Choosing a Website Platform for Your Creative Business: WordPress or Squarespace?

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Choosing a Website Platform for Your Creative Business: WordPress or Squarespace

You’re likely here because you’re wanting to either build a new site or migrate your current one, but you’re not sure which platform you should go with.

"Which platform is better for my business,
WordPress or Squarespace?"

 

There are a ton of platforms out there, but we will mainly focus on WordPress and Squarespace because those are the two I’ve chosen to niche down in for my design business.  Although I’ve designed on other platforms (Blogger, Wix, Weebly, Showit), I’ve found that WordPress and Squarespace offer the best mix of features for the types of clients I typically work with.  We’ll be comparing the hosting options, back end features, user interface, learning curves, design capabilities, ecommerce options, SEO + marketing Integrations, mobile responsiveness, customer support, and pricing.  

You can do a quick Google search and find a ton of “Squarespace vs. WordPress” articles.  I encourage you to look at some of those before you make the commitment.  

I’m going to explain these features through the lens of my typical clients: small creative businesses run by time-strapped entrepreneurs who manage their own websites.  

I 100% don’t believe that one platform is better than the other, so you won’t see a clear winner like some articles give.  They are different and I make recommendations based on client needs, not my personal preference.  I have had my own site on both and love each for different reasons.  You can definitely run a successful business on both, but the final decision will come down to your preferences, budget, and features that are right for your business.  

 

Hosting

The first milestone that needs to happen before developing your site is hosting.  WordPress and Squarespace differ greatly on this.   If you are in the camp of “don’t want to deal with all the technical stuff”, then Squarespace wins.  If you’d like to be able to access all of the technical settings and files, then WordPress is the way to go.  

WordPress

  • You choose your own host (If you opt to go with WordPress.org, then you can select your own host. WordPress.com is where you pay WordPress to host for you... I'd recommend .org + another host (cheaper)).
  • Control over all hosting and back end settings and files.
  • You can easily back up and migrate your site to another host
  • Pricing can range anywhere from $3 to $50 per month for standard sites.

I offer hosting for my WordPress clients, so if you make the jump to WordPress then I’ve got you covered!  Hosting and/or Back End Care.  Learn More Here  

Squarespace

  • Squarespace includes hosting in their plans, so pricing is rolled into the plan.
  • Squarespace handles all hosting and gives you control over a few things you might need to manage.
  • You can easily back up and migrate your site to another host

Back End Features

One of the most important things about the platform that you’ll be working with is the back end.  The plugins, widgets, settings, etc. all help you bring your site to life.  You’ll want a platform that offers just the right amount of those for you.  Some people want to control literally everything, and others want something that might not be as overwhelming.  

WordPress

  • You have control over essentially everything.
  • A huge variety of plugins allow you to do just about anything you'd want (free and $).
  • The people that I know that have left WordPress have done so because they felt like having all that control came with an overwhelming sense of "too much to handle."

Squarespace

  • You have a lot of control over settings and features, but not total control. Some people prefer this because it feels more manageable.
  • There are lots of plugins available (free and $), but not as many as WordPress.
  • Squarespace's back end is really simple, organized, and easy to navigate.

Interface + Learning Curves

The platform you choose needs to be something you actually enjoy using, or you’ll never use it.  I often suggest getting an account with both just to compare the two.   See which one is more your style, and which one will help you achieve your business goals.   

WordPress

  • Logging in takes you to your dashboard screen and ALL the various tabs and settings are right there (see below).
  • I'll be honest, it takes a bit for clients to learn WordPress. If you are fairly tech savvy, then you'll get the hang of it faster, but the abundance of settings, plugins, options will take some getting used to.
  • There are a million WordPress tutorial videos out there, so if you aren't sure how to do something then a simple Google search will turn up lots of solutions for you.

Squarespace

  • Logging in takes you to a simple menu where you choose what you want to focus on (see below).
  • Very easy to learn the platform.
  • Squarespace's help section and customer service is great, so if you don't know how to do something you are in good hands. Since Squarespace is a somewhat newer platform (compared to WP), then there won't be as many tutorials and videos... still a lot though.

Design

The look and feel of your site is likely what you’re most excited about.  Whether you’re hiring me to design it for you, or you’re deciding to DIY it, you’ll want to make sure you choose a platform that will allow you to get the look you want.  WordPress and Squarespace differ greatly in this aspect.  You’ll need a theme on both platforms, but how you customize that theme will be different.   

WordPress

  • There are TONS of WordPress themes out there, as well as builder plugins that let you customize your site.
  • Sometimes people feel like their editing "blind" if they don't use the customizer or a builder plugin (like Elementor or Beaver Builder), meaning they make changes, save, then go see how it looks on the site.
  • Using the right combination of themes, plugins, and a builder can allow almost limitless design options.

Squarespace

  • A theme library is available with a lot of simple and sleek themes.
  • Drag and drop builder.
  • Hard to mess anything up when using the design blocks. Padding, spacing, etc. are built into each element, so all you need to worry about is styling and content.
  • Somewhat limiting if you don't know how to use HTML or CSS. You can do a lot, but I find myself using a lot of code on sites I build.
  • There are several third-party designers who have themes you can purchase for Squarespace if you don't prefer one of the included ones.

E-Commerce Options

If you’re looking to sell your products or services on your site, then you’ll want to make sure the platform you choose is equipped with the features that will allow you to do that in the most efficient way possible.  

WordPress

  • You can use an Ecommerce plugin (WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, Ecwid)
  • OR you can use a plugin to integrate a store you might already have (like Shopify).
  • Pricing depends on the third-party plugin or shop that you choose to use.
  • Your products and/or services will need to be managed either via the plugin you install OR on a third party ecommerce site. There are several out there, but here are a my preferred options to work with:

WordPress Plugins
Ecwid
WooCommerce

External Shops That Can Integrate With WordPress
Shopify
Big Cartel

Squarespace

  • Control your shop from your dashboard and your existing squarespace account.
  • Very easy to manage.
  • Reasonable ecommerce pricing plans between $26 and $40 per month.
  • Somewhat limited shop design/views if you have a lot of products, but not a deal breaker for most.

SEO and Marketing Integrations

SEO is huge for your site, as is the ability to integrate marketing tools (Email marketing, lead captures, newsletter forms, Google AdSense, etc.).  Both sites have the ability to do both, but the extent to which you can customize differs.    

WordPress

  • SEO features are robust and there are great plugins to really allow you to optimize to your heart's content.
  • You can integrate just about any external marketing tool with a plugin.
  • Forms are easily created and can even be connected to your email marketing automations.
  • Some people find the SEO tools overwhelming since there are so many more options and settings on WordPress plugins.

Squarespace

  • SEO features are built in and easily manageable. There are a lot of options, but not as many that can potentially be optimized on WordPress using a plugin like Yoast. Some people are okay with this because it's not as overwhelming. You'll be able to optimize the most important features though!
  • There's a newsletter and form block that can be easily added to any page. You can connect it to a few services (MailChimp, Google Drive, or Squarespace's own Email Marketing).
  • Other marketing tools can be integrated, some easily with the click of a button and some require inserting custom coding.

Mobile Responsiveness

A lot of your visitors will likely be using some sort of device rather than a desktop or laptop.  It’s really important for your site to function and look great on these devices, so mobile responsiveness is essential.  

WordPress

  • Most themes are already mobile responsive.
  • Easy to toggle back and forth between desktop, tablet, and mobile view in the customizer.
  • Some themes allow you to easily change how your site looks on devices, others are static and don't really allow you to get into those settings.
  • Using a builder is an easy way to really optimize each and every page and section for mobile.

Squarespace

  • All themes are mobile responsive.
  • The style settings allow you to make some general changes to the way your site looks on mobile devices.
  • You can easily toggle between desktop, tablet, and mobile views while designing.

Customer Service

Some of you might really need some extra hand-holding… and that’s totally fine.  A website is a big undertaking, so making sure you have people on your “team” that can help is really important.  If you don’t purchase a maintenance package, then you will be responsible for maintaining your site.  Some of you will be great at this and some of you will need somewhere to turn.  

WordPress

  • WordPress is a free open-source CMS (content management system), so there are tons of people out there who are developing plugins, experts who can help, but there's not really one "central" WordPress customer service team that you can turn to (unless you pay for WordPress.com, which is essentially WordPress hosting your WordPress site... you pay for the hosting through WP, so you get the perks of their help).
  • A simple Google search of your issue or task will result in lots of articles, videos, forums, etc. The solution is likely alredy out there.
  • Each individual plugin has FAQs and a contact you can reach out to if needed

Squarespace

  • Customer services reps, help documents, and tutorial videos are available to you.
  • Squarespace has a really great customer service team. I've used them tons of times and they're always very helpful.
  • There's a growing number of developers and designers who have put out plugins, training videos, and articles on how to do things, so you can typically find an answer to your question.

Pricing

For some of you, pricing is the deal maker or breaker.  The platform you choose has to be one that fits into your budget.  You don’t want to be paying for something that you either can’t manage, or don’t have the time for.  

WordPress

  • Platform + Hosting: WordPress itself is free, but you have to host it somewhere, so your hosting cost is all that you'll need up front.
  • Themes: There are plenty of free themes available. Premium themes cost anywhere from $30 to $100. I design custom sites, so the theme and builder licenses come included with the package, but if you're doing a DIY then be prepared to pay for a theme if you want your site to look decent.
  • Plugins: Free or premium ($). It depends on the functionality and features you'll need on your site. I *typically* don't have clients that pay for plugins unless they are doing an ecommerce site.

Squarespace

  • Platform + Hosting: There are 4 pricing plans on Squarespace that range from $12 to $40 per month. Hosting is rolled into your plan, so there's no separate fee.
  • Themes: Squarespace has a ton of great themes available for users. There are a number of third-party vendors that offer premium themes for around $100.
  • Plugins: Squarespace has a lot of features already included, but there are lots of third-party plugins available, some free some paid.

I really hope that was helpful and that you’re ready to make a commitment to either WordPress or Squarespace.  Again, please remember that neither of them are the “better platform”… it all depends on which one works better for your business.  If you have any questions feel free to drop a question below or reach out via social media or email!  I’d be happy to answer an

Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Let me design a beautiful custom site for you so that you can focus on the important things... like actually running your business.

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ashley

ashley

Jesus lover, wife, mama of 2 toddlers + 3 dogs, graphic and web designer, former elementary teacher, Kentucky girl, and a coffee and wine enthusiast.

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