We often get asked by clients why we choose to design our websites in Squarespace rather than Wordpress. While every website builder has its pros and cons, we think it’s important for our clients to know why Squarespace is our builder of choice. If you are struggling with this question at your business, whether deciding for clients or yourself, we’ve developed this blog to help you feel more knowledgable about your choice.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is Squarespace? What is Wordpress?
Both Squarespace and Wordpress are SaaS (software as a service) tools that allow you to build your own website essentially from the ground up. Both sites have two different versions available to the public.
Squarespace is an all-in-one platform that offers built-in web hosting, SSL, SEO, domains, e-commerce and marketing tools. Users can choose to use the pre-designed templates, customize their own sites using a blank template as a canvas, or create a truly customized site using source code (HTML). Hive builds most of its sites with a combination of options two and three.
Wordpress is a software that users can install on any hosting service they choose. General users can choose among the thousands of WordPress themes and plugins to create sites, and more advanced web developers can build sites with the WordPress source code for a more customized look and performance.
What are the cost differences?
Squarespace has four different payment plans and allows you the customization of paying monthly or annually.
The chart above shows the annual rates. The price goes up a bit if you select monthly ($16, $26, $30 and $46 per month). The plans each include different features, and according to Squarespace, “Business” is their most popular plan choice.
Wordpress can be free in its most basic form, but in order to use your own domain, plug-ins, themes and e-commerce integration, you’ll start to incur additional costs. You’ll also need a web host outside of Wordpress, while Squarespace is hosted internally. Squarespace generally includes all of these options in a “Business” or “Commerce” plan, which often work out to be cheaper than Wordpress. However, this will depend on what features you determine you need.
In terms of hiring a website designer, it typically takes much less time to design a Squarespace site than a Wordpress site due to the built-in features and styles. (Just ask our clients.)
What does site maintenance look like in Squarespace vs. Wordpress?
Hands down, Squarespace wins the maintenance argument.
Wordpress typically requires a developer to help code and build the entire site, as well as maintain it. If you are not already skilled in this area, you will likely need training in order to learn how to do so, or hire a developer to do it for you. Most of Wordpress is not automated, so if you use any plugins or extra features, you will have to spend time checking consistently for updates and installing them yourself.
Squarespace does not require any site maintenance unless you are updating your content. Once we hand the sites off to our clients, it generally just takes one hour to train them on how Squarespace works. After training, they know how to add new images, products, blog posts, etc. We find that most of our clients no longer need our help in keeping their sites up-to-date. Any technical aspects, such as software updates, hosting, plug-ins, etc. are automatically updated by Squarespace and require no user input.
What features are included?
While Wordpress arguably allows more flexibility in themes, functionality and appearance customization, Squarespace users can also customize the appearance and functionality of their site using the service’s built-in templates or source code, just on a more limited basis. The great thing about Squarespace is common plugins, like forms, SEO or e-commerce functionality, are automatically included. And with a little bit of coding, it it is possible to import third-party plugins to your Squarespace site for additional customization. The more popular built-in features of Squarespace include:
Website Templates: Squarespace offers built-in templates to get you started and allows template switching anytime. You can change your look without having to totally remove all of your content and media.
Built-In Mobile Templates: When you choose a website template on Squarespace, you automatically get a built-in mobile version, which allows your website to transform seamlessly for mobile users without any extra work on your part. No extra UX design work needed.
Free TypeKit and Google Fonts: Squarespace offers a large variety of serif and sans serif fonts. You can change the weight, styles, letter spacing, line spacing and colors to make the fonts look more unique.
Custom CSS: If you have web developing experience or a plugin you’d like to incorporate, you can insert code on any page or on the entire website using Squarespace’s custom CSS option.
Social Media Connections: All Squarespace sites automatically connect with your social media accounts. You can customize the placement of the icons on your header, footer or specific pages, and also use the various built-in styles to alter how they look.
User Data Collection: Squarespace allows you to create custom forms on your website and collect user data as needed.
Email Campaigns: Squarespace allows you to create and distribute email campaigns directly from your website (for a small fee). Create an email campaign from scratch or use one of their pre-designed templates and manage your user list from here, as well. You'll also receive analytics to see how your email campaigns are performing.
SEO Options: Squarespace just recently expanded their SEO capabilities and will give you more control over the details that matter most, such as your site and page titles and descriptions, and will allow you to see how your pages may appear with the updated search results preview option.
Blogging: Squarespace offers a customizable blog page that can be incorporated anywhere on your site. (In most Wordpress templates, the default placement for blogs is on the homepage.) Blogs include SEO features, custom URLs, and title and page descriptions. They also include automatic or manual “share” options for your connected social media accounts.
E-Commerce: Squarespace’s e-commerce function allows you to not only build a beautiful, custom shop for your products but also control inventory, integrate payment forms like Stripe and Paypal, set up flexible shipping options, offer product subscriptions, gift cards, connect reviews, and much more. Squarespace also allows you to use an API key to sync with other e-commerce platforms if you’d like.
Analytics: Squarespace offers a built in analytics platform for every site where you can check important website insights like page views, popular content, demographics, geography, referrers and more. If you choose to connect an online store through their e-commerce function, Squarespace analytics will also include revenue, cart abandonment data, and conversions so you can track how your business is doing.
The list goes on and on. You can find a full list of Squarespace’s extensive included features here: https://www.squarespace.com/feature-index
All of these features can also be found on Wordpress, but must be coded or found in pre-coded form on the internet and then installed and updated by the user.
Will you work with me in Wordpress, anyways?
We often receive questions about building sites in Wordpress or updating existing Wordpress sites. While we’ve worked with Wordpress a bit, we do not currently offer either of these as services. What we can do is help you move your existing Wordpress site into Squarespace for a more modern look and better user experience. Our experience has shown that clients who pay web developers on an as-needed basis to update their Wordpress sites and plugins are better off building a new site in Squarespace where they can do the work in-house and not incur thousands of dollars in fees over the years.
Our website designs start at $1,500 for a 5-6 page site. After an initial consultation, we provide an estimate based on your project needs. Please contact us here if you want to know more about our website design services. Click here for our website portfolio.