Squarespace has become a popular choice for people who want to build their own website. If this platform appeals to you, then I could help you set up a website using my Pick & Mix styles as a starting point.
Here are a couple of slideshows to illustrate how this might look. As always, the layout of your website would be tailored to your own requirements.
Squarespace could be a good choice for your website if…
1. You don’t want to be responsible for maintaining your website
If you choose to build your website using self-hosted WordPress then, unless you pay extra for managed hosting, you will be responsible for keeping your site’s software up-to-date yourself. We can install the WordFence plugin which will send you an email whenever an update is required. Your WordPress dashboard will remind you to carry out the update, which is a fairly straightforward process.
You should also ensure that your WordPress site is being backed up regularly, and this could be taken care of with another plugin such as UpdraftPlus.
Alternatively, if you want to be able to build your website and then not have to worry about maintaining it, then Squarespace, Weebly or WordPress.com could suit you better than self-hosted WordPress.
In my opinion, the peace of mind coming from having your site maintained for you is the only real advantage of choosing one of these alternatives. Self-hosted WordPress may have a slightly steeper learning curve but I feel that this is out-weighed by its power, flexibility and the level of control it affords. You may find that your personal preference is different.
2. You like the Squarespace Page Editor
Squarespace’s page editor allows you to add blocks to page and then move them into position and resize them.
At first sight, this appears simpler than using the WordPress editor with either column shortcodes (shown below)
or with a page builder plugin (such as the SiteOrigin Page Builder shown below).
But I find grabbing hold of the Squarespace blocks and moving them around can be a little frustrating.
Also, consider the difference between resizing columns by eye (as with Squarespace) and the precision of both the shortcodes and SiteOrigin’s WordPress plugin, which allows you to specify exact percentages.
Additionally, with WordPress you have the advantage of being able to specify exact sizes for your images.
It may just be personal preference, and the fact that I am more familiar with WordPress, but I find the Squarespace editor to be slower and less easy to use.
3. You are happy with the functionality built into Squarespace
Squarespace provides a variety of different blocks, each with options to control how they appear.
It may be that these are all you need to create a website that meets your needs, both now and in the future. It’s true that there are thousands of plugins available for self-hosted WordPress but there is something to be said for having the functions built in.
It may be an idea to have a look at the WordPress plugin directory and consider whether you see yourself ever having a need for some of these extra applications.
4. You want one, or more, blogs on your site
It’s quite straightforward to add a blog to your Squarespace site, and you can even choose to have more than one blog. Blog posts can be given categories and tags, and can be displayed on different pages of the website using summary blocks. WordPress is also an excellent choice for a site with a blog. Weebly allows you to include a blog but it is less strong in this area.
5. You want some control over your site’s appearance, but are prepared to make some compromises
Squarespace enables you to add custom CSS code to personalise your site and its style editor provides an easy way to alter the way that many elements of your pages are displayed.
However, some self-hosted WordPress themes give you an even greater level of control. For example, the customizer of the GeneratePress theme has more options than Squarespace. Here’s just one example of that.
If you have some specific requirements for the layout of your site, and these cannot be met using your theme’s options, then WordPress enables you to set up a child theme which includes a custom built page template.
If you don’t like the layout of your Squarespace site then it may be possible to get closer to your ideal design by switching to a different template. Please note that I use the Five template for my Pick and Mix websites. You are welcome to move to an alternative template once I’ve handed the site over to you, although this is a little more tricky with Squarespace than it is with WordPress.
6. You wouldn’t miss the WordPress media library
Both versions of WordPress include a useful media library that stores all your images and lets you use them in multiple places throughout your website.
Neither Weebly nor Squarespace include this function.
7. You are prepared to commit to paying a little extra for your website
Squarespace is by no means the most expensive way to have a website, but it does cost a little more than some of the alternatives. What’s more there’s no free option, as there is with Weebly and WordPress.com, so if you stop paying for your site it will expire and you’ll need to start paying again to reinstate it.
As at the date of writing (in January 2017):
- the cheapest paid WordPress.com account (a Personal account which does not allow CSS code) costs $35.88 (approximately £29)
- a WordPress.com Premium account costs $99 (approx. £81)
- a Weebly Starter plan costs £60
- a Personal Squarespace account costs $144 (approx. £117)
- the cheapest hosting at Vidahost (which could be used for self-hosted WordPress) costs £35.88
- a Personal managed WordPress account at WP Engine costs $348 (approx. £283).
(These prices are for one year and are for comparison purposes. They may not include taxes and exchange rates will vary.)
If you are considering using Squarespace for your site, then you may find that my blog post “Website Solutions – Part 3: Squarespace” contains some useful extra details. At the end of that post there is a list of links to other people’s reviews of Squarespace.