One of the first steps in creating a website is choosing a content management system (CMS). Although you can build a website using nothing more than Notepad (or a similar text editor program), opting for a CMS streamlines the process while offering additional functionality.
Two of the most popular CMS are WordPress and Squarespace. Both platforms offer a convenient back-end interface for creating and managing web content. However, there are some key differences between the two that developers and designers shouldn't ignore. So, should you choose Squarespace or WordPress?
WordPress remains the undisputed king of web-building platforms. Powering an estimated 26% of the entire Internet, it's the world's most popular CMS. In comparison, this same W3Techs report suggests that just 0.4% of all websites use Squarespace. WordPress has roots dating back to 2003, during which it powered just 2,000 blogs. Today, it's the de-facto web-building platform for amateur and professional web developers alike.
Of course, there's a good reason so many web developers choose WordPress over similar CMS platforms: it's incredibly versatile, thanks in part to its massive library of third-party plugins. You can find a WordPress plugin for just about anything, ranging from simple "contact us" PHP web forms and spam blockers, to full-fledged search engine optimization (SEO) and contextual advertising plugins.
As of writing this, there are more than 45,000 WordPress plugins available for download -- and that's only counting the plugins on the official repository. Squarespace, on the other hand, only has a select number of plugins. If a Squarespace user wants to add a new feature that's not supported in one of these plugins, he or she must code this feature directly their site.
Templates and Themes
Featuring tens of thousands of themes, changing your website's design with WordPress couldn't be easier. Once you've found a theme, upload it to your site and activate it from the admin dashboard. And being that WordPress is open-source, designers are constantly creating new themes for this platform.
Squarespace also supports interchangeable, easy-to-use web templates. However, the platform has a very limited selection of templates when compared to its WordPress counterpart.
It's not uncommon for webmasters to move their website to a new domain name or server. The good news is both WordPress and Squarespace have an export feature. The bad news is that Squarespace's export feature has limited functionality, only exporting certain elements like pages, galleries and blog posts. Product pages, album pages, audio clips, videos and text can not be exported in Squarespace.
Both WordPress and Squarespace are beginner-friendly, meaning you should have little-to-no problem navigating the dashboards and building/maintaining your website. But WordPress offers a deeper level of customization and versatility over Squarespace.
Squarespace providers users with a drag-and-drop editor in which you simply drag objects to the desired location, click "save," and you are done. WordPress features both a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) text editor and a code editor. Even if your coding skills are lacking, you can still view and edit basic elements of your site's HTML in WordPress.
Developers have designed the WordPress platform so it's naturally appealing to search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Why is this important? Well, assuming you people to visit your site, you should focus on obtaining a high search ranking -- a task that's made easy with WordPress. It features clean, well-written code that search engines love. This doesn't necessarily mean that you cannot rank a Squarespace site high in the search results. Rather, search engine optimization (SEO) is easier with WordPress.
As you can see, WordPress is the clear winner of the two. It features a massive library of plugins and themes; it's easy to learn; and search engines love it.