For the last two years, I have buried myself deep into Wordpress developing 92Keys.com and learning all the backend stuff, from the server level up to web design with how the site looks and responds. Previously I had used Squarespace for my own personal website for several years, TrevorLoucks.com (which is now just running a simple WordPress theme as a placeholder, it will be developed someday!). So I wanted to add my own thoughts on this WordPress vs Squarespace question based on my own experience. The conclusion is easy, though, choose WordPress.
Squarespace worked fine, but now that I’ve experienced the power that is WordPress, it would be impossible to ever think running a basic CMS (content management system) would be of benefit for any company, no matter how large or small.
The simple reason for that is control.
I’ve listed my top four reasons below as to why I think WordPress is the superior platform if you’re looking to develop a brand online.
I understand the appeal of wanting to just throw up some pretty pictures along with a few social media links and an about page, then calling it good. And yeah, Squarespace will help you do that, and a bit more as well.
But in this environment we live in, where competition for eyeballs online continues to become more and more intense, there’s just no good reason to take a relaxed approach to digital marketing. If you’re serious about your brand and building it out for the long term, no matter what your niche or how big your business is, then WordPress is definitely worth the time and effort that will be needed to develop your online presence.
For those that don’t know, we are a violin and piano performance group. Our mission with 92 Keys is to develop fun instrumental music that is uplifting and enjoyable to watch either through our music videos or live performance. So with my passion being music, it pains me to see so many artists and band websites out there that are thrown together and are currently in a state where they need copious amounts of TLC. Not to mention the lack of effort that has been put into SEO, ranking, website speed and optimization, UX design, responsiveness, and a whole host of other issues that don’t seem to get much thought. All things which can readily be addressed with WordPress.
So! WordPress vs Squarespace, these are my top four reasons on why it’s not really a competition:
1. Cost – WordPress vs Squarespace
Squarespace ($144 per year) – $12 per month if you buy a full year or $16 month to month. That’s the most basic level as well. There are several higher priced options. This includes one domain name and hosting. So you’re looking at a minimum of $144 per year for basic functionality.
WordPress ($59.40 per year) – You’re going to need two things:
- A domain name. My favorite domain name provider currently (I’ve used Namecheap and GoDaddy in the past) is the man himself, Google Domains. It’s super easy to grab a new domain without all the fluffy nonsense other providers force you to endure through, you know, like 6 pages of checkout screens trying to get you to upgrade to useless and overpriced options. Your .com domain from Google will cost $12 per year.
- Hosting. We use Siteground for 92Keys.com and we love it! It costs $3.95 per month and has given us everything we need to run a solid WordPress website. Siteground has great tech support through an online chat interface that I’ve used several times. No matter how basic or advanced your question is they will answer it for you immediately.
Score one for being able to get up and running at a more than 50% discount!
The listed prices above were current in January 2017.
2. Control – WordPress vs Squarespace
Squarespace – Limited control
WordPress – Complete control
This is the biggest selling point for me personally. I need to have full control over everything with our CMS. WordPress is an open source project that allows me to have exactly that. We choose our own domain registrar, we choose our own hosting provider, we decide which theme to use (out of thousands, not dozens), we can edit anything we want to suit our needs, we have granular control over every aspect, and there’s no being tied down to anything, well except WordPress, of course!
Okay, I really hope the sentence police don’t come after me for that bad boy.
3. Plugins and Community – WordPress vs Squarespace
Squarespace – Very limited plugin environment. The few that do exist, primarily through Squarestud, cost between $6 and $59.
WordPress – Tens of thousands of plugins, most of which are free, that improve website functionality.
The community of website developers and plugin creators that exist within WordPress’s ecosystem is kind of insane. Anything you’d want your website to have, there’s most likely a plugin for that. These are just a few of the plugins we use here on 92Keys.com (we are currently running 30 plugins in total):
Yoast SEO – Pretty much all you need to make sure every page you build is optimized with the latest and best practices as recommended by the SEO industry. Yoast currently has over 1 million installs and is the defacto tool for SEO optimization and site-mapping for most WordPress websites.
Favicon – This will allow you to create a favicon seamlessly optimized for every platform you can imagine; all browsers, PC, Mac, iPhone, Android, Windows tablets, and more. Your favicon shows up in more places than you think. Make sure it shows up correctly!
Optimus – How big your image files are and how they are compressed is an important factor to consider when working on optimizing your website for load times. Google currently uses about 200 ranking factors in its algorithm to rank content and page speed is one of them. Optimus will make sure every picture you upload is optimized using lossless compression and it will also automatically create a separate image file in WebP format which is an open source image project created by Google to get even smaller image files with almost no loss in quality.
Hope that gives some kind of idea of the depth of plugins you’d have available to you if you use WordPress!
Did you know?
WordPress is currently used as a CMS by 27.3% websites on the entire Internet! Big and small brands alike use it. It scales amazingly well. Which is great because we want to scale 92 Keys exponentially over the long term!
Some large brands that currently use WordPress are:
- The New Yorker
- The Verge
And so many more!
4. Design – WordPress vs Squarespace
Squarespace – Dozens of themes
WordPress – Thousands of themes
There really are literally thousands of themes to choose from with WordPress. With Squarespace, you only get a few dozen templates. And if none of those suit you, then you’re out of luck. So it’s another win for being able to have complete control over your website with an almost limitless supply of themes from hundreds of quality developers.
This might create a paradox of choice, however. How do you choose?! I’ll admit that can be a downside. Because you might find yourself wanting to switch back and forth between several themes.
We cycled through a few different themes with 92Keys.com but ultimately settled on Avada.
Trevor’s tip of the day!
Don’t try to be a unique special snowflake with your design philosophy.
Make it simple to navigate. Give your website visitors exactly what they want when they land on your website.
And for the love of all things good and holy, do not autoplay music or any kind of sound when visitors land on your page! It annoys me to no end how many news websites are currently auto-playing video (with sound!) and they should stop it. Right now.
In fairness to Squarespace, Wix, and similar companies that develop CMS platforms for building websites, they do make it ridiculously easy to get a website up. And if you are just looking to have something up for personal use, and don’t ever intend to build a serious long term business, then that probably would be the better option.
In a business sense, though, in the battle of WordPress vs Squarespace, it’s really not much of a battle.
Do yourself a favor and start on the platform that will scale with your business as you grow and that will give you every opportunity to customize your online presence exactly how you see fit.