As a hardcore WordPress fan, I find it very hard to admit that I enjoy a different platform. I have built many websites (for professional and personal usage) with WordPress and Elementor, as this is my preferred page builder, and I will continue to do so.
HOWEVER, I cannot NOT give credit where it’s due, and that is Squarespace.
Let me dive deep into this. And to do that I will make some lists with pros/features and in general things you get or don’t get with each platform.
*disclaimer: I’m not an expert when it comes to Squarespace but I base the following opinion according to my most recent experience where I built a portfolio website for a family member.
What is WordPress.org
It is a CMS, a content management system, and in order to have a website with that you need to do the following:
- Buy a hosting plan.
- Buy a domain name, either from the same place as where you got your hosting plan, or a different provider.
- Install WordPress.
- Find a theme.
- Start blogging or creating pages, by adding images and texts.
- Build a contanct form.
- Maintain the website, as in run the system’s regular updates.
What is Squarespace
I’m not sure what’s the official term but I will describe it like this: An online platform that offers hosting and domain name services, and page building services. In more details you need to do the following
- Make an account on squarespace.com
- Follow their initial guide or I think you can skip it
- Browse their templates for websites and pick one
- Edit the content on the created pages, and replace the existing dummy images and text with yours, or make new ones.
- Usually there is a ready made contact form.
- Purchase a domain.
- Purchase a subscription
- Publish your website.
- No need to do any updates.
All of the above steps can be done and managed in squarespace.com
I’m an experienced WordPress (self-hosted) user and I had almost 0 experience with Squarespace. I say almost cause my only experience was on a couple of existing websites that their owners needed help with certain parts.
But now that I had to do that from scratch, I was amazed how easy the entire process was.
I got the material (pictures) from my family member, he told me what he needed, I found something that was close to what he described, added the images, added his email to the existing contact form and everything worked great.
That last part actually amazed me.
When it comes to WordPress and contact forms, one has to struggle a bit. Not always, but it can happen.
First of all, there is no built-in contact form, as far as I know, one has to install some sort of plugin before the option is available. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, it’s just an extra step.
It’s a matter of if you have the time to do that, or if you have the skills, which neither is a negative thing.
And then it’s not as simple as using your gmail or your hotmail email to be in the backend of that form. The email needs to be the same as your domain name, which of course is always the best as you want to appear professional in your communications. So once you buy your domain name, you need to create an email address. Nothing wrong with that, it’s actually a recommended, if not required, step if you want to be taken seriously. But if you don’t have an email address on your domain name, then WordPress will most probably not send/receive your emails. For security reasons.
I’m oversimplifying this but this is the gist of it.
So seeing a form and adding a Hotmail email in the backend, and seeing that the form worked instantly, as in that test email was sent and received successfully, even when the website was not published, left me amazed.
Squarespace over WordPress org?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a HUGE fangirl of WordPress and I’m not letting it go, but I do understand that certain people have certain needs and before we offer a website solution, we need to evaluate the situation. Sometimes a Squarespace website is a better choice than a self hosted WordPress. And vice versa.
When it comes to photographers and similar creatives, a simple clean portfolio website is all that matters. These people don’t need anything extreme, or super fancy. They need the website layout to not interfere much, because the main thing here is their pictures. And that is something that Squarespace has succeeded in. They offer pretty templates that are perfect for photographers, but not only of course.
I have to say though, that Squarespace has a limited selection of layouts, which is of course understandable, and they have limited ways in how one can create their own layout. I mean, if I were to compare it, on a page building level, there is no way you can do everything that you can do with Elementor. Elementor is very flexible and has so many different elements and widgets. I’m not sure you would be able to build exactly the same type of webpage in Squarespace as on Elementor, but the things you are able to build, are done pretty damn well!
So I’m tempted to offer Squarespace building services, for photographers. I mean I’m probably way over my head, as I just made one very simple, but very pretty Squarespace website. But if you are one that needs help with that, I’m here to help.