Squarespace vs Wordpress
If you are just starting your business and need to establish an online presence, you probably have found there are a variety of platforms to use to get your website launched. You may have heard of free options such as Wix or Weebly but these are strongly recommended against. Wordpress is one of the most popular platforms to use for a website and has endless possibilities for customizing and really making the website unique to your business. However, Squarespace is becoming a front contender and becoming one of the easiest to use. I design for Squarespace and Wordpress so I have found that they both have their positive and negatives. Every business is different so this will be a guide for you to choose what fits best for your personal needs. Here are some key points for both platforms.
First I would like to point out the main difference for these platforms. Wordpress is an open source program which means it is free to use. However, when you use Wordpress, you need to purchase your own domain name and hosting and then setup Wordpress onto your hosting. For people who create websites all the time, this part is fairly simple. However, if you’re completely new to Wordpress then this task can seem daunting. Also with Wordpress, there are many features that come with it out-of-the-box but if you need extra capabilities, then you need to add a plugin to your site. There are thousands of plugins that exist in the Wordpress Directory, some are free and some are paid plugins. If you need an extra feature, then you are most likely able to find a plugin that has that functionality, but they can cost a lot of money. If you have a website that is going to need special functionalities, Wordpress is probably the way to go.
Squarespace is an all-in-one solution. Hosting and domain is all done through Squarespace. Any of the functionality that you need is provided inside Squarespace, which means that you might not to be able to customize your website as much as you want. Some clients need more options that Squarespace doesn’t support. However, they are always adding new features or they are able to offer some kind of workaround. As they continue to grow, they keep adding more functionality. If you are going to have few pages, a few products in your shop, a blog, or scheduling services, then you can get this all done with Squarespace.
Because Wordpress has so many capabilities, it can be harder to learn the platform. I find that with Wordpress, you are going probably spend a lot of time learning how to use it before jumping into creating your site. Once you learn the basics of Wordpress, how to install plugins, how to update your theme, then you will find that Wordpress can still be user friendly. There are just so many options that it can be confusing at first. Most of the time with Wordpress, I find that a designer/developer will setup everything and then you can just update blog posts when you need to.
If you are not technology savvy then Squarespace is a much better option. Squarespace makes creating a website fairly easy for those who aren’t good with technology. The dashboard for Squarespace is laid out neatly and is very intuitive for any user. If you need to update content or add ecommerce to your site, it has the options laid out nicely for you. If you are going to be the one that is designing your own site or regularly adding content then Squarespace is a good option. So Squarespace wins this round for being way more user friendly than Wordpress.
As we stated earlier, in order to use Wordpress you need to buy your own domain and hosting, so this is the cost you have to worry about when starting a Wordpress site. We buy our domains from namecheap.com for about $10/year and we get out hosting from Siteground for about $80/year. On top of those fees, you will have to buy a Theme so you can design your site or you will have to pay a designer/developer to get your site setup. That is probably the most costly part for setting up a site on Wordpress.
Probably my least favorite part of Squarespace is their pricing plans but they are still affordable. Their plans range from $12/month to $40/month if you pay annually and $16 to $46/month if you pay month to month. Unfortunately the $12 plan isn't really meant for businesses and the features they offer are very limited. So if you want to get the best rate for your money you should look into paying a full annual plan which could be a lot of money upfront.
Because Wordpress is open source, you will have to take security precautions so your website doesn't get hacked into. It's very possible for your Wordpress site to get hacked and you should make sure that your version of Wordpress and all your plugins are up to date. There are also plugins to give extra layers of security. Along with security, you will be responsible for backing up your content. If anything goes wrong, you can end up losing your content, so make sure you have a plugin that does this for you regularly.
With Squarespace, you don't have to worry about security. The platform is handled by experts to make sure that your content is secure. There isn't anything that needs to be updated or backed up so this is one task that you can take off your to do list.
For Wordpress, if you want your website to look a certain way, you can by a theme that can range usually from $50-$100 and then you can upload it and then input your information. These themes are made from third party companies so you have to choose wisely and see which capabilities each theme has. Some can be very limiting while some can give you too many options. Also, if you want to have a completely custom design that is coded and developed for you then Wordpress is a great option, as long as you hire a professional which could be costly. If you know that there isn't going to be a template that will work for you or you know that you are going to need special functionality, I would suggest hiring a designer and developer to create your Wordpress site.
Squarespace provides the templates for you and you can only choose from those templates. However, Squarespace lets you pick a template and then you can edit the theme and sections to fit your brand and needs. All of the websites are also mobile friendly so they look good on tablets and phones. You can change the design very easily, but at the same time Squarespace themes keep your website looking put together. Squarespace does a good job at sizing images and making sure spacing stays consistent throughout the site.
• Wordpress allows you to have a branded email (ex: firstname.lastname@example.org) because you can create an custom email through your hosting services. If you don't have your own hosting company then you will have to purchase email separately. Squarespace intregates with Google for Work and allows you to have a custom email address but the price of this is $5/month which doesn't seem like much but it is additional to your normal Squarespace plan. My workaround for this is buying email hosting separately through namecheap.com for about $10/year. I've been using NameCheap for years now and they are the easiest domain and email hosts website to use.
• Another point that I would like to address is that with Wordpress, you own all your own content and you are in control of what you do or don't do to your website. With Squarespace, your content and design all lives on their servers and hosting so you could technically lose all your information if Squarespace decides they want to shut down. However, if they decided they wanted to shut down (which isn't likely!) you could still export all your information, blog posts, and images so you wouldn't be completely without.
• ECOMMERCE: If your main focus is to have an ecommerce shop with a large amount of products, I usually suggest just using Shopify. However, Squarespace and Wordpress both have ecommerce options and Wordpress with WooCommerce would provide the most functionality. We use the ecommerce function on Squarespace and we find that it works perfect for what we do!
I wish there was a clear answer that I could give to everyone but these are not one size fits all situations. It all depends on your business and how you want your website setup. If you are a solopreneur, aren't very tech savvy, or don't have a lot of time to research the tech stuff, then I would suggest Squarespace. It can at least be a starting point for you and your business. You can learn some website tech and terms but also use it while your business is still growing. However, not every business is the same you might need more advanced features early on in your business and you might need to use Wordpress.
Question: which platform are you currently using?