Squarespace vs Wordpress — Which Platform to Choose When You're Starting Your Business
A long time ago (it feels like in a galaxy far away, too) I created my very first website. I was 14 years old at the time and I was so proud of myself and happy with the results.
Back then I didn’t know anything about Wordpress and Squarespace wasn’t even invented yet. I did it the old school way — I picked my dad’s coding books, and wrote HTML and CSS by hand! In Notepad! Crazy, right?
The website was pretty basic and full of bugs. It looked awful and it didn’t work properly, but I loved it. I wish I could show you this gem but not even the Wayback Machine can go that far in the past.
I remember that it took me about a month to create three basic pages of dark backgrounds, neon headlines and bitmap gifs. Ah, got to love the 90s. But I’m digressing.
After a while, I discovered Wordpress and I was hooked. It was so easy to create a website and a blog compared to the grueling code typing. I used Wordpress for many years until I found an even easier way to do things - Squarespace.
As much as I liked the Genesis framework for Wordpress and the drag and drop themes, I was tired of having no support to speak of. And I needed it because my website was constantly breaking — it took me hours, sometimes even days, to figure out how to do simple things and that would not do for me.
So when I found Squarespace, I packed, moved and never looked back. I really love having my online home on their particular internet island. But this is just my experience.
As always, I encourage you to do your own research. To get you started, here are seven questions to ask yourself before you choose where to build your website.
Which platform to choose when you're just starting your business?
1. ARE YOU DOING THINGS YOURSELF OR ARE YOU HIRING PEOPLE RIGHT AWAY?
If you’re starting as a one-woman business and web design is just one of the bazillion things you’ll need to do on daily basis, Squarespace might save you a lot of sleepless nights, tinkering and swearing at your screen (nope, never happened to me, ahem).
But if you plan to hire a web designer right from the get-go, Wordpress will offer you more flexibility and personalisation freedom.
That being said, there are Squarespace designers that know how to work the CSS magic pretty well and can give a generic Squarespace theme a one of a kind look and feel.
Remember: unlimited freedom is great if you’re a web designer. For the rest of us — we want it simple, pretty and easy, and we want it now!
You see, I started my business super small and I experimented a lot. In the beginning I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to offer. I knew I wanted to help women start and run their creative operations, either when traveling and experiencing our beautiful world, or when taking care of their little ones at home. I just didn’t know how.
I used Squarespace to design a simple website that changed as my business evolved. It has undergone countless transformations and it’ll most likely undergo even more.
So the bottom line is that you should have full control over your website, so it can change along with your business.
If you’ll need to add content yourself, change images, create new pages and make them functional as quickly as possible, Squarespace will give you more freedom to grow when you’re just starting your business.
2. CAN YOU CODE? DO YOU LIKE IT?
As I mentioned before, I’m familiar with HTML and CSS but that doesn’t mean I love spending my days opening and closing brackets (it’s a code thing).
So if you can’t code, if you don’t feel like doing it, and you don’t plan to hire anybody who can do it for you in the next month or so, Squarespace is your platform.
Not a single line of coding is necessary to create a stunningly beautiful and highly functional website. And this was my main reason to move from Wordpress to Squarespace.
3. HOW SIMPLE CAN YOU START?
If you can code (or hire someone who can) with Wordpress you can create unique, personalized websites that look and work exactly as you want them to.
But if you are a quilt maker and all you want to do is add your new client project to your portfolio, you don’t want to have all the freedom to make your gallery unique. What you want is to put the focus on your work, so a simple page, a quick process and beautiful results is all you need.
In this case, Squarespace will be much better suited to your needs. Start with a simple website and expand it as you grow. Here’s more on how many pages you’ll need: The 3 Essential Website Pages You Need to Launch Your Small Business
Also, with Squarespace I have everything in one place.
With Wordpress, the hustle with having all these websites and accounts to deal with was so tiresome for me. I had three separate accounts (usernames, passwords and all) with three different companies — one for my domains, one for my hosting and one Wordpress account.
All these service providers had their platforms with their different (and less than ideal) designs and confusing terms and conditions. I wanted something minimal and light, yet functional and robust. And Squarespace gave me that and so much more — all in one place!
4. DO YOU NEED SPECIAL FEATURES?
This is one area where Wordpress has the upper hand. If you need a very specific feature, chances are Wordpress has a plugin for it.
For example, if you want a membership area, or if you want to host your course on your website right away, you’ll have a harder time doing that with Squarespace.
5. WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET?
Traditional hosting providers have mind-boggling terms and conditions. I was never sure if my traffic allowance will be enough for the month, or if I would have to pay extra if one of my articles got viral.
Also, I roll my eyes every time I see a “$0.99” domain registration.
If you’ve ever registered a domain you know how many additional fees and “extras” get added at the checkout. I’ve never payed less than $20 for a domain, when it wasn’t attached to a hosting package.
The Squarespace transparent pricing was like a breath of fresh air for me.
So here’s the simple truth (because I’m told, numbers don’t lie):
One year of Squarespace hosting, plus domain costs $144 per year or $16 per month if you choose the monthly plan. The domain alone is $20 x year.
I host one domain elsewhere and it costs me $24 x year, even though it is advertised as a much cheaper option.
Then I needed hosting to put that domain to work. I chose a service that cost me around $73 per year and it turned out to be a pain. I had limitations on how much traffic I was allowed to have, on how many images I was allowed to store, and I had to deal with the hosting company myself when something went wrong. (And it did, a lot.)
My point is that spending a little bit less money sometimes mean that you have to spend more time dealing with stupid things you shouldn’t be bothered with. And I don’t know about you, but for me, time is more precious than money.
6. DO YOU NEED SUPPORT?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ll open my Wordpress website to see something missing, not aligned properly or moving around by the influence some kind of Hogwarts hex.
Fixing it would take me hours and I’d feel so frustrated and helpless. All this stopped the moment I moved to Squarespace. Now, I have a website that never breaks on it's own, works on mobile and I can focus on what really matters — creating valuable content for you.
This was the second major reason I moved from Wordpress to Squarespace. Sure, Wordpress has forums, but when my website broke (and it did that a lot), I was on my own.
I was sick and tired of asking developers for help, which was expensive, and more often than not, a waste of time. I was googling things ALL the time. Imagine running a business that isn’t related to developing websites and spending all your time doing just that.
After moving to Squarespace, I was so happy when there was actually someone who was able to answer my questions. Which were far less than when I had my Wordpress website because now things just worked.
7. DOES DESIGN MATTERS TO YOU?
As a designer, I felt almost offended by the cPanel (web hosting control panel) and by the Wordpress back-end itself. I know this shouldn’t matter that much, but it does to me.
I’ve created this clean, simple and full of light website and every time I had to add a blog post I had to deal with Wordpress’ dark, chunky, and yes, ugly platform.
I don’t feel this disconnect with Squarespace. Its back-end has a minimal and airy look and I’m yet to find something less than pretty on their platform.
3 things to remember
if it works, don’t move
I’m sure that by now you know where my inclinations lie when it comes to web design platforms. But I don’t want you to think that Wordpress is bad in any way. In fact, this is just my experience, yours might be the exact opposite. The rule of thumb is that if you’re already on Wordpress and it works for you, you don’t break it and keep using it until you need a change.
If it doesn’t work, you can always move
It’s not easy to move a whole website with blog posts and all, but if you hate updating your content, or don’t feel comfortable with your platform, do your research, find out how, plan everything and make the move.
Your website is your online home - you need to be happy and comfortable there, you need to be able to move your furniture yourself when you need to and you need to feel confident enough to invite your precious guests there.
your business, your decision
Wordpress is a great platform and it has served me for many years. We go a way back, so there is are plenty of good things to be said about it, too.
But I love things to be super simple and this is why I use Squarespace now.
And yet, just because somebody swears by Wordpress or Squarespace doesn’t mean anything for your business. There are more platforms out there, such as Shoppify or Wix. Do your research, ask the questions and pick what works best for you right now. Don’t spend too much time choosing - as I said, if it doesn’t work you can change it.
I’ll continue to teach you how to use Squarespace to create and maintain your own website because that’s the easiest platform I’ve tried.
However, this is your business and you’ll need to decide what’s simple, easy and enjoyable for you.
Wordpress vs Squarespace
If you’ve narrowed down your choice to Wordpress and Squarespace, take a look at this simple mini quiz I’ve created for you:
Which platform do you use?
Do you like the experience? Or do you need a change? Let me know in the comments below.