Squarespace vs. WordPress: How to Choose the Best Platform

Web Design

I’ll be honest, the influx of articles claiming why they prefer one over the other is getting out of hand. All of which are responses to the age old question: Which is better, Squarespace or WordPress?

Thing is, there is no” one size fits all” solution. As a business owner who does business mostly online, it’s pretty important to find the proper platform for your specific needs.

This means that you should be choosing a platform depending on what you plan to do, how involved you want t to be and how flexible you are with either time or learning new skills.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a platform. This will be a basic comparison of sorts for those of you who have no idea where to take your site.

 

Budget (Ka-ching!)

Money Money Money Moooney!

Budget seems to be a big reason for choosing one over the other amongst online bosses. Depending on where you are in your business, it could make all the difference.

There are a few things to consider when it comes to cost. Let’s break it down:

First up, initial investment.


Squarespace offers 4 prices ranging from $12/month for a personal site to $40/month for eCommerce. These are monthly breakdowns if you purchase the whole year (ranging from $144-$480).

If you decide to pay month to month, it actually ranges from $16/month to $46/month. Not a huge increase but still more nonetheless.

There are a few catches to the cheaper options. Such as a limitation on how many products you can sell, free domain and how many pages you can have on your site in total.

Unless you’re selling physical products, the $18/month option is what I normally suggest to my Squarespace-loving clients.

While downloading and installing WordPress itself is free, you need to purchase your own domain and web hosting.

Flywheel offers 2 prices ranging from $14/month for a personal site to $28/month. These are monthly breakdowns if you purchase the whole year (ranging from $165-$330).
If you decide to pay month to month, it actually ranges from
$15/month to $75/month.

But compared to Squarespace, WordPress’ initial investment can be much cheaper. You’ll even find many web hosts starting at $2.75/month. Although there are free options, you’ll also need to consider purchasing themes and plugins.

A lot of moving parts, I know. But while there’s lots more to think about with WordPress, everything combined might just be cheaper than Squarespace.

A note on hiring a web designer: Right off the bat I can tell you that a Squarespace site will likely result in smaller costs when hiring a web designer who works specifically with that platform.

Reason why? Because Squarespace doesn’t require certain coding skills that a custom wordpress site might. Although, like me, there are designers who have these skills that allow them to really customize Squarespace’s templates to fit certain needs of a client. That can drive the the cost up depending on the designer.

WordPress, on the other hand, requires more technical abilities and time. If they didn’t create a custom theme, it might drive the cost (and time) down for a WordPress site. Again, it really depends on the designer you decide to hire.

If you’re up for it and have the time, you can very well search and install a theme yourself. Elegant Themes is a great option. They require a simple yearly fee (starts at $89/year) and you have access to all of their themes.

Verdict
Looking at cost alone, WordPress is the cheapest option. But budget shouldn’t be the only factor in making a decision. Time really is money and sometimes convenience and efficiency might be worth more.

Which brings me to my next point…

 

Learning Curve

What’s your schedule look like? Do you have a couple hours out of the week to fit in learning a new platform?

Let’s be realistic for a sec. Unless you’re already familiar with either WordPress or Squarespace or you’re considering moving from one platform to another, you’ll need at least a couple of hours a week to dedicate to learning either one. Let’s review each platform’s learning curve.

The Squarespace Learning Curve

Here’s a fun myth: Squarespace is easy and there is no learning curve.

Nope.

The Squarespace Dashboard is not something you’re going to get right away. Trust me. If it were I wouldn’t have to create training videos for my clients (which they really appreciate, by the way).

The good news is it’s definitely easy to pick up after a couple hours of using it and it has a fairly small learning curve.

What makes it so simple is the lack of capabilities. Which might sound like a bad thing, but it really isn’t.

Limited options can help you make fast decisions and pull off a simple but beautiful DIY site in just a few hours. It leaves you with the bare necessities of a simple website without the fuss.

This is great for folks who are not familiar with coding or just want a quick DIY solution to get them started. It’s also a good option for web designers, since you can easily add code and customize beyond the template options.

Adding new pages or content is also simpler than WordPress. Because Squarespace is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) builder, which means it’s drag and drop visual editor that makes live changes to your site, it’s much easier to add or edit content.

This is great for folks who are not familiar with coding or just want a quick DIY solution to get them started. It’s also a good option for web designers, since you can easily add code and customize beyond the template options.

The WordPress Learning Curve

Because it’s such a flexible platform, WordPress customization are almost limitless.

However, let’s cut to the chase: WordPress has a pretty steep learning curve because of it’s flexibility.

Unless you are skilled at coding or are hiring a skilled designer/developer to develop the site for you, you might have to take that coding course you heard about.

If you’re not interested in a fully custom site, WordPress has plenty of themes that just require you to install. There’s even WYSIWYG builders out there that can make it much easier to create more custom themes with their drag and drop options.

Still, you’ll need to learn how to use the WordPress dashboard. Including how to use plugins and widgets.

Verdict
Squarespace is by far more user-friendly than WordPress if you’re DIYing your website. However, if you hire a designer or developer to create your WordPress site, it might be just as easy to use once you get the hang of the WP dashboard.

 

Flexibility & Reliability

As a designer, flexibility is a priority for me. I want to be able to create fully custom sites on either platform without having to resort to weird hacks or glitchy interfaces.

Although Squarespace comes with a lot of great features, it’s a very well-guarded system. In contrast, you can use WordPress to create pretty much any site you want with very customizable plugins and themes. As well as an endless selection of pre-made themes for all kinds of websites.

 

 

Although to be fair, Squarespace has one of the most aesthetically pleasing template options around that might be more immediately flexible. These beautiful and minimal templates really help make you look put together and like you really know your shit. It’s fairly easy to edit these layouts and add content. Unfortunately, it might struggle to create more “tailor-made” functionalities to these layouts.

Take some time to explore the Squarespace templates.. You’ll notice a lot of them are very similar, but there are some differences. Squarespace also does a great job giving you options for simpler, more popular types of websites (ecommerce, portfolios, blogging, etc.).

 

Support & Maintenance

WordPress has an massive and impressive community with crazy amounts of resources to get your website up and running. But because of the amount of resources out there, it can be hard to find specific help.

Squarespace has a support team that is specially dedicated to just their site builder. They have a library of videos, articles and have a live chat option right on their support page.

One other thing to note, Squarespace handles updates so you don’t have to do anything. This is especially helpful if you are a one-person team without a web designer to support you.

Where this might be a disadvantage is if there is a bug in your template. Having to rely on the Squarespace support team might leave you with nothing else to do but wait until they fix it.

WordPress is continuously updating to fix bugs and improve security. This means you’ll have to update your site as well. This can happen multiple times a year.

This might be a pain if you have a custom theme and you’re using several plugins (that also need updating to stay compatible).

Verdict
WordPress will definitely require more effort on your part to stay up to date and your site clean while Squarespace handles all maintenance on their end. It’s also much easier to get support through Squarespace.

 

Hiring a web Designer

Regardless of what platform you choose, hiring a designer will save you the most headaches.

A good designer should also set you up with training videos or educate you on your chosen platform if you need it. That way, you’ll have a personalized resource that’s specific to the common tasks required for your site.

Still can’t choose? Download the SS vs WordPress comparison cheatsheet below.

Squarespace vs Wordpress Cheatsheet

Squarespace wordpress cheatcheet ck
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