Choosing the right CMS (Content Management System) for your corporate website is never a clear-cut choice. Here we investigate two of the usual suspects.
A lot of the time when clients come to us for a website, there’s no need to build all of it from the ground up, for several reasons:
- It’s more expensive
- If you don’t have a programming team like ours, it’s hard to scale or change things after you've launched the first version.
- There are awesome online platforms that can save you money and are easy for anyone to use without needing to understand coding, or without doing lots of low-level coding.
Unless you’re looking to build a mobile app or something with bombastic features, we’re gonna stick with Mäd Principle #7:
Keep it simple, stupid.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already done some research, and you've likely come across either Wordpress or Square Space.
This brief white paper will answer some core questions you might have.
Squarespace vs. Wordpress is a tough fight. Like most of our white papers, the answer is it depends.
It depends on a plethora of factors regarding the client and their goals. After all, everyone has unique needs.
Between the two, the major difference is that Wordpress is an open source platform, and Squarespace is closed, which affects the functionality, ease of use, user support, maintenance, and pricing differently.
Wordpress as an open source platform means that the code is open for everybody to use and customize. Anyone with internet access can build tools (like themes or plug-ins) to share or sell in the Wordpress universe.
That flexibility has made Wordpress popular - Forbes in 2017 estimated that Wordpress powers about 25% of the world’s websites. The BBC, Disney, and Mercedes Benz’s official websites are notable examples.
With thousands of tools and millions in the community, almost any feature imaginable exists or is in production within Wordpress. The downside being, if anybody can make a tool, all these tools are of variable quality. Rumor has it there are more terrible plug-ins than good ones.
It’s a double-edged sword. In a wealth of tools, if you don’t speak computer it’s hard to know if a tool is mediocre. And that is a security issue: hackers can surpass poorly built or outdated tools.
Squarespace on the other hand is a closed system. It’s like the Apple of website platforms: they have their own plug-ins and their own tools, built by Squarespace for Squarespace only.
The benefit is that everything on Squarespace is high-quality, tested, and fully-integrated into the website builder. If you aren’t a proficient webmaster, you’ll need that reassurance that everything works every time. It’s all secure, up-to-date, and built well.
And if there’s a problem, rather than dealing with several developers for several different tools on Wordpress (who aren’t even obligated to respond if it’s free) Squarespace’s team has a commitment to answer any question in an hour. You get time to focus on other things. With Wordpress, you might not even know what plug-in is causing a problem.
These differences become much bigger when you think of scale over the next few years, the changes your business or products may undergo, and the skill level of your team in dealing with the technicalities of the back end.
Ease of Use
We know it sounded pretty pro-Squarespace at the end there, but remember:
Wordpress is a powerhouse of potential and hugely popular for that reason. It’s an expression of the limits of human imagination. If you want a website where people say “Wow I never would have thought of that,” Wordpress is your playground.
If the only languages you speak are human ones, then perhaps Squarespace is better for your team. The trade-off in flexibility is that you’ll be able to quickly and easily make changes hassle-free.
A great example of this is a peek behind the curtain. Since Wordpress is open to many different themes (I.e, the layout of the website) they’ve had to standardize the back-end. That means that what you see is not what you get.
Building anything on Wordpress will look like this. If you want to format images, columns, anything beyond simple paragraphs really, you’re going to need to know some basic code. Conversely, if you’ve got an excellent tech team, you can blow people's minds.
Squarespace is the opposite: what you see is what you get. You’re dragging and dropping text in, and there’s no confusion about what the end result is. Quick and reliable, it’s easy to format text, images, and layout. As the business grows, it’s easy to make changes to your site with limited time and cost investments.
We touched on this briefly, but it’s worth expanding on. As smart as the tech world is, as a general rule of thumb it’s good to factor in Murphy’s Law: everything, at some point, goes wrong.
Wordpress’s massive community is bigger than some countries. If you have the skills to navigate, it may not be an issue. But if you don’t speak their language, it’s a dire situation of information overload. How do you find the right plug-in, when hundreds seem to do the same thing? We’re talking tens of thousands of tools, hundreds of thousands of posts, and billions of downloads. This is probably the closest you’re going to get to a needle-in-the-haystack scenario.
If you’re in a country and don’t speak the language, how do you know who to ask for help? Or that their information is actually, you know, informed?
Squarespace, with a centralized team who builds, tests, and puts out everything in-house is a lot more up-to-speed on any issue that may arise. They’ll respond in an hour, and they have awesome support features that prevent issues from arising in the first place. Online tutorials, workshop webinars, live chats with specialists, and a tight community forum makes it much easier to navigate. They make the effort to speak your language.
With Squarespace, all updates are tested and pushed to your website automatically. Squarespace takes care of all that for you, so you can focus your time on other things that may be more important for you.
Wordpress is aware of the inherent risks of an open-source methodology, so they’re constantly updating the platform to fix bugs and improve security. Whenever an update is released, and this could happened several times a year, then you’ll have to make sure to update your website to make sure security is up to par.
Sounds great, but the headache comes when other tools aren’t updated at speed. There may be complications between outdated tools and updated Wordpress, especially with free tools where developers aren’t obligated to give you anything.
If your tools aren’t updated and you update Wordpress, there’s a risk that these elements will conflict. That could harm website performance, or even worse, crash the site entirely. Rule of thumb is to carefully update Wordpress.
Pricing and Other Commitments.
Obviously, money is going to be a major deciding factor in what platform you choose. Squarespace offers four pricing plans for their users:
With Wordpress, you will need to get your own hosting for your web domain. This can cost about $7 USD per month. You’ll also need to purchase your own domain, which is about $11 USD annually. You’ll probably want to purchase a professional theme (which would update itself along with Wordpress updates) and range from $30-$80USD. If you want additional plug-ins and features, estimate about $15-$50 per plug-in, depending on the reputation of the developer and the features you’re looking for.
Overall, Wordpress is cheaper and more functional. But it’s so big it takes a skilled professional to tame and get the best out of. Squarespace, though simpler in performance for more money, can save you a lot of headaches down the road. Again, it depends. Every website and team behind it has unique needs that will ultimately dictate which one is best suited for you. But the best news is that there’s a lot of strong options out there for you to build an awesome website for your business.