WordPress or Squarespace – Which One Should You Use?

Business Owners

WordPress and Squarespace are both great for building sites. It’s what kind of site you need that will make the difference. While you go through the items below, keep what you need in mind.So you’re building a website! You’ve heard of Squarespace and WordPress (or you have now) and you’re wondering which one you should build your website with. WordPress makes up over 25% of the entire internet, but Squarespace boasts a simple drag-and-drop interface.

So which one is the best for you? Well, it’s not quite that easy. Hammers and Screwdrivers are both great tools, but try to use them for the other’s purpose and there’ll be problems. Same goes for WordPress and Squarespace or any other tool out there used to build websites.

 

Ease of Use

Squarespace and WordPress are both fairly easy to use.

WordPress’s interface is probably similar to what you’re used to: links on the left with a textbox on the right for your pages or posts. In my experience, most clients pick up on WordPress’s interface fairly quickly. There are a few things that are in unusual places, like the sidebar information is under Appearance -> Widgets. But overall, basic running of the site is pretty easy.

Squarespace is set up differently. On the left are the items you can edit, but when you hover over the page, you can edit any section. When editing, the edit box pops out and allows you to add or edit the information you’ve already inserted into the page. It’s easier to add complicated items to Squarespace, like slideshows etc., but there are a limited number of those to add.

Site Features / Addons

Here’s a little tech-speak for you: WordPress is open source, while Squarespace is closed source. This is really really important when you’re choosing which one to use. Open source means that anyone can add onto the coding; in fact, it’s made specifically for that purpose. Closed source means only the developers/company who created it can edit the coding.

But what does that mean for you? The features included in Squarespace is it. You can’t build on, or add other items. If you build a site in Squarespace and then need this one thing that squarespace doesn’t provide, too bad! Now don’t get me wrong, Squarespace offers a lot of features. It includes an entire ecommerce setup, analytics, blog capabilities, slideshows, etc. There’s a lot there, but it’s not endless.

WordPress is endless. You can hire a developer to do practically anything you can dream of with WordPress. It’s built to be added onto. Want the slideshow to be completely customized? It can be done. Want an entire back area on your site for clients to log information, or employees to keep track of their hours? It can be done.

But here’s the thing: not everyone needs endless. And if you don’t need it and won’t ever need it for what you’re building, then this may not weigh into your decision.

Sidenote: For coders, jQuery and Javascript can be added into Squarespace for a bit more customization of certain items. For example, I customized the built-in slideshow to automatically move through the images with just a bit of jQuery. There is, however, no ability to use PHP.

Design and Templates

The Squarespace templates are beautiful; just as beautiful as the best WordPress templates. But again, that open source / closed source issues come into play here. Every template has to be created by Squarespace and there are a very limited amount. You can customize with colors and where things go, but the template you start with is set. But because they are all created by Squarespace, you know the template will work and will work well. And if it doesn’t, Squarespace has customer service you can call.

WordPress, on the other hand, has every template layout you can image available and you can get a custom design from scratch. There are free ones (that aren’t very good), but most cost around $50. Buying a template doesn’t guarantee it’s a quality template. The requirement for a template being added to a site like Theme Forest is fairly low, with really just the basic viability tested. If it doesn’t work well, most theme authors provide customer service, but it’s not just one company. Some provide amazing service and some provide practically none. I’ve had experience with both.

Bottom line, if you decide to go with WordPress, you’ll want a developer on hand to help you pick out quality templates or create a template and help if you run into any issues. If you decide to go with Squarespace, keep in mind that many other websites will have your site design. Again, it’s all about what matters to you.

Security & Speed

WordPress does not handle your website for you. Your site speed will be based on what you add into your site and how optimized you make it. The security is the same; you’ll need to either hire someone to keep an eye on it or install a security plugin to keep a virtual eye on it.

Squarespace has everything added in. They handle security; they handle website speed. It’s an all-in-one service.

Pricing

At it’s most basic, WordPress is less expensive than Squarespace. You can get hosting for WordPress for roughly $4 a month and do practically anything with it. Squarespace starts at $8 billed annually ($10 billed monthly), and limits what you can do with the site – for example, you can only sell one product at that price.

Also, Squarespace pricing is for one site only. Hosting plans can, at around $8 a month, allow you to host multiple websites for that pricing.

However, if you use WordPress, I’d recommend you get a developer to help you make the site, which adds in an up-front cost. You might also need a developer on Squarespace, depending on how “do-it-yourself” you are, but it’s not necessarily required.

Changing Platforms

If at some point you want to change from Squarespace or WordPress to another content management system, there can be some issues. With WordPress you own everything on your site. You have access to all the files that make up your site as well as the database that holds all your page information. WordPress has made exporting really easy using their export tool, and tutorials online can help you move it to virtually any platform you’re looking at. Basically, you can export any information you have on your site.

Squarespace allows the exporting of some items, but not all. Their HELP page states that you can export basic pages, galleries, and posts, but you cannot export your products, events, albums, audio, or videos. 

Updating and what happens if something goes wrong?

Squarespace does all their updates in-house. You don’t hit the update button, they do; and the update goes across all the sites at once. Most of the time, this can be really good – it means you don’t have to worry about keeping your site updated. But it also means that if an update breaks your site, you can’t do anything to fix it. You can’t hire someone – you just put in a ticket to Squarespace.

If your site is small, this isn’t a big issue. The likelihood of something going wrong during an update is fairly slim and shouldn’t worry you. BUT if you’re looking to build a large e-commerce site, it’s something you’ll want to keep in mind. I recently had a client who lost over $200,000 in 4 days of lost sales because the Squarespace update messed up their checkout process. Needless to say, they were not happy.

With WordPress, you’ll need to update the site yourself. However, you or your developer can clone the site, test the upgrade, and then (if everything works), upgrade your live site. For larger sites, I’d highly recommend WordPress. But again, if your site is small, this isn’t something you’ll need to worry about.

Bottom Line

No online tool will ever be one-size-fits-all. It’s important to figure out what you need before you choose what to build your website in. I’ve built sites in both WordPress and Squarespace, and found that both work well depending on what the client needs.

If you need help in either platform, or working through what your future site needs, contact me!

WordPress and Squarespace are both great for building sites. It’s what kind of site you need that will make the difference. While you go through the items below, keep what you need in mind.

Comments