which isn't really GPL. So when you get into page builders anyway, whether on WordPress or not, isn't there a certain kind of sense of renting it?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:07:44] Well, yes, but of course, what we forgot to do at the top of the show is we forgot to mention the, the elephant in the room. Gutenberg as a patient builder and a, and if we're using the Guttenberg, the block editor as a page builder, then those questions are pretty moot in that yes, I think you could rightfully say that the, the GPL applies to you and you can, you can do what you like with it, but you are right.
It all sorts of cloudy areas in terms of. who owns what, and I know that you in particular are very keen on this and you've done an awful lot of digging around in the background. And whilst naming no names, there has been some sort of chatter about which page builders have, have got things which all know the GPL in a sort of robust way and which ones less so or, or, or not at all.
in some cases, but yeah, you're right. Yeah, it is difficult and you would have to on a case by case basis, but in a perfect world with the perfect, page builder with the perfect GPL licensing in there, I think it's, I think it's fair to say that you, you do own everything, but you do have to look carefully.
and I know that you do. And so I'm sure that in the sites that you build on WordPress, you could make that claim for yourself.
David Waumsley: [00:08:55] Yeah, I mean other David, the non SaaS guy arguing that I would completely agree with you there. But I do start to think, yeah, it's, things have changed. I think, you know, when it comes to open source, we are so much more dependent on other things that the ownership argument isn't as strong as it used to be. And I think particularly with page builders,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:09:14] you know, one thing to sort of counter. My own argument interestingly is I wonder how much I'm on, how much people care about that stuff anymore. In all honesty, in the same way that you know, in when I was growing up, everybody bought vinyl. And wanted to consume music.
You'd buy vinyl because it was, you know, you could listen to the radio, but you had no control over that. You just heard what came your way. So you'd buy vinyl. And then that was some, to some extent, replaced by cassettes and then CDs and so on and, and, and even MP3s were available for sale. And now we've moved to this sort of rented model where Spotify as an example, seems to be the largest player in the space.
Spotify will will rent you an entire. Collection of music, millions and millions of songs, but you are you, you simply have the right to play it to yourself in your house, presumably not in a pub or on a, in a concert or anything for the period of time in which you have it. and I, I do feel that, yeah, sort of going to your side of the argument, people aren't so bothered about that anymore.
It seems like the subscription rental economy is growing and growing. And I, I wonder if people care.
David Waumsley: [00:10:21] Yeah. They don't seem to too much. No, it's definitely, things are moved in WordPress in terms of that open source roots where you know, everybody's contributing to this open source project to build in other businesses, some of which won't be.
Open source on top of WordPress. I think there's been a shift and page builders have brought that.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:10:41] Yeah. I feel that the, the shift towards digital stuff. So for example, if I bought a CD, you know, it was a physical object, it resided somewhere, and the, the music lived on that object. And so claiming ownership of it was really easy.
It was in my possession. It was in the bounds of my house. It was on my property. It's mine, you know. Whereas with the, with the digital stuff, it doesn't matter. Where you've got it, you know it's even WordPress, it's on a server, but who owns that server and w where, where did the code come from and how did it get there and who actually owns it?
Cause you can't, you can't sort of pick it up and handle it. So it feels like with digital stuff, the, the, the idea of ownership got lost somewhere and people are just happy to, well, it works. That's all I need. It's working. I don't really care who owns it, so, yeah. Okay. Interesting.
David Waumsley: [00:11:30] Shall I give you mine?
And you can try and counter mine. This is the hardest one. So SaaS, you get the one vendor and it completely removes all those complexities that you get with these kind of stuck together WordPress solutions where you are picking a plugin from here and there. So. It's just taken care of. You've got nothing to worry about.
One place to go, even for your domain, you know, you can pick that up from the SaaS apps and everything. Your hosting your domain all together, no conflicts. Just one vendor to deal with.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:12:01] Well, I mean, where's the following? Matt? Well, what if things don't break? What's the fun in that note? I mean, on a serious note, it is a strong argument, isn't it?
And I suspect that this is the, the compelling argument in terms of. People who just want a website, they've got no interest in ownership. They've got no interest in spending ages becoming skilled in photo shop. They've got no interest in all of the complexities of building stuff. This is, this is a very compelling argument and it no doubt.
Is the, well, you've seen the adverts for these, the, the likes of square space on the tele, on the internet and so on. And this is the point that they make, isn't it? It's easy. We just take care of everything. Just pay us, pay us some money each month and it will work. We'll do your hosting, we'll get your domain, we'll sort your SSL certificate.
It's just there. Log in, build your site, click publish facet and walk away. You're done. Perfect. You know, nobody can argue with it. And the fact that there's, there's loads and loads of platforms with million dollar, well I'm sure multiple, multiple million dollar turnovers. Indicates that that seems to be the direction of travel for an awful lot of people.
They don't wish to hire a professional. They've quite familiar with working with their computer. They've got a, you know, they've got a slew of web apps probably working online for their documents. They can drag and drop things. They're quite happy to do it. Can't argue with that, but the Achilles heel, of course, in that argument is that you can only do what they let you do.
You can only do it. So let's take square space. you look at their, look at their pricing. I think it's squarespace.com. Forward slash pricing. Go over there and you can see a whole bunch of different plans. So for example, you've got four different plans at the time of listening to this podcast, and, and there's a whole, you know, it's like a pricing table with ticks.
And if you're prepared to pay $10 a month, you're going to get. These things, and if you pay 15 you get a few extras. And so it goes until that list runs out. And once that list is run out, it doesn't matter how much you pay. That's it. That's all you got. Whereas I bring to you the WordPress plugin repository with it's 748 billion plugins to do just about anything.
So my rebuttal to that would be, yes, it's all well and good having it all done on one platform and the convenience of all that, but, but what if you want it to do something that it doesn't do. And I'm sure you've got an argument for this actually.
David Waumsley: [00:14:35] No, but I'm, you know, I'm just, that's not an awful lot of plugins to go through to find the 50.
have I got to rebuttal for that one? Well, you know what the thing is we're talking about, we can find it to our brochure sites now. Are they ever going to need all of that functionality? Most of the businesses. That this could be appealing to a lot of the lot the clients that I get, I think are going to be, you know, they're going to build this site.
That's enough to get that, you know, to actually have the presence of mind to get together some content to build it. They're going to be stuck with that for the next three, four, five years or whatever, and it's probably unlikely that they're ever going to want any extra plugins or extensions on it.
They're probably just going to stick with that. So your local kind of businesses, you'll trade businesses. So yes, my rebuttal. This is a complexity if you like, all the options that you could have can just stop you getting the job done.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:15:34] Yeah. There's a term for it isn't. There are a couple more what it is, but there's a term for when you are completely stymied by the, the choice available.
You just completely confused because the so many choices that you could possibly have. It's a bit like going into a. You know, a supermarket or something and you'd, all you want is a particular thing and you realize there's 12 of them. Oh, I don't know. Somebody decided for me, put it in the trolley for me.
Pick the best one. Yeah, you're absolutely right. I, I was kind of leading you towards the things like the Squarespace and Wix API where you can. Ah, yes. So I've given you that you, you're like,
David Waumsley: [00:16:11] yeah. Well that's true. I mean, I don't know so much about whips. Obviously Wix has changed a lot and it's competitive, so I'm sure it has got it, but certainly Squarespace has. Got its own API. And if you've got, you know, the JavaScript skills, cause that's what it really relies on, then there's an awful lot you can do.
So you are working within templates, which of course we moved a lot of your decision making for you because there's a whole bunch of those. But you can amend it with some JavaScript if you need to. And maybe. For the low costs that you were mentioned in the cost there. You know, you think how much decent WordPress hosting is because kind of how complex it can be at times.
You know, you've really bought everything in that one go. We include in your domain, I think when it comes to Squarespace and, and should you need it?
Yeah. Sorry. Did I cut? Should you need it? You can add, you know, a few tweaks to it as
Nathan Wrigley: [00:17:06] well. I would say though that, and again, this is sort of slightly inflammatory.
If you're going to start a website, you should aim for it to be massive. Absolutely. Ground breaking, world dominating. None of this mediocrity of I just want a brochure site, which is going to have 10 pages and a context. Form and maybe flog a few things, and that's the limit of my ambition. You should go in with the ambition of building Facebook.
That's the, that's the primary entry point for anybody building a website. And with that in mind, you can, you can grow with WordPress in a way, which you absolutely can't. You know, there's a, there's a whole bunch. I would, I would, I'm probably going to say millions of people who are familiar with it.
Designing plugins, amending plugins, installing plugins, modifying them, tweaking them, and so on. So you don't have the, you don't have the limitation. You are not confined and stifled by the boundaries of the platform. So aim big, start with a platform that you know you can grow with. And that's WordPress.
David Waumsley: [00:18:09] Okay. I'm going to counter that with the opposites. Start with say, you didn't know you're going to put the website out there. You don't know how well it's going to do. Start with the lowest costs and the quickest. Start up on there. If you need to amend, you've paid so little that you can go and join WordPress later down the line.
Chances are you're not going to need it.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:18:28] yeah, yeah. yeah. I think, I think wigs, we could bang our heads on this one forever, couldn't we? But yeah, I think, I think certainly in on this point that there are definitely clear. I think there's some, some clear blue water, as they say, between us both. And I can see that.
In some situations, one of one of one of them works well. And in other situations it doesn't. But I still have some more arguments. What about, so for example, let's talk about SEO. The capabilities of SEO on WordPress. Just incredible. You know, you've got a whole bunch of, a whole bunch of options to choose from.
There's a variety. I mean. I can probably list five off the top of my head plugins, which will help you out. There's, you know, the, the, the, the blogging structure and the structure of all of the RSS feeds and all of that kind of stuff is SEO optimized. You can tweak it to, with an inch of its life, you can fiddle with everything, especially if you install some of these third party plugins.
And so I would argue. That you've got, you've got a much better chance of ranking for SEO than you would do on a Squarespace, Squarespace, and Wix platform where you, you've just got what they've got out of the box.
David Waumsley: [00:19:37] Yeah. I'm going to have to concede on that one. There it is. One of its weaknesses, I think with all of them, particularly things like blogs because you can't categorize because they are page buildings, so they're individually individual pages that aren't dynamic, so you definitely win on that one.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:19:53] Mmm. Okay. That's good. I can, I'll take that one. Another one that I would say it, not necessarily the same kind of an argument, but similar ish is control over various things. So for example, we just mentioned control over SEO, but what about things like control over the environment in which it is hosted?
So let's say for example, you're a speed freak and you really want speed to, to enable your SEO to climb higher. And in order to do that, you. Take a different approach. You, for example, you might want to slim down the code, and so you, you work with your developer to, to get the most efficient code that you can possibly get.
You might start with a very basic, page builder structure. You might go for a theme, which is obviously crucial. To, to reduce the amount of data that's traveling over the wire. And also, you know, the hosting environment itself. You can tweak all of that caching enabled. There's all sorts of different permutations, different setups.
I mean, goodness knows the hosting debate, who's the best host can go on and on and on. But you've got options there. You can flip from one host to another because you've heard that these guys have implemented some crazy great technology. You can fiddle with the theme to make the code output exactly what you want.
I'm guessing that the novice Squarespace Wix user cause couldn't have any of that stuff.
David Waumsley: [00:21:14] You're right, but maybe they've got some advantages here I think because, well say something like square space. I think it runs fairly fast. Maybe not so much always with Wix, but Squarespace I think. But they provide things that you would have to pay extra money for.
So if you've got a global audience or something, they've got CDNs kind of just built into that. Sending out your images for quick downloads and perhaps even stepping back, cause I conceded on the SEO. That's probably one of its weaknesses. It just changed their file names for, for both Wix and Squarespace that your upload, so you don't get that extra benefit.
But when you think about it with the SEO, the speed, I mean, you're going to have this kind of reliable speed source where when you're talking about yours, you're going to have to pick the hosting hosting. As we know changes. Other people buy them out and then they try and squeeze the resources there. You don't know as well when it comes to the WordPress right.
Page builders, they keep growing all the time, and you've got no control over how bloated they might become and how much they may slow you down. So though there may be a few advantages and anyway, SEO perhaps, you know, mostly it's about the title in and your content. So even though it might have a small few things where have to concede that WordPress will be better in the overall scheme of things, perhaps it's just, you know, kind of easier and more reliable to kind of.
Just kind of get that speed in the first place with Squarespace.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:22:43] The, my, my assumption would be, and again, I'm kind of arguing against myself here, my assumption would be that there are some highly clever people who are working on that problem for those platforms, trying to make it as, as good as possible.
You know, I, it would be unacceptable wouldn't it if you were the owner of square space to have a default system, which was. All right. Yeah. Yeah. You know, it would be incumbent upon you for, for the future of your business to be recognized as a, as a leader in having speedy sites. The, the, the, I suppose what I'm arguing for is, is not that.
That Squarespace is slow. It's just that you can tweak the, the, the way that that works in WordPress and you have the option, should you be technical or should you employ somebody who's technical to, to implement things like caching in particular ways that that works best for you. You know, to, to move hosts to some host who has, clearly demonstrated that they're, they're working really well at the moment and all of their technologies are, are aligned and, and it's, it's very fast platform.
no doubt they are very fast. Those pages, no doubtless system is optimized for everything that you can put in. But, you know, I would still say it's, it's good to have that, that capability to change and fiddle and alter.
David Waumsley: [00:24:01] Yeah. But what if I get a client? They come to me and they, you know, they're London-based client.
but they also, they particularly got different markets all over the place. So they've got the Australians that they need to pick and they've got some folks in the States as well. Complete opposite ends. How much is that going to cost me to build, to reach. Those kinds of people with the same kind of experience.
If I go to Wix or Squarespace, I'm going to get that for just a few dollars, which is included with my page builder as well.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:24:29] Yes. And at this point, I'm going to cough very loudly, because the, the, the economics. Yeah, you're right. You're going to have to go to, well, you're either going to have to build that solution yourself or figure out some kind of CDN.
which yeah. Good grief. Yeah. The economics don't stack up in my favor. Assuming that the, the Squarespace CDN is, is all it claims to be for that low monthly price. You're right, it's pretty darn good. And it would be complicated. Well, you know, somebody like yourself who's done this stuff before, it wouldn't be all that complicated.
But for a DUI wire, that would be. Well, I mean, not only that, the cost of it all, but the time to research and figure out what you want. Yeah. I, yeah. Yeah. I think you've, I think you've rebutted that argument quite nicely there, especially in light of somebody who just wants a website pleased. I don't want to be involved in fiddling with anything.
David Waumsley: [00:25:24] Yeah. Okay. More into this side, actually, you're never going to talk to, that's interesting. Okay. Okay. What about this. And, I can sense a tidal wave of,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:25:36] Capable comments coming your way coming from you after this one. The WordPress community, the word personality, you go, you get into WordPress. There's a community of hundreds of thousands of people all out there in their different Slack channels.
They're different. You know, go onto wordpress.org or make.wordpress.org the community. All of these events, you can get yourself involved in. WordPress events, meetups and WordCamps and so on and so forth. You know, get help for problems that you run into. Join Facebook groups, ask people. There's always a source of knowledge somewhere and a lot of it, in all honesty, certainly in my experience, has been very friendly.
I made a lot of real world friends by using WordPress. I don't know how many people using Squarespace could say the same.
Ah, yeah. So community. Yes. And you get kind of debates like this going on in it. well, you know, again, the other side of that is. That is such an unfocused, you know, focus community.
In fact, you made the point for me when we were talking earlier, which I'm going to put against that, which is the fact that you know, you've joined the WordPress community for help about working with, and you get so many different opinions on these. 70 million plugins that are are, which is the best one that they should be using for their particular job.
Go to something like Squarespace. Join a community there, which I must admit, I don't know what that's like, or Wix. You're just going to be talking about how to use that one platform. Getting down to the stuff that's actually going to be helpful to you doing the job that you need to do.
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I, it would be very, very remiss of me to, to not recognize, you know, our own, WP Builds is part of the WordPress community, so mustn't shoot ourselves in the foot.
We love our audience. okay. Let's move on. I think, I think. You, you know, it's interesting, but the community is not really what we're talking about. It's just sort of an aside. but, but kind of staying with that whole community ethos a little bit, what about the, the option to, to kind of develop an interest in something that you may not have been interested in?
So website building as an example. I, the reason I'm in WordPress is because I wanted to fiddle with. With web technologies, I didn't intend really, I'm sure is the case for many of us, didn't really intend for this to become my job. It just kind of happened and it happened because I was able to download things for free.
I could start to tinker with some open source code, you know, learn a bit of HTML, learned a bit of PHP, learn a bit of JavaScript and CSS and so on and so on. And I could actually figure out how to do things for myself. And as time went on, became more capable and suddenly out of nowhere comes the offer of.
Paid work and, and so that idea, I think, you know, if you're, if you're working with one of these SaaS platforms, there's no, there is no way into that. I wouldn't have thought, there is no possibility for you to think, do you know what? Rather than phone up my developer, this little tweak, which I've always got him or her to do, you know, I want to just change that particular thing, which is, you know, they always tell me how they'll have it done in a couple of minutes and it's easy to do.
Well, I want to work it out for myself. And you can of course do that. And that's lovely. It brings you, brings you knowledge, perhaps even a career.
David Waumsley: [00:28:50] Oh, that's very nice for your Nathan. But you know, some of us got more important things to do. You know, we'd need to look after the clients marketing and things like that.
So some of that's coming to me. I'm going to build them their site with Wix. Then they've got a way about it. It's going to look very nice and we can concentrate my time and efforts on getting their marketing rights and yeah, it'd be nice to Potter around the learner, a little bit of HTML or something, or flash, maybe something last for a long time.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:29:15] ColdFusion. Let's go with that.
David Waumsley: [00:29:19] So I can't believe I'm saying these things. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. That's my counter to them. Yeah. I mean, some people, I mean not, you know, I know for clients that have come to us, you know, there are people who build their businesses round, kind of selling on because the client's not interested in knowing the technology behind things.
They just want the websites that they build them on Squarespace, you know, much quicker and can focus on other things. Like some of them. Yeah. You know, they built that SEO platform, even using these tools because they're not much of designers and they help them with other marketing.
So yeah, there was the other side.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:29:57] Okay. I think I've made most of the arguments that I want to make. I mean, there are a few things that I was going to draw out as separate points. So, for example, a plugin for everything and multi-lingual options and so on. But I think I've, I think I've made the broad points that I want to make. So now I'm going to open it up to you and say, if there's anything that you haven't said that I need to, you know, that I need to rebox go for it.
Well, I guess they all come under the same thing, which I may be mentioned at the beginning, which was kind of like security with WordPress haven't done a deal with that. Plugin updates and conflicts. So really you need somebody to be spending considerable amount of time managing because there's all these different.
Ad-ons that are going into make this overall website that you have to keep watching. So you know those conflicts and all of that, you're very unlikely to come across those. I think if you're using the SaaS app, so the one thing that's not going to cost money, cause it's got cost somewhere along the line and you could focus on something else.
So that would be my thing. Also, you know, you're not going to get any rip off developers saying, yeah, you've got a problem. Your sites got hacked. You know, just give me a couple of grand and I'll, I'll sort it out.
you've just kind of completely destroyed most of our business models, haven't you? Yeah. you know, the idea that, that they, they don't have to deal with plugin conflicts or security updates.
Yeah. I, I can't, I can't argue against that really. Although it keeps me busy and it does provide. You know, I'm sure a lot of us base a few of our website care plans on the notion of updating things. And this is an important thing. And if you've chosen to go on to WordPress for a myriad of reasons that we've already discussed, you do have to do that stuff.
And it is a bit irritating. And even from . My point of view, it is irritating because I have to, I have to, I mean, as an example, something broke on a website the other day. It wasn't a catastrophic failure, but it was something where it did consume probably an hour, an hour and a half of my time for no, no gain at all.
Basically, I just got back to where I was before I updated the plugin. I could have rolled it back, but I figured let's just go with it. Cause I'm sure I can work this out. and that kind of stuff does happen all the time. It is a sort of swings and roundabouts. It's a bit like a Seesaw. You know, if you're going to go with WordPress, there's definite, definite benefits heaped on one side.
But there's also negatives and plugin updates and theme updates and security issues are, are a big concern. But at the same time, it is one of those things which. which enable, I'm sure many of us to, to make a living out of things like care plans, because our clients want WordPress and they want the security and they want to pay for the updates to make that happen.
David Waumsley: [00:32:38] Yeah. But, you know, I think one that goes for SaaS, which I'm going to argue is the easy e-commerce. So in a lot of businesses might, you know, so I've, I don't know. I've got my ranch of our Packers and people take them out for walking, and then I decide I want to sell the wall for those on my site. I want to simple shop so easy with the wicks and the square spaces to kind of turn those on.
And they have, you know, lots of . Add-ons, which would actually probably be extensions. You would need to pay for a greater cost. But also, you know, if you wanted to move into kind of woo commerce, you. You kind of got to find out that that's going to be your best solution in WordPress, and then you've got to pick again, all your ad-ons for all the choices, and you're probably going to need some help for someone to, to work on it.
Is it very expensive thing to go to e-commerce it from a kind of basic brochure shop here? It's pretty easy. You just kind of upgrade and there it is.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:33:36] Yeah, it's the, it again, sort of swings and roundabouts if you've, if. If the SaaS platforms do exactly what it is that you need them to do, then I'm sure that there's.
There's a compelling argument there. You know, you pay your monthly fee security and all of that is done. The eCommerce side of things will work. It probably looks fairly decent. The, the rebuttal to that, I suppose, would be that you've got no customization options. You can't modify it. Particularly what it does is what it does.
You can't extend it, you know, on, although. Obviously we'll commerce has a history of making things break up on updates and things not working, and that that can become, become very, very costly. I understand that over time. at least you've got those options, you know, if you need for your shopping cart to behave in this way, which is, I don't know, maybe you want it to have more of a funnel aspect to it.
There's plugins for that. If you want it to look different, there's, there's ways of doing that as well. If you need particular shipping requirements or whatever it might be, there's a way of doing that in WooCommerce. or, you know, one of the rivals, EDD or whatever it might be. but yes, with complexity comes problems and my understanding from anybody who touches with commerce is that it bites you from time to time.
And as an end user with a brochure sites. That's not a hidden cost that you suddenly want to bear. You know, suddenly, okay, we've updated everything. Some things are broken, we can fix that, but it's probably going to end up for $500 bill while suddenly you've paid for Squarespace twice annually from that and, and that must be a bitter pill.
David Waumsley: [00:35:14] Yeah. I can see it on that one. But there's definitely, you know, for the easy getting started. Cause I mean, I would think most of the people who talk to me about eCommerce don't know the first thing until they start. If they have a runaway success with it, then they've got success.
They can build again new. But it's that getting started in the first place that I believe the SaaS page builders will help you with much better than perhaps WordPress. Well,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:35:39] yeah. Actually that's an interesting point. And maybe one. That that rarely is at the bottom of all this, and it feels almost like.
These platforms are very good. On a beginner's level. The the Squarespace and Wix and Weebly are very good to get. You started to build your online ambition, to test the water for a low monthly fee, to see if any, see if you can drive traffic to it. See if the world is interested in what you've got to say or what you've got to sell.
And then if it turns out to be something which is profitable in terms of time or money or whatever that metric is, you can then. Move over to something like a WordPress. So basically, David, well, I'm slightly trying to say is that, Wickson and square space and all those SaaS platforms there for the children and the grownups were over here.
Building. Yeah. So condescending. We're over here building things with a, with a proper platform.
David Waumsley: [00:36:38] And, Nathan, you know, when you're doing the design on your proper platform, are you using the Google fonts or are you using the Adobe professional font?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:36:49] It's a good point. Yeah. Fonts, fonts are going to be free over on your platform are they.
David Waumsley: [00:36:54] The, we're going to get a, I think we're getting Adobe fonts here. Cost you fair bit, doesn't it? Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:36:59] Would feel, definitely does cost you a fair bit. Yeah. There's ways around, you use Google fonts, they're perfectly good. Or you can go to those sites, you know, download them and upload them to the service.
All fine. We can do that. Don't worry. That's a, that's a minor thing. We can take care of those fonts. yeah. So that, that I suppose is my sort of final thoughts on it. I'm staying. I'm staying over on Squarespace. I mean, good, right at the end, I'm staying on on WordPress. I've got no intention of ever building sites for anybody, and I know, interestingly that that is a career for many people, but it's not something I'm going to do.
I'm going to keep recommending WordPress a, I know it. B, I understand it and see I've got control of it. So there's middle LABC.
David Waumsley: [00:37:43] Yeah, yeah. You know, obviously I'm going to stay with WordPress. I love it. And I think I still, overall, I still behind the open source element of this, you know, I still think.
The internet has just changed my life for the better. And there's so much, information sharing that wouldn't be there. And I think the fact that HTML was given away to us all for free, and that we have open source projects. I want WordPress to do better just for the general good of the world. I don't want to see, someone like Squarespace take over a role where their proprietary code.
So ultimately it always comes down to that. And I just kind of love, even though there are quirks, I love WordPress.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:38:22] That is an argument that we never sort of got into. We touched on the GPL, but just sort of the, the three nature of it, the fact that, well, I mean they say democratizing publishing, you could substitute that phrase for a dozen others, which means something similar, but the fact that you've, you've got the ability to, to be part of a community who would, I know that there are economic reasons for building WordPress and so on and so forth, but it's out there.
It's completely free. You can learn as much of it or as little as little of it as you like. You know, increasingly WordPress, it feels to me is going to be used as a SaaS platform and kind of hide it away and make it look like a SaaS platform. And it can do all of those things and it can do all of those things graciously, and it can be given away and it can be forked and it can be turned into whatever you want it to be.
And it's, it's just, I just think that whole premise of it's free. Go use it, make what you want of it, change it, whatever is such an elegant and beautiful thing.
David Waumsley: [00:39:23] Yeah. And I'm pleased we've got the likes. Cause you know, that was a good run for its money. Rarely Squarespace, Wix, and that, when we argue the points, you know, it's good that as in the WordPress community have such a challenge like that because they are. Damn good aren't they really.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:39:37] Yeah. Yeah. I think the, the biggest, the biggest thing in their favor is the, is the price. Really. I think of all of, you know, I know that the software itself works. It has a whole bunch of features, which work is just, the price is so compelling, you know? Just that one. Fairly modest fee.
You know, when you added up the pricing for the basic plan, which doesn't offer too much in terms of, you know, it doesn't do things like e-commerce and so on, but it'll get you a website in, in pounds. You're looking at 120 pounds a year. it's, it's really modest. You know, if you had a, if you were to pay for your hosting and developer updates, I mean, in all honesty, you're looking at a couple of hours of developer time.
That's it. Just to pay for that one thing. And, and there it is. So I think the price is compelling and you know, the feature set, no doubt over time will become more compelling. And it will be a struggle for, for WordPress to keep up against this. And obviously they're making inroads, they're trying to make their editor more in tune with the competition.
So it's feature rich in the same way that the editors in Squarespace and so on are. We never really got into that ease of building. Did we. No, but I think it's going to be a thing which we're going to run up against again and again. We're going to have to justify our existence as WordPress website builders and developers and whatever against these platforms time and time again.
David Waumsley: [00:41:05] Yeah, I mean, the, yeah, it's so easy with this. Slept in a bunch of templates, which, you know, have been tested over a long period of time and they're going to work well with course. The restrictions that you mentioned are gonna drive people like us nuts. But, you know, just getting up and running for a lot of people is just such an advantage.
But can I just say that, that. I think the one thing that keeps me with WordPress, even now, even though I think, well, I could, if you like sell Wix and Weebly, there's still, you know, I could still make some money saying that I will look after your size and build it on that. But ultimately, I do think, you know, I like it to keep open and say back to the tradition of when I started that when somebody.
Get speed to build a website, they effectively own it. So the open source allows me to still say that. And I think also the final thing is really is that WordPress is so big that it's kind of trusted. I don't need to persuade someone to go onto the platform of WordPress. I just need to say I'm a WordPress person.
And these days they now know what that is because it's so big. So I would have to persuade someone to pick Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace or moon through to wherever.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:42:12] It's a good point. It's a good debate. And, as, as you might expect, we've ended up, you know, firmly sticking our flag in the WordPress sound.
I like that phrase, flagging the WordPress sand. There you go. And I think really, that absolutely awful phrase ought to Mark an end to this particular podcast episode. So unless you've got anything else to add, should we knock on the head there?
David Waumsley: [00:42:33] Yes. Bye. Bye everyone. .
Nathan Wrigley: [00:42:37] Well, I hope that you enjoyed that. I'm really enjoying this new debate format.
It was David's idea to sort of be a bit more adversarial and pose one of us against the other, and it's really interesting. Now maybe you agree with the things that we spoke about. Maybe you strongly disagree. Either way. Join in the conversation. You can put comments [email protected] website.
Or it's always very useful to head over to WP Builds.com forward slash Facebook. Join our Facebook group. If you haven't already and you can make some comments in there, we'd be very, very pleased to hear anything that you've got to say. The WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by WP and UP one in four of us will be directly affected by mental health related illness, WP and UP supports and promotes positive mental health within the WordPress community.
This is achieved through mentorship, events, training, and counseling. So please help enable WP and UP by visiting WP and UP.org. Okay. WP Builds do an awful lot each and every week. We'll have another podcast next Thursday, but we'll also have our regular WP Builds weekly WordPress news next Monday.
You can subscribe to that, find out more about that at WP Builds dot com forward slash subscribe. We'll also have our live news 2:00 PM UK time, so there's absolutely tons going on this week. I'll fade in some cheesy music and say. Bye. Bye for now. .

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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