Websites! You definitely need one! But where to start? What platform to use? What about responsiveness and SEO? Domains and hosting and security, oh my! It can be really overwhelming, we know.
The good thing is, building a website is about 1,000 times easier today than it was even a few years ago. Even so, building a website, especially one for your business, should be a process that is thoughtful and intentional so you end up with an experience that is compelling, represents your brand, and is easy to update and maintain.
With our clients at Campfire & Co., we usually start out answering one basic but very important question, which platform to use? Unless we are creating an online shop, we steer clients towards Squarespace or Wordpress. There are pros and cons to each platform, but ultimately the purpose of the website and complexity of necessary functions should be what guides your decision.
Here’s a short list of pros and cons for both Squarespace and Wordpress that might help you take that first step towards building a rad website:
- Easy domain and hosting - You can buy your domain through Squarespace and hosting is taken care of by your monthly plan. This saves a lot of set up time.
- Beautiful templates - All of the Squarespace templates are modern, fresh, and visually stunning. New templates are also added frequently.
- Intuitive - With very little instruction, most people can figure out how to use Squarespace's back end builder.
- Real time updates - The editor allows you to view updates as you make them before pushing them live.
- Security and maintenance - Squarespace takes care of your site's security and platform updates automatically.
- Built-in responsiveness - Every theme includes some* built-in responsiveness for each type of media screen. (*newer themes include the most responsive design elements)
- Template limitations - While the templates on Squarespace are beautiful, currently there are still only around 50 templates total. Because Squarespace has become so popular so quickly with only a handful of themes, websites built on Squarespace are at risk of looking similar. At Campfire, we use things like custom CSS (cascading style sheet) to mold Squarespace themes to our client’s brand, but the average user is limited to the default features.
- Functional limitations - Just as each template has unique features, they also have unique limits in functionality. Often times we find ourselves creating strange work arounds to make things work how we want them to. Squarespace offers a developer platform that, when turned on, allows us to really change things around, but if turned on we have to sacrifice Squarespace’s theme updates which will create limitations in the future.
- Fewer third party integrations - Although Squarespace offers some convenient third party integrations, there simply aren’t that many out there yet.
- Glitchy - Of course there is always a learning curve, but Squarespace has built a reputation for being easy to use which is great for clients who want to manage their website internally, but it can be a little glitchy at times.
- SEO limitations - Out of the box, Squarespace’s SEO is decent, but theres not much you’re able to improve on or tweak.
- Extremely Flexible, Thousands of Themes and Plugins - Wordpress is built to be flexible. There are thousands of themes and plugins (not to mention custom themes, child themes, and custom plugins) to play with and Wordpress has a huge community to learn from. Wordpress is capable of handling an incredible variety of website types, from a complex State University's site to a simple, free blog.
- Numerous of Third Party Integrations - As mentioned above, Wordpress has thousands of plugins that can add an infinite amount of additional functionality to your site.
- DIVI Theme by Elegant Theme for Wordpress - Like we mentioned above, there are thousands of available Wordpress themes, but this specific theme is our personal favorite for it's robust and intuitive back end builder.
- SEO - Wordpress allows you to finely tweak your SEO to make sure you’re reaching your target audience.
- Hosting - To use Wordpress you need to purchase a hosting plan with a company who supports Wordpress. The process of doing this is getting easier, but compared to Squarespace it’s a bit of a hassle in the beginning. It's also an additional monthly fee (where as it's built into your Squarespace payments).
- Maintenance & security - With Wordpress, security has to be set up manually. This allows you to customize it to your needs, but means if you’re not careful, your site will be vulnerable. Even with security in place, a Wordpress site needs frequent backups and updates to truly be safe. Monthly maintenance requires manual updates to themes and plugins and often requires hiring a developer for a monthly maintenance plan.
- Ease of use - Although Wordpress has recently made great strides in usability, many of our clients still seem to prefer Squarespace for managing sites internally.
For most of our clients, we’ve found Squarespace to be the best option due to its low maintenance requirements and ease of internal use. For those clients that need highly customized functionality and total control of SEO and security, we will recommend using Wordpress.
Have other thoughts about the differences between the two platforms? Let us know in the comments!
And of course, if you have any questions about building a website for your business, just send us a note and we would be happy to help.