It seems like the debate is growing more each year - Squarespace vs. Wordpress. This post is my experience using both platforms, and first I will start by saying that I believe website platforms are unique to the needs of the business owner. I initially started on Wordpress, since I have a background in information technology, so I knew enough to be dangerous.
While the Wordpress platform is free, I spent about $300 just trying to purchase the themes and widgets needed to customize the site. While Squarespace does involve a fee, this initial cost and design time it took to make my site presentable via Wordpress was a bit more than expected. Also, with widgets there are many of them that need to be purchased yearly for updates, so I didn't find the cost of Squarespace much more expensive than what I would have paid to stay on Wordpress.
Wordpress has online forums where you can look up information, but probably the largest negative is there is no real support. I spent hours researching the forums just to find one answer (sometimes a few days) as there is no one to directly help you if you are running your own site. If you are not a coder or have the money to hire someone to maintain your site, then Squarespace by far is the better platform. Wordpress has a deep learning curve, while Squarespace as a simple drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy to build and customize your own site. While I haven’t had to use this too often, their support is fantastic as well!
Wordpress is constantly under attack from hackers, so security is an issue. Since it is a open platform, you must check every few days for updates to ensure your site is secured. You will need to manually maintain this, or hire a web designer to maintain this for you. While I was fortunate to never get hacked, I do know a few sites that have and it can take your business down immediately. Squarespace has a completely different infrastructure, which allows them to be more secure. Since I am an online business, this was a crucial component in me making the switch to Squarespace.
The other main reason I switched is the ecommerce platforms. If you are planning to have an online shop, I cannot recommend Squarespace enough. When I had a shop via Wordpress (Woocommerce), due to all the "bugs" it sometimes would not send notification emails to me or the client when an order was placed. Unfortunately, this happened on and off, and it was random so there was no way to plan or find a solution. With no support, this was not working for me as a business owner as customer service is my number one priority. Also, to set up and customize this was very time consuming. For shipping, the costly widgets needed to run a shop were also a negative. Squarespace's ecommerce is fantastic, and makes it very easy to sell items (and I actually get notified!).
Squarespace comes mobile-ready, which is more important than ever with Google's new mobile friendly algorithm. While I did have a theme in Wordpress that was mobile ready, it wasn't as clean and professional looking as Squarespace due to the interface.
Wordpress does offer more options for customization (almost limitless), while Squarespace is more limited. This would depend on the needs of the business owner, and I only had one item that I could not do on Squarespace that I had on Wordpress. I had an advanced custom calculator where clients can put in the quantities for each of the items desired, and it would give a total for them at the bottom. This ended up being a very small sacrifice, and so far has not inhibited my business. Squarespace offers a wonderful form functionality, so it has been great to collect the data and have my clients pay their deposit all at one time. Overall, even with the extra customization you may be able to do on Wordpress the overall look and design is more professional in Squarespace.
Generally, this is based on which hosting provider you choose to host your domain. I use Bluehost, and overall have been fantastic to work with. With the Wordpress platform, random downtimes are to be expected. I experienced this about once a week or so, and I would get notified when my site was down and when it came back up. While most of the time this wasn't an issue, I have not experienced any downtime with Squarespace. A huge plus.
Wordpress has a great blogging platform (that's where they really excel); however, I have found Squarespace's more user friendly overall. I enjoy writing blog posts more now than I did before, since the interface is so great to use. They also have a fantastic app for the iPhone and iPad, where you can draft, review, and post right from there. This is convenient if I am on the go, or if a great idea comes to mind anywhere I am at, I can go right to the app.
If you have a web designer, great - Wordpress is a great platform and will probably serve you well! It is very time consuming to keep up with a Wordpress site, so I can only recommend this if you have a designer on retainer to take care of the upkeep. If you are a small business owner, looking for a simple and functional site that will not have you working on it every other day, then Squarespace may be a better fit for you. My primary focus is on sales, as this is how I support myself so Squarespace was the right choice for me.
If you would like to learn more about Squarespace, I welcome you to also visit my friend Lauren's blog at Elle and Company Design. She has fantastic posts about how to use Squarespace and how to grow your business. I hope you found this helpful in making your decision, whether you are just starting out or thinking about changing to Squarespace.