One of the first questions people setting up a new business find themselves asking is ‘how do I build a website?’.
After a bit of googling, this is often followed up by another question: ‘Should I use WordPress or Squarespace?’.
And for good reason: WordPress and Squarespace are two of the best-known solutions for building websites available. Used by millions of users all over the world, they allow businesses to set up attractive sites quickly and cheaply. But deciding which of these platforms to use can be a tricky task, and in this post we’re going to try to explain when and why you might use one over the other. To do this successfully requires looking at three key areas: your ambitions for your site, your budget and your time.
Working out what you want your website to do is a hugely important part of any website project but it’s vital when making a decision on WordPress vs Squarespace. This is because with WordPress, you can literally build any sort of site – with Squarespace, the options are more limited, for two key reasons:
To be fair, there is a developer’s version of Squarespace available which allows you to do more with the platform, but you will need to have good coding / web development skills to be able to use it. With WordPress, although you’ll need to invest some time in configuring your site, you’ll find that all the tools you need to make something tailored specifically to your needs are readily available – you can choose from thousands of premium themes, plugins and e-commerce tools to create a bespoke website packed with functionality. Although you can do quite a lot with Squarespace, it is a ‘walled garden’ sort of platform which does restrict your options quite a lot (particularly if you need to build a large site or one that is offered in a variety of languages).
Although WordPress, as an open source product, is technically free, I would argue that in many ways it can end up being more expensive to use than Squarespace. Ok, so you get the WordPress software for nothing, but when you factor in the costs of buying a professional template, some premium plugins, an e-commerce solution and managed WordPress hosting, you might find that the costs end up exceeding those of Squarespace.
This is because Squarespace is an ‘all-in-one’ solution – you pay a monthly fee (which starts out at $12 per month) and you get a domain, a CMS, hosting, e-commerce and a decent level of functionality as part of the deal. With WordPress, you have to bolt everything on, and if you bolt good stuff on, the costs can start to mount up.
The final area to look at is time: how much of it have you got? Squarespace is a tool which is designed for those in a hurry – people who don’t have coding skills and just want to get a nice website together quickly. Although you don’t by any stretch need to be a website developer to put a WordPress site together, there is more of a learning curve involved in setting one up. If you’re planning to build your own site, Squarespace is the easier option (but remember: it’s not the most flexible one).
Besides the learning curve, there is also site maintenance to consider. Whereas Squarespace is essentially a ‘set and forget’ solution, with the company taking care of software updates, security and hosting, WordPress typically requires more intervention from its users to take care of all this. And the price for not taking maintenance in WordPress seriously can be severe: a WordPress site that has not been properly looked after in terms of software and plugin updates can become very vulnerable to being hacked.
There’s also support to consider – with Squarespace, you can make use of a support desk. With WordPress, you’ll only get this if you’ve got an arrangement with a developer or agency to provide it. And without a support desk to fall back on when things go wrong, you may find yourself spending a lot of time asking Google or WordPress forum users for answers to your technical prayers.
Ultimately I’d say that if you have loads of time and loads of money, coupled with big ambitions for your website, I’d be inclined to use WordPress – but if you go down the WordPress route I’d suggest that you commission a developer to both build and maintain your site.
If you’re doing things on a shoestring, or only have simple requirements, you’ll still get a fine website with Squarespace (but you may need to temper your expectations regarding site functionality).
Finally, there are a few other reasons why you might want to choose one of these tools over the other. You’ll find a quick summary of these below.
Chris Singleton is Director of Style Factory Communications. If you’re interested in reading more of his thoughts on Squarespace vs WordPress, check out his detailed Squarespace vs WordPress comparison on the Style Factory website.
A CIM Marketing Qualification could be perfect for you! Professional Academy support marketers or aspiring marketers of all levels, and we can work with you to develop a study plan tailored to your needs. Whether you want to study online with a fully supported eLearning system, or attend face-to-face workshops with like-minded marketers & expert tutors, there's a study option for you.