WordPress vs. Squarespace
Any business owner who likes to tackle marketing projects themselves is eventually going to run into the tough decision of choosing which platform to use for their website. There are dozens of incredibly solid options out there. But nearly every business owner can find all of the features, tools, and ease-of-use they need with WordPress and Squarespace.
Between the two, the difference lies in the amount of customization required and, on a related note, the owner’s comfort level with various web technologies (content management systems, HTML, hosting, etc). WordPress is going to be the #1 choice for owners that want to dive deeper into customization and online marketing. Squarespace is slightly less intimidating and includes a much easier drag-and-drop site builder at the cost of less customization.
Most online marketing professionals (myself included) will swear by WordPress for almost any website. But both WordPress and Squarespace are relevant options for any business owner. Below I will go into why you would use each platform and how to get started.
Why Should I Use WordPress?
Nearly infinite design options, easy-to-implement search engine optimization (SEO), and flexibility/customization are among the top reasons for using WordPress. Did I mention it’s free? There are definitely ways to spend money on WordPress (see Themes, plugins, and hosting). But the software itself is free. To clarify, we’re talking about the open-source, .org version of WordPress. WordPress.com is a blogging platform that is similar to Blogger.com and doesn’t have any of the powerful features that WordPress.org has (namely, the plugins that have been developed over the years since WordPress was developed).
First, let’s dive into those top three reasons why you should use WordPress. Then I’ll touch on how to get started.
- Let me start by noting that I am not a professional web designer. But I designed this website. Part of the power of WordPress comes from the thousands of themes available to you. I chose a free theme (there are plenty of paid themes as well), made a few customizations (including logos and pages describing my services), added the plugins that I needed (see SEO and customization), and started contributing to this blog. It was seriously that easy. The only time-consuming step was self-inflicted: I spent days making minor tweaks to my logos and color choices…don’t fall into that trap!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Once you get your site up and running, it’s time to start creating your content and optimizing it to rank in search results. The biggest benefit of WordPress being the go-to solution for online marketers is that it has the most support for search engine optimization, social media, and email marketing strategies. WordPress does this by making plugins available to everyone. These plugins are developed and, most of the time, offered free to all WordPress.org users. To a marketer like myself, the most important plugins available deal with SEO. As a small business, it’s crucial to rank as highly as possible for search terms relevant to your customers. Plugins like WordPress SEO by yoast (by far the most popular SEO plugin), XML Sitemaps & Google News Feeds, and Google Analytics for WordPress will be incredibly important for owners to increase rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs) and track their web traffic.
Customizability (WordPress Plugins)
- Even though WordPress is a blogging platform at it’s core, the years of plugin development has turned it into MUCH more. There’s a plugin for everything. There are SEO plugins, email marketing plugins, page builders, e-commerce plugins, integrations with almost any social network or community online, and more. For example, I recently picked up a pricing tables plugin (Easy Pricing Tables by fatcat apps). I needed a way to organize information about my marketing and business services. As I mentioned before, I am not a designer. I have friends and contractors I use for important design work. But this plugin provided me with easy-to-use forms that generated tables that were perfect for my needs. Like many plugins, this was a free plugin with premium features. The free features met my needs entirely, but I will likely upgrade for premium features in the future if the plugin ends up being valuable to my business.
What about hosting? (the best and worst feature of WordPress)
For someone that isn’t a professional online marketer, WordPress causes a bit of a headache when it comes to hosting. Building a WordPress.org site can’t just be done by going to WordPress.org and signing up. You need to purchase a hosting service to handle all of your files and WordPress itself. In terms of ease-of-use, this is where Squarespace starts becoming more attractive. Squarespace will actually host your website for you, provide you with a drag & drop editor, and give you a domain name (ex. www.yourbusiness.com). With WordPress, all of those things come separately. The good news is that doing it all separately will both be cheaper and provide you with more options.
I personally use Bluehost for hosting and purchasing domains. It’s probably the easiest-to-use and most flexible hosting service for the price. And for Bluehost and a few other providers, the “installing WordPress” step is non-existent (one-click installs). Passive income guru, Pat Flynn, and my favorite blogger, Mr. Money Mustache, are both big fans of Bluehost. WordPress even highlights it as a top choice in its list of hosting providers. I will make a full-blown guide in the future on using Bluehost to launch your WordPress (or other platform) site. But if you’re ready to give it a go right away, click on the Bluehost banner below.
Full disclosure: Links to Bluehost from Fusion Promotions are affiliate links. We will get a portion of the sale if you decide to follow through with purchasing Bluehost. We only suggest products that we would stake our reputation on. To date, every website that I have ever hosted uses Bluehost.
So Why Would I Use Squarespace?
You’ve gotten this far and clearly picked up on my preference for WordPress. So why would you even consider Squarespace? If I were you, I wouldn’t. But I’m not you. You don’t do this sort of thing for a living. So the answer is time. Time, speed, and ease-of-use. You’re a busy business owner and your faced with three options:
- Purchase hosting from Bluehost, install WordPress, and build your own perfectly optimized business website.
- Pay an online marketing group to setup your website and maintain it.
- Go with a simpler, less time-consuming option that you can do yourself: Squarespace.
Option 2, hire an online marketing group, will get you the best website and online marketing strategy with the least amount of your valuable time spent. This is, admittedly, more expensive than doing it yourself. But if you value your time over the price, then it’s going to be your best option. Check out our services if you’re interested in going this route.
Option 1 is going to be the least expensive choice with a great resulting website. But this is BY FAR the most time-consuming solution. On top of that, if you don’t spend the time learning about online marketing best practices, you could potentially end up with a website that performs worse than the simpler, quicker Squarespace option. Only pick this option if you’re dedicated to learning about online marketing and can spend a couple weeks of your time building your website and online presence (and then an additional few hours per week keeping things updated and generating content).
Option 3, Squarespace, is going to be the best solution for a business owner who wants to dip their toes into do-it-yourself online marketing without spending a ton of time and money. Squarespace offers hosting, a domain, and a website builder all in a relatively inexpensive package (starting at $8/month). On top of that, Squarespace seems to have upgraded their e-commerce solutions since the last time we used them to build a site. We will be giving its e-commerce features an in-depth look vs. Magento and WordPress e-commerce solutions in the near future.
While no design skill is required to start a WordPress site, Squarespace requires even less. The drag & drop editor and tons of themes will make starting a new site possible in a few hours (even less if you’re 100% happy with a chosen theme). Creating content and blogging on Squarespace is similar to WordPress. Honestly, since the inception of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors YEARS ago, creating web content has been a pretty standard experience across almost every platform. There are two particular situations a business owner could find themselves in where I would suggest a Squarespace website over WordPress (both situations are temporary).
- You’re staring a new business and need to quickly build a site to have a reference page for customers (if it’s a web-based business, I would skip straight to WordPress).
- You’re an established business with no website or the need for a new site to support a specific product. Does that website need to be launched quickly with a non-existent budget? Use Squarespace.
In both situations, I highly suggest eventually hiring an online marketing group to import the Squarespace site into a WordPress site that the group maintains. If you’re a new business, by all means wait until your product/service is profitable. Don’t spend the money on us or another business to launch a site for you without at least testing the viability of your business. But once you get past that step, a highly optimized WordPress site with an online marketing strategy to go with it will start rapidly expanding your customer base at a rapid pace. Sign up for our email list in the sidebar to keep up with new content from Fusion Promotions. And shoot us a message on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus while you’re at it!