You run a business and you’re looking for a new website. It needs to be easy to launch, easy to maintain and easy on the wallet, so you start to analyse your options. When choosing a business website platform the choice often boils down to this decision: Template vs. bespoke, otherwise known as Squarespace vs. Wordpress.
Yes, there are many other platforms but these are our favourites. SquareSpace has been a solid platform for our clients for several years. Clients like the CMS and it looks pretty damn good for most uses. Wordpress, well it’s powering almost 30% of sites on the internet!
Both of these platforms have their virtues, both have their weaknesses and both will give you excellent websites. Here we’ll run through the key differences between Squarespace and Wordpress, and which types of business each platform is best suited to.
Let’s start with Design, Choice and Flexibility
Both Squarespace and Wordpress provide a variety of options for themes and templates, and both offer varying degrees of customisation opportunities. Here are the key differences you should know about:
Wordpress: As an open source platform, Wordpress naturally has the edge over Squarespace when it comes to the sheer scope of design templates, plugins, themes and other customisation factors. ‘Open source’ simply means that everybody can access, use and customise codes in order to create their own tools and plugins, which has resulted in Wordpress being able to offer tens of thousands of different options for users to build bespoke websites with.
There is, however, a word of caution to this tale. While having all this choice is fantastic on the one hand, the products on offer are not always first rate. The Wordpress community is vast and its products cannot, therefore, be policed or validated. This means that, for every fantastic tool you find (and you will find many), there will be dozens of terrible ones, so this is something to bear in mind.
Squarespace: The range of themes, design templates and tools on Squarespace is admittedly more limited than that of Wordpress, however this is made up for by the fact that every template and tool is of the highest possible quality.
The Squarespace platform is gated and not accessible to Joe Public, meaning everything within it is created and thoroughly tested by highly experienced developers and designers. This is especially reassuring to those who are new to the art of website building and design, and want to know that everything will integrate, look professional and work exactly as it is supposed to.
Ease of use is one of the top factors that affects which website building platforms businesses ultimately choose. Here are the key usability differences between Squarespace and Wordpress:
Wordpress: Yes, Wordpress is the more customisable platform, but being able to properly take advantage of these customisation options relies on your coding ability. Unlike with Squarespace, Wordpress codes can be altered to create bespoke websites with almost any features you could want. But if you don’t know how to code then you will either have to hire a developer to do it for you (which, of course, carries a cost), or else learn how to do it yourself (which, of course, takes time).
Squarespace: If you don’t have the time or the patience to learn to code, then Squarespace might be the answer to your prayers. This is the ultimate ‘drag and drop’ website builder, which allows you to easily alter and update your website using visual blocks, text and other mix-and-match features. With Squarespace you can see how your website looks as you’re building it, rather than relying on technical code and trial and error, as with Wordpress. This makes it the better platform choice for the non-tech savvy user.
Cost is another instant clincher for business owners looking to choose a website platform. Here’s a breakdown of cost differences between Squarespace and Wordpress:
Wordpress: The cost of a Wordpress site varies wildly depending on the options you choose, but here are the key costs you will need to factor in:
- Hosting: Roughly £5 per month / £60 per year
- Domain name: Roughly £7-10 per year
- Wordpress Theme: These can cost anything from £20-60 for a good quality theme
- Extra Plugins & Features: Some are free, but others can cost anything from £10-40 depending on the quality
- Total startup cost: Roughly £100-150 depending on the number of plugins and quality of theme you choose.
Other costs: Wordpress is constantly updating, which means you must also update all of your own themes and plugins regularly to avoid system conflicts and hacking. If you do not have the time to continually monitor and update your site, you may need to pay for an external professional service to help you do this.
Squarespace: While the Wordpress format gives you much more freedom to mix and match your options, Squarespace has advantages in the simplicity of its costs. Costs vary depending on whether you’re running a basic or advanced general website or online e-commerce store, so you can choose from different pricing packages to suit your needs.
The below table shows the four packages available and their respective monthly costs. Note the monthly costs are lower on the annual plans, which means there are savings to be made.
These costs include an enormous range of features including your own custom domain, 24/7 customer support, fully integrated e-commerce and professional email services. For those in need of simplicity, Squarespace is the ultimate ‘everything under one roof’ business website platform.
Running a successful e-commerce business website requires a platform that can handle transactions efficiently and securely. Here’s what Wordpress and Squarespace offer for e-commerce business websites:
Wordpress: The Wordpress platform is ideal for setting up an e-commerce website as it integrates with virtually any payment gateway from PayPal and Stripe to Skrill, 2Checkout and Braintree. There are lots of easy-to-install e-commerce plugins available, plus a vast variety of Wordpress themes available that have been designed specifically for e-commerce websites.
Squarespace: It used to be the case that Squarespace would fall at this particular hurdle, as it was previously only compatible with the Stripe payment gateway. Now, however, users can also connect PayPal to their Squarespace e-commerce website and accept a wide range of payment methods including Visa (credit and debit), Mastercard (credit and debit), American Express, JCB, PayPal and Apple Pay. And, with plenty of options and space for product uploading and showcasing, there are now very few restrictions with a Squarespace e-commerce website.
Choosing the Right Platform for Your Business
Now that you’re clued up on the key differences between Squarespace and Wordpress, it should be a little easier to make a decision as to which one is best for you. But before you do, make sure you take your business and current situation into account.
For example, are you a startup looking to launch your very first website? Or are you an established, expanding business looking to reflect this in a new website? Whichever applies to you, here’s what you need to know about what Squarespace and Wordpress offer:
Nine times out of ten a startup is relying on affordable costs, straightforward processes and a speedy launch to get the business off the ground and making money. With these criteria in mind, the most suitable platform for a startup is undoubtedly Squarespace.
Benefits of Squarespace for startups:
- Faster to build and launch
- Easier to build and customise
- No coding required
- Support built in
- Affordable, neat pricing structure
Pitfalls of Squarespace for startups:
- Not as much choice in themes and templates as with Wordpress
- Cannot be customised into a bespoke website as is possible with Wordpress
As an established business that has been making money and growing in size for years, you now have the luxury of time and funds on your side. This means you can afford to invest in a long-term bespoke website building project and absorb the associated costs, making Wordpress a more viable option.
Benefits of Wordpress for established businesses:
- More customisation options to build a complex, totally bespoke website
- Wider variety of payment gateway integrations available for supporting larger e-commerce websites
Pitfalls of Wordpress for established businesses:
- Requires additional cost for access to support
- More difficult to maintain due to regular updates and higher risk of hacking
Of course, there is no rule dictating which platform you should choose for your business, and these are merely guidelines. It all comes down to time, costs and confidence.
However, if you’re still not sure which is best for you, why not give the team at (hug) a call? We’re experts in the building and maintenance of both Squarespace and Wordpress websites, and can help with everything from design and concepts to coding, troubleshooting and upkeep. Whatever your business and whatever your budget, (hug) will get you online in no time.