A website is an investment that costs money and time to produce. Choosing the right tools to develop that investment will, in turn, increase business value and eventually pay off. WordPress and Squarespace are the market’s two most prominent tools for developing websites and managing online content. Both will help you get your website operational without the need for much development experience. Here are some key differences between the two that you need to know when making your initial setup decisions.
The first major difference between WordPress and Squarespace is the cost. You may have noticed that WordPress doesn’t cost any money to use and that Squarespace has a membership cost starting at $8/month. The reason for this is that WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS) based around a set of files for the do-it-yourself designer. What that means is that the project developers will distribute to you everything that they have created to make their service operate and you can edit and modify it at will to fit your needs. This gives you the power to personalize your own website based on the tools at hand.
Squarespace is a service, not an open-source set of files. They will give you the tools to access and modify your website but they will handle all the ‘dirty work’ involved in setting up a website and pairing it with a database. In order to provide this service, they require a membership fee to access their resource whereas WordPress does not. Without this fee, they would not be able to buy the service space to run their sites and their business model would fail.
Cost for each service leads to the second issue of hosting. If you want to develop a WordPress website that only you can see to test out something in particular, you can run a WordPress CMS directly from your computer (locally). However, if you want other people to be able to see your WordPress site and access the information on it like a true website, you have to acquire a hosting service and a domain.
The domain is the name of the website. For instance, whenever you go to Google, the domain name is ‘Google.com.’ Once you have purchased a domain, you need to acquire a hosting service through a company like GoDaddy, HostGator, DreamHost, etc. These prices vary but you will end up paying a price in order to acquire the name of the website and put it online. After you have the hosting service, you can then upload your WordPress files and get everything rolling.
Squarespace is all-in-one. That means that they act as the host, already have all the files necessary, and can be viewed as a “website builder.” The only thing that you’ll still need to acquire is a domain name, but if you sign up through Squarespace, they will give you a free domain with their service so you don’t have to go through this additional step.
Quality of Support
Think of WordPress as a group project where everyone is working together to accomplish a single task. If you need help, you will be asking the other members of the group for the answer about what to do. WordPress has an extensive forum with information posted by other users, as well as by the developers answering your concerns and addressing problems related to your site, but what they can actually do is limited to a certain degree.
As a service that you pay for, Squarespace offers its own support from its own specialists. That means that the chance of receiving personal help and attention is far more likely. If you feel more comfortable speaking directly to the source of the project instead of having to research your answer, Squarespace has the superior support service over WordPress.
If someone hands you a piece of paper and a pack of markers and tells you to draw a picture, you can take a lot of different approaches. That same person could give someone else the same supplies and instructions but the outcome of each work will be dramatically different without a set of guidelines. WordPress is that set of markers and piece of paper. They give you everything you need to succeed but leave it up to you to take the project and expand upon it according to what you need to accomplish and how you want to do it. There are thousands of extra plugins and themes that you can add to your site to play with it and to make it personal to you. WordPress is one of the best options for the user with some extra time to add a little creativity.
Squarespace is like a coloring book. You get the markers but you have this coloring book and all the resources that come along with it. You are expected to choose a picture and color within the lines. That’s not to say that you can’t step outside the box and develop your own themes, setups and appearances, but this capability is not as prominent. That’s not a bad thing, depending on your purpose for having the website in the first place. You might just be looking for this kind of simplicity. This is where Squarespace can really shine. Squarespace has a lot of quality work and resources, but compared to WordPress, it offers an inferior degree of flexibility.