So you want– Maybe to present your portfolio in the meantime to share information with wedding guests or to support your business (especially now that so many events have been postponed because of the Pandemic). The only problem is, you don’t know where to start. Enter the website building services WordPress.com and Squarespace, two solid options for getting from an idea to a live site quickly.
Both WordPress.com and Squarespace are hosted website building platforms that give you the tools and templates to create a personalized website on your own domain with no programming experience. While the end results from each site can be similar, their user interfaces and prices are very different.
Here is everything you need to know to decide whether WordPress.com or Squarespace is the better website building platform for you.
WordPress is the world’s most popular open source web publishing platform, supporting more than 35% of all websites on the internet, including websites for The Walt Disney Company, Quartz and Mercedes-Benz. It’s a little confusing, but WordPress.com is a hosted website building service based on WordPress. While WordPress requires you to purchase a domain name through another site and do more hands-on work in creating your site, WordPress.com does all of this for you – which makes things easier, but limits functionality.
Create a free trial site to try out WordPress.com and choose the type of site you want to create: Blog, Business, Professional, or Online Store. I chose the professional category. Setting up a basic version of the site was easy, requiring only a username, password, my name, and the name of the site. You can then go to Design> Customize to add, for example, a logo or widget (e.g. audio, a Facebook plug-in, or a follow button).
WordPress.com is a little less intuitive than Squarespace, and it takes some trial and error to figure out what you’re doing – although every section you click has mini-tutorials to help. However, you can play around with it for free and upgrade to a paid account if you like the results. You can also preview your website on desktop and mobile.
“The biggest thing we see with other website builders is that they could work fine for a person in the short term. However, since they are not open ecosystems like WordPress, people are quickly restricted or locked in when it comes to how they work can be expanded or customized as business needs grow, “Mark Armstrong, editor of WordPress.com’s parent company Automattic, told CNET. “WordPress has the largest ecosystem for plug-ins, services and developer and designer know-how that works hand in hand with the software.”
To grow and customize your website, WordPress has a number of plugins that will attract users, including Yoast SEO (for SEO help), Jetpack from WordPress.com (for website security and performance management), and WPForms (for creating a Contact form). .
“Depending on your client’s needs, WordPress can be heavily customized with plug-ins and has a flexibility that simply cannot be compared to other template websites,” said Basil Larios, SEO content creator at Falcon Marketing. “When we run into roadblocks in design, it’s usually because customers build their sites on a template basis first. Once they see growth and want to make more tangible changes, the template site becomes more restrictive than originally expected.”
As with Squarespace, if you already have a domain name, you can transfer it to WordPress.com so that the same address is hosted on the platform.
You can create a simple website for free if you agree to the “YourSite.wordpress.com” domain. Or you can register a domain like “sitename.com” that you pay for.
This is how much a WordPress.com site costs:
- Personal (best for personal use): $ 4 per month billed $ 48 annually (includes custom domain name and access to 24-hour support)
- Premium (best for freelancers): $ 8 per month, $ 9 annually (includes advanced design tools, custom CSS, and Google Analytics support)
- Business (best for small businesses): $ 25 per month, billed $ 300 annually (includes custom plug-ins and themes, 200GB of storage, and live support)
- Ecommerce (best for online stores): $ 45 per month billed at $ 540 annually (including a more powerful, flexible platform designed to grow with your business)
The final result
As with almost any online platform, the best web building and hosting service for you will depend on your unique needs. If you’re a complete beginner at building a website and want a simple, intuitive platform with beautiful, pre-built templates, I’d recommend Squarespace. But if you have a little bit of experience building websites and want a highly customizable platform, I’d go with WordPress.com.
The good news is that you can try both WordPress.com and Squarespace for free to get a feel for what works best for you. The free version of WordPress.com lets you build a working website with a wordpress.com domain. With Squarespace, the free version of your website is set to private by default. While you can make it live, it is hidden from search engines and only accessible through the URL.
Prices vary between Squarespace and WordPress.com: WordPress’ personal website option costs less ($ 48 per year for WordPress.com versus $ 144 per year for Squarespace), but ecommerce option costs more ($ 540 USD per year for WordPress.com vs. USD 360 per year for Squarespace).