10 Reasons to Choose Squarespace over Wordpress
Ask which content management system you should use for your new website and anyone who doesn't stare blankly at you will most likely suggest Wordpress. Wordpress is popular and free to download. It allows you to build a great website with endless feature possibilities. A quarter of the world's websites operate on Wordpress, and millions of websites can't be wrong.
But although Squarespace's market share is minuscule in comparison, for small to medium-sized businesses, I believe the complexity of Wordpress is beaten hands down by the usability, simplicity and effortless beauty of Squarespace. Less fuss and mess make Squarespace sites quicker and cheaper to build and manage, and less of a headache for you.
In fact, nothing gets me sobbing happy tears like lovingly gestating and pushing out a brand new Squarespace website.
What's the Difference?
Wordpress is open source web development software, which means it's free to download and use. That's usually the full extent of its freeness. It's perfectly possible to host your own website (and if you're up for that, Wordpress away), but most regular humans pay for hosting, which costs anything from £10 per month. Email and domain name registration costs are additional, or come packaged from a third-party host.
You start by choosing one of thousands of Wordpress themes, that is, templates with a predefined (but configurable) homepage layout, colour scheme and fonts. Then you add plugins which add features, from contact forms to SEO management, to the site. Plenty of themes and plugins are free, but quality and support come at a cost. Wordpress software is updated regularly so it keeps up with the latest browsers and security breaches, and it's yours (or your website manager's) job to manage and install those updates.
Squarespace on the other hand is a complete website builder. It provides hosting, updates, website features, domain name registration, email and support in one complete package. Squarespace pricing varies depending on your website size and whether or not you require commerce, email and a domain. Overall, I find there's little difference in price between the two systems, once you factor everything in. And, arguably, Squarespace will save you money in the long run as it's so much easier to manage.
Another key difference is that Squarespace is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) system; you move images and text around like a collage and Squarespace does the (SEO compliant) coding for you. Wordpress on the other hand largely works on code, or is controlled with plugins you add yourself.
The downside of Squarespace's simplicity is that much of the control you get from Wordpress just isn't available. Wordpress provides an almost infinite set of options, perfect if you find it easy to learn and manage complex systems.
TL:DR: Wordpress has more options and website features, but why bother spending time and money learning how to use it when Squarespace can give you a beautiful brochure or basic e-commerce website in less time for the same money?
Without further ado, here's my 10-point tribute to the joy of Squarespace.
1. Effortless Beauty
Squarespace websites are nothing short of stunning. Why do you need a beautiful website if you're a quantity surveyor, I hear you ask? Because a stunning website makes you stunningly attractive to do business with. Our brains love beauty. Beauty makes us believe in and trust what we see.
Squarespace provides around 40 templates — effectively starter websites — for you to rebrand, restructure and rewrite to suit your needs. Designs are wide open, uncluttered, built for usability and optimised for SEO.
Of course you can make a beautiful Wordpress website, but it's much easier to make a beautiful Squarespace website.
2. Ease of Use
Download Wordpress, find a host, choose a theme. I have to CODE the pages? Oh no, here's a million WYSIWYG plugins. Choose one. Learn how it works. What? Wordpress is out of date already? Etc etc.
The Wordpress learning curve is steep.
With Squarespace there are no updates, no plugins to research and select, no updating, no working out which new plugin has broken an existing one. Squarespace is software and host, domain name and email (in Gmail), all rolled into one. Aaaah.
Wordpress sites are often targets for hackers, especially if you don't keep your software up to date. Backups are your own responsibility. In contrast, Squarespace plugs its own security holes without ever getting you involved.
The downside is of course, if Squarespace ever goes down, every Squarespace site could go down, but I don't actually remember that happening since I've been working with Squarespace. Doesn't mean it won't, but they're doing ok so far.
Come the revolution (and it's looking more likely every day), you may well be better off hosting a website with Squarespace than with the hosting guy down the road.
4. Ease of Maintenance
Every Wordpress site has a different theme and combination of plugins, so takes a while for a new Wordpress admin to get to know. Someone who knows Squarespace can drop into any site, review the existing layout and any CSS adaptations, and they're away.
If you need support you can get an answer directly from Squarespace within an hour or so. Online help for Wordpress is plentiful — almost too plentiful — but reasonable, free human help isn't.
And Wordpress maintenance can't be ignored; regular software updates mean you have to dip into your website regularly, even if you never change a word on your pages.
5. For Grown-up Businesses
Let's face it, Wordpress dances all over Squarespace when it comes to functionality. Want to deliver vegan kale snacks to your customers via the CD drive? Sure there's a Wordpress plugin for that. It might not be supported any more. It may even break every other plugin on your site. But I promise there's a plugin for that.
For the average small-to-medium-sized business, Squarespace has everything required to achieve your business goals in one easy-to-use, reasonably priced, pretty little package.
Here's the full list of Squarespace features.
A responsive website looks good on any screen, from mobile to massive. With around half of all web browsing done on mobiles, a site that looks good in miniature is essential. Google agrees, and has deprioritised non-mobile websites.
Every element of a Squarespace site snaps to an invisible 12-column grid. As your site narrows to first tablet then phone, the elements rearrange, fonts enlarge and images resize to create a display that works on a totally different screen.
Again, Wordpress can absolutely do this too, but some themes look better than others. With Squarespace, you're guaranteed a responsive experience every single time.
7. What You See Is What You Get
The Squarespace interface takes a little getting used to, but once you know it, it's easy to make a website without a scrap of code or a minor nervous breakdown. No fuss, no stress. Move the elements anywhere you want them, like it's the FUTURE or something.
The system means your beautiful page designs may be somewhat constrained by the mechanics of the page. You have to be willing to let the template do some of the designing for you. This isn't such a bad compromise when you consider Squarespace templates are designed to maximise human connection, interaction and usability, all of which will keep visitors on your website for longer.
The detailed Squarespace Style Editor is extremely comprehensive, allowing you to change fonts, colours, padding, banner sizing, menu layout and much more. If you prefer fewer options, choose a template that keeps options to a minimum. If you want a completely individual website or need to copy an existing design, choose a highly configurable template like Five or Pacific.
On top of the Style Editor you can add CSS on a per-site, per-page and even per-section basis.
9. Top Class SEO
Google doesn't care whether your website was created with Wordpress or Squarespace. Google simply wants to know you are a credible source of information in your area of expertise. I've personally had success getting Squarespace websites onto page 1 of Google (with help as always from blogging, backlinks and traffic driving from social media) so it's absolutely possible.
Squarespace allows you to add alt tags to images, create page titles and descriptions, and tweak URLs. The code Squarespace creates is clean and clear and easy for Google to crawl.
Both systems provide solid SEO foundations, but, as with most things, Squarespace does most of the legwork for you.
10. Simple Analytics Built-In
Squarespace does a great job of paring down and presenting the most useful analytics right there, in the content management system, so you can spot how your visitors find you and which pages get the most attention.
If you crave a full matrix worth of analytics, it's easy to add a Google Analytics key to your site.
So there you go – a great website doesn't have to be difficult or expensive to build and maintain. Difficult doesn't mean better. Check out the full range of Squarespace templates and if you need help, give me a shout.