CMS and Website Builders: What You Need to Know
When it comes to developing a website, you are spoiled for choice; several intelligent platforms are available to help. However, they all function in different ways and offer vastly divergent features.
The first step in choosing a web development platform is deciding whether you want to use a Content Management System (CMS) or a Website Builder.
A CMS allows users to create, publish and modify web content without code, post-development. However, initially building a website using a CMS can be a complex process and will require some technical expertise. This could mean hiring a web development company like Idea Maker, which will result in a state-of-the-art website.
Contrastingly, a Website Builder is an all-in-one platform that allows users to create websites with little technical knowledge. They are excellent for personal websites and portfolios, however, lack many advanced features.
This article will explore two leading web development platforms – WordPress, a Content Management System; and Squarespace, a Website Builder. (We also compare another website builder, Wix, in this article). If you’re looking to build a website, keep reading to see which platform is right for you.
WordPress Vs. Squarespace
Since its inception in 2003, WordPress has gained a long-standing reputation for being the best web development platform available. It powers over 40% of the internet to date, making it the most popular CMS choice by far. Its reliable nature is why we at Idea Maker choose to specialize in WordPress development.
WordPress is a free, open-source Content Management System that provides users with many powerful features. It enables users with little programming knowledge to upload, edit and modify web content. However, WordPress also boasts several complex features that are excellent for professional developers.
WordPress may be incredibly popular, but it’s not the only CMS or dedicated web-building option available. Another service you may wish to consider is Squarespace. Squarespace only powers 1.8% of websites, but its many features and ease of use make it a viable option.
Squarespace aims to provide users with a clear jumping-off point for development. It does this with a wide selection of first-party interactive design templates and a drag-and-drop UI. Similar to WordPress, Squarespace also offers several web hosting options.
Advantages of WordPress
When first creating a website in WordPress, it will initially have the default theme installed. This theme allows users to develop a basic website with easy access to native features and functions. However, a WordPress site is almost entirely customizable, so you don’t have to use the default theme if you need a more complex site.
New themes can be created using PHP and CSS stylesheets to reflect the aesthetics required of the website. If you don’t have the technical know-how to develop your own theme, templates can be downloaded online as zip files. Alternatively, you could consider hiring a specialist company with an outlined design process, such as Idea Maker, for fully customizable and responsive WordPress designs.
For plugin integration, WordPress is second to none; it has an official directory of over 59,000 plugins that can improve website functionality. Plugins downloaded from the official directory can be integrated with relative ease and without compatibility issues.
With WordPress’ open-source nature, you are not limited to the first-party curated plugin database. If you have the technical expertise, you can integrate plugins from third-party sources such as GitHub. After installation, it’s possible to build on pre-existing plugins to suit your website’s requirements.
External Software Integration
With its versatility and accessible features, WordPress has changed the face of web development. Now, the platform is changing with the recent introduction of the REST API. It unlocks a new way to integrate and communicate between WordPress and external software, revolutionizing WordPress web development.
APIs allow one piece of software to integrate within another. Where the REST API differs is its ability to permit external software to communicate with WordPress by creating a uniform set of standard website communication protocols. As a result, third-party websites can access your WordPress database and build on it, leading to broader technological integration.
Wide Language Compatibility
WordPress itself is built on PHP, but it enables users to develop websites using various programming languages. If you’re well-versed in one language, such as HTML5, you could choose to build a website around this pre-existing knowledge. However, due to WordPress’ wide language compatibility, complex websites can be created by integrating numerous back and front end frameworks.
Combining languages seamlessly leads to a responsive and well-functioning UI, giving web users a smooth experience. If you lack expertise in multiple languages, it may be worth hiring a web development company, such as Idea Maker, for the best results.
Disadvantages of WordPress
WordPress’ fully customizable features result in functional websites that fit your site down to the last button. However, one of the few drawbacks of using WordPress is the complexity of theme development. Without technical knowledge, it is challenging to develop a fully bespoke theme.
You can overcome this issue by downloading and building on pre-existing templates or by hiring a WordPress specialist to develop a website on your behalf. Once you have a fitting theme developed, you can create a powerful site with WordPress.
Advantages of Squarespace
In September 2021, Squarespace released a new selection of tools for small businesses’ eCommerce development. Newly added features include Etsy integration, video classes, and additional intuitive themes.
Etsy integration means users can easily direct customers to their store and retain web traffic. While video classes mean creators can monetize their expertise by selling online tutorials through Squarespace’s membership areas. Together with Squarespace’s pre-existing tools, such as its Google Workspace integration, these features make it an excellent CMS for online businesses.
Google Workspace Integration
Google Workspace, previously known as G Suite, is a collection of business communication software developed by Google. It includes Gmail, Google Meet, shared document drives, and cloud-based services. Google Workspace is used to create domains, manage teams, and integrate with Squarespace.
Integrating Google Workspace with Squarespace enables users to create emails for custom domains and grants access to Workspace features. Once integrated, users can manage Workspace billing through Squarespace and, on eligible plans, receive it free for a year. Using Squarespace in conjunction with Workspace means users can easily manage both their business communications and web content.
54% of web traffic comes from mobile devices, meaning your website must be mobile compatible. However, it shouldn’t just work on mobile; it should be fully responsive with an intuitive design. Squarespace offers intelligent features to make certain of your site’s mobile compatibility.
Squarespace offers ‘advanced mobile styles’ with responsive designs that adjust to the format of any mobile or desktop device. Certain styles feature additional layers of customization specific to mobile. As a result, you can be sure that a mobile site designed with Squarespace will be just as responsive as a desktop website.
Disadvantages of Squarespace
The primary issue with Squarespace is that, despite its drag-and-drop UI, it still requires technical knowledge to use correctly. As a platform targeted towards ‘the average user’, this doesn’t bode well for Squarespace. In some cases, users may even need to hire developers to help with challenging designs.
Despite Squarespace’s collection of features, it offers a lack of marketing tools. This may not seem important at the time of development, but there’s no use in building a website without correctly positioning it to web users. Ensuring on-site SEO is optimized is essential for discovery, and with few options for this on Squarespace, you may encounter low organic traffic.
Finally, using Squarespace can cost up to $54 per month. With a lack of advanced features and no option for extensive development, Squarespace doesn’t offer the value you’d find with other platforms such as WordPress.
Building a website with WordPress means developing a fully customized site that perfectly suits your needs. It’s no secret that there is a learning curve to WordPress, but the results it yields are worth the effort, and there are many online resources available to help. It’s an excellent choice for businesses looking for functionality and upscaling potential.
On the other hand, Squarespace does not have an extensive roster of complex features and core design opportunities. However, its simple drag-and-drop UI makes it a superb choice for basic web development and beginners. Overall, Squarespace is a powerful development contender, but the far-reaching features of WordPress give it a clear edge.
Hiring a WordPress Developer
After reading this article, you may have decided to choose WordPress for web development. If this is the case, it’s worth considering hiring a WordPress developer for the best results. At Idea Maker, we have a team of experts dedicated to developing high-quality websites powered by WordPress.
Schedule a free consultation with us today if you’d like to learn more about how we can help turn your vision into reality.