No matter what industry they’re in these days, small businesses need to have killer websites to succeed. Whether you’re looking to sell products directly from your site or write blog posts that help you establish your reputation and your prospective client list, you’ll have to first go through the difficult process of building a website. Your site is an important step to build your brand and your business and you have to get it right.

Building a website can be seriously expensive for small businesses and choosing the right website builders and web hosting can make a significant impact on the cost and final product. Not to mention, once you build a site using one website builder you’re committed – it would be even more expensive to rebuild the site. So you have to choose the right platform from the get-go.

That might sound a little dire but it isn’t that hard to choose the right platform as long as you consider just a few things about your resources, needs, and vision for your final website.

There are so many options for website builders nowadays that we can’t cover them all. So let’s just focus on the two main options: Squarespace and WordPress.


Squarespace vs WordPress: A Brief Overview of the Leading Website Builders

Before we dive into the specifics of each of the website builders, let’s take a big-picture view of each platform:


Squarespace Website Builder

Squarespace is a relatively new website builder and web hosting hybrid. It was created as an easier to use, one-stop-shop for small businesses and individuals who were overwhelmed by platforms like WordPress. It’s not nearly as large a business as WordPress but it is increasingly popular with small businesses because of its streamlined interface and integrated web hosting. Its emphasis is on design, making it easy to create appealing websites with simple templates and a robust eCommerce plugin. But it doesn’t offer the same level of control as WordPress.


WordPress Site Creater

WordPress is the dominant open-source website builder and content management system in the American and global markets. As of 2018, over 30% of all websites are powered by WordPress. And if you take out fully custom-built sites, WordPress fuels 60% of sites that use a known content management system (like WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, etc). Needless to say, it is a proven solution that can meet just about any need small businesses might have. But that doesn’t mean that it is the right choice for all small businesses who are building a website. It can be over-complicated and expensive to create a WordPress site thanks to the open-source approach.


Squarespace Offers to Make Building a Website Easy for Small Businesses

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of building a website, let us put your mind at ease. Squarespace is the right choice for you. The learning curve is extremely forgiving you can create a pretty powerful website. You can create a modern-looking, streamlined site that promotes your business without writing a single line of code.

That’s thanks to Squarespace’s innovative drag-and-drop site editing interface. You simply choose the template that looks the best for your brand, rearrange elements as needed with a swipe of your trackpad, and drag your content onto the page. You can have a basic but polished site up and running in an hour or two, not counting the time it takes to create branded content like logos and website copy.

It’s not just about the ease of building a website either. The same streamlined platform makes it much easier to update and maintain the website, add new pages as your business develops, and more. If you want a worry-free web experience, Squarespace might be the option for you.

And with Squarespace, everything is in one place. It’s not an open-source platform like WordPress where you need to piece everything together. Once you build your website on Squarespace, the company will also host the site so you don’t have to pay a third party to host it for you. That can be a godsend for small businesses looking to simplify their accounting and eliminate bureaucracy. It also means that you can get your traffic data (vital for web marketing), process customer payments, and more all on the same platform.

Squarespace also offers plenty of integrations to allow you to add power to your website and customize it to your needs. It plays extremely well with Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel, GSuite, social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, OpenTable for restaurant sites, payment systems like Paypal and Square, and so much more. Plus, its eCommerce plugin is extremely robust and easily rivals eCommerce specific competitors like Shopify.

That all being said, there are some serious drawbacks to using Squarespace. The streamlined approach to building a website means that you have a lot less control over how your website looks and operates. Some small businesses will opt for a WordPress site instead.


The Argument for Building a WordPress Site

Okay, we’ve made Squarespace sound pretty darn good. Why would you choose to use WordPress when it takes so much more effort?

Well, the fact that a third of all sites are built in WordPress, compared to fewer than 1% built-in Squarespace, is a compelling argument by itself. WordPress is established, reliable, and time-tested. It won’t be going anywhere and it certainly has worked for many small businesses.

And one of the main reasons for its enormous market share is the fact that it is an open-source content management system and website builder. That means that it is not a company but rather a collaborative effort by thousands of developers. Since there is no profit-driven controlling body, people have been encouraged to make WordPress their own and share their developments.

It’s hard to overstate the impact of the open-source approach. There are thousands of WordPress theme and plugin options created by individual developers, many of which are free to use. That gives small businesses more design options to choose from out of the box than Squarespace offers. And you can take matters into your own hands by hiring developers to custom-build your WordPress site. Whatever your requirements for your website, you can fulfill them using WordPress. That’s more than Squarespace can say.

Another potential plus is that there’s no such thing as WordPress hosting, meaning that you can choose the web hosting service that you like the most rather than having to pay for WordPress hosting as you do for Squarespace website hosting. That might be a negative for small businesses looking for a more hands-off approach, but there are several reliable WordPress site hosting providers to choose from.

WordPress may have started out helping people publish blog posts but now millions of small businesses are using it to sell products and earn loyal customers. If you can stand the steep learning curve and development resources required to create a WordPress site, it is the right choice for entrepreneurs who want to have as much control over building a website for their small businesses.


What to Consider When Choosing Between the Website Builders

Okay, so now you know the arguments for each of the website builders. But you may not feel much closer to deciding which one is best for your business. That’s because it depends on your own needs and resources. Let’s take a look at what you should consider when deciding which is best for your specific business:


Budget for Building a Website and Web Hosting

The first thing that you should consider is how much time and money you are willing to spend on building a website. Both of the website builders are very cheap for small businesses: Squarespace costs $18 per month and WordPress is free to use, although it has higher tiers at $50 or $100 per year. Where the expense comes in is paying to develop the site rather than paying for the website builders.

Squarespace is easy enough to use that you can probably handle the development yourself or get someone on your team to do it. From that perspective, it is almost “free” except that your time (and your team members’ time) is valuable. Still, it does not take much to create and maintain a Squarespace site. Even if you opt for some heavy customizations for your Squarespace website such as the eCommerce plugin or a live chat feature, you would at most have to pay a professional for a few hours of work to integrate the features.

WordPress can be a much more expensive endeavor if you want to heavily customize your site, which is presumably why you would choose it over Squarespace in the first place. You can get pretty far by choosing from among the established WordPress theme and plugin options. But most cost at least $50, which can add up quickly. And if you hire a developer to create your WordPress site, you might end up paying that much per hour.

If you do opt to create your WordPress site from scratch, you’ll have to pay for more than just building the website. You will also have to design the site, which can easily take weeks or months, and make sure that the developers execute the designs properly. The last thing you want is to spend all the money custom building a website only to have it look like an existing WordPress theme or Squarespace site.

The bottom line is this: if you have a large budget and clear vision that can’t be satisfied by Squarespace’s limited theme and plugin options, then WordPress is likely the website builder for you.


Industry: Brick-and-Mortar, Online, or Service-Based Business

Just because you can spend a lot of money designing your website does not mean that you should. If you run a brick-and-mortar store, restaurant, law firm, contractor, or other service-based business then you probably do not need a bespoke WordPress site. You don’t need to pay a developer hundreds of dollars so you can share industry blog posts or rank in search engines to get your name out there.

On the other hand, small businesses that live on the internet, like online stores, or operate in the tech scene will probably want to develop their sites or at least use WordPress’s wider array of theme and plugin options. A Squarespace website often looks like it is a Squarespace website. That’s absolutely fine for many small businesses. But if your business lives or dies on its online image, it’s worthwhile to invest in building a website using a WordPress theme or custom design team. Think of it like any other significant investment in your business that is necessary to generate revenue and grow the company. And if necessary, take out a small business loan to help cover the development cost without hurting your company’s working capital.


Squarespace vs WordPress: Which of these Website Builders is Best Choice for Your Small Business?

Both Squarespace and WordPress are powerful, popular website builders. But they are extremely different in their approach to building a website. Squarespace restricts your options but makes it extremely easy to get a handsome, functional site up and running. WordPress does very little to make your job easier but also doesn’t restrict your options at all. You can probably find a WordPress plugin or theme to meet just about any website need you may have and can always design any custom elements.

Checking for pre-approval will not affect your credit score.

Jeremy Pearlman | Jeremy is a New York native enjoying the good life in the Big Easy. In his writing, Jeremy covers a wide-range of topics, but his specialties are personal finance and business leadership.