How Popular are Wix, Weebly and Squarespace?

wix

If you live in the US or the UK, it’s been hard to avoid the advertising blitz for DIY website tools such as Squarespace, Wix website builder, Weebly and others.

Jeffrey Zeldman tweeted:

“With @Squarespace commercials on TV, YouTube, and every taxicab in NYC, has web design become a commodity?”

Christopher Butler, who quoted that tweet, added his own prediction:

“Five years from now, the majority of websites will be powered by Squarespace or something like it”

They aren’t alone. Matt Mullenweg caused a stir recently when he claimed that DIY website tools were becoming the true competitors to WordPress:

“Naked WordPress (without plugins) is not competitive to Wix, Weebly, Squarespace”

So, I wondered, how popular are Squarespace, Wix and Weebly? How much market share have they won?

How Popular is Wix.com?

First things first, don’t believe any numbers that Wix uses in its advertising. Back in late 2013 they claimed 37 million users and in 2014 they claimed 50 million users. Those figures are nonsense and probably include anyone who has ever registered on their site.

How many people actually have active websites on Wix? It’s a publicly-traded company, so the real numbers weren’t hard to find. Here are their official 2014 subscriber numbers:

In short, Wix is overstating it’s userbase by a factor of at least 50. That’s disappointing and disingenuous. Wix has over 1.23 million subscribers and is growing fast – that’s a great achievement and doesn’t need false exaggeration.

wix

How Popular is Squarespace.com?

Squarespace is a private company, so numbers are harder to come by. This Quora post has a very wide range of estimates:

  • 45,000 to 50,000
  • 1.4 million 
  • 1.8 million

We can ignore those guesses, but there is some clear evidence that Squarespace is smaller than Wix:

Going by those numbers, its fair to assume that Squarespace is well short of the 1.23 million subscribers enjoyed by Wix.

squarespace

How Popular is Weebly.com?

Weebly is another that plays fast-and-loose with numbers. They claim over 20 million sites which is again is almost certainly counting everyone who has ever registered with them. Weebly is so secretive, they don’t even have the cost of their service on their site.

Even more so than Squarespace, there are no solid numbers to go on. In 2013, Weebly had 80 employees although that number is now climbing. It’s likely that Weebly is the smaller than Wix and possibly Squarespace – certainly it doesn’t seem to have the ammunition to blast back as Wix and Squarespace cover the US with their advertisements.

weebly

What do W3Techs and BuiltWith Say?

One thing we came to believe after looking at the stats is that at least one of most popular website statistic sources, W3Techs, is vastly underestimating Wix.

We really only have 2 number that we can state with confidence.

However, W3Techs shows Drupal with 2.0% of all sites and Wix with 0.1%.

On the other hand, BuiltWith produces much more accurate results, showing Drupal with 763,005 sites and Wix with 1,048,173 sites.

How Does this Compare to Other Platforms?

Last year we estimated there are a million Drupal websites. That is the most accurate number we’ve been able to find for any platform.

According to W3Techs, Joomla runs about 50% more sites than Drupal and WordPress runs at least ten times more, so we can make reasonable guesses from there. We can estimate Joomla has around 1.5 million sites and WordPress has at least 10 million.

I have one popular statistic claiming 72 million for WordPress sites, but that seems absurdly high and I couldn’t find a reliable source. BuiltWith puts WordPress at a more realistic 14 million.

But, it’s possible to create an approximate ranking showing the size of each platform. I’ve added the BuiltWith estimates for each platform:

  1. WordPress (14,700,000 sites)
  2. Joomla (2,800,000 sites)
  3. Wix (1,040,000 sites)
  4. Drupal (760,000 sites)
  5. Weebly (680,000 sites)
  6. Squarespace (450,000 sites)

Remember that this ranking is a best guess and accurate numbers are hard to come by. The only thing we can say for certain is that WordPress is way out in the lead.

Summary

Are Wix, Squarespace and Weebly very strong rivals to the biggest open source platforms?

Yes, if you can spend $40 million on advertising in just one year and employ famous actors (Jeff Bridges) or sport stars (Brett Favre) as pitchmen, then you absolutely have to be taken seriously as a competitor. And where numbers are available, you can see these companies are enjoying strong growth.

If you’re in the web business, you need to think about how these DIY tools might impact your strategy over the next few years.

Instructor

  • Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.

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Russ Schaeffler

Can you explain a bit about the business model of companies that make DIY tools, like where the revenue comes from; hosting, templates, support? how do they support themselves?
And

what are ways developers and designers can position themselves now that

these tools are easily accessible. For an example Facebook put out a

free tool that anyone could use, but it also created opportunities for

specialists that can help companies create strategies. Instead of being

paid based on building a site, they are paid based on how successfully

they can market a company’s free Facebook page.

steve

Thanks Russ.
These guys seems to be a mix:
Wix = loses a ton of money, makes money via subscriptions

Squarespace = profitable, makes money via subscriptions

Weebly = profitable, money from ads and subscriptions
What will developers and designers do? Some ideas:
1) Keep moving up-market, towards enterprise clients
2) Migrate to the world of apps, where there aren’t so many DIY tools
3) Move into other areas (marketing, copywriting, social)
4) Get jobs inside large companies

Bo Simmons

Steve thanks for this post ….. I have been wondering about the comparative market size of these main 3 DIY makers. I agree their marketing presence is disruptive **IF** one competes in the ultra low end priced – small sites space. As a boutique agency owner who has been around for 18 years – we have not been concerned with getting small brochure-ware projects for over 15 years. Your 1st point about what developers need to do it right on mark – seek customers who need something more than what these DIY offer (i.e. go for the work that has custom Ecom, member log ins, API integration(s) or complex data displays) Two other points: 1. RETENTION – Many similar DIY website concepts have come and gone over the last 20 years – the long term erosion of the base through “churn” is always a problem with companies are doing heavy advertising for high growth. 2. DEVELOPMENT ALONE IS MORE OF A COMMODITY – In the end we find most customers need a mix of strategic advice and visual design up front and ongoing to go with development work – yes these DIY are the right place for people with low to no budgets and a little bit of CMS admin talent — but for the same reason most people can not fix their car or renovate their home …. the vast majority of DIY users will produce a site they don’t like and doesn’t produce desired results.

steve

Thanks Bo. Yes, very good points.
There’s no need for us to think the sky is falling.
If we can’t reposition our businesses to avoid a forseeable threat that’s years in the making, we don’t deserve to be in business.

Bruce Letterle

Hi Steve. Great topic! I was just talking to a couple of my peers in the industry about this. In my opinion, we need to focus on building client’s web businesses, not on which platform they use. I like to think my clients pay us for our expertise in building the sites and marketing them, which includes graphic design, content creation, custom app development, SEO, social, and email marketing. Those are premium services that they cannot do themselves with any platform. We choose a platform based on what they need, not just what we are experienced with.

steve

Yes, absolutely Bruce. T
Web design itself is not a very tangible or valuable service. It’s easily commoditized and has been for years with things such as template sites.
Using our web expertise to really move the needle on a clients business? Now that’s tangible and valuable.

AslanForWater

I have experience with Joomla and SiteBuildIt but I can see how Squarespace Weebly and Wix might draw small business clients if they can deliver on a package that truly simple to set up and easy to use. Setup and Administration is Joomla’s achilles heel. Once its working its great but its by no means a simple task for a DIY’er to setup without a fair amount of web development experience. The fact that Squarespace Weebly and Wix are successful says that there are many out there who want a web design product that is very easy to use and who probably not too keen on messing around with Joomla and Drupal or even configuring WordPress.

KarmicVisions

Thanks Steve, I had been wondering about this for awhile and actually wrote a blog article about using these tools so people with no budget had a resource I could direct them to easily.
So would it be safe to assume that you’ll be adding training videos for “2) Migrate to the world of apps, where there aren’t so many DIY tools” anytime soon? 🙂

steve

Hi Hope. Yes, that’s safe to assume. Not early this year, but we’re heading that way.

Yaeger Design

Good article, just for comparison’s sake. Designers AND developers have absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Even if DIY takes over the world wide web, there’s always going to be a majority who don’t want to “DIY.” Shopify is the DIY of e-commerce, but there are always people looking for a professional to do the work right.
Point being, until intense web design/development classes become part of the core curriculum at the lower and higher education levels, our jobs will never be at stake.

steve

Well said. This is part of being in business. Most web devs will adapt and be fine.

Erica Hunter

I’m a publication designer, and this discussion brings back memories of discussions that occurred when desktop publishing software began to appear. (Ok, ok, I know I’m old!) Every yahoo would now be creating terrible, poorly designed pubs because everyone would now think they were a designer! To a certain extent, that unfortunately proved to be true. But just as many commenters here have pointed out, the professional designers had to aim their sights higher, to customers who cared about quality, understood the design process, and were willing to pay for it. In the process, a lot of struggling freelancers fell by the wayside. So some people lost, some did better. I’m still not sure how it all worked out — there are a LOT of bad publications and tons and tons of not-edited and not-proofread blogs and websites out there. I completely agree with Bo.

Scott

Interesting, from here in New Zealand I’ve been hearing about Squarespace on podcasts for at least 3 years now. I’ve never heard of Wix or Weebly before until I saw this post.

steve

Interesting – I believe that’s true in the UK also. Squarespace seems to sponsor many of the major British podcasts.

arpieb

There’s a lot of apples-to-oranges comparisons going on in this article with DIY tools and enterprise open source systems being lumped together. For starters, the bulk of the DIY sites being discussed (Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace and [url=http://Wordpress.com]Wordpress.com[/url]) are either individuals or very small businesses building simple brochure sites. Sure there are exceptions, but by and large those numbers are for one demographic of website owner.
To compare numbers with enterprise CMS solutions (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla – you missed Sharepoint, DNN, Vignette, Liferay, etc) who are a completely different demographic – the DIY solutions aren’t even a drop in the bucket for that market. So saying that Drupal for instance has a smaller market share in the DIY category is a bit – well, silly. That’s like saying Chevy makes a more desirable car because they sell more than Ferrari. Different market, different product.
I would be interested in seeing the breakout of [url=http://Wordpress.com]Wordpress.com[/url] sites vs self-hosted ones, as well as what the numbers are on Facebook Pages as those are becoming more prevalent in the DIY market.

steve

Hi Arpieb
[url=http://WordPress.com]WordPress.com[/url] is generally estimated to be 50% of all WP sites, so you can estimate about 7 million [url=http://WordPress.com]WordPress.com[/url] sites (I’m not sure if they release official data).
I’d strongly disagree with the idea of WordPress and Joomla as being mostly enterprise sites. I see the opposite – they are mostly used by sitebuilders, with a much smaller % of sites being “enterprise”. We often hear people directly decide between self-hosted WordPress and a site-builder like Wix or Weebly.
I skipped Sharepoint, DNN, Vignette, Liferay etc because their market share is too small.
Facebook Pages is an interesting. I suspect it would be even harder to collect any stats on usage there, unless Facebook shared their data.

neilrobertson

For another opinion on CMS market share, you might like to check out [url=http://www.datanyze.com/market-share/cms/]http://www.datanyze.com/mar…[/url] which is a relatively new service along the lines of BuiltWith and W3Techs etc.

arpieb

I agree that Joomla and WordPress are not truly “enterprise” CMS solutions, but they are much more powerful and extensible than the true “sitebuilder” solutions like Wix, Weebly and Squarespace so are still options for SMB sized business on the larger end. Depending on the client’s needs, we often pitch both WordPress and Drupal with a pros/cons comparison.
Your experience with debates between [url=http://Wordpress.com]Wordpress.com[/url] (as opposed to a bespoke WordPress site) and Wix/Weebly are why I was interested in the two different types of installations, since WordPress straddles both sides of the fence.
Joomla always tends to land right in the middle – it can easily be used by a sitebuilder or very highly customized.

RKRRobinson

WordPress is used by 24.4% of all the websites, that is a content management system market share of 58.7%

Alan Fuller

It is an interesting subject comparing DIY site builders and the major site ‘frameworks’ ( I’ll call WP/ Joomla / Drupal frameworks ). The main difference is that the frameworks generally are used by professionals, although they can be used by DIYers they often struggle with creating the solutions. The DIY site builders (as far as I understand ) are targeted at DIYers, and to some extent lack the customisation available from ‘frameworks’.
There will always be a craze for DIY. If we look back at the home maintenance world, DIY is massive, but tradesmen still exist, and personally I can say that I can do most tasks from painting to installing electrics, but from experience I have discovered it is easier and I get better results (and hence value) from employing a specialist.
The same is true of web design, WIX etc are a great place for people to find out that whilst they canDIY it actually takes a lot of effort and the results are only average and based on their own skills. If you are a hobby business that may be fine, but for serious businesses I’m sure that they would rather have a specialist deliver something that reflect their brand and works to meet their goals.
Of course, if you make a living treating building WordPress sites as creating a cheap commodity, throw an off the shelf theme into a one-click install on a host and expect to charge a client without adding value, then the DIY tools are competition.
I think we will start to see a division, where as at the moment there are many people that claim to be a web designer that don’t deserve to, they will get eaten up by the DIY world and the the others, the value add designers will continue to thrive.
Until next time.

Dave H

I don’t really see the threat YET – there’s so much more you can do with WordPress than with Squarespace, Wix or Weebly. WordPress, for example, has full multilingual capabilities which none of the others do. I recommend Squarespace to clients if they are building a ‘Resume’ or ‘CV’ website – or a brochure website – but if they want anything serious, WordPress all the way.

neilrobertson

One of the main disadvantges of using a hosted solution like Wix, Weebly or Squarespace is there is usually no easy way to export or backup your website externally.
If you need a feature that is not available or if the feature you need is a prohibitively expensive option, then you may need to rebuild your website from scratch elsewhere.
If the company goes out of business, you are also left with nothing.
If I’m pinning the future success of my business on my website, then I want my own hosted version of Joomla or WordPress that doesn’t rely on any particular hosting company or service and can be moved within a few hours with little disruption if there is an issue with my web hosting company etc.

Adel Kane

I think you’re totally mis-characterizing what Wix said about their userbase, it’s not nonsense at all. One of the links you posted makes it clear: “We ended the fourth quarter with over 1.23 million premium subscriptions, and as of today we have over 59 million registered users.” Premium subscriptions = paid subscriptions. Some of those 59 million may be abandoned accounts, but it can just as readily mean that about 2% of their users sign up for a paid subscription, while the other 98% use the free service.

Adel Kane

Also it doesn’t really make sense to look at BuiltWith’s numbers. Builtwith is counting individual sites that use Wix, so it’s not surprising that it basically matches what Wix reports as paid subscriptions; if someone is buying a paid subscription they will usually have their own domain as well. Most of the remaining ~58 million users are using a [url=http://wix.com]wix.com[/url] subdomain, since that’s what’s available under Wix’s free plan. Those millions of subdomains get counted as ONE site using BuiltWith’s method.

Jason Witt

No, they aren’t a threat at all. You can only do so much with those DIY website makers. Those kind of site builders are only good up until you need functionality they don’t offer. Then you’ll need a developer to build a site for you. Maybe even on WordPress.

Rustle

Two additional elements which should be added to this thread are screen size reflexivity and backend upgrading.

Blakberry just released a square screen and everything needs to scale up to the new generation of monitors 2000px+
The large ‘sitebuilder’ sites do better here due to centralized management and preset html templates, It is much harder for smaller developers to move on those two issues.

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Sisu Aika

I feel like one that that is largely being ignored is that developers and designers are able to leverage these DIY services for rapid professional delivery for low end clients.
I’ve actually constructed several sites on Weebly and Wix now, for clients, for money. It bears noting that there are still a LARGE amount of people who are still trying to find their way around Microsoft Word… let alone figuring out a “DIY” site builder. And these people have businesses and need help.
In every case, I have found that the motivation for these transactions was simple: They wanted a beautiful well-constructed website, for cheap, that they could run themselves when I was done.
While this can be accomplished, and effectively, with WordPress, services like Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, and their rivals can offer more intuitive publishing experiences for beginners, a no-hassle and invisible maintenance/upgrade process, and are simple enough that any professional could be hired to work on them regardless of their development background.
Conclusion: *Use* these tools to accelerate and simplify your low-end contract work!

Clarence Williams

These are interesting stats, but have you looked into how many “DIY” sites are actually built by end users themselves, V.S. entry level “web designers”? I’ve noticed that many business owners hire acquaintances or even so called design firms who then use Wix or something like it to build them a site.
The other question is where is the content coming from? Even if there is a tool that can make up for the lack of visual vision 98% of us have, someone still needs to create captivating content (photography, videography, copywriting, etc) are there companies out there mass producing that?

James

Hi, regarding the numbers wix said, which you wrote … “Back in late 2013 they claimed 37 million users and in 2014 they claimed 50 million users. “, did you consider they were talking about “users” as sme sort of reach, not the amount of registered websites. “users” is a pretty ambiguous word to base an assumption from.

steve

Yes, that’s what I’m claiming here. The “user” numbers are very dubious, particularly those used by Wix: “Wix is overstating it’s userbase by a factor of at least 50”

Richard Tucker

I was very sceptical on some the customer numbers also (Wix in particular). I wonder if w3techs underestimation is due to its survey methodology being focussed on the top 10 million websites – i.e. perhaps a significant amount of Wix sites that don’t make it to the top 10 million.

steve

Yes, that’s a fair guess. Plus, there have been repeated problems with Wix sites not getting indexed by search engines.

Robert Allen

You know, Google is a pretty good resource for finding things if you’re too lazy to search a site before calling a service secretive.
[url=http://www.weebly.com/pricing]http://www.weebly.com/pricing[/url]

steve

Lazy? Please notice that this blog post is a year old.
Weebly have radically changed their site design since this was published.

Robert Allen

They have, but I’ve been a customer since 2011 and refer them business constantly. Their prices have always been available. Always since 2011, at least.

steve

Sometimes, sometimes not. Here’s a homepage from when this blog was written. Zero mention of pricing anywhere: [url=https://web.archive.org/web/20150205022301/http://www.weebly.com/]https://web.archive.org/web…[/url]

shehan

We are powered by weebly, it’s awesome [url=http://www.nerdynaut.com/business]http://www.nerdynaut.com/bu…[/url]

Marc Bryant

payolee allows anyone to set up a wix payment subscription
[url=http://www.payolee.com/]http://www.payolee.com/[/url]

Ethan William

Thank you

Ellen

I have used WordPress and Wix.  Clients for whom I have designed a website in Wix are just as pleased with their website as clients who have a WordPress website.  One of my clients had a website designed in Squarespace but didn’t like it and commissioned me to design her website in Wix as her preference.
I have researched on several various technical websites what the best website builder platforms are and Wix is shown as the best website builder every time.  It’s a strong competitor to WordPress.
For some of my clients, Wix, Squarespace and Weebly have proven to be more cost-effective than WordPress.
Also, people who design a website in WordPress may not be aware of the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.  Potentially a website designed in WordPress.com can be taken off the Internet at any time without their knowledge.  A WordPress.com site will always have the “wordpress.com” extension in the site name.  Websites created in WordPress.com are not as well supported as websites created in WordPress.org.  More information needs to be provided so that users are more aware of the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com

Johncarter

great post, thanks

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