Of the many considerations you have to consider when revamping an older site, or creating a site from scratch, is what platform to build on? There are many content management systems (CMS) out there that will do a great job displaying your content. The answer is different for each site. Each platform has its benefits and drawbacks. Matching your needs with the benefits of a particular platform is always the goal, but can be difficult. Let’s take a look at what I think are the two most popular options for new and remodeled web sites – Squarespace and WordPress.
If you’ve listened to podcast, or watched a television over the past few years, you’ve likely seen an ad/commercial for Squarespace. Squarespace is the champion of DIY web sites and online stores. They pride themselves on being a turnkey solution for any type of business or personal web site. To their credit, they largely are! Let’s take a quick inventory of the benefits of using a Squarespace site:
- No server maintenance
- Domain service built in
- Easily connect Google Mail
- Simple to use editor
- Prebuilt modules for most use cases
- Clean and elegant templates
- Mobile friendly
That’s a lot of value for such a cost effective platform. While we’re discussing price, let’s go over the costs you’re likely to run into with Squarespace. There are four tiers for you to choose from with a different set of features and needs for different sites. For an exhaustive list of the features click here. The base tier starts at $12 per month and their most advanced tier will cost you $40 per month. To put a cherry on top, new customers get a free domain name for a year! All of this sounds great! So what are some of the drawbacks?
- Lack of extreme customizability
- Limited templates
- Depending on the size of your site, it could cost you more than WordPress
- No ownership of the site files
Some of these drawbacks sound extremely bad, but in reality they aren’t. Squarespace is a wonderful platform if you’re not interested in running a server, don’t need extra abilities to customize your site, and don’t mind giving up ownership of the actual files that make up your site. Now let’s dig into WordPress!
The ubiquitous CMS that’s been around for years is WordPress. Roughly 40% of the entire web is built on the WordPress platform. I know what you’re thinking, “Well if that’s the case, why even bother with something like Squarespace?” It’s a fair question. There are a few disadvantages to WordPress but first, let’s go over the benefits:
- Extremely well supported with plugins to add unique features and functionality
- Complete ownership of your site
- Customize every aspect of your site
- Mobile friendly
- Massive collection of templates
- Can scale from small to massive sites
Are you seeing a trend here? A lot of the downsides we discussed with Squarespace, just don’t exist with WordPress. Because of the popularity of WordPress, there’s an endless amount of templates, and plugins that you can use to customize your site and also add different functionality. You’ll need to spin up and maintain a server for as little as $5 per month which is your only main costs (not including annual domain fees). WordPress is a free platform that can run on any server and any hosting provider. However, there are a few drawbacks:
- Server maintenance is required
- Because of popularity, it can be vulnerable to security holes
- No domain or email support baked in
- Editor can be tricky depending on your template
Working with WordPress is worth every bit of server maintenance if you need functionality on your site that Squarespace just doesn’t support. Even if Squarespace supports a feature you need, like an online store, you’re stuck with the way their store operates and looks. WordPress gives you the ability to customize everything from the ground up.
You really can’t go wrong with either platform. In general, simpler sites can be built with Squarespace while sites that need specific feature sets should be built with WordPress. Both platforms provide web sites that look and function great, which isn’t something that can be said for all web platforms. I’m looking at you Wix. Here are two web sites I’ve built using each of the platforms we discussed.
If you’re looking to build a brand new web site or need a remodeled site, feel free to get in touch. I’ve built many sites on both platforms and would love to work with you to help improve your online presence. To get in touch, you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Facebook.