Squarespace or WordPress?
Which is right for you?

Do you prefer Squarespace or WordPress?

This is a question we hear all the time, and it’s a topic we can go on and on about. In the end, it’s all a matter of preference, goals, and functionality needs.

We can tell you right away – our preference is WordPress, and our preferred WordPress theme is Beaver Builder. Beaver Builder is SO user-friendly, which make things easy for our clients, it’s 100% customizable, it’s secure, and it’s always up to date with the latest security, features, and trends.

We’ve been in this industry for several years now, and we strive for excellence in all areas when it comes to your website. WordPress and Beaver Builder both provide us with the freedom of creativity and the advanced functionality capability we need for our diverse client base.

A QUICK COMPARISON

Squarespace (in our opinion) is like buying a prefab dinner (like the nice, gourmet ones delivered to your door) vs. a hiring an actual chef.

The prefab dinner will arrive on your doorstep packaged nicely. You’ll follow the recipe to do your best to make it look like the photo. But what happens when you want to add more ingredients? What if the fish is Tilapia, but you wanted Halibut. You may or may not be able to specify those things when you order, and you may or may not be able to pop over to the store quickly (quick is the a big point of those dinners, right?) to swap out the higher end ingredients. PLUS, when you swap them out, you’re likely to spend more money, take longer to prepare the meal, and you’ll be crossing your fingers that it comes out as good as it was supposed to be even with your swapped out ingredients.

A chef, on the other hand, will take into account your dietary needs, the guests joining you for dinner, high-end ingredients, the equipment used to prepare the dishes which can affect taste and texture, and so much more. The meal will be prepared just for you and not mass-produced like the prefab meals.

Both options will likely taste great and deliver what was promised. But, part of knowing what you want to order in the first place has to do with a lot of factors such as hunger, portion size, dietary needs, if you’ll want or need to add to the meal, if you’ll be able to add to it yourself or if it will be more advanced and require the skills of a chef…you get the picture.

Your website is the tool that will make you money, whether people are actually buying something from you online or simply using your website to learn about (i.e. your services, pricing, location, or contact information).

The most important things to think about are:

  • What all do you NEED in terms of functionality for your website?
  • Do you want or need your website to be able to grow with your business vs. being potentially limited and possibly having to start from scratch only a year or two later?
  • How much time are you willing to invest (if you choose to DIY)?
  • How much money are you willing to invest (whether you DIY or hire a pro, and if you choose a limiting product, you may need to account for starting over should the need to expand arise)?

WordPress or Squarespace? Get the pros and cons of each | TheEssentialWebsite.com

Let’s talk comparison, shall we?

Things that are the same for both Squarespace and WordPress:

  • You can choose from a free or premium theme (if you know which themes/templates are “good” and which aren’t).
  • Both have a way to optimize for search engines (i.e. submit your sitemap to Google, edit your metadata, add image alt tags, create structured content with headings, etc.).
  • With both you are able to install an SSL Certificate, which Google requires.
  • Both have “free” plans (keep in mind, though, you get what you pay for). Free means there are limitations to themes, customer service, your personal branding, restrictions on site size, no custom URL, and advanced functionality. A domain like suziscatering.squarespace.com (or suziscatering.wordpress.com) on your business card looks pretty amateurish, which translates to clients that your services/products might be amateur, too.
  • Both have a “nice” list of high profile clientele:
    • Squarespace: Pixar, Rodarte, Wired
    • WordPress: Disney, BBC, Sony
THE PROS AND CONS
Squarespace Pros
  • Quicker turnaround (if you are going to DIY and you have the time to commit to learning)
  • Easier than WordPress behind the scenes (good for non-techies)
  • Good for newbies in business
  • One stop shop (hosting, security, backups, templates, ecommerce, domain purchasing with no charge for domain privacy)
  • They have a dedicated customer service staff
Squarespace Cons
  • Squarespace holds your site’s layout and some its content hostage. If you ever decide to move your website to another platform like WordPress, you can’t simply migrate the entire site as-is. You can export parts of a Squarespace site and then rebuild the layout in the new platform. Squarespace is a content management system and web host all-in-one. No one else hosts Squarespace sites other than Squarespace. So, you can’t take your Squarespace site as-is and put it somewhere else (should you ever want or need to do that). If you have a WordPress website, however, you can export and/or migrate the entire site to a completely different host whenever your heart desires. Click here to read more about what you can and can’t export from Squarespace.
  • It’s difficult to move your domain/URL away from Squarespace if/when needed. For example, if you used Squarespace to purchase your domain, you have to follow their instructions to try and figure out how to move the domain yourself. Once you’ve figured it out, it could take (at least) 7 days for the change to be completed. Does your business have 7 days (or possibly longer) to wait? You also better be sure to cancel your Squarespace account AFTER you move your domain – otherwise, you’ll lose it. We don’t know about you, but who has time to figure this all out or take that risk?
  • If you lose your domain name, say sayonara to your emails and all of your email history.
  • You have to use a template (pre-designed theme). In other words – what you see is what you get. Which means you have no (or very little) control on how things look or how the user experience (UX) for your unique business should be – designed to meet your needs and connect with your clients. You could upgrade (see the next item), but that can cause issues too. Upgrades probably also mean more costs.
  • It’s not that great for established businesses that want the flexibility to expand and grow their website later on (Squarespace templates are restricting). Like trying to wear the shoes you wore when you were 10 after you’re 20. It’s true you can change your template as much as you want, but it could “mess” things up on your current site. Read more on this from Squarespace here. You could also hire Squarespace developer if you nee more.
  • By using a ready-made, assembly line product for the masses, you’re losing out on addressing your specific needs. Maybe you need more security because of sensitive information, maybe you need a customized user experience, maybe you need special functionality, etc. Squarespace may or may not be able to meet all of your needs.
  • There are lots of “opportunities” for Squarespace to up-sell to unsuspecting business owners who may not know they don’t need certain “extras”.
  • An “easy” fix isn’t always the best solution. Grabbing a template and slapping in images and text may be quick, but is it right for your business? Maybe, if you’re in a pinch and have a deadline of last week. That’s why we help people plan ahead. Without a plan, it’s like treating the symptoms instead of the underlying problem.
  • Some themes are only semi-responsive, which is not great since most people use their mobile device vs. a desktop. If your website isn’t responsive, you will lose clients. Simple as that. While some Squarespace templates are “mobile friendly” out of the box, you can’t control how it actually looks for your exact and unique content without the ability and know-how to custom code to make sure your site functions easily on different devices. See if your website is mobile-responsive here.
  • You have some freedom to make minor edits if you have coding knowledge and want to customize using CSS code.
  • And a biggie: It can get expensive. It’s more expensive month-to-month for shared hosting ($18/month for a Squarespace business site vs $7.50/month with Websavers or $5.95/month with SiteGround). E-commerce pricing for Squarespace goes up to $26 or $40/month.
Squarespace or WordPress - what's right for you? #websitetips Click To Tweet
WordPress Pros

Note: We are referring to self-hosted WordPress.org content management system below, not the WordPress-hosted WordPress.com. Read about the two platforms here and here.

  • You have control over your own website and your domain name. If you want to move hosts (web or domain hosts), you can do so easily and quickly. You also have possession of your email addresses and history. Best part, if you decide to move hosts, you can move ALL of your content and design AND keep your SEO content and structure in place.
  • You are able to customize your website to fit your unique business needs. A designer/developer will customize to your brand, with UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) taken into mind. We like to dig deep to explore your goals and needs to come up with the perfect recipe of design, user experience, and your goals. A good developer will have a vested interest in your success and will work to ensure your website is one that works for you.
  • WordPress is for new businesses or established big businesses like Disney, Sony, the BBC and more. You’re able to grow and expand easily with WordPress without the risk of losing your content or trying to do it on your own (unless you want to). You also have thousands of options when it comes to added functionality tools vs. the restriction to usually only use Squarespace products on a Squarespace site.
WordPress Cons
  • WordPress is an open source product with a volunteer community for support. So, it may take a while to get answers. However, when you buy a premium theme and premium plugins (both of which are highly recommended), you will get dedicated customer support.
  • You are responsible for finding your own website host, domain provider, and email host (if your web host doesn’t provide email hosting or you choose not to use the email hosting that comes with your web hosting plan).
  • You are responsible for your own backups, updates, and security.
  • It can get confusing trying to figure out which theme or what plugins you need.
  • Unless you know to code, mostly with HTML and CSS, you may be limited in customization (which is the case with Squarespace). However, you at least have the option to add any advanced features or functionality your heart desires. You’ll just need to hire a developer for the things you don’t know how to do.
  • WordPress behind the scenes can be challenging to learn when you’re first starting out.
HOW WE TURN WORDPRESS (and a few Squarespace) CONS IN TO PROS
  • Good web hosts and web developers offer excellent customer service and support. We recommend two highly valued, excellent web hosts. We also know everyone has their own expertise, and we don’t expect our clients to “know” WordPress or know how to do certain things. So, our process includes lots of hand-holding where we walk our clients through each step – before, during and after. Once your project is complete, we’re here when you have questions, and we show you how to make edits and tackle other important things going forward. You’ll also have access to our Clients Only website full of tutorials and resources to learn more at your leisure.
  • We are the honest experts who will be straight with you. If you don’t need something, we’re not going to push it on you (doing such sleazy tactics isn’t good for our future or yours). See what our happy clients have to say.
  • We make decisions easy for our clients. We know which plugins, theme, hosts, and other services to use or don’t use as well as what works and what doesn’t.
  • Our design and technical expertise can turn that dream in your head into a reality. We know code and how to use it to achieve perfect design aesthetics, personality, and functionality.
  • If you don’t want to be responsible for the backups, security, or software updates, we can do that for you. If you’re a DIYer, we give you tips, tutorials, and resources to get it done on your own.
  • We are on your team when you have questions or need help and can assist when your website needs to keep up with your growing business.
  • We set you up and teach you how to easily use and make edits to your website when you need to. We incorporate thoughtful, strategic SEO and design; offer assistance with branding and email marketing; have resources for other professionals when/if you want to take your SEO and other marketing to the next level; and a ton more. We are your go-to resource when it comes to your online business. If we don’t do it, we know who to call (and we only recommend the best.)
  • We keep a personal eye on every website we support. If something goes awry, we fix it (and most of the time, you’re never even aware). Why worry you with the stress? We also make sure that when new “rules” set by Google come out or other important info comes on the scene, our clients are aware.
  • We happily share and are cheerleaders for our clients. Have a big sale coming up? We’re happy to help spread the word! Have you ever heard of Squarespace, Wix, or another of the DIY website services doing that for their clients?
WHAT NOW?

If you’re ready to get moving, this guide will make sure you’re not missing a thing. Grab:

The Essential Website Prep & Launch Guide

If you have more questions about how we can help or just want to find out if we’re a perfect fit, contact us here. Once we hear from you, we can set up a Discovery Call to answer your questions and “meet” each other.

Hope we helped explain the important differences between Squarespace and WordPress. Have a question or want to tell us about your experience with either service? Tell us below. Thanks!

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About Stefani and Janet

Hi there, we're Stefani and Janet, co-founders of The Essential Website. We design and code WordPress websites for businesses and bloggers who want to shine online, and we do it with style, strategy and a bit of spunk! We're both dog lovers, travel enthusiasts, escapers of the 9-5, and proud computer geeks. Thanks for stopping by, we're so happy to connect with you.

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