Looking to get your first website up and running? Or has your existing websites become outdated and it’s time for a total revamp from a design and functionality standpoint? Whatever the case, you’re faced with the same question: what foundation should you build your new website on. The software that you build your website on is the concrete foundation that supports all the other functions. The technical name for this “foundation” is a CMS (content management systems) which is essentially a software application that allows you to build and manage a website. The two most common CMS’s our agency sees on the day to day are WordPress and Squarespace. So, in this post we’d like to stack them up against each other and discuss which one is the best long-term choice for you or your business.
Building Your Website on Squarespace
Squarespace is all-around easier to build a website on when compared to WordPress because it requires virtually no coding. The CMS has hundreds of pre-built templates for you to choose from – this means picking a template and simply upload your text and images. This is what makes Squarespace sites really nice for people that want to get a site up relatively quick and bypass using a team of designers and developers. Also, these pre-made templates are conveniently broken into 14 categories, featuring industries like restaurants, health and fitness, and travel and tourism. The layout and function of these templates are already designed with your business needs in mind.
Another big distinction is that all Squarespace plans include hosting for your site and its content along with unlimited bandwidth and storage. This means you don’t have to go out and look for a hosting provider; it’s all already taken care of. However, if you’re looking for a custom designed site with unique features and complete editing abilities, this is not the platform for you. Some of the best-fit Squarespace candidates are people like artists, photographers, and creators looking to showcase their work on an image-centric website. That’s where Squarespace really shines – its templates feature layouts for big HD images. If you want to display a lot of text on your website and if images aren’t really your business’s focal point, Squarespace probably isn’t the best choice.
The Pros of Squarespace
- Pre-made templates allow for ease of use for non-developers
- Stunning templates feature an emphasis on imagery
- Hosting for your website is already taken care of
- Mobile app allows you to edit pages, posts, and products on the go
- Live chat support with quick answers
- Templates are great for website blogs
The Cons of Squarespace
- Inability to customize website and webpages
- Inability to use another hosting solution for enhanced speed and uptime
- Limited SEO ability due to lack of plugins and site customizability
- Only one sub-navigation makes it not suitable for large websites with long menu hierarchies
- Templates receive low rating by Google’s page speed tool
Building Your Website on WordPress
WordPress comes in two options: wordpress.com (mainly for blogging) and wordpress.org. The dot com version is kind of like a Squarespace site, with templates to choose from and web hosting already organized for you. The dot org version is open-source, which means that customization is virtually limitless. However, you’ll have to go find a hosting option; don’t fret, this can actually offer more power and scalability for your site. Both versions of WordPress will require technical knowledge and you’ll need to know some code, but the wordpress.com version is more streamlined and will be easier for the less experienced.
Because of the endless room for customizability with design, functionality, and site speed and security, our agency uses wordpress.org for our site builds. While an experienced dev or a full web-team might be needed for this lift, the ability to customize with wordpress.org allows our agency to work with clients to create a website that’s 100% what they want. Including elements like custom page layout, site structure, animated elements, hover effects, SEO optimizations…the whole package.
The Pros of WordPress.org
- 100% customizability for your website
- WordPress itself is free
- Endless room for SEO optimizations
- Huge collection of extensions, add-ons, and plugins
- Select your hosting provider of choice
- Almost all popular third-party tools already have integrations available for WordPress
The Cons of WordPress.org
- User is responsible for security, making backups, and installing updates
- WordPress does not come with a built-in drag and drop website builder
- Basic knowledge of HTML and CSS is needed
- You’ll need to find a hosting provider
What’s the Most Well-Rounded Option?
It’s not always easy to give an ultimatum on what the best option is when stacking two like things against each other. However, we want to give an opinion on the matter, rather than just saying they’re both good and it just depends on your needs. It really comes down to some important long-term aspects for your site: the ability to scale, 100% customization, hosting preferences, SEO ability, and 3rd party integrations. If you have the ability to code or can work with a web developer or digital agency and have time to put toward the build of your website, wordpress.org is going to be the most well-rounded option. If you just need to get a good looking site up quickly and don’t feel like working with a developer, Squarespace is a better choice. But at the end of the day, site customization is everything and optimizing your site for search engines is essential, which is why WordPress gets our vote for the best CMS for the long-term performance of your website.