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WordPress vs Squarespace – Which Should I Use?

WordPress and Squarespace are the two most popular CMSs (Content Management Systems) on the market. In this post we’ll dive into the strengths and weaknesses of each so you can decide what’s best for you.

A Tale Of Two CMSs

As we discussed in our previous post on WordPress, WordPress is easily the king of the hill with over 25% of all websites being built on top of it. Squarespace, on the other hand, is the new guy on the block with a measly 0.5% of all sites. However, that’s still around half a million websites, which is a substantial number of sites especially considering how new Squarespace is to the CMS space.

What Is The Difference?

WordPress and Squarespace both provide the same end result. They both provide a means of building a website and distributing content on that site. However, they go about doing it in different ways.

WordPress is know for being open and free (you can download it for free here). There are tens of thousands of plugins and thousands of themes, and the community is huge. If you have the know how you can build WordPress into whatever your heart desires. It’s this openness that has propelled it to become the industry leader.

Squarespace, on the other hand, aims to control the building process to make building beautiful sites very easy. What you can do in SquareSpace is pretty limited compared to WordPress and you’ll be stuck having to use their paid plugins. Also, Squarespace is not free, not even for personal use. However, out of the box Squarespace has a LOT more features than vanilla WordPress and it’s extremely simple to setup.

When Should I Use WordPress?

WordPress is a great tool that can be used to build nearly anything. There are even apps built with WordPress (that might be going too far in our opinion, but it certainly is possible). However, using WordPress to its fullest requires coding and design knowledge. If you or someone on your team doesn’t have those skills then you’ll need to hire someone to do it for you. If you can’t afford to have someone do it for you, and there’s no one on staff that can utilize WordPress properly, then we recommend not using the platform.

A lot of people try to get by utilizing visual editors, or WYSIWYGs, such as Visual Composer, and some themes even have customizable sections. However, you’ll be stuck altering a theme and the result will likely be poor because WordPress will allow you to push, pull, bend, and even break things. If you can’t utilize WordPress properly then a great bet would be to use Squarespace. More on that in a moment…

Another reason you might want to use WordPress is that it allows you to scale. Say, for instance, that you wanted to build an e-commerce site selling shoes. You could easily do this with Squarespace, however, what you can do will be limited to what they offer. If you want custom integrations with your fulfillment center, or want to integrate a cool marketing tool, then you’ll likely be out of luck.

Pros

  • Free and open source
  • Large community
  • Large selection of plugins
  • Large selection of themes
  • Easy for a developer to use

Cons

  • Technical skills are required
  • Hard for beginners
  • Easy to mess up if you don’t know what you’re doing
  • Few features out of the box (have to install them yourself)

If you can utilize WordPress, then absolutely do it. In the hands of a skilled developer, WordPress is generally far and away a better tool than Squarespace or any other CMS.

When Should I Use Squarespace?

Squarespace should be used when you either don’t have the skills to use WordPress to build a site from scratch, or don’t have the means to pay someone to do it. Good examples of people using Squarespace are graphic designers, churches, and non-profits. These parties will likely have limited development experience and capital, so using WordPress would be difficult. However, they can quickly create a pretty good looking site that gets the job done using Squarespace’s curated themes. Could a WordPress developer do it better? Sure. But it would cost thousands of dollars for a similar site.

If you’re a software company then you can use Squarespace as your marketing site. There’s actually a growing trend in the SaaS, Software as a Service, community to do just that. It lets the developers focus on the app while the marketers take care of the site.

In short, Squarespace lowers the technical bar for building a website but caps the possibilities of what you can do. If you’re looking to build something other than an information website or an e-commerce store then you should probably look at something else.

Pros

  • Extremely easy to use
  • Lots of features out of the box
  • Curated themes

Cons

  • Limited functionality
  • Not free and can be expensive
  • Hard to customize themes

Conclusion

In the hands of the right person, WordPress is a superior tool to Squarespace. However, Squarespace drastically lowers the entry level bar and makes building informational or simple e-commerce websites something nearly anyone can do. If you have the means to use WordPress you should, but if you don’t take a look at Squarespace. It might be just the thing you need to get started.

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