What Website Platform Is Best For You?

by Yaritsa Arenas | Web Design

There are plenty of articles out there telling you why Squarespace is better than WordPress or vice versa. In my opinion, there is no “better”, it’s more about what you’re most comfortable using and what allows for your business to grow in the way that you want.

I find that Becky Kinkhead explained it best by saying:

Squarespace is like renting an apartment. You can make it aesthetically appealing with your brand identity and nice graphics, but there are certain limitations. You are clearly limited in what you’re doing.

WordPress is like buying a home. It’s yours to do whatever you want. Try every idea that comes to mind – but you’re going to have problems that come up that’s your responsibility to fix. Whether that’s adding security or fixing leaks.

~ Becky Kinkhead

In order to determine whether WP or SS is best for you, I’ve put together some questions to consider in helping you make a decision.

What Website Platform Is Best For You?

How Tech-Savvy Are You?

Whether you’re building your website yourself or hiring a professional to help you, you need to know what you can and can’t do. And you also want to get a sense of how able and willing you are to learn along the way. You need to know enough to make day-to-day edits on your site. You don’t want to have to reach out to your designer every time you want to make an update to your bio copy or write a new blog post. If you have the most gorgeous site you ever imagined and are not able to make changes, that would be a bummer.

For this, it’s not about which platform is better, it’s about which one you feel most comfortable using. Generally speaking, once a site is designed and setup, updates are simple to make on either platform. You may have to take both for a test-run and see which one feels most intuitive.

Ask yourself: What can you realistically work with? Would you want to do it yourself or do you want to hire someone?

What is Your Web Development Budget?

Understanding your budget has little to do with what something should cost and more to do with what you’re actually able to spend. Website pricing can range dramatically based on location, the designer’s expertise, the project scope, and a myriad of other reasons. You can have a site designed for $500, $5,000 or $50,000! You want to either work with someone that can meet your budget or wait until you have a little more money to spend if there’s someone outside your price range you really want to work with.

Generally speaking, a Squarespace site price range is slightly lower than a WordPress site. However, because SS allows for custom code, I’ve seen a lot of designers upping their rates for SS development. Especially if they’re also offering branding and strategy.

In terms of going the DIY route, both SS and WP offer templates you can use as a starting point. Depending on your tech-knowledge, you can do a little bit more with a WP theme than SS. However, SS being drag-and-dop might make it less time-consuming than WP.

Ask yourself: Are you bootstrapping your business at the moment or are you in a good place where you can afford hiring help?

How Stable Is Your Business?

By stable, I mean how long have you been in business and how changing is it? Are you still figuring out your target market? Are your graphics likely to change dramatically based on that? The newer you are in your business, the more you want to have some wiggle room in terms of design and layout. The more seasoned you are, the more you can just let your design be for a while. Yes, businesses are constantly evolving, but the more stable you are in who you are and what you offer, the less drastic the changes are likely to be.

I don’t recommend spending a ton of money on designing a site if you’re still figuring things out along the way. If your audience changes or even your business itself, you’ll likely have to invest even more money to revamp your site. In this case, I would recommend Squarespace for you. You can change your themes yourself at no additional cost and since it’s drag-and-drop, you can rearrange your site as needed.

If your business is more stable, you know exactly who you’re working with and what you offer, then WordPress allows you for some extra customization. The use of plugins can allow you to add extra features and the options for customization are essentially endless. That said, because there is so much customization, there’s also a lot more coding involved and therefore you’ll need more development knowledge in order to make major rework yourself. Or, you would have to work with a designer/developer.

Ask yourself: Is your business constantly evolving (dramatically) or have you found your flow?

How Comfortable Are You with Maintenance?

You want to understand what amount of maintenance is required on your site. As mentioned in Becky’s Rent vs. Buy analogy, with WordPress you’re “buying a house” and therefore, you’re responsible for all the maintenance. Plugins get constantly updated, and you want to make sure they do get updated otherwise you can face some security issues that might leave your site vulnerable. Some sites require just a few plugins and others require more. You need to stay on top of them and there’s always the possibility that a new update to a plugin might not work well with your site (ex: you buy a new fancy fridge and realize you didn’t measure properly and now it doesn’t fit in your kitchen!).

With Squarespace, there are no plugins, so there’s pretty much no maintenance required. However, you’re limited to what the platform dictates. There are certainly instances where you might want to customize something and can’t. Or you might hear from a friend about a plugin they use that just isn’t available to you.

Ask yourself: Is it more important to you not to worry about maintenance or not to be limited in what you can create?

Where Do You Want to Be Down the Line?

As I mentioned before SS is more limited and WP has more room for expansion. You’ll want to decide how far out you are from making major changes to your site and business. Do you have a desire to create a members area? Are you posting videos or selling products? Do these features need to be added in the next few months or in a few years?

If you’re phasing your website and you’ll be adding features in the near future, then you want to start off with a platform that allows for your expansion. If your changes will come a few years down the line, you can afford to start with one platform and then switch to another (if needed) because by then you’ll probably want to revamp your site anyway. You may also want one thing now and shift gears down the line.

Ask yourself: Do you have a sense of what you want to create now and what you want to create in the future?

General Notes

As a general rule, I’m more likely to recommend Squarespace to website newbies or clients with a lower budget or rush timeline. You can build a site in Squarespace more quickly (as long as you find it intuitive to work with or have help from a professional) and have more room for switching up themes and color schemes without doing a huge overhaul of your site.

For more seasoned business owners with basic site needs, Squarespace is still a good solution and allows you the peace of mind of not having to deal with plugin maintenance and updates.

For seasoned business owners who require more extensive features and versatility, I would recommend WordPress for the expansion capabilities. Yes, you’ll have to be more vigilant with the maintenance aspect, but you’ll be able to make your site everything you want and more!

Here are some additional articles if you want to delve a little deeper into these two platforms:

And hey, if you’re still unsure about which route to go, your designer is there to help. When you reach out with your project, they can guide you based on your needs. Some designers specialize in one platform or the other, but even so, they should be able to tell you if there are any limitations you need to be aware of.

What Platform Are You Leaning Towards?

If you currently use SS or WP or are considering starting a site, let me know what platform you use and what you like/dislike about it. If you have any questions I didn’t cover, feel free to ask them below!

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