Two cowboys in a gun pointing standoff - CMS Showdown Concept
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Choosing a platform to build and manage your website is challenging, and it can have a lasting impact on your business. While there a multitude of options, many would agree that two stand out the most: WordPress and Squarespace.

WordPress is one of the largest platforms that powers 30% of the top 10 million websites. With that said, over 3.5 million sites use Squarespace, and that number continues to grow.

Some experts that have experience using both platforms offer their insight into the pros and cons of each, and how to choose which is right for your business.

Squarespace Pros and Cons

"Squarespace is a great platform for non-developers," said Nikki Bisel, founder of Seafoam Media. "If you need a website, but don't know how to do any coding, Squarespace gives you a relatively fast, easy way to create something that looks nice."

Michael Anderson, marketing specialist at GeoJango Maps, said the main advantage of Squarespace is that it offers a "simple and not very complicated [way] to set up a website." He added, "The templates look nice and you can have a professional looking website live within a matter of hours." Every theme or template is also mobile-friendly at the outset, eliminating many of the challenges faced with other platforms.  "The downside is that if you need any special functionality that's custom to you or your company, Squarespace may not have the right tools to let you do what you'd like," Bisel said. 

In other words, Squarespace focuses on making things easy at the cost of customization. Anderson put it this way, "Squarespace is severely lacking in customization features. You can't customize or even edit the double opt-in confirmation email that people will receive when they sign up for your newsletter." This could be a crucial aspect of your email marketing campaign, and you may want full control over it. "You also can't install any plugins for additional functionality to your website," Anderson said, "which can be detrimental over the long run." You'll have to make sure Squarespace has all the features you need at the outset because there's little you can do to add on later.

Related Article: How WordPress Can Help You Survive 2019 Without a Headless CMS

WordPress  Pros and Cons

According to Anderson,  the key advantage of WordPress comes down to a "seemingly unlimited amount of customization that can be implemented by website owners." This includes a "large variety of plugins that are offered and can be easily taken advantage of." In fact, there are over 55,000 in the WordPress repository to date, including plugins for SEO, ecommerce, membership communities and more.

The open source nature of WordPress means it's highly customizable for developers. "WordPress is a nice 'in-between' in terms of ease to get up and started, combined with being able to deliver a more robust set of options. ...[A] developer can build a theme or plugin using HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP, so you can create almost anything you want on your WordPress site in terms of design or functionality," Bisel said.

The downside, Bisel said, "is that WordPress is more time consuming to manage and requires a higher level of technical knowledge to ensure that everything is working smoothly." Anderson agreed, "the learning curve is a bit steeper compared to Squarespace." For companies that want a responsive website that works out of the box and does not require you to be tech savvy, WordPress may not be the best option.

Related Article: Drupal vs. WordPress: Which CMS Is Right For You?

How Do You Choose?

Both platforms have trade-offs depending on if you want simplicity or flexibility, so it comes down to the individual organization. 

Bisel said they chose WordPress "because it opens a lot of doors." WordPress allows the company to make most of the unique functionality they need happen. "It may take a little longer and require a bit more development, but we can see our creative sparks come to life."

For Anderson, WordPress is usually the right choice as well. "This is due to the wide range of plugins and customization options that are available through WordPress that are not possible through Squarespace." He added, "If you suddenly have an idea for how to make your website better, you can do it through WordPress." The platform doesn't limit you when building your site.

Bisel admitted, however, that "WordPress can seem more intimidating as there are infinitely more options." Anderson agreed, and added that Squarespace could be a better option "for a simple website that only needs to showcase an address and contact form." Squarespace wins on simplicity and time to market, but may be most suitable for smaller businesses.

While our experts often choose WordPress for its customization features, they both agree that Squarespace has its use-cases as well, and it's up to you to decide what's most important for your business. With WordPress, it’s also common to use a myriad of plugins and independently developed themes to build a website. In fact, that’s precisely why so many companies choose WordPress. But as updates roll in over a period of months and years, cracks begin to show. Third-party plugins are deserted by developers, and themes don’t get updated in line with new WordPress technology and standards.

The result? A broken website that may even refuse to load due to the clash of plugins and themes that no longer work. The only remedy is to do away with the plugins and find a new theme — which defeats the purpose of WordPress as a flexible, plugin-driven platform. 

That’s my take, what’s yours?