Squarespace or Wordpress: The Basics
So, you need a website and you’re trying to debate between platforms. You’ve played with Wix and Weebly, realizing quickly that they weren’t a good fit for you. And now you’re trying to decide between Squarespace and Wordpress, but you’re not sure which one to pick.
You’ll be glad to know that they’re both great website building platforms. You won’t really go wrong by choosing one or the other. That said, there are plenty of reasons why you might pick one over the other, depending on your goals.
Let’s dive right in, shall we?
The biggest benefit of Squarespace is the fact that it’s an all-in-one platform. That means that your yearly (or monthly) fee includes hosting, the design platform, and other perks. You can also easily buy and maintain your domain and G Suite email address through Squarespace. When it comes to website building and maintenance, Squarespace is pretty seamless.
Squarespace is also a well-built platform in terms of navigating tools with ease. It produces professional-looking websites, even when non-designers create them (within reason). The limited design options are actually a benefit when you’re not a designer because it locks you into making branding and design choices, without needing to fully understand the concepts.
It also allows designers to use code to customize sites. And there are plenty of tricks for creating code-looking design without using actual code - great for those who don’t want to learn CSS or HTML.
Also, since you pay for the Squarespace platform (reasonably priced, I might say), you get access to support. This means that if you’re struggling to figure out how to do something (non-coding questions), they’re there to help you work it out.
The main drawback for Squarespace is simply that it is limited. Sure, you could go into full developer mode and code up a 100% custom site. But the majority of people are just going to use Squarespace’s design platform.
As mentioned above, this can also be a benefit for those who would get overwhelmed by the options another platform might offer. Sometimes simplicity is the best.
That said, if you can’t code or don’t understand Squarespace well enough to do work arounds, your website might end up looking just like all the other Squarespace template-based websites. You might not mind this or it might be a huge bother. Depends on your website and business goals.
Wordpress has been around for quite a while and is an open source software. This means that you can download the software for free. Of course, in order to really run the software you’ve got to then pay for hosting somewhere (which can range from relatively inexpensive to very expensive, depending on what you’re looking for).
Since it’s an open source base, an incredible number of plug-ins are available that make the software do all kinds of things. Essentially, with Wordpress, the sky's the limit. Your imagination, coding abilities, design skills, and plug-in integrations mean you can create just about anything.
In the last few years, drag-and-drop web builders have come on the scene for Wordpress. After you choose a highly flexible template that works with the builder, you can design a site in a similar way to how you would design a Squarespace site. These builders are an extra fee, but the majority of people who use them (designers included) love them. Throw a little CSS in there and you’ve got a truly beautiful, custom website.
Since Wordpress is so flexible, you are able to use SEO plug-ins such as Yoast. While these types of software aren’t perfect, they are pretty amazing when it comes to SEO (including learning how to really do SEO properly).
Since Wordpress is effectively a patchwork quilt of software, all pinging and cueing each other to function, things can go wrong relatively often. If the Wordpress software updates, but your favorite plug-in has been abandoned or is slow to also update, your website could break. When getting support for your site, you’ll need to call several companies instead of just one. And Wordpress offers pretty limited support, since it’s open source.
If you’ve had a designer create your Wordpress site, you’ll probably become wholly reliant on their support. Since things need updating and maintaining often, you’ll be glad to have them on board to help you out. That said, if you’re operating on a teeny tiny budget, this might not be feasible for you.
Since in Wordpress anything goes, you also could create a poorly designed website if you’re DIY-ing. If you don’t understand design concepts and theories (especially UX), you might just make a website that is hard to navigate and looks outdated (though this is partially true no matter which platform you choose).
Squarespace or Wordpress?
Now you might be even more conflicted on your choice between Squarespace or Wordpress. But I’ll help you sort through the above info to make a choice.
Squarespace is an amazing platform for those who want a no-fuss website experience. If you just need a basic-to-moderate sized website for clearly explaining what you do and you want to avoid the extra maintenance headaches, Squarespace is a great choice. If the idea of everything being all in one place and requiring only one phone call or chat makes you feel relieved and happy, it’s probably a good option for you.
If, however, you need to create a website that does it all, Wordpress is probably your better choice. You can build truly monstrous-sized websites on Wordpress, with custom gadgets and do-dads that do all kinds of things. (PSST… if this is your idea of a great website, don’t forget to learn about UX basics before building!) If you like tweaking endlessly and doing lots of customization, then Wordpress is your friend.
A Word On SEO
There are lots of articles and discussions floating around the internet about Wordpress versus Squarespace SEO. (Here’s a catchup article if you’re not sure what SEO is.)
Here’s the bottom line of what you need to know.
Squarespace does have plenty of SEO capabilities, though it requires understanding SEO and doing some research to make happen. The company just recently updated the SEO options in a big way and it’s likely that more changes will come in the future.
Wordpress has plug-ins, like Yoast, that will help you create SEO-optimized blog posts and more. You’ll still need plenty of education on SEO best practices, which you can conveniently get through the Yoast platform (with an additional fee). It’s not a magic wand and you’ll really need to get SEO to make it happen. But it is a helpful program.
Do You Care About SEO?
There’s a lot of buzz going around small business circles about SEO. And everyone just assumes it’s necessary. If you’ve got a website, you need to be hitting the first page in Google for your preferred search term. Or do you?
If you run an online business and your customers or clients come from outside your local community then, yes, you should be concerned about SEO. Unless, of course, you’ve got other traffic generators that drive people to your website without Google or Bing. (And those platforms are stable and sustainable for the life of your business.)
But if you run a local, in-person business and attend networking events, pitch to people face-to-face, and so on… you might not need to worry so much about SEO. Could SEO help? Sure, if you want to fuss with it. But if your main way of getting clients or customers is talking with people in person, or you’ve got a brick-and-mortar shop or office, then you’re probably good to keep doing that. In that case, you can use your website more as a place to refer people to learn more about what you do, sign up, access a client portal, or more.
One last thought about SEO… You could hire SEO companies to optimize your website (and pay lots of $$$), but in the end it’s really just the content you put out that will get you ranked high on Google. Content marketing is a lot of work, I know. But it’s the one thing that consistently works, no gimmicks or expensive companies required. And you can do it on any platform, so long as it has blogging capabilities.
So...Squarespace or Wordpress?
Now that you’ve read about the pros and cons of both platforms, hopefully you can make a decision that works best for you. Squarespace is an excellent place to start off and for many people it’s enough for the life of their business. If you see your business growing rapidly in the next year or two, perhaps a Wordpress site is better for you.
If you’d like to find out if Squarespace is the right fit for your business goals, reach out for a free 30-minute chat with me. I can help you unpack your website ideas and find the fit that works best for where you’re headed.
Whichever platform ends up being right for you, happy website building!