Is Squarespace the right platform for your small business?

I've seen businesses fail because they chose the wrong platform for their website. 

As a business owner, you can't afford to have a website that works like an old VW bus. It might look cool, but it will break down all the time, costing you thousands every year just to keep it running. 

From my experience in helping over 600 businesses build a website, platforms like WordPress are like old VW busses that keep falling apart. Everyone knows about a VW bus, and everyone thinks they look cool. But more and more people are realizing that WordPress websites suck up your finances and capital faster than they make money. 

If you are a small business that makes less than $200,000 in revenue per year, you cannot afford to hire a WordPress developer that will charge you $10,000 for a custom web design, and then $2,000 every month just to keep it "running" properly. And that's not including the cost to make major improvements to your website as your business grows. 

Not every WordPress developer will charge you those rates. You'll find people who promise they can build a $2,000 USD website which requires "no maintenance" and that it will be "so easy for you to manage." They can certain build it - but it will be like building a house with cardboard - a complete waste of your time and money. You'll scrap the whole thing in a couple months and have to rebuild.

I have built hundreds of WordPress websites for real clients. I also started out in 1999 building websites from scratch using HTML, and in 2010 I built Adobe Flash websites for clients because that was what everyone was raving about back then until Apple announced they were discontinuing the use of Adobe Flash on all their mobile devices. 

I have seen too many small businesses close their doors because their website depended on a strong website presence. And WordPress was just too expensive to maintain. The costs didn't pay themselves off, or they were a big hinderance. 

That is why, in 2016, I stopped working on WordPress websites entirely, and focused solely on building websites in Squarespace.

So you know, I have zero financial ties to Squarespace. I make money building websites for businesses with Squarespace, but Squarespace (the company itself) doesn't pay me a dime. I wish they did - I have referred probably thousands of clients and non-clients to Squarespace because I felt it was the right thing for their business. If Squarespace paid me $50 USD for every referral I gave them, I'd be on vacation for probably 3 months straight.

Instead, here I am working to try and give you the best possible advice. 

Here's how it goes:

WordPress developers are code people who like endless customization possibilities. They like solving complex coding problems because it's fun. Completing a super complex WordPress website is intense, requires a lot of thought and hard work, and there is a reason they are so expensive. When I was in my early 20s, solving WordPress websites was a challenging and fun hobby. The problem is that complex, fun challenges are not always the right business choice - especially if you run a small business and need to keep your costs low. 

Platforms like Shopify or WordPress require ongoing involvement from web developer to maintain and grow the business. Every time you want to make big changes, or sometimes even minor edits, you will need a web developer to get involved. 

As a small business owner, however, you need the freedom to make edits on your own easily - or to hire employees to manage it for you without paying professional rate. For instance, my hourly rate is $180 per hour. Could you run a business hiring me for 5-10 hours per week and justify the cost?  On a good month, you'd pay me $4,000 USD to stay involved in your website and do a high quality, professional job. But small businesses cannot afford that kind of investment. 

If you built your website in WordPress and wanted to manage it yourself, you'll need to know at least a little bit of code and learn more about web development - which is time wasted where you could have been marketing your business with an email newsletter, blog posts, social media or advertising. 

You need to be hiring an in-house assistant at around $15 per hour who can update your blog posts, change images and text, as well as do other in-house marketing and sales work. Then, you would simply need to hire a web professional every 3 months or so to tackle the occasional complex problem. 

The only way to keep your costs low as a small business is to build your website in Squarespace. Then manage the website yourself or have your office assistant or virtual assistant do the day-to-day simple management at an affordable hourly rate - something that's a real investment, not a liability.  

That's the main reason I recommend to my clients that Squarespace makes the most sense financially and in terms of saving time and being more in control of the marketing on your own. Rather than having to hire a web developer, or marketing expert, which will eat up your finances and savings. Squarespace puts you in control of the tools where you can learn virtually everything on your own, and occasionally get help from experts as needed. 

I personally like Squarespace because it is the most client-friendly platform available. It is the most easy for my clients to add new products, create blog posts, and change things around without having to hire a web developer to make lots of little changes. 

I get a lot of nagging from people who would die for the sake of WordPress. You'll get all sorts of arguments why a WordPress site is necessary - such as "you wont be able to do everything you need to do" or "WordPress is the only site that works for SEO" and things like that. 

Sure, there are benefits to having a WordPress website. But the Cons greatly outweigh the Pros. 

After all, you are running a small business. You are not running a charity to keep WordPress developers in business. 

I write this to defend the business owners. Not web developers or web designers. You need to know which platform is going to benefit your small business, and make a sound investment decision. 

The only reason you should choose WordPress is if you can clearly be willing to spend over $20,000 per year and that investment cost is going to generate $100,000s per year in revenue that is clearly coming from your website, and not other sources. If you are willing to spend that kind of money on your website, the WordPress might be a good option. 

But most small businesses have no place in spending that kind of money on their website. Which is why I always say: go with SquareSpace. It will save you thousands of headaches.