There a lot of ways that you can bring your website to the world. In this post we’re going to be highlighting two of the many tools that can be used to manage your content. WordPress which is a full-featured content management system (CMS) that comes in both hosted (via WordPress.com) and self-hosted (via WordPress.org) flavors and Squarespace which is a hosted service.
Squarespace launched in 2004 and has shown some excellent growth in the past 13 years. They position themselves as a fast, beautiful, and professional way to bring your business website to life. With 600 employees, Squarespace has become #8 on Forbes’ Cloud 100 list in 2016.
WordPress first launched in 2003 and began it’s life as blogging software. By 2009 WordPress had become the strongest CMS in terms of brand strength. In 2016 WordPress was the platform powering about 25% of the internet’s websites. We’re staunch advocates of using WordPress to power your website. As developers we’re using the self-hosted version of WordPress to create sites for our clients from simple brochure sites to very complex media heavy multi-site networks. There are a few key reasons why we’re happy with our choice.
While Squarespace doesn’t make any copyright claims to your data and does have tools to allow you to export, as a hosted solution it does have limitations on the liquidity of that data. Pushing and pulling items from the database is one of WordPress’ great strengths. By having control over your CMS package and the underlying database you maintain full control over your content. If Squarespace changes its policies or procedures you have no recourse but to follow suit. With WordPress you decide when and where changes are going to happen.
While Squarespace has done a remarkable job increasing the number of options available to users, there are limitations to the changes that can be made to your site. These limitations can be design or functional. With WordPress the only limits are your level of expertise (more on that later). One other area where flexibility can be a big factor is with the ability to sell any product you like. Squarespace has some fairly extensive terms and conditions, and if your business is one that they determine to be offensive then you may be limited in what you can sell or even if you can utilize their platform. One final comment on flexibility, with the full integration of a REST API into WordPress, the opportunity to move beyond a CMS to a full-fledged application environment pushes the possibilities far beyond our current definitions.
As WordPress powers a little over 25% of the web, there are a lot of professionals who are designing, developing, and maintaining websites built with WordPress. As a private company, Squarespace doesn’t share the number of users it has, but market trends position the usage below Joomla, Drupal, Magento and Blogger. With an estimated .5% of the web finding someone specialized in Squarespace development is certainly fishing in a smaller pond. Even if resources are available, the amount of customization is going to be limited to what the platform will allow.
This is always one of our favorite topics. No other platform offers the community that WordPress does. Just taking a quick look at Meetup you can type in WordPress and see all of the relevant meetups in your area. I tried typing in Squarespace and didn’t receive any results. I’m sure that there are some local Meetup groups that are discussing Squarespace but not in a dedicated environment. In addition, there are regional WordCamps that are larger events supporting the WordPress community. As a do-it-yourself tool these events are a great resource to learning.
We will never say never about using a platform. There are plenty of businesses for whom Squarespace works great. However, if a fully custom, wholly owned, and well supported platform is what you’re after, we heartily recommend WordPress.
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