Websites have become so easy to create nowadays that the idea of starting one is no longer a foreign concept. In fact, "Who doesn't have a professional website?" is a more fitting (rhetorical) question to ask than "who does?" 💁🏻
Nevertheless, I've seen many aspiring entrepreneurs deliberate and procrastinate on their websites because they don't know which platform is "better"—Wordpress or Squarespace?" (That, or "which platform is 'the best' one?")
For some reason, people think choosing the "wrong" platform will prevent them from starting a successful blog or business. And having at one point wrestled with this dilemma myself (a.k.a waited months to start a blog), all I can say is this...
Establish your website goals first before doing anything else. Because knowing what you want out of your website is way more important than what you end up using to set it up.
That said, if you're struggling to choose between Wordpress or Squarespace—the two most popular web builders in the market—let me help you make a decision today.
What a Professional Website Can Do for You
While I used to think choosing the right platform, domain name, etc. mattered most, I now know that an effective website goes beyond just the technical stuff (which again, I'll cover in Part 2). I encourage you to do your research beforehand but to focus more on the meat of your website (e.g. sales page, content, marketing, etc.).
Of course, getting to the meat of your website requires you to set everything up. Once you've solidified your goals and actually created a website, there's so much more you can do with it (or have it do for you) moving forward.
For instance, a website or (self-hosted) blog can help you...
Showcase your portfolio online
Establish credibility in your area of expertise
Create a hub for all your social media activity
Start a side hustle and grow your business on the side
Monetize your content through ads or affiliate marketing
Increase your chances of getting noticed by employers
In my case, launching a professional website (+self-hosted blog), helped me...
Gain email list subscribers
Book my first web design client online
Generate leads for my freelance business
Receive inquiries from potential clients and podcast guests
Make personal and professional connections with people from different parts of the country
Get invited to join the partner program of a well-known marketing company in the online space
The possibilities are endless. And in many ways, a professional website is like the modern-day business card—only much more memorable and effective.
Okay, back to Wordpress and Squarespace!
While I don't think one is necessarily better than the other, you should definitely make a choice based on your specific needs and the short-term/long-term purposes of your website.
Read on for a breakdown of the pros and cons...
Wordpress vs Squarespace
Considering that I use Squarespace (for my business site) and Wordpress (for my personal blog), I wanted to share the benefits and drawbacks of both before helping you make the final decision.
Self-hosted (meaning, you have complete ownership of your website & can monetize your content—unlike users of Wordpress.com)
Open-source platform (meaning, you can customize your blog as much you want to)
Plethora of available resources and support for Wordpress users (a quick search can help you identify and troubleshoot common issues)
Endless selection of themes and plugins
Flexiblity of ecommerce functionality (e.g. integration of any payment processor, no product limits, etc.)
No page limits
Need to manually update plugins and software updates
Will likely have to pay for your theme and premium plugins
Limited selection of free themes (quite plain, to be frank)
Steeper learning curve compared to Squarespace (i.e. you might need to research child themes, Genesis framework, integrations, SEO, etc.)
All-in-one platform (meaning that every plan comes with unlimited hosting, SSL certificates, built-in security, domain registration, CMS, templates and pretty much everything you need to manage a website)
Award-winning, 24/7 customer support
Simple drag-and-drop interface
Beautiful selection of customizable templates
Ability to monetize content
Easy to maintain (i.e. no need to update & install plugins)
Slightly more expensive depending on the plan you purchase
Closed-source platform (meaning, only Squarespace's developers have full control of website functionality)
"Developers' version" is best for experienced developers only
Limited ecommerce functionality (e.g. product limits, transaction fees, fewer payment processors available)
Cannot install templates outside of Squarespace's existing selection
Not as customizable as Wordpress but still flexible (if you upgrade to the Business Plan or higher)
Customizing themes beyond default settings may require coding
Page limits for certain plans
As mentioned earlier, the decision to invest in Squarespace or Wordpress depends entirely on what you intend to do with your professional website. Whether you're showcasing a portfolio, running an online shop, or starting a blog, both Squarespace and Wordpress can help you achieve these goals and more. But again, I want to help you make a decision!
So here's what I think:
If you're not a tech-savvy person and/or need to get started ASAP, I'd recommend choosing Squarespace. It's got a simple interface and all-in-one platform. The learning curve is almost negligible and you can DIY Squarespace templates to make them look a lot different than their original settings. If you have no prior experience managing websites and want to hit the ground running, then Squarespace is the way to go.
HOWEVER, if you prefer having full control over the coding and functionality of your website—as well as access to a range of customization options—I'd recommend Wordpress. It's a smart choice if you plan on running a content-heavy blog and don't want to worry about hitting any page limits.
Focus first on what matters most! An effective website requires a vision, as well as a plan of action. In other words, worry about the domain, hosting, branding, platform, etc. after you consider the overall structure and mission for your website.
For instance, ask yourself this:
What is the purpose of your website?
Who is your ideal audience?
What kind of content do you want to publish?
Purpose-wise, are you looking to get hired by showcasing your portfolio online? Are you using your website to promote your brick and mortar business? Are you hoping to build an online community? Whatever the reason, it's important that you know your reason.
The vision for your website will change over time, but it's important to at least have a general idea. That way, you'll be able to make better decisions about the layout of your site and what kinds of features you need at the moment, as well as what types of features you'll need later on.