These days I develop websites using either WordPress or Squarespace. When I started out 18 years ago, I hand coded sites in HTML, then added CSS when it became widely supported, eventually moving on to Dreamweaver, a WYSIWYG website builder, while continuing to dig into the code. Well, that’s ancient history.
So here we are in 2018. For me, for my clients, it comes down to WordPress and Squarespace. Both have the capability to help us create beautiful, functional websites. And while both are great, each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
How to choose? Let’s break it down…
The real power of of WordPress is its extensibility, ranging from simple social sharing icons to robust membership site plugins to e-commerce themes and tools.. We can create almost any kind of website you desire. WordPress is an open source platform – it’s free and open to everyone to not only use, but to customize. Developers and programmers create tools such as templates (themes that control the visual appearance of your site) and plugins (code that adds specific features / functionality to a website). If you can dream it, you can find it. Sounds hard to beat.
However, it can be a double edged sword since it’s impossible to police the quality of all the tools created. And the better ones are often not free. It takes time to cull through everything, and there isn’t always support available when you need it.
Squarespace has less flexibility because the software is not open source like that of WordPress. But everything is closely controlled, monitored and tested to ensure they work 100% of the time. So that means less breaking, hacking, frustration.
So while WordPress has more flexibility than Squarespace hands down, there is a downside.
Ease of Use
The WordPress learning curve is steeper than that of of Squarespace. If you want to update and manage your own site once it’s launched, Squarespace is going to be easier (and more fun). The Squarespace editor is WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) . Make changes, see the results in action.
Because WordPress has such a large community of developers, so many plugins etc, there can be information overload. And it is often difficult to find relevant, decent help.
Squarespace has great email support, 24/7. They also have excellent tutorials.
While WordPress is more powerful, there is a great deal of maintenance required to keep a WordPress website in good shape through all the many updates of not only the platform itself, but also the themes and plugins.
Squarespace, being a closed environment, controls all aspects of the platform and manages all the updates.
A wordpress site will cost more than a squarespace site to develop, often as much as 2 – 3 x more. It’s just far more time consuming and complex.
For most of my clients, Squarespace is now the platform of choice. It has beautiful, polished themes, tested and quality controlled, and 24/7 help.
However, if you want or need a very sophisticated website with particular functionality that is not available or is quite limited on Squarespace, WordPress is recommended. And in terms of e-commerce sites, Squarespace has some limitations (for example the number of products you can sell), while WordPress has countless themes, tools and no limits on products.