When you’re finally ready to pull the trigger and build a new website for your small business, you have a big choice to make. What platform? Between the dozens of available, our two favorites are Wordpress and Squarespace. Picking a ‘best of’ between the two? It really depends on what you want to do with your website.
Wordpress and Squarespace are both powerful tools with very different specializations. They’re both a perfect fit, just not for the same website. So how to decide? Let’s walk through the differences and help you determine which platform best suits your needs.
Wordpress is free up front, while Squarespace charges a monthly subscription fee. If you’re strong with design and back-end development, and you know how to code a responsive website, the design and development of your site will remain free. If not, you can buy and install a Wordpress theme and learn how to use it. For a quicker solution, you can hire a designer, developer, or website team to build it out for you.
If cost isn’t an issue and you really want to DIY your website, Squarespace is the best place to start for most simple small business websites that aim to get the brand message across and help customers get in contact with you. The cost for Squarespace runs between $12 and $40 per month, depending on your needs, and you’ll get an easy-to-edit, pre-designed site that you basically just need to throw in your own content for.
With both platforms, the best option for a novice DIY-er is to go with a route that offers templates. A template is a pre-designed page (i.e. About, Contact, or Services) that you add your own text and images for, plus change colors and fonts to match your branding. With Squarespace, these are included as a perk of the premium you pay to use it. With WordPress, try choosing a theme that includes templates.
If you want anything more than a DIY face to your website, you’ll want to pay a professional. On Squarespace or with Wordpress templates, that’s usually finding a copywriter to come up with SEO content to engage your customers and boost your search rankings. It’s also helpful to have someone well-versed in digital marketing monitor your analytics to improve site performance.
If you want to get more complex, like integrating invoicing, or offering a back-end login with exclusive features for each user of your site, WordPress is a much better fit. Infinitely customizable, it is a powerful tool that allows you to build out almost any functionality—as long as you (or your developer) has the coding chops to make it happen.
Squarespace has the shortest learning curve for DIY-ers, with tons of template and theme options that are designed for novices but look completely professional. Don’t let that scare you out of using Wordpress, though. It’s the most commonly used website platform and you’ll always be able to find someone to help you navigate the back end.
Flexibility vs. Robustness
The customizability of Wordpress is, in large part, a result of it being an open source platform. Users have almost unlimited customizability, able to edit code and functionality for nearly every aspect of Wordpress. Start from scratch and build your digital kingdom or start with a theme and endlessly tweak it into your perfect website. There are tons of plugins and add-ons built by other users, tools that can speed up the addition of custom features to your site. You’re only limited by your capability to piece things together or code it out.
The downside of customizability is that, if you’re not careful, it can be easy to break things. Each plugin is built by a different user, thus it has its own nuances in what it can do, can’t do, and how/what it will interfere with should you choose to install it. If you are a native in the digital arena, or have a great developer, this is a minor downside for all the flexibility Wordpress affords. If you’re not a native, it’s best to use Wordpress with caution and try to reign in your excitement when installing new plugins or themes.
Squarespace may not be as infinitely customizable, but what the platform lacks in flexibility it makes up for in robustness. Your setup on Squarespace is built by Squarespace. The payment processing, the photo galleries, the blog, the simple drag-and-drop page editor. When you build a site on Squarespace, you know it is all going to work together, across devices, with a community of reliable support from the people who built all of it.
The downside of everything built-in house by a single team is limitations of what your site can do. When Squarespace does cover the bases of what you need from your site, the limits translate to everything working seamlessly. And looking great, from phone to desktop to tablet without the thought of responsiveness ever even crossing your mind. Squarespace has limits so that you can’t design a bad website.
The security on your Wordpress site depends largely on how often you update it and how robust your development is. Wordpress sites require the user to update the platform semi-frequently and ensure all plugins (and the website) still work properly after each update. Avoiding an update can expose your site to malicious activity, so staying on top of these is key. Ensuring you’re using well-developed, rigorously-tested plugins on your site is crucial to security, too, which is just another reason to exercise caution when seeking out plugins and themes to build out your features.
Squarespace has built-in top-notch https://, included with every Squarespace site. It’s part of the package, and part of the reason why Squarespace ain’t free. Of course, just like any other site, if you have an easy-to-guess back-end with a password like 123ABC, you’re Squarespace site will be asking for hackers to come and play.
If you’re having a team build out your website, make sure they are well-versed in building out a robust, secure website. Regardless of your goods or services, your website should be using SSL and https, and you want to make sure the folks building out your site have the security chops to execute.
Customer service really depends on the themes, plugins and extensions you’re using on your site, as each feature developed by a different team will have a different customer support center. Just make sure you do your research before installing anything on your site (i.e. read reviews of the customer service others have received), to make sure you’re choosing extensions from responsible parties.
If you really love a theme or plugin, sometimes you can get around shoddy customer service with a Google search. One great thing about the open source nature of Wordpress is that there are tons of developers helping each other work through functionality problems, likely the same problems you’re dealing with, too.
Since everything is developed by Squarespace, for Squarespace, the customer service is very holistic and cohesive, with a large brand-approved knowledge base. Not as much of the development team spirit, but much easier if you just want a quick answer and a fix you know will work.
There are lots of differences, so how to choose?
The biggest difference between Wordpress and Squarespace is boundaries. Wordpress has few, giving you the flexibility and power to do whatever you want, good or bad. Build digital kingdoms, or destroy them in a single update (kidding, of course! Just remember to be careful with those updates). Wordpress is best for the user who doesn’t mind Googling a how-to and sifting through a few answers. Squarespace comes at a premium, but the components reliably operate together, and it looks beautiful without much effort. If your site needs a lot of functionality, be it sophisticated animation, a member backend, or client invoicing, go with Wordpress. For simple website builds that look great, choose Squarespace.
You can try both platforms out for free, so if you’re still unsure, take a spin behind the wheel of each and find out which one best suits your needs.
We’re happy to give advice on what platform suits your unique situation best. If you’ve already found your platform of choice but want to customize Squarespace, make Wordpress do something spectacular, or beef up the security on your website, give us a shout!