WordPress Vs. Squarespace: Our Pick For 2021
It’s 2021. Every business needs a slick new website.
And, oh boy, do the website builders know it. They’ve been turning up the heat with their outbound marketing, overwhelming business owners who have no idea which platform is the best option for their company.
Like many others trying to navigate the world of web development and digital marketing, you might have settled on two potential website platforms – WordPress Vs. Squarespace.
But they’re so different. Squarespace is like a chic restaurant with a set menu and WordPress is like a colorful healthy market with all the ingredients you’d ever need (and some you’ve never heard of).
What do you choose?
To help you out, we’ll compare WordPress and Squarespace against three essential factors:
- Software ownership (and what that means for your company)
- Security and support requirements
- Potential for extensions and integrations
By the end of this post, you’ll have a solid understanding of what each platform does, and which one is the best solution for you and your company’s needs.
Let’s Take A Closer Look At The Contenders…
Over the last two years, Squarespace has dominated the do-it-yours website builder market.
As a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product, users pay a monthly subscription and receive the tools they need to build a sharp online presence.
Squarespace is a slick platform. Attractive to millennials, small business owners, and anyone navigating the gig economy, Squarespace offers a way for people to build their own website without having to learn code, pay a designer, or be embarrassed with a sub-standard site.
For $12-$46 per month, users get a toolkit of features that even your grandma could use. This includes:
- Good looking templates
- A content management system (CMS)
- Website hosting
- Ecommerce capability
- Customer support
This sounds like the perfect set-up for small businesses with tight budgets and short-term goals, but larger and more ambitious companies will have a hard time.
The templates and drag-and-drop features are user-friendly. But, just like you can’t build a bespoke table with flat-pack parts from IKEA, it’s tricky to cultivate a unique online presence within the constraints of Squarespace.
More on that later.
WordPress.org: The OG
Just in case you didn’t know this already, there are two versions of WordPress:
- WordPress.com – a SaaS website builder (like Squarespace)
- WordPress.org – an open-source software with unlimited capability
We’ll be talking about wordpress.org, the self-hosted version of WordPress. Out of all the website platforms out there, this is the big dog.
WordPress powers almost 500 million websites, that’s 20% of all self-hosted websites, and is easily the most well-known website builder.
While users can get to grips with WordPress without knowing code, the learning curve for this platform is far steeper than Squarespace.
Although WordPress alone is free software that can be downloaded, users need to purchase other essential parts for their website to function. This includes:
- Integrations for eCommerce
- WordPress plug-ins for extra functionality
- Paying a developer or web design agency (optional)
Compared to Squarespace’s stylish templates and walled-garden approach that makes web design accessible for just about anybody, WordPress caters to more ambitious, creative, and experienced users.
WordPress facilitates web design for those who want a totally unique, scalable, and powerful online presence.
More on that later.
1. Proprietary vs. Open-Source
The first major distinction between Squarespace and WordPress is the ownership structure of the software.
As a SaaS product, Squarespace is proprietary software. This means that someone (who went from humble developer to Hamptons property mogul) owns the Squarespace software and places certain rules and restrictions over how it’s used by customers.
On the other hand, WordPress is open-source software. It’s free, and users have unlimited access and the ability to modify their website with the help of additional plug-ins, integrations, and outsourced web developers.
Cool, so that’s one clear difference between the two platforms, but how is that relevant to business owners?
Let’s break down what this means for you by weighing up WordPress vs. Squarespace against three things that most businesses want for their website.
“I want full control over my company’s website.”
Control is an important factor to consider when choosing between Squarespace and WordPress for your company’s website.
Full control means that you can take the website in whatever direction you want, install plug-ins and integrations as you see fit, and generally enjoy being the key decision-maker for all web development activity.
Squarespace: you have minimal influence over where the software owner wants to take the platform. You can only modify your website within the tight restrictions of the proprietary model. If you run into trouble with your website, you’d better just sit and wait until the Squarespace support team finds time to solve your problem.
WordPress: As an open-source software (OSS), you get unlimited control over your website. Sure, you have to call in expert developers to implement the changes you want – but you can do this right now, and you can choose who works on your website and tell them what to do, rather than waiting at the whim of a global support team.
“I want my website to be cutting-edge.”
Every business owner wants their website to look the best, it’s all part of competitive digital marketing.
An attractive, powerful website is a clear sign that your business is thriving, and to achieve that you need to have all the tools and functions at your disposal to stay on top of the latest web design trends.
Squarespace: Although Squarespace is more restrictive than WordPress, the answer to this one might surprise you. As a global SaaS product with thousands of customers all over the world, Squarespace is under a great deal of pressure to deliver a high-quality product. With so many resources at their disposal and with profit as the motivator, Squarespace is committed to providing you with a cutting-edge aesthetic and regular upgrades.
WordPress: With WordPress, it’s possible to have either a stunning website…or something that will let your business down. It all depends on how much you want to spend on development and the resources you’re willing to allocate to maintenance. Anything is possible with open-source, but it’s up to you.
“I don’t want to be dependent on the platform”
Fair enough! We now know that anything can happen and your business might look completely different in six month’s time.
The last thing you want is to be trapped within a platform that’s unable to move and change with your business’s needs over time.
Squarespace: One major disadvantage of using a SaaS product for your business’s website is the risk of vendor lock-in. Vendor lock-in is when you become reliant upon the platform for improvements, maintenance, and support. It’s common for SaaS companies to increase their monthly fees over time, and also make changes to the software which impacts the user experience.
WordPress: Although your website is powered by WordPress, you are free to choose all other vendors involved in website development and maintenance. This mitigates the risk of vendor lock-in because you can adjust your hosting, web design, web maintenance, graphic design, and other services based on your changing needs.
2. Support Team vs. External Maintenance
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – to ensure that your website performs long-term, you must invest in website maintenance.
We talk about website maintenance a lot because far too many businesses learn the hard way. Since COVID-19, online threats are happening at six times the rate pre-2020.
The vast majority of hacks and data breaches are preventable. If the companies had implemented the appropriate security measures and regular updates, they would have been safe.
When securing your website, you’ve got to think about the following things:
- The integrity of your hosting platform
- How secure your web design software is
- Whether your plug-ins and widgets need to be updated regularly
- How to back-up your website data
- Whether your website template is from a reputable or malicious source
- Engaging an expert to help you
- Protecting your customers’ data
That’s a lot for a business owner to consider. So, which platform helps you mitigate risks and take care of your website security without taking up too much of your time?
Squarespace – Everything Is Taken Care Of…Kinda
As a SaaS product that business owners pay to use, Squarespace carries the responsibility for keeping its users’ websites safe.
That definitely keeps the company on its toes with regular updates and using security best practices to protect your site. You can have peace of mind that a leading website provider is keeping you and your customers safe, with a guaranteed secure connection for visitors.
However, because it hosts over 2 million websites – many of which belong to reputable companies – Squarespace has been targeted. When Squarespace goes down, all the websites can go down.
Even so, Squarespace quickly resolves these issues, and attacks on the platform are very rare.
Squarespace takes care of all website security and maintenance. There are a few pros and cons to this situation:
Squarespace Website Maintenance & Security
|Global resources and expertise allocated to ensuring your website is sate||You don’t get a say in how your website is protected or when it is updated|
|Social proof of 2 million websites operating on the platform||If something goes wrong, you have to wait for Squarespace to sort it out|
|You can sit back and relax while Squarespace takes care of everything||Squarespace uses the same ‘Help’ form for all its users and only offers assistance via email and live chat, so you might not receive personalized service when you need guidance|
On the whole, Squarespace is a very safe platform due to its reputable status as a global provider.
But, although a global company has a lot of muscle when it comes to website security and maintenance, their customer service might not be very personalized. You’re one of literally millions of customers, so explaining your problem to a complete stranger could be both infuriating and awkward.
WordPress – It’s All On You…Or A Team Of Experts
We’ll start off by saying that WordPress doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to website security.
83% of hacked CMS-based websites were on WordPress, but 39% of hacked WordPress sites used outdated versions of the site.
However, that’s not the platform’s fault.
It’s because so many people using WordPress aren’t using it properly and don’t take website maintenance or security seriously.
What makes WordPress awesome can also be its downfall. The thousands of available third-party plug-ins that you can choose to enhance your website, from templates to SEO integrations to animations, can be vulnerable to malware and hackers can gain access to your website via these outdated plug-ins.
As open-source software, WordPress’s security is constantly evolving and updating thanks to the contributions of thousands of developers and designers around the world. This vast community makes for some of the greatest and most modern web development technologies available – but also some of the worst.
As a free community, anyone can create a WordPress plugin and advertise it to users. This is highly worrying to professional web designers as business owners often choose the cheaper plugin without realizing the dangerous implications this has for their site, their company, and their customers’ data.
This is why it’s so important to engage a highly-specialized team to help you with website maintenance and security on WordPress. By reaching out to a web design agency and forming a long-term relationship, you gain the advantage of an experienced technology partner who not only understands the platform but understands your business’s needs and you as a person.
The beauty of WordPress is that it’s a hugely popular platform. Web designers and developers around the world cut their teeth by using WordPress, and over the years become highly skilled at navigating the software and finetuning their approach to build some of the most powerful websites out there.
So, to summarize:
WordPress Maintenance & Security
|Going It Alone…||With A Web Design Agency…|
|Time-consuming. Have to learn how to do it yourself using online resources and gut instinct||Constant. You receive 24/7 monitoring and regular back-ups, so you know that you’re always first in line.|
|High-risk. Without expertise or available time, your website easily becomes outdated and vulnerable to attack||Ultrafast. If something goes wrong, your web design team is on it within minutes. Most times, they’ll be able to fix the problem before you or your customers even notice.|
|Stressful. All responsibility is on you, which could have legal consequences if your customers’ data is stolen||On the pulse. An experienced team comes with tried-and-tested methods and industry best practices to keep your website one step ahead of hackers and malware.|
3. Basic Extensions vs. Powerful Plug-ins
For your website to perform the way you want it to, you need to install the right extensions and plug-ins. These third-party integrations cover a huge range of functionalities, from enabling your website to sell products to help you keep track of your online engagement with customers.
Let’s take a look at WordPress vs. Squarespace on this front.
Squarespace – An Extension Boutique
Until recently, Squarespace lagged behind in this department and users just had to make do with what was available in the one-size-fits-all membership packages.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re new to running an online company or an eCommerce site and just need something that works well, Squarespace is probably a good fit. Without browsing for further extensions, your package already includes a blog, analytics, notes, and a portfolio.
But if you run an eCommerce business that is experiencing rapid growth, you might struggle here.
Squarespace now has an extension store where users can download third-party apps to enhance the aesthetics and capabilities of their website.
However, the choice of extensions is relatively small and their functions are relatively limited. Most of them are for eCommerce businesses, with a few that cater to other important aspects such as tracking metrics. On the plus side, the fact that they have been built by Squarespace means that you can trust them to work well and not compromise the security of your site.
WordPress – The Mega-Mall Of Plug-Ins
We’ve already mentioned that WordSpace has plug-ins on plug-ins – over 5,000 of ‘em. Some of them are excellent, some of them are suspicious.
The downside to having so much choice is that it takes a long time to identify the plug-ins you like, compare them to others, and experiment with them on your website.
However, there is a ton of content out there from WordPress experts and customers advising you on which plug-ins are the best and sharing their experience. The beauty of this open-source platform is that there is a huge online community ready to teach you everything you need to know about WordPress.
Plus, if you work with a web design agency that is fluent in WordPress, they’ll come with an in-depth knowledge of the plug-ins and will be able to match your needs and goals with the tools and apps that’ll get you there.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular WordPress plug-ins:
|Plug-In||What It Does|
|Yoast SEO||Arguably the top WordPress plugin, Yoast SEO saves you the overwhelming task of implementing SEO tactics by automatically enhancing your website for search engines.|
|OptinMonster||This is the solution to all your conversion woes. OptinMonster helps you identify where visitors are abandoning your website, then create campaigns, pop-ups, forms, and targeted messages to maximize conversions on your website.|
|WPForms||Using intuitive and user-friendly forms on your website helps you to maximize engagement and lead generation. This plug-in enables you to create, integrate, and optimize forms on your landing pages.|
Conclusion: Choose A Team Of WordPress Experts
If you haven’t guessed by now, we think WordPress wins the battle of the website builders.
Sure, Squarespace is a viable option if you’re a small business with limited time and resources.
But, if you want a site to match your ambitious goals and long-term growth, you should choose WordPress – as well as a web design agency that knows how to use it.
At State Creative, we’re WordPress experts. Sure, we build results-driven, high-performance websites for our clients – but we also maintain and protect them long after launch day.
So, what does that mean for you? It means you get the best of both worlds – a website platform with unlimited potential, and a dedicated digital partner to help you create an online presence that your competitors could only dream of.
Get started today – we’re just a phone call, email, or a message away.