Don’t be a Square…space
If you’re in the process of putting together a website and trying to decide what content management system (CMS) you should use, you may find that there are many options out there available to you. If you’ve narrowed it down between WordPress or Squarespace, here are some reasons why WordPress is ultimately a better choice.
WordPress is Free to Download and Use:
WordPress is Open Source and free to download for use on any web host or server you wish (vs. SquareSpace which mandates you use their own hosting). So why should I care about something being open source? Open Source is software in which the original source code is made freely available, and thus may be redistributed and modified without the burden of having to pay for licenses or other fees. This means that WordPress is constantly changing, growing, developing and improving – free of charge.
WordPress Reaches Far and Wide:
The most recent stats I can find indicate that WordPress is used by more than 27% of all websites on the internet. That’s pretty impressive compared to SquareSpace which only powers around 1.2 million sites. Because of its breadth, WordPress has a massive online community. As a result, there are always resources to be found, from volunteers who contribute to the WordPress core & plugins to users and developers who answer questions posted by other users in the WordPress Support Forum.
While Squarespace does offer support and a community, its resources aren’t nearly as vast or comprehensive.
Ease of Use… mostly:
Squarespace is rather restrictive when it comes to customization, but it’s designed and built in such a way that it is easier for a non-tech savvy person to learn. The drag-and-drop interface lets you see everything on the page as you are arranging it, which gives you a sense of how your site will look once it is live.
WordPress, however, lets you input information and details on the page, though you can’t see it until you preview or publish the page. Sometimes there may be more custom features that you wish to build into your website. This may involve tweaking the WordPress code, which can be dicey if you’re inexperienced.
Despite that, WordPress is easy to use because once you have inserted the information you want on the page, WordPress will format it for you and make it beautiful. A good WordPress developer will be able to set up the back end of your site so that it is simple and easy for you to understand where to input various pieces of information so that the final product is a styled, functional, and attractive website.
Extensive Features for CMS:
Because of its vast community all around the world, there are a massive amount of plugins available to extend the core capabilities of WordPress. Virtually every feature you can imagine is available, from event organizers to contact forms, e-commerce, SEO, security, and more.
On Squarespace, if there’s a specific feature that you’re looking to implement on your site and it’s not available, then you will simply have to do without it.
One of the many ways in which you can extend the capabilities of WordPress is to install an e-commerce plugin. These plugins integrate seamlessly into your website using the same styles & branding that you already have in place, and thus eliminates the need to have a separate website for your e-commerce.
Furthermore, some of these plugin options available for integrating e-commerce into your site without having to be charged transaction fees. And regardless of the plugin, you won’t have to give up a cut of your sales to WordPress, ever.
Conversely, without an upgraded plan from Squarespace, you can expect to pay a transaction fee for each and every sale you make and be limited in the number of products you can sell.
For any business in the modern world, it’s important to make sure your site is accessible to every user. That includes visitors who may be visually impaired or use screen readers to explore the content on your site. Depending on the type of business you have, ADA compliance (which legally requires that your site have considerations built in for accessibility) may also be a necessity.
While Squarespace sites are barely passable as accessible, WordPress sites generally pass the most basic requirements. With WordPress if you wish to make modifications to improve accessibility, you are able to do so. Squarespace does not allow you to build upon or modify their platform, so you’ll only get as much accessibility as they give you.
Better Website Analytics:
Squarespace does offer some semblance of analytics reporting on their platform, however, it isn’t nearly as robust as Google Analytics or many of the analytics plugins you can install onto WordPress. With WordPress, you can install a plugin to feed your website stats and numbers straight into the back end of your site.
Your Content Belongs to You:
One thing I found interesting about SquareSpace was that in its Terms of Service, there are clauses that specify that they can use any part of your site for things such as advertising, even if that content is copyrighted by you. By using Squarespace, you consent to let them use your content and use it for free. They aren’t even under any obligation to contact you first.
WordPress, on the other hand, has no claim to any part of your site, and certainly not for free.
WordPress is Great, but You Should Know…
WordPress Requires More Ongoing Maintenance:
One caveat to WordPress is that it requires regular ongoing maintenance, like a car. Squarespace, being a closed platform, controls and manages all aspects of updates and maintenance for you.
With the great power of WordPress comes great responsibility, and you are solely responsible for maintaining your website. Plugins can become outdated, which can affect how your site works – it can even affect security. If for some reason you haven’t kept your site up to date, then your site runs the risk of breaking or worse— being hacked.
In The End:
Ultimately if you want greater control of your website, WordPress is the obvious choice.
However, given the learning curve, if you are a one-person team and don’t have dedicated resources to help you design, build, and especially maintain a website, it may be better to try Squarespace.
If you are lucky enough to have a tech-savvy person on your team, and you want to build something with more features, control, and sophistication than what Squarespace can offer, we recommend giving WordPress a spin.