Why I Always Recommend WordPress vs. Squarespace as a Better Tool for Building Any Website

by | Aug 30, 2023 | Website Tips

I was asked the other day if I thought it was a good idea for a small business to start off with a do-it-yourself site on Squarespace. If you haven’t already heard, Squarespace is an all-in-one solution for building web sites with a beautiful, easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor, a simple setup sequence, competitive pricing plans, and lots of cool templates. In my circles, it seems that many former Wix users are switching over to Squarespace as a trendier option with better mobile design features.

So why would I never recommend Squarespace (or Wix for that matter) over WordPress … to anyone?

With WordPress, you are part of a significantly larger community

WordPress started out in 2003, Squarespace in 2004, and Wix in 2006. All three started off just a few years apart. But according to W3 Techs, WordPress currently has over 60% of the market share in website content management systems with Shopify taking a distant second place at under 6%, and Wix and Squarespace coming in after that at just under 4%.

So why did WordPress so drastically outpace both Wix and Squarespace?

With WordPress, you own your website

The WordPress software is open source, which means it’s freely available to anyone and can be redistributed and modified. All plugins and themes, even ones with premium support options, also must be distributed with an open source license. So any WordPress website that you create belongs to you.

Of course, you’ll definitely need to hire a WordPress hosting company to keep your website showing up for everyone on the Internet and most likely you’ll want them to help you maintain it. Perhaps you’ll want to hire someone to design it for you. But in the end, it’s your website. You could have your geeky nephew host it if you want! You could host it on a super secure HIPAA-compliant server in the cloud if you want. Or you can choose a cheap hosting company in Bulgaria. But they would be hosting your website.

With Squarespace or Wix, they not only host your site, they own the closed-source software that built it … and provide the only way anyone can edit it. So if you stop paying them, you lose your site. You really have no further options other than exporting out an XML file of your content.

With WordPress, you can keep pace with rapid technological innovation

Recommending WordPress for “rapid technological innovation” might come as a surprise, considering the thoughtful care and backward compatibility that must go into each WordPress core update. Doesn’t the current default WordPress admin interface seem a little old-school compared to the sleek drag-and-drop editor that’s now in Squarespace? But do you remember when Wix’s editor was considered cutting edge a few years ago? And perhaps you’re old enough to remember back when Dreamweaver was in it’s heyday (yeah, that definitely dates me!). I’m grateful for these innovative companies with web design tools through the years and their fantastic teams of users and developers. But each closed-source web design tool is limited to the manpower and resources within it’s own little company.

Compare this to the WordPress world of open source, where innovation is happening in thousands of different companies by thousands of developers and designers every single day. From my understanding, Squarespace has a team of over 100 designers and engineers. I can easily more than quintuple that number of designers and engineers working on my software simply by downloading the free WordPress software and accessing the free theme and plugin directory. There are 50 experts on the core WordPress security team alone!

And if I’d like premium support, I can invest in a handful of widely-used themes and plugins to suddenly have at my disposal an army of the best web designers and engineers working to keep my website up-to-date with the rapid pace of technological change. The energy and ideas in this open source community is exhilarating!

WordPress isn’t a flash in the pan but it’s not by any means standing still. The new editor is so revolutionary that competing open source CMS projects (e.g. Drupal) are working to integrate it. The old-school WordPress admin interface is next on the list! And most of the innovation is happening in a wealth of themes and plugins.

With WordPress, you always have good options

If Chris Rock was right when he wrote, “Wealth is not about having a lot of money; it’s about having a lot of options,” then WordPress is priceless.

You can go the do-it-yourself route if you want. You can take the have-it-done-for-you route if you want. You can run an economical site on cheap hosting if you want. You can run a premium website that’s fast and secure if you want.

If you’re not happy with your designer, you can easily find another WordPress designer who will create a beautiful website for you. Or you can just pop in a pre-designed template.

If you like a free plugin and decide you need more features, there’s a premium version available. If you’re not happy with it, you can switch to this other one that just came out, or that one over here that’s been around for a while. There’s literally a panorama of possibility … which is why I like it.

With WordPress, you are free to grow

WordPress is a foundation upon which just about anything can be built. The most widely-used eCommerce software, the best Learning Management Systems, the most innovative Search Engine Optimization plugins, the most flexible and powerful form builders, the most popular page builders, the most cutting-edge website AI applications … all are built on WordPress.

Any good third-party web technology, whether spam protection, email mailing list management, social media integration, visitor analytics, website advertising, transactional email APIs, just about anything you can think of will integrate with WordPress. It’s open. It’s documented. It’s ready to use.

Sure, it might be a little easier to break things in WordPress. But Mahatma Gandhi observed that “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” By choosing an open source path, WordPress is achieving it’s goal to democratize publishing. It is providing businesses around the the world with freedom and flexibility to build the web sites they need to serve their customers and succeed on the web!

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