Squarespace V. Wordpress. Which Platform Should You Choose?
I’ve been designing websites for years and in the process have tried and tested a lot of the popular design platforms including Shopify, Wix, Moonfruit, Weebly, Showit, Wordpress and Squarespace.
With Wordpress there are lots of options to customise as it’s open source - meaning there’s a huge library of plugins and developers - there are literally thousands of plugins/features that you can choose from to enhance your website. It is arguably the best blogging system - ideal for media companies and magazines that post multiple articles per day.
Wordpress allows custom coding, with drawbacks including broken extensions and old links that are sometimes not updated. You could argue that Wordpress is as good as it’s plugins - if the developer who created the plugin either doesn’t create a quality plugin in the first place OR they don’t keep the plugin updated, you could end up with features that stop working and potentially have to redo all of your hard work. The use of plugins also means there’s maintenance involved - you will need to make sure you update your plugins with new versions when they are created to keep your site running smoothly.
Wordpress is complicated for beginners - if you want to launch quickly, Wordpress, in my experience, is not ideal.
This article explains it all really well, with cost estimates and why Wordpress can be tricky - http://www.copyblogger.com/wordpress-website-cost/
Other website platforms to note:
Great for physical product based business with a high volume of inventory.
Well known for the 'abandoned cart’ feature.
Simple to use, good for beginners who want to use drag and drop.
You can’t change templates - if you change your mind you have to start from scratch.
No source code options.
Includes membership system.
Easy to use interface with drag and drop.
No start from scratch options.
Not many options for custom coding so planning for the future isn’t so good.
Recommended - Squarespace
It’s cost effective.
For total transparency I’ll start with the drawback of Squarespace. On the surface, Squarespace appears to be more expensive than Wordpress, and you’ll probably find from your research that it's one of the most reported “cons” of Squarespace, but that’s not 100% accurate. Wordpress can be cheaper, if you want something basic - but you need a lot of extras with Wordpress to get it to a high standard - especially if you’re using it for a business and not just casual blogging. With Wordpress you need to factor in the cost of a custom template design, separate hosting and the cost of custom plugins.
Squarespace is well known to be user friendly, intuitive and easy to learn, making it ideal for beginners or those who want to launch fast. I find, and clients have also said, that Squarespace is much easier to edit as it has a ‘live’ preview window so you can see your changes as you make them. It's great if you love the control over your website and want to make your own updates and changes. Wordpress isn’t impossible once you get the hang of it, but it’s not as quick and easy to update as Squarespace. You don’t need to understand the back end of your website to be able to use Squarespace either, it’s ready-to-go and as we know, time = money, so there are cost savings again in the long run.
It’s beautifully designed
People say Squarespace is hard to fully customise and criticise that it’s not 'drag and drop’. Squarespace however has a library of already stunning templates that you can tweak (or hire a designer like me for more design options!) Instead of drag and drop, Squarespace uses 'content blocks’ which are more reliable. You can still drag and drop the content blocks around and it means that your website content can easily go from the desktop version to mobile very quickly. With other website platforms, you usually have to create two versions of your website - one suitable for desktop and one for mobile. With Squarespace, you only need to design your site once.
It’s less work to maintain
There are some great plugins with Wordpress, but they’re open source so you’re relying on the quality of the developer who created the plugin to keep it updated and ensure there are no broken links etc. If they don’t, it could cause problems with part of, or all of your site AND it means you have a bit extra work to do as you will need to keep an eye on when the plugin needs updating to make sure your site keeps running smoothly. Squarespace is not open source like Wordpress, it’s 'gated off' meaning only the Squarespace developers can make big changes and that’s a good thing - especially for busy business owners and beginners who want control without too much legwork or the worry of understanding issues in the back end of your website.
Squarespace has a website, blog and e-commerce shop facility all-in-one - so you don’t need to install or pay for separate plugins, they’re already integrated. You also have a bunch of other third party apps already integrated including Mailchimp, the main social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and more). It also has it’s own built in analytics so you can get a good overview without having to look at Google Analytics which can be quite complicated to understand if you’re a newbie.
Squarespace handle the security of your website, so it’s their responsibility and not yours - meaning you don’t need to install & configure security software.
When making this decision, I find the best question to ask yourself is, do you want to get your hands dirty?
Wordpress isn’t a bad option, but requires a lot more knowledge of the platform to get it to look incredible and perform well - and can cost you a lot more in time and money by the time you’ve got it to the standard you’re happy with, and once you factor in the time it takes to maintain and update the necessary plugins. If you want to spend the extra time learning the platform so you can make the most of the library of features then go for it, it’s still a great platform! For those of you who want a stunning website that’s easy to maintain and the ability to ‘go live’ as quickly as possible - I highly recommend Squarespace.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.