Whether it’s time to overhaul your aging website, or you’re starting a new project and want to stake your claim on the digital frontier of the internet, when it comes to creating a website for your business, you have options. Probably the biggest decision you have to make is whether to go it alone with a DIY Squarespace site or hire an agency to create a custom build.
To help guide you through that decision, let’s look at what each of those means, and some of the pros and cons of each solution. We’ll also look at cost differences to get started with either option.
What is Squarespace?
Squarespace is a sleek web page builder with an assortment of pre-designed templates available to customize. Squarespace is pretty, easy to use and offers pre-designed templates that are far better than any other website builder out there. It’s a little bit less intuitive than some others but significantly more attractive and professional-looking. Squarespace is best for photographers, bloggers, restaurants, and online stores – businesses that require a heavily visual presence.
Easy to Use: The most important thing about Squarespace is its ease of use. You can easily drag and drop elements onto your pages and then click “save” to lock them into place. There are no complicated coding skills needed to get up and running. Simply choose from the various templates (or start from scratch) and add content.
Pre-Designed Templates: Squarespace has hundreds of pre-designed templates that you can download and install. These templates include everything from blogs to eCommerce sites. They come with all sorts of features like social media integration, SEO optimization, responsive design, etc.
Mobile Responsive Design: If you’ve ever had trouble viewing a website on mobile devices, Squarespace makes it easy to fix by offering a mobile version of every template. This means that if you visit your site using a smartphone, tablet or laptop, you’ll see exactly what it looks like on those devices.
Limited Customization Options: Although there are hundreds of templates available, they don’t offer limitless customization options. For example, you won’t be able to change fonts, colours, backgrounds, logos, etc. without paying extra.
No Website Builder Tools: Squarespace doesn’t have any built-in tools to help you edit your pages. You’ll need to rely on third-party software such as Photoshop or Dreamweaver to make changes.
No Page Layouts: Since Squarespace only allows you to customize templates, you won’t be given the opportunity to create your own unique layouts. Your pages will always appear the same way.
Price: Squarespace can be pricey. A basic plan starts at $12 USD per month but you’re probably looking at the business plan for $18 USD per month. The higher price tag is due to the fact that Squarespace includes additional services such as email marketing, domain registration, hosting, etc.
Limited control: Your website (and possibly your entire business, if you are an online-only business) is tied to someone else’s platform. You are completely at their mercy. If Squarespace changes its terms, increases its prices, sells your data, or packs up and closes shop tomorrow, they essentially control the very core of your online business.
What is WordPress?
If you are considering hiring an agency to create a custom build, more than likely you’ll be looking at a WordPress solution. So what does that mean? Let’s look at what WordPress is, what it isn’t, and why it is the platform of choice for 43% of all websites on the internet. That’s a lot of websites!
WordPress is a free platform that lets anyone build their own website. It’s open-source, meaning that anyone can view the code behind WordPress to learn how it works. Unlike Squarespace, WordPress isn’t just a web page builder. Instead, it’s a full CMS (content management system). This means that you’ll be able to manage all aspects of your site including adding new pages, posts, images, videos, etc. Once you’ve created your site, you’ll also be able to update it whenever you’d like.
Free: As mentioned above, WordPress is completely free. All you need to do is register for a free account and you can begin building your site.
Open Source: Because WordPress is not a closed proprietary system, it has a very active community of third-party developers who contribute additional features in the form of themes and plugins.
Control: With a WordPress site, you have complete control over every aspect of your site. You can change anything from the colours used throughout your site to the layout of each individual page. You own the data, if you want to move your site to another host you simply migrate your entire website to the new host and set up shop there.
Hosting: Hosting is the biggest downside to using WordPress. There are many different WordPress hosting companies available, with a wide variety of pricing models and add-on services. Most providers charge between $5-$10 USD per month to host your site. However, some hosts offer unlimited hosting plans. The best option depends on your budget and needs.
Security: Security is always a concern when choosing a platform to run your website. Fortunately, WordPress has been around long enough to have developed a reputation for being secure. But, as with any software, security vulnerabilities exist. If you’re concerned about this, consider signing up for a premium plan that includes 24/7 monitoring.
Support: Like everything else, support varies depending on the service you choose. Some providers offer great customer service while others leave you hanging. Make sure you understand what kind of support you will receive before making a decision.
The Agency Custom Build
Of course, the question really isn’t just about the platforms, because we’re not going to throw you to the wolves when it comes to WordPress. Many of the pros and cons of the WordPress platform don’t necessarily affect you if you hire an agency to do the heavy lifting for you. The agency understands all of these factors and knows how best to navigate them to create the best site.
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of hiring an agency for your custom WordPress build.
Customization: You get to pick out what you want in your website. An agency can help you decide exactly what you want your site to accomplish. From the colours to the fonts to the overall design, they will guide you through the process.
They’ve Done this Before: You can choose from a variety of themes that are already built. This means you don’t have to start from scratch. Instead, you can choose from a number of pre-built templates. Agencies can even show you their portfolio of previous website projects, or build off any ideas that you might be inspired by from other websites.
Cost: It will usually cost more than a DIY solution. In addition to the cost of the actual project itself, you may also pay for ongoing maintenance fees and future updates.
Time: It takes longer to launch. Depending on the size of your project, it could take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to deploy your site.
Communicating Your Vision: Your site might not look like you imagined. It’s possible that your vision doesn’t match the final product. You may end up with something that looks nothing like what you envisioned.
DIY Squarespace or Agency Custom Build – Which One is Right for You?
At the end of the day, there is really no definitive answer because every situation is different, but I’d like to suggest the following:
If your website needs are extremely simple or you are on a limited budget, then a DIY Squarespace solution might make sense for you. Think of it as a placeholder, and something that you should improve at a later date.
But if you are serious about building a website for your business that conveys your brand identity and improves your customers’ experience then you should probably consider hiring an agency. They can give you a website that you’ll love and use every single day.
What are your thoughts on DIY Squarespace vs. agency custom builds? Do you think that either option makes sense for you? Let us know in the comments below!