SquareSpace vs. WordPress: Which is Right for You?
I’ve mentioned a few times before that I had blogs before TBH, none of them were wildly popular or distinct brands. My first few “forced” blogs, mainly for school projects, were on WordPress. At the time, WordPress was the top blogging platform out and no one knew what SquareSpace was and better yet, it may not have been released yet.
Since then WordPress and SquareSpace have become the two headliners in the web hosting and building world. Both have tons of options and WordPress has two options you can take: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The main difference is that you have more freedom and control over the .Org account but there’s plenty of things to consider that I won’t get into but, I found a good article from WP experts that goes more in depth.
There’s a handful of bloggers out there still hanging on to Blogspot, Weebly or Wix but let’s be real, if you’re not on Wordpress or SquareSpace, you may be (read: you are) selling yourself short. You’re especially selling yourself short if you haven’t bought your domain name. There's a blog post coming about that topic too because it's basically 2017 and we're not all hustling just to set ourselves up for failure.
Chances are you’re having a hard time designing a Blogspot or Weebly website because there are 2 people out there with actual tutorials and tips. Unless, you plan to hire a website developer, (different from a designer- I design websites, not build from scratch) to make a brand new website for you, you should be using WordPress or SquareSpace and possibly hiring someone who knows what they’re doing on the backend in case you have problems with the look and feel yourself.
Here are the main differences between SquareSpace and WordPress with the topics we all care about: integrations, designing, cost, and support :
WP plugins can be made and sold by anybody on the internet, meaning a lot of them aren’t good. You may need a plugin to make a certain feature look the way that it does and if it breaks, your whole website could break. If you have multiple plugins, you may not even know which one made your site break. If it was a free download, the developer of the plugin is not obligated to offer you any support so you’re on your own to figure it out, or you're forced to ask your blogger girlfriends or a designer to help you out. The good thing about them is that they can upgrade the look and interaction of your website.
The main thing I like about SS is that you don’t have to worry about a ton of different plugins. SS has many things already integrated that are tried and tested by their team, and not a bunch of random internet people. If you use Mailchimp, it’s already integrated with your site when you add your sign up forms. The few things that you aren’t easily integrated, like ConvertKit for example, I add a block of code where I want the forms to show up, whether than using the built in Mailchimp form.
If there is something you need to add in, you'll be on your own adding in the code and installing the program. But there's a catch with adding code: SquareSpace has articles about adding in different codes but they do not offer much support beyond the platform. Because SquareSpace has so much built in already, some code can cause problems with your site. If your added code is causing a problem, you may need to speak to the direct source. I had the problem of some extra code that slowed my website down and I deleted it just to avoid any more trouble.
You need to know a lot more about coding to make an amazing WP site, not so much with SS since the interface is easier to use. You may need custom coding and may spend time moving and adding things but not so much that you need extensive training on how to code. With WordPress, you won’t be able to see any changes you make with your design until you save it and view it. Squarespace has a browser view as you build so you can see your mistakes or misses as you do them. If you’re making big changes on your SS site, you can disable it and make it password protected while you’re working on the backend. Or sometimes with clients, I create a quick landing page that doesn’t link to any other pages that I may be working on.
With WordPress, you could spend big bucks hiring a designer and buying a custom template. With SquareSpace, you could design yourself or hire a designer who specializes in SquareSpace (like my fav HeyDays Design).
The costs can get a little tricky. SquareSpace fees are a little more upfront whereas Wordpress themes, plugins, developers, domains and hosting can get expensive quickly like I mentioned above. You can spend anywhere from around $200 for the initial investment and that’s not including the designer or developer you’ll need unless you’re fluent in coding.
Remember, WordPress.com and WordPress.org have different. You can have a free account with WordPress.com (with many drawbacks) like a yourwebsitename.wordpress.com and unsolicited ads run by WordPress throughout your site. The premium options make more sense are compared here. WordPress.org pricing gets a little trickier since you have to self-host, there's more info on that here.
With SquareSpace, your hosting will be through them but you’ll need to buy a domain either through them directly or through GoDaddy or another provider and then connect it to your site. Hosting per month ranges from $12 a month annually (or $16 paying month to month) or more. SS fees depend on your uses and if you will have an e-commerce store. You may decide to use a business or store plan that will cost you a bit more than the regular, personal plan. The upside is, you'll be using one of their built-in templates and won't have to worry about finding a decently priced one, like WordPress.
With building a store with WordPress, you’ll also run into more fees and integrations. With SS, your transaction fees depend on your plan and Swipe (and now PayPal) is integrated into the interface. With both platforms you can also add a third party integration like Shopify or PayPal and you can read more about that here.
The main difference between the two is that WP is an open source platform, meaning that anyone can alter their codes and sell corresponding items (like plugins and themes). There is not necessarily a set team that runs WordPress but instead, it’s more of a community.
Behind SS, there is a team who have made sure that the themes work and that you shouldn’t run into many issues. If you do run into issues, remember millions of people have their hands in WordPress so you may sift through thousands of articles or Youtube videos to solve your problem if you have a free account. If you are not on a premium account, you have very limited access to their support team other than their online forum. With WordPress.org or a premium account, dependingOr wait days until their support team can answer your question. With SS, every time I’ve had a question, I’ve messaged them in a chat box and they have answered my questions in real time. If it’s a quick question, they already have a section of in-depth tutorials and Q+A threads directly from their team. This is where Squarespace wins for me.
Again, there are many pros and cons and some you may not uncover until you actually dig into one of the platforms. I have enjoyed my time on SquareSpace and have assisted others in creating beautiful, functional websites as well. On the flip side, there are millions of WP enthusiasts and the platform is still around for a reason. It's all about your preference and the experience you need! If you still need time to figure it out, here's one last article similar to this one with pros and cons of the platforms.