When you dive into the world of entrepreneurism, you'll come face to face with a ton of decisions right off the bat. One of my earlier decisions consisted of finding a reliable website builder that I could easily use as a designer with limited coding skills. I had worked with WordPress sites in the past for client blogs, but the user interface and overall experience had left a sour taste in my mouth.
It wasn't until I joined the Freelancer’s Union, that I then discovered Squarespace. I found myself signing up to use their free 14-day trial and I haven't looked back since. Today, I'd like to talk about this decision in detail and explain why I recommend this website builder to my clients.
First, let me explain what these two website builders have in common and how they differ.
Squarespace and WordPress are both solutions to a problem. They provide easy to make websites that are as equally easy to manage for DIY business owners, like myself. Each platform is pretty blog friendly, includes metrics for tracking visits made to your site, and have decent content management systems (more popularly known as CMS). If you can't afford to hire a talented web developer or designer, there’s no need to worry. These two platforms have you covered.
The only downside is that they both have their own set of limitations. Before we run a comparison between the two, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions to determine whether their shortcomings could deeply affect you and your business:
Who will be updating your website? If you're prepared to manage your website by yourself, you're going to need a CMS that’s simple and time efficient.
What is your overall budget? When you're just starting out, you’ll need to keep costs as low as possible. Consider every service you’ll need in order to keep your day to day business operations going and see which platform will give you the most bang for your buck.
Do you need a company email address? (i.e. email@example.com.) This is an example of a separately paid service found on Google Apps. It’s a great tool that keeps your office email separate from your personal gmail account and leaves you looking mighty professional to your clients.
What other tools do you need to integrate into your website? Google Apps. shouldn’t be the only thing to consider. Take some time to research what you'll need integrated on your website before you look for website builders.
Will you be selling products on your website? If you plan on selling products, you'll need a platform that supports an e-commerce website and makes it easy for you to manage your inventory.
How tech-savvy are you? If you're new to the internet or social media, I'd suggest starting out with the simplest CMS and website builder possible. It also wouldn't hurt to hire an assistant or take a class on managing an online business.
Once you've taken the time to answer these questions and have a grasp on what you'll need out of a website builder, it’s time to research and compare. Here’s my general analysis on each:
WordPress vs Squarespace
WordPress is best known as a haven for bloggers. Built on an open source platform, this allows you to completely customize and enhance the functionalities of just about every aspect of your website. If you want to connect a WordPress blog to a custom designed website, you got it. Some even go as far to say that the website and blog SEO optimizations are more advanced than other website creators thanks to WordPress’s endless supply of plugins (source). These functions are just a few reasons why there are so many supporters of this platform.
Unfortunately for WordPress, they have their fair share of flaws. Like any open sourced platform, everyone can submit a plugin. This can be both a good and bad thing. I personally see this as more of a risk because your website will be subjected to every type of developer once you download multiple plugins. If you get a freebie for example, developers are not required to fix this plugin for you if things turn ugly. Faulty plugins can affect the performance of your website and will require more work from you in order to fix it. Another issue lies in their customization capabilities. In order to create the website of your dreams, you'd have to know a good deal of HTML, CSS, and PHP. After that, you'll need to learn their CMS if you're a first time user. Just be aware that there’s a definite learning curve.
Squarespace is a conventional website builder that liberates users from having to write code by providing a handful of quality, responsive website design templates to choose from and customize. Everything you see is created, tested, and managed by their in-house staff, so integrations between special tools flow beautifully. You’re able to connect social media icons, your Google Analytics account, MailChimp, business email through Google Apps., Stripe, and more with just a click of a mouse. This builder even has a drag and drop function that makes customizing and updating your website a simple and enjoyable process. Throw in an automatic mobile layout and you’re as good as done!
By comparison to WordPress, Squarespace is not an open sourced website, so your design and functional capabilities are a bit more restrictive. For some people, this cookie-cutter look isn't as desirable as a custom-built website, but Squarespace does feature a developer mode where users can input their own CSS styles, HTML, and PHP code. However, you'll need to know your way around these coding languages in order to make minor changes. Another flaw for Squarespace users amounts to support for new tool integrations. In other words, we can't very well use PayPal as an online payment processor over Stripe because Squarespace does not support this integration just yet.
Keep in mind that these are very general comparisons between WordPress and Squarespace. If you're interested in knowing more about these two platforms, I recommend looking at this side by side comparison chart for further capabilities and limitations.
4 Reasons Why I Chose Squarespace
Now that I’ve briefly compared WordPress to Squarespace, allow me to show you my personal reasons for choosing Squarespace to build Sarasure.
1. It’s Easy to Use
My ultimate goal was to find a website builder and CMS platform that was easy enough to use and update. I knew that I would be writing blogs at least once a week, so scheduling content was another tool I absolutely needed. Then, I considered customization options and found the drag and drop interface with module build-outs to be super innovative. Overall, when I dug into Squarespace’s free trial, I was pleasantly surprised to find how easy (and fun) it was to accomplish each task.
2. Templates are Thoughtfully Designed
To be honest, my initial attraction to Squarespace began when I saw their magnificent template design collection. I was enticed by the modern, flat aesthetic and thought it would mesh well with my own for Sarasure. After I looked through their website content, I was very pleased that each of their templates were designed to be responsive because mobile websites are such a necessity for any business owner. I was a little concerned with their SEO capabilities, but these worries were resolved once I read through their forums and found this page.
3. It’s Worth the Investment
Squarespace’s pricing plans fall into three different tiers and range from $8 - $26 per month. Each plan includes a responsive site with access to all template designs, hosting, a custom domain name, ecommerce integration capabilities, unlimited bandwidth and storage, and 24/7 customer support. With all of these benefits, I thought it was well worth the investment.
4. Customer Service is Quick and Updates are a Breeze
Squarespace’s customer service team has a 24/7 customer support staff, a live chat, a community forum, and plenty of tutorial videos to guide you if you lose your way. If you send them an email, they make it their policy of responding back to you within a hour of submission. As if that wasn't enough, their development team handles all of your site and tool updates themselves. It’s really never been easier to create and maintain a website.
In conclusion, I chose Squarespace because it fit my business model and has served as a tool for my website design services. I no longer need to charge my clients extra to contract out a web developer because Squarespace does everything for me and more.
Are you looking for a new website builder? What are your thoughts on using Squarespace? Let me know in the comments below!