WordPress or Squarespace – Which is Best for your Business?

Written by Director of Style Factory Communications Chris Singleton 

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.

What are your ambitions for your site?

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:

  • WordPress allows you to make use of thousands of themes; Squarespace provides just 60
  • there are no plugins (third-party apps) available for Squarespace to extend its functionality – by contrast, there are thousands available for WordPress

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).

Do you have a budget?

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.

Do you have time?

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.

So which is best?

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.

Reasons to use Squarespace over WordPress

  • Squarespace is easier to set up and use than WordPress.
  • Many features which you have to source separately in WordPress are available ‘out of the box’ in Squarespace - e-commerce, data capture forms, themes etc.
  • Hosting and domain names are included with the product - using WordPress, you’ll have to sort these out separately.
  • With Squarespace you don’t really have to worry about the technical aspects of maintaining your site; but if you use WordPress, you’ll need to keep on top of this or your site will become vulnerable.
  • Squarespace is responsible for the security of your website - if you use WordPress, security depends on how diligent you are when it comes to software updates.
  • 24/7 support is available for Squarespace.

Reasons to use WordPress over Squarespace

  • You can build any type of site with WordPress; this is not the case with the standard version of Squarespace.
  • A significantly wider range of themes is available for WordPress than for Squarespace.
  • WordPress comes with a more sophisticated content management system which, unlike Squarespace, facilitates content versioning.
  • A vast range of plugins – both paid-for and free - is available to help you add functionality to your WordPress website. No such plugins are available for Squarespace.
  • Data capture options are more extensive in WordPress than in Squarespace.
  • WordPress sites can be optimised for search engines much more easily than Squarespace ones.
  • On a WordPress site, you have more control over your content - with Squarespace, you’ll have to adhere to an ‘acceptable use’ policy.
  • WordPress is a much better option than Squarespace for creating multilingual or ‘multisite’ projects.

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.

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