WordPress vs Squarespace
WordPress vs Squarespace is often a comparison considered by small business owners about to build a new website. They are both good options, but which one suits you will depend on what you want the site to achieve.
Comparing the costs and compromises of WordPress VS Squarespace
To do a proper comparison I've formulated a basic requirements list so that you can relate this to your own requirements and adjust to make it more specific to you needs.
This fictional website requires:
- two pages of content (home page and about) with custom styling of the content
- a basic contact form
- social icons
- good SEO structure
- mobile responsive (of course)
- easy updates in the future with new pages or articles that I could easily do myself.
I then set out to price and compare a WordPress vs Squarespace website.
WordPress is very popular and most people that get a quote from a developer will be dealing with a WordPress site. The main reasons is that for most small business people, they are not technically minded or up for the challenge of learning to build a site on WordPress.
Squarespace on the other hand is a complete WYSIWYG approach and they put the emphasis on making it easy to do all of the key things such as image, template, content styling etc.
What did I expect?
My up front expectation when comparing WordPress vs Squarespace was that I would be far happier with the WordPress site. After all it’s in territory I’m more familiar with, I get to say exactly what I want with no compromises because I get to tell a developer exactly what I want.
The outcome wasn’t what I expected.
WordPress Vs Squarepace Costings
- Domain name (free with the hosting) but expect to pay $15-30
- Template about $150
- Hosting AU$240 pa but intro offer of $60 for the first year
- SEO pack (free or $199 for full functionality)
- Developer fee US$270 but this is a once off (using Upwork top rated developers) or Aus $1500 for a local WordPress developer charging $100 per hour.
- Domain name (free with the hosting)
- Hosting US$22 per month or AU$192 if you pay annually
- Templates - customisable and included in the hosting fee
- SEO included in fee but not as flexible as WordPress.
- No developer fee - 14 day free account to see if I could get the look, feel and functionality that I was after.
Both were assumed to be mobile-responsive.
Based on the above comparison, upfront development was the killer for the WordPress site. I included two prices for WordPress as a lot of people are not comfortable working with someone that they can’t meet face to face, so there’s a price for using a top-rated developer from Upwork and an alternative quote from a local web developer here in Melbourne.
Either way, Squarespace was far more economical than the WordPress site. But was this better pricing worth the hassle of building the website myself?
WordPress Vs Squarespace functionality
Other considerations in comparing WordPress vs Squarespace was which gave me the most help and support.
Squarespace provides much technical support whenever I had a question via webchat. I can also hire a developer to do more with the site if I ever need more. With WordPress I was on an hourly rate with the developer whenever I had a problem or question I wanted to ask. What’s more, Squarespace gave me certainty on the outcome.
There’s a 14 day free trial so I figured that if I couldn’t get the look and feel and functionality on the website with Squarespace, I could then turn to the WordPress solution. It was a low risk approach without losing money. You can’t say the same with a WordPress site when you rely on the web developer doing a good job.
The WordPress site made me reliant on selecting a great web developer to do a good job. Based on previous experience, it was likely I would get the final result I was after but just preparing the brief and looking for the developer actually took longer than it took to create the Squarespace site and get it live.
Ease of use
In terms of ease of use between WordPress vs Squarespace, it was Squarespace that came out as the far easier platform to learn and get up to speed. It comes with a visual editor that allows you to see what you are creating as you go.
With WordPress, you need to purchase (or make do with the free functionality) of a website builder plugin. Another expense. Your develop will likely have a license that they use to build the site on which will then save you this cost.
While Squarespace has good SEO out of the box there are limitations to how much you can control, particularly around URL conventions. WordPress with a plugin in like RankMath, Yoast or AIOSEO will give you complete control over all aspects of the site that impact on the search optimisation of your site.
It is hard to do a WordPress vs Squarespace comparison based on speed, as WordPress has a lot of factors that will impact.
However, if you understand these then you can make a good assessment.
Squarespace takes care of speed for you. While not lightning fast it's acceptable and the only thing that you can do to impact this is to keep the images you use optimised for fast loading.
A WordPress website will be impacted by a number of things. Where you host the site (I priced hosting above on Siteground, which has an excellent reputation for security and speed management of their servers). But some developers will put you on a slow server because it's sharing too many other sites simultaneously.
The template you choose and any number of plugins you choose will also have the potential to slow your website up. So each addition to the site needs to be considered in terms of impact on the site speed. But! You do have control over this. Where you choose to host the site, the templates and plugins all can be informed based on this need for speed!
Styling of content
In favour of the WordPress site, I think that the plugins and tailoring that’s possible with a WordPress site is great, while with Squarespace there was compromise with some inline content styling that I had in mind to start with on the Squarespace site. But this ended up being the only compromise that I needed and the price difference made me feel ok with this.
Ability to integrate third party services
When considering this point for the WordPress vs Squarespace, the need to be able to add to your website additional capabilities overtime should be considered. WordPress is flexible enough that just about any additional service you want to add can be via a plugin.
Squarespace however has limited native integrations and you will need to rely on a service like Zapier to bring together anything such as a CRM integration which can be another subscription cost to consider. It does have integration with Mailchimp and is now starting to add a number of 'extensions' which mostly relating to eCommerce (which has not been part of the focus of this review).
Out of the box, Squarespace is a more secure website platform. That's because WordPress relies on you a) making it secure and b) keeping it secure with ongoing patches and updates.
Having said this, there is no ability to have a back up or a 'staging' site on Squarespace. These things are easily achieved with a WordPress site but you will need some technical know-how.
WordPress vs Squarespace Conclusion
If cost is a key consideration and you don't mind a DIY approach (particularly if you are starting up your business) then Squarespace is the better option.
For basic functionality with forms, email integration with Mailchimp and knowing that I can also easily include other functionality on the site like email capture popups, click to chat and, appointment scheduling plugins and a shopping cart eventually (with an upgrade plan) then it's a great deal.
Now to qualify this, if I had more complex needs this would be a different story. But if you’re just getting started and you want to get a website up and running that gives you a place to promote and talk about your products and services and allow customers to interact with you then do take the time to experiment with some of the off the shelf web builder solutions out there before you commit to a web developer.
If you want a detailed run down on how to approach building a website, particularly around the decision of choosing a website builder, take a look at How to build a website. You might also be interested in our website brief and check list download.
Good luck and prosper my friends.