Before you even start building your website, you have to make a ton of decisions on how you’re going to do it- what’s the domain name, where do you register it, WordPress or Squarespace, how do you build it?
I walk folks through this in my free 30 minute consultations and make personalized recommendations (unfortunately there is not a one-size-fits-all best answer), but in case you need more info or can’t wait, here’s my thoughts on one of the biggest choices you will face when building your website: do you use Squarespace (or another drag and drop editor) or WordPress (or another php-based CMS)?
First, what is a CMS? In the olden days, we had to build websites by writing the code by hand. It sucked when we had to change a menu or something like that, there was a lot of copy/pasting until PHP came along. Now we have awesome technology called Content Management Systems that make building websites way easier. There are tons out there, but I’ll spare you some research and tell you as a person who has been making websites for over 20 years, you can just focus on my two favorites: Squarespace and WordPress.
Squarespace is my favorite drag and drop editor- the sites are faster/cheaper to make than a custom-coded website.They scale well for mobile, load quickly, and look pretty darn good! Squarespace handles the maintenance and security of the site for you, which is nice.The learning curve is not too bad, and they offer way more customization options than comparable drag and drop site builders such as Wix. The downsides are that Squarespace sites are more expensive per month and they take a higher percentage of ecommerce sales.
WordPress is my favorite code-based CMS. It is open source, which means when you use to to build a site, you really own the code, even though you got help writing it. As one of the most popular CMS’s on the planet, it has a million pre-built themes and plugins out there, so pretty much anything you can imagine, you can create. But, you may need some coding know-how (or to hire someone who has those skills). Also, maintenance and security are more concerns than with a managed service like Squarespace. If you need support, you’re on your own. It also takes a bit longer for the initial setup.
Overall, I compare it to the difference between renting an apartment and buying a home. Want ultimate freedom and flexibility? Go with WordPress. Want someone else to fix it when the dishwasher breaks? Go with Squarespace.
WordPress Vs. Squarespace Cheat Sheet
- $216/year to host
- plan for at least 12 hours to build
- no monthly maintenance needed
- no technical skills needed
- some tech support
- limited feature set
Basically, WordPress has a higher startup cost but then is cheaper in the long run and gives you way more flexibility. But it might be overkill if all you need is a simple website such as a therapist’s site. The danger is that if later you realize you need a feature Squarespace doesn’t offer, you’ll need to totally rebuild your site (it’s not easy to migrate from one platform to another). Which is lame!
I’m happy to consult with you if you want a free consultation on which might be best for your situation, and if you end up going the DIY route, I’m happy to do a co-working session or tutorial while you learn the ropes- no matter what platform you go with, there’s always a learning curve, and you don’t have to go it alone.