Ah, the Squarespace vs. WordPress debate. You've probably come across the many articles discussing the pros and cons of each. I made the switch to Squarespace after using WordPress, for myself and clients, for over five years. I was hesitant at first but now I'm a HUGE Squarespace supporter! Read on for my top 10 reasons for choosing Squarespace over WordPress.
My top 10 reasons for choosing Squarespace
Nothing compares to the simplicity of the Squarespace dashboard. There's always a learning curve for any web development platform but I was able to learn the in's and out's of Squarespace and redesign my website in three days! And what's more I felt totally confident after those three days to design client websites as well. Their WYSIWYG (aka What You See Is What You Get) building structure cuts my design time in half by showing a live preview of the site as I build it.
WordPress is not as user friendly. There's definitely more of a learning curve. While uploading a template is easy in WordPress everything else takes more steps. Like previewing a page. In WordPress you have to save the page then click on the preview button that takes you to another screen. If you need to make additional changes you have to go back to the editing screen. Menu's are another hassle in WordPress. You make the pages in one section of your dashboard then you have to go to another section to make the menus, after that's complete you need to load your website in another tab to see if you set everything up correctly. In Squarespace you create the pages in the top navigation section or as an unlinked page. That's it! There are many many many other reasons why Squarespace has more ease-of-use but that's for another time.
WordPress is an open source platform, meaning that their code is open to anyone to customize. And that's great ... if your a developer. Designers and developers are not one in the same. Yes, a designer like me knows code and knows how to edit code however the developers are the ones that completely code the entire site. Typically designers team up with developers to build a WordPress website. For example, a mechanic fixes your car but the manufacturer makes the parts. See what I mean. What I'm getting at is WordPress is super flexible to design if your a developer. As a designer to make changes to certain templates I'd have to dive into the functions.php file or the style.css file or other backend files to make simple changes such as link colors. Tedious and honestly I was always crossing my fingers that I wasn't messing anything up. There were times I had to reload the functions.php file and start over. Not good. You can see my frustrations.
In Squarespace however, it is not an open source platform. Only their in-house development team can access the code unless you choose the developer base template and register as a developer. The reason this is okay is that they've created a super easy interface that allows me to make edits to the code without having to edit the code. And if I do want to change some things I can create my own code to override the template in the Design -> Custom CSS section. I can also create a markdown. It's a beautiful thing. Did I mention I love Squarespace? Let's continue ...
3. Designers Can Focus on design
Like previously mentioned, to create a website in Squarespace you don't have to know code. I can completely focus on the design. With the drag and drop structure I can add pictures, text, slideshows, etc. anywhere on any page. My favorite advantage of Squarespace is using their drag and drop text to columns. All you have to do is create separate text boxes then drag one next to the other and bam you have two columns. In WordPress I'd have to go into the source code then write code to make columns which, would be simple if every template used the came column creation code. But of course no, so I'd have to look up the code in the developers notes. Again it's doable but takes time.
4. No Updating Necessary
This is the cherry on top of my Squarespace ice cream. If you've used WordPress then you know about plugins and WordPress platform updates. To add certain functions to your WordPress site i.e. Instagram feed, galleries, SEO, social media icons, pricing tables, etc. you have to install plugins. The good thing is that there's a plugin for everything. That's because being that it's an open source platform anyone can make plugins and share them for free. And anyone does, which is why most of the plugins are not great or not updated. It seemed like everyday I'd login to my WordPress site and there was a plugin that needed updating. Then I was faced with the lingering question ... should I update my plugin or not. If I don't the site will keep working but may get slower and pose a security risk however, if I do then my site or parts of my site might crash. Plugins can do a world of hurt on your site. And, if you had a good amount of them like me, it was infuriating trying to figure out which one was messing up the site.
In addition, there would be WordPress platform updates to fix bugs or improve security. If I updated the platform the template I was using could stop working because the developer didn't update it. WordPress always had me contemplating an if then statement. I was so tired of it.
Conversely Squarespace never requires me to do any updating. That's because each template is already set up with the tools I need and everything is thoroughly tested and updated by the Squarespace development team. And there's never a problem. What could be better than that?!
5. Login simplicity
You might be thinking really, one is easier to log into than another? Yes! It's easy to log into both but to edit my Squarespace site I simply hit the ESC key on my keyboard and I am instantly in the editor. Genius! Now granted WordPress is not hard, I'd just have to add /wp-admin to the end of my URL but then I'd be taken to a page where I'd have to sign in before reaching the dashboard. Small difference but a time saver.
6. Mobile friendly
All of the Squarespace templates are mobile friendly! I don't have to think twice about choosing a template because they're all going to look good on a desktop, phone or iPad. With WordPress you have to make sure the template you are purchasing is mobile friendly. You'd think that all templates would be made mobile responsive by now but that's not the case.
7. SEO Friendly
Squarespace often gets a bad mark on this topic but I see no reason for it. Yes, WordPress has an awesome Yoast SEO plugin that scans each page and gives you advice on how to make your page or post more SEO friendly based on a keyword or phrase. But, the truth is that you can do the same thing in Squarespace. Within their interface you can edit your search engine description plus the page and title formats by going to Setting -> Marketing -> SEO. You can also edit your site title description by going to Design -> Logo & Title. Within each page you can add your keyword or phrase in image alt tags, or header (H1 and H2) text. You can also and your keyword to your posts just the same as you would in WordPress. Another plus is that Squarespace automatically gives you a sitemap.xml to submit to Google to crawl your site. This helps with your google ranking. In WordPress you have to install the Yoast SEO plugin in order to get your sitemap.
8. Easy buttons and forms
Even with all the WordPress code annoyances I mentioned buttons and forms had to be one of my biggest frustrations. Particularly in some of the WordPress templates I wasn't able to add buttons easily and centering buttons could not be done. Believe me I tried everything imaginable to fix it. I won't bore you with the details. To be honest that was my last straw with WordPress. I knew there had to be something easier. In Squarespace all I have to do is add a button content block and choose left, center or middle. Exactly what I was looking for! I can just as easily add a form.
9. 24/7 Support
Squarespace has 24/7 support and everyone on their team is an experienced Squarespace user. I actually have yet to need help but knowing that I can reach out to them anytime is a huge plus. With WordPress there was NEVER anyone I could reach out to. I suppose I could've reached out to some of the theme's developers but then I'd have to open a ticket and sometimes pay for support. That's if they even respond to me. Believe me I read plenty of WordPress forums and none were helpful. I always figured it out on my own after hours of work. Those evenings were not enjoyable.
10. Easy SummAry Blocks
Ever wonder how websites add a "recent posts" section or "related posts" section or even a "masonry gallery" style? Those are summary blocks. I found a weird plugin in WordPress that did the same thing but it took a long time to figure out and I wasn't able to customize it. In Squarespace I can choose from four summery blocks, Wall, Carousel, List and Grid block. See the "related posts" section at the bottom of this article? That's a carousel summery block. It's important for the flow and user experience of a website. It actually helps reduce my sites bounce rates by leading readers to more pages.
OVERALL Squarespace = less worry, better designs and happy clients
I honestly think I can go on and on about why I chose Squarespace over Wordpress. What's your opinion? Have you used both platforms? Do you have a preference?