This article will outline the pros and cons of two popular website building platforms: WordPress & Squarespace. It can be difficult deciding which website building platform is most suited for your business. After reading this, you should have a better idea as to why you’d choose one over the other for a website project.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) which powers over 30% of all websites on the internet.
There are two different types of WordPress available:
- Hosted WordPress: wordpress.com
- Self-hosted WordPress: wordpress.org
The differences between each are:
Hosted WordPress – wordpress.com – is a software as a service (SaaS) tool. It is best suited for blogs, rather than business websites. You pay a monthly fee in order to build and maintain a website on wordpress.com. While there is a free option, it is very limiting in terms of features.
Self Hosted WordPress
Self hosted WordPress, on the other hand, is a piece of software that you install onto a web server. It is open-source which means that the code is available to everyone and can be easily modified.
This allows sites built with self-hosted WordPress to be highly customisable. WordPress powers 30% of all websites on the internet, according to web technology firm W3Techs. The result of this is a large network of designers, developers and agencies that are familiar with the technology.
We build the majority of our websites using the self-hosted WordPress solution.
What is Squarespace?
Squarespace, like wordpress.com, is a SaaS website tool. You pay a monthly subscription fee, but everything you need is provided as part of that – hosting, e-commerce, supports and domains.
So which version of WordPress are we comparing with Squarespace?
This comparison will focus on comparing self-hosted WordPress with Squarespace as a whole. This will allow you to understand the differences between a pay-monthly hosted platform (Squarespace) and an open-source, self-hosted platform (WordPress).
What audiences are WordPress & Squarespace geared towards?
The core audience of Squarespace are primarily those without web development skills. The main point of Squarespace is that anyone can use it, without having to touch a line of code at all.
Like Squarespace, it is possible to build a website on WordPress without any coding, however I’d hold that WordPress requires a higher level of configuration and hence a steeper learning curve. Due to WordPress being open source, it allows developers to create fully customisable websites with significantly more capabilities than what is possible with Squarespace.
What is the price difference between WordPress and Squarespace?
With Squarespace, the pricing structure is straightforward. You choose from 1 of 4 plans which range between $228 and $780 per annum.
For a simple business website of approx 10 pages, expect to pay around $340/year. The key differences between the plans involve the number of pages you can create, adding custom styling (CSS), transaction fees & e-commerce functionality.
While downloading the core files of WordPress and building a site locally on your computer is free, there are a few things which will affect how much it costs to build and maintain a WordPress website.
- Hosting – the web server where you install WordPress
- Themes – the design & layout of your site
- Plugins – 3rd party apps which allow for additional functionality on your site
WordPress website hosting
There are a lot of website hosting providers, however we recommend specialised WordPress hosting which is priced at $25/month billed annually.
WordPress has an extremely large library of themes available which can vary in cost. Our preference is a blank theme such as the default Twenty Nineteen Theme, or Hello Theme by Elementor – built to allow for maximum customisation using our preferred WordPress page builder – Elementor.
Plugins provide endless capabilities to the WordPress platform. While some are free, many require a one-off or subscription fee to access more advanced features. Page builders like Elementor, Divi, Beaver Builder & Visual Composer (WP Bakery) are examples of plugins that allow you to essentially build your website visually. Other functionalities that plugins can fulfill include antispam filters, e-commerce functionality, lead capture forms and heaps more.
Is WordPress or Squarespace more user friendly?
The Squarespace interface is simple, clean and allows for straightforward changes to the basic design aspects of your website. That said, the ability to adjust a template’s design, is very dependent on the template you choose. The drag and drop editor of Squarespace makes it easy move content around. However this is also possible with WordPress using one of the many page builder plugins available.
All in all, people new to website editing will likely feel more comfortable using Squarespace. WordPress CMS does however have far more options with regards to both drag and drop builders, and creating custom designs. Websites designed by us come with a customised dashboard which allows for easy editing and publishing of content, as well as site information showing you hits and conversions.
Flexibility of WordPress vs Squarespace
This is where WordPress really shines in comparison. WordPress can be used to create practically any type of website. The plugin repository houses thousands of different plugins which can add endless functionality to your website. This allows you to craft something truly unique.
While Squarespace is currently growing in this area, if you’re looking for something unique to your brand – you will still be limited to the templates available. You could commission a Squarespace developer to code custom designs and functionalities into your website, but chances are these will already have been created using WordPress.
WordPress vs Squarespace: final points
The majority of website developers would argue that WordPress is significantly more powerful and flexible than Squarespace. That does not mean that it is the best option for all users. For individuals and small businesses, Squarespace may be a better option due to how easy it is to set up and you don’t have to think about updates or security issues.
Some ideal use cases for Squarespace are:
- Small businesses with tight budgets
Some ideal use cases for WordPress are:
- Business websites which require higher levels of customisation
- Larger scale e-commerce websites
- Companies carrying out an advanced SEO strategy involving schema or rich snippets
Ultimately, WordPress is a much more scalable platform and allows for greater optimisation with regards to SEO. Although Squarespace does have some SEO features built in, plugins like yoast seo, schema and many more, make WordPress a clear winner with regards to building a custom web solution.
Hopefully this guide will give you some insight into which platform is right for your business. If you would like to know more about this topic, please contact us below.