Ah, the WordPress vs Squarespace debate. There are tons of people who swear by WordPress and won’t touch Squarespace with a 10 foot pole. Then there are those who sing Squarespace’s praises and won’t use anything else.
Which one is the better platform for your clients? Which one should you choose? Can we settle this WordPress vs Squarespace debate for once and for all?
WordPress vs Squarespace: which is better?
Before we dive into the specifics of each platform, let’s get one thing out of the way: one platform is not better than the other. Yes, you heard that right. I, a WordPress developer, am saying that WordPress is not better than Squarespace and vice versa.
WordPress and Squarespace are like apples and oranges. They’re both website platforms, but they both give you different benefits. Some people will prefer one over the other, but that doesn’t make either one bad.
So then if they’re both good platforms, what do each excel at and which one should you choose for your clients?
WordPress Pros and Cons
WordPress is clearly my favorite platform, but I will admit it’s not for everyone. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of WordPress.
Pros of WordPress
Open Source – WordPress is open source which means you can expect high quality, a low cost (in this case, free!), and great transparency. Unlike platforms that don’t allow you to view the source code, WordPress’ code is completely accessible. Want to take a peek? You can! And while odds are you won’t be doing so, the fact that you can means that there’s full transparency. You’re not using a platform that is slave to every whim of the company that owns the code. Plus, the open source nature of it means that people who actually know what they’re doing are actively contributing to help make WordPress even better.
Huge Community – Because WordPress is open source, there is a huge community out there dedicated to all things WordPress. From themes, to plugins, to tutorials, if there’s something you want to do on WordPress, odds are it’s already been done. A Google search will likely point you in the right direction. And if you’re still not sure if something is possible, the WordPress forums are a great place to get your question answered.
Free! – WordPress is 100% free for use. Of course you still have to purchase hosting and a domain, but the software itself is $0.
Tons of Functionality – Want to add a shop, create a 100% unique layout, or launch a membership only site? You can. Your WordPress site can be build pretty much exactly as you want it.
Complete Control – When you use WordPress, you’re hosting your own site on your own server. That means that you are in complete control. As long as you’re following your host’s terms, you’re good. If you ever want to switch hosts or move to another content management system, you easily can as WordPress makes it easy to import and export your content.
Overwhelming – The pros of WordPress are also one of it’s biggest cons. Because there are tons of features and you can do just about anything, it can be confusing for a beginner or anyone else not as tech savvy.
Coding Knowledge Required – Unlike Squarespace which allows you to drag and drop elements or change colors with the click of a button, WordPress requires you to actually know some code in order to customize your site. However, nowadays there are plenty of themes and plugins that provide that functionality, so all isn’t lost!
Responsible for Updates – Since WordPress is self hosted, you’re responsible for keeping your site up to date. And if you’re not careful, updating your site could spell trouble.
Squarespace Pros and Cons
Squarespace pales in comparison to WordPress in some areas, but where does it outshine WordPress? Let’s take a look:
Easy to Setup – Setting up a Squarespace site is an absolute breeze. Sign up for an account, choose a template, drag and drop some elements, and customize to your liking, and boom, website complete. All without touching a single line of code.
Beautiful Templates – The templates Squarespace provides are all beautifully designed, so even if you don’t have any design sense, you can still walk away with a gorgeous site.
Simple – Just want a blog without all of the frills? Squarespace is the perfect platform. While the lack of features might be a con, it’s also a positive. Without a ton of features, there’s a lot less to get overwhelmed by. Plus, the features it does include, such as social media integration, are one less thing you have to worry about as it’s already taken care of.
Limited Functionality – While limiting functionality makes things easier to use, if you’re looking to build a feature packed site, Squarespace is not the best choice. There are only so many things you can do with the platform. Want to do something different? You’re out of luck unless they build in that functionality.
Lack of Complete Portability – With Squarespace, you own your content (which is great), but when it comes to exporting it, you are limited in what you’re able to bring with you. This can be a big problem if you have a large site with tons of content that you’re unable to move.
Lack of Control – When you use Squarespace to power your site, you’re putting them in charge. If for some reason they don’t like your content, say goodbye to your site. While this could still happen if you self host your site, at least you’d still have the option to move to another host. If this happens on Squarespace, you’re out of luck.
WordPress vs Squarespace: What is the best choice for your clients?
So how do you choose a platform? Think about what’s most important to your clients. What platform satisfies the majority of these wants?
Here are some things to think about:
Simplicity – If you’re looking for a simple site/blog that’s easy to use right away, Squarespace is a better choice.
Functionality – If you want to build a site that can grow with you and has the ability to do just about anything, WordPress is the winner.
Control – If you want more control over your site, go for WordPress.
Less to Worry About – If you just want a site and don’t want to worry about all the maintenance that comes with running one, Squarespace is a better pick.
With that being said, when choosing between WordPress and Squarespace think about what your clients want out of a site now in addition to what they may want in the future. If they are just looking for a simple site now, but have grand plans for a feature rich site down the road, it might be a better choice to just get started with WordPress instead of having to deal with migrating over in the future.
But if they just want to blog away and don’t foresee themselves needing anything fancy in the future, then maybe Squarespace is a good choice for them.
The key is to think about their needs. Everyone has an opinion on this topic, but as a designer helping your client create a functional website, you know what’s best for them and their needs. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. So while I 100% recommend WordPress, I understand that it’s not for everyone. For some people Squarespace will be a better fit. And you know what? That’s okay. There’s room for both platforms to coexist.