Top WordPress Alternatives

Building and maintaining clients’ websites.

Sounds simple, right?

But as an agency, you know it’s actually… not!

It’s actually critical — their businesses, and yours, depend on it.

It can determine how much time is invested in building and maintaining websites, whether you’ll need to hire developers and designers, and so on. Let’s just say it has a lot to do with your bottom line. 

That’s why when I see an agency going for WordPress, it makes me wonder.

True, it’s no secret that WordPress holds a huge market share, although it has been slightly dropping over the past few months. Don’t get me wrong, WordPress is a valid choice for many, but is it really the best choice for agencies? 

Consider WordPress’s cons, such as low performance (especially low CWV scores): one of the reasons for its drop in popularity.

Good news is there are (fast) alternatives:

  • Duda
  • EditorX
  • Squarespace
  • GoDaddy

Before we check ‘em out, let’s spend a bit of critical time on WP, shall we?

Why is WordPress not the perfect choice for agencies?  

When discussing WordPress, one cannot overlook the aspect of security.

WordPress security vulnerabilities are not related just to plugins, but insecure plugin code, as well as template code, are a big part of it. It also doesn’t help that WordPress, being the popular platform that it is,  is a target for attacks and hacks. What can I say, the bad boys just love WordPress.

All you have to do is read the latest news about WordPress hacks and vulnerabilities, such as this nasty WordPress plugin bug that puts thousands of sites at risk, ThirstyAffiliates WordPress plugin vulnerabilities, HubSpot WordPress plugin vulnerability, or WordPress sites getting hacked ‘within seconds’ of TLS certificates being issued—and the list goes on—to understand that, well… Houston, we have a problem – especially for agencies that the last thing they need is for their clients’ sites to get hacked.

High maintenance & build times

One key aspect of building a website is what comes next, meaning maintenance. As an agency, chances are you’re also responsible for site maintenance. Pardon my french, but WordPress maintenance is a bitch.

Many plugins require frequent updates, and these updates can go terribly wrong. Just look at this piece about the Yoast WordPress plugin (which we all know and love) update that caused fatal errors. In short, sites occasionally go down. If you ever had a client panicking because their site is down you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. 

In addition, while basic editing of websites is relatively easy, any customization often requires digging into the template/theme and making code adjustments. Even with Elementor-type tools. 

I might be exaggerating here, but going from personal experience, I had never seen a legit WordPress site that is not also being worked on via code and partly (in many cases entirely) built or maintained by developers. 

Developers’ time should be spent building core functionality and not making updates to a website. You want a tool that empowers the rest of the team to make updates on their own and WordPress can get in the way of that goal.

Code adjustments are one of the reasons it takes so much time to build a site with WordPress in the first place. Other reasons are the fact that you have to set up servers and manage the infrastructure, as opposed to a managed hosting tool, and the time you spend dealing with basic functionalities such as image sliders, galleries, forms, etc, that require adding 3rd party plugins and tools. 

If you’re only building one website, that might be tolerable, but when building several websites while also trying to scale your business as an agency, long build times are a definite con. 

Performance is relatively low

When your clients’ sites are underperforming, you have a big problem on your hands. I briefly touched on this issue, but I feel it is something worth further discussing. 

As an agency, you’re also the one trusted with website performance (which has a major effect on conversion). 

There are differences between website building platforms in the way they are optimized for website performance and SEO. 

WordPress does not have a good reputation in regard to performance.

There are reasons for this bad rap. WordPress scores low on performance because themes and plugins often add weight to the page. In addition, servers (where WordPress is deployed) vary in capability and processing power. And the platform does not perform common best practices out of the box. 

If you haven’t yet gotten acquainted with Google’s Core Web Vitals, now is the time to do so. CWV are three metrics that measure the experience of browsing a site and they are a ranking factor, so it’s kind of a big deal. Luckily for you, you can take a peek at the Core Web Vitals Technology report and see who’s leading (Duda) and who’s not (WordPress). 

Support is tricky


Since WordPress is not a commercial product, it does not include dedicated support. 

True, WordPress has a huge community and this is a definite advantage. You could probably find a community discussion regarding your issue, or you can raise the issue and get responses in no time. 

You could also contact the developers of the themes/plugins for assistance. 

But you don’t have a support team you can turn to, and as an agency that might be the missing piece of the puzzle. 

Which WordPress alternatives should you consider?

We have discussed why WordPress is not suitable for agencies, but which platform is? There are many website-building platforms but not all are the perfect match for agencies. Here are a few that caught my attention, starting with Duda.

Duda  

For agencies, Duda is a great alternative to WordPress.

While its website builder is easy to use for non-technical folks, it explicitly caters to agencies & web professionals. It’s not always on agencies’ radar, although it’s been consistently growing its platform and user base for over a decade now.

Duda handles most pain points you encounter with WordPress out of the box.

Security 

As you can imagine, Being that it is proprietary software, Duda is constantly monitored for security vulnerabilities. Also, Duda comes with free encryption and auto-renewing SSL certificates and reports a 99.9% uptime.

Build times

Agencies generally build Duda sites twice as fast as WordPress sites. Their case studies offer interesting data and examples if you care to learn more.

Code is optional with Duda — you can build everything you need without writing a line of code. However, their code editor is a powerful option if you need to customize further.

Performance & hosting

Duda sites perform remarkably well: they actually took the lead in Google’s Core Web Vitals (CWV) report! The pros of this sound engineering earned them a strong reputation among the SEO & web performance communities.

All Duda sites are fully hosted (AWS) & secured (1-Click SSL), with 99.9% uptime.

Agency tools

Since it focuses on agencies, it comes equipped with handy tools like client & team management, client billing, site comments, and automation for multi-site creation.

It’s also made a name for itself by allowing agencies to, ironically, remove its name! Their white labeling ability is the most advanced one in the space, letting you keep your brand identity across all sites built.

Read more: NordVPN Affiliate Program Review

Editor X (Wix)

Wix is well known in the website building world. While not aimed at agencies specifically, there is a relatively new version (2020) of Wix dedicated to web developers, agencies and web pros, called Editor X.

Editor X basically inherited all of Wix’s features and functionalities but provides the ability to design for various breakpoints (screens). 

Equipped with advanced design capabilities and features, Editor X is considered more complex than Wix, thus having a steeper learning curve. Also, it only supports a limited number of templates and solely in English (so if you are creating a multilingual site, it’s not the best choice).

But still, if you are not planning multilingual sites and are ready to invest the time in learning the editor, Editor X is a valid choice for agencies.

Security

Wix is very security-aware. They have an entire page dedicated to it that lists all the security measurements they take. They follow security best practices like design and code reviews, threat modeling and penetration tests, they offer data encryption and anti-fraud protection and they operate a strict TPRM Program to ensure vendors align with their security standards.

Performance 

Wix does not have a great reputation in relation to performance. Website speed has always been an issue with Wix, especially when compared to Duda’s excellent performance. But there is something to be said about their recent improvements in this area.

Agency tools

Wix’s Editor X is more oriented toward designers and agencies, offering advanced design capabilities, such as scalable font sizes, breakpoints, docking and sizing control, as well as multi-user collaboration capabilities to collaborate with other designers or developers in real-time. 

However, these capabilities come with a cost. Editor X  designers sometimes struggle when starting to use this editor (not for beginners). In addition, it is occasionally buggy. 

 

GoDaddy

GoDaddy is better known as a whole suite of website-related offerings, such as domain names, hosting, and more. But it also provides users with a website builder that doesn’t require hiring professional designers. In fact, you can edit images directly in the browser using GoDaddy Studio. So if you are an agency that’s low on designers, that might be a good choice. 

In addition, GoDaddy’s solution also comes with a pro version, called GoDaddy Pro, which offers a dashboard (Hub) to “manage and monitor all your client sites from a single place.” 

Security

GoDaddy, like Duda, includes SSL in all of its packages and reports 99.9% uptime. Also, they offer an auto-save option, automatically backing up your clients’ sites, for the chance that these sites will get hacked or crash for some reason.

Performance

Seeing that GoDaddy is a hosting giant, you probably don’t have to worry about performance. However, actual GoDaddy users are complaining on multiple forums about slow websites due to overcrowded servers.

Agency tools

GoDaddy Pro offers a dashboard where agencies can manage and maintain all their WordPress clients’ sites in one place. Agencies are also able to manage projects with customizable to-do lists and project timelines. However, since their website builder is primarily designed for small business owners looking to create a basic website quickly, their toolset for agencies is quite limited. 

Squarespace

Squarespace is an acceptable option for web designers and has a reputation for being a website builder for creative people. Indeed, their designs are appealing. They also offer a dedicated place for web designers called “circle” that provides access to tools, education, community, and perks to help members grow their web design practice. 

There are a few buts. If things like multi-language, performance, and advanced navigation levels are crucial to your operation… then maybe consider other alternatives. And for SEO-intensive sites, these blockers might hinder your efforts.

Security

Squarespace sites include free SSL certificates as well. In addition, they have built-in security and DDoS protection. It seems that security-wise – you are covered.

Performance

If you look at Core Web Vitals, Squarespace scores are lower than Duda’s and even Wix’s. Another thing to note is that Squarespace’s templates are considered image-heavy, which reflects in the loading time. 

Agency tools

When properly integrated with the website builder offers, agency tools can assist agencies to sell their service, collaborating with clients and the team, as well as upselling and bill clients. Simply put, they are there to boost agencies’ productivity. It seems that Squarespace doesn’t excel in this category. They don’t offer a lot of the features that Duda offers such as client billing, site comments (allowing to leave comments on top of the website for the rest of the team or the clients), or even white labelling, but they do offer team permissions. 

So what’s the verdict?

Yes, for many, WordPress is the default choice. But as an agency, you have better options. 

I’ve reviewed the various reasons why WordPress is not the perfect choice for agencies. In short, as an agency that builds many websites (or more than one) and is the owner of all website-related issues, you need a website building platform that is easy, quick (in terms of build times) top-performing (SEO, CWV), low maintenance, secure, and comes with dedicated support. 

Though I presented some alternatives, I do have my favourite. It’s not by chance that Duda checks all these boxes; only a website builder that is targeted toward agencies knows their pains and needs all too well to address them head-on. 

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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