As a website designer, my goals in sharing knowledge here include helping you understand:
- You have great choices available, when picking your website technology.
- There is no single “best” solution: the right choice for you depends on your needs, personality, tech comfort, budget, and appetite for ongoing involvement. I dig into some of these “know yourself” topics in my free Website Starter Kit.
- Too many of the people giving you advice on how to approach your website are pushing one solution because they make affiliate income from your purchase.
Watch as a video, if you prefer, here (19 minutes)
Or, read on for the written article.
For transparency before I begin:
- I have built multiple websites using all 3 of these, for myself and for clients. I don’t feel qualified to give you an in-depth opinion on other options, although I did try some out here.
- My website (where you’re reading this), is currently on WordPress, although I’ll be moving it soon.
- I’m an affiliate for both Carrd and Squarespace. My reward for referring you to Carrd is about the cost of a coffee + cookie at Starbucks. For Squarespace, it’s considerably more… but my overriding priority is that you get the best tool for you.
Why WordPress might be a good choice for you
- In a nutshell, WordPress is fantastically widely used. There is a massive community of developers (= help available), and an impressive array of additional functionality you can install. Apparently, 60 million websites run WordPress.
- If your business is blogging, and/or you want to publish articles and blog posts frequently, WordPress was “born” for that purpose and is a compelling choice.
- If your existing website uses WordPress, and you kinda-sorta know your way around it, then it might be worth sticking with what you know.
- If you don’t love maintaining your website yourself, but you have a great relationship with someone who does it for you, and you’re OK with what they cost, then you are hopefully in good hands.
- If you find a good deal for hosting and don’t need to pay for additional help, it should be possible to run your WordPress website for around $100 per year.
Why WordPress may not be right for you
- I go in-depth into my WordPress concerns here.
- If you’re building your website yourself and you’re not especially technical, WordPress can be enormously confusing. You’ll face an array of choices as you select hosting, a theme, widgets, and plugins. This is because it’s so versatile, and a worldwide community contributes to its functionality.
- Although the WordPress technology you’ll use is free, you’ll need to choose and budget for hosting so that your website has somewhere to “live”. (This is often where lucrative affiliate commissions are made.)
- Because it’s so widely used with so many disparate pieces, I assert that WordPress is an attractive target for security breaches and hacking attempts.
- If you plan to maintain your website yourself, WordPress needs a lot of hands on care. If you neglect this, things will break, and you run a real risk of being hacked. When something goes wrong, there is no central support team for you to contact, and you may spend hours trying to figure out a solution on your own.
- If you don’t fancy spending the time to keep your website and plugins updated, hiring someone to do it for you can be expensive. Care plan fees of $50 – $100 per month are typical.
- Depending on your tech provider, you might need additional steps to configure an SSL certificate for your website. Without this, your site won’t show as https and many browsers will refuse to display your website to visitors. Some providers charge extra for SSL (although arguably, they shouldn’t).
- You may need to invest in a separate plug-in to get all the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) options you desire.
Nice examples of WordPress websites
- Take a look around this one (built by me) – I will aim to update this post when I move to Squarespace!
- AprilJHarris.com (not built by me) – a lovely blog site.
Why Squarespace might be a good choice for you
- Squarespace is an all-in-one website technology, meaning you pay one price that combines your rights to use the “clever parts” and also the hosting (= online space) your website needs.
- Squarespace facilitates beautiful, modern, professional website pages. If you work on your own, it’s still possible to create an ugly Squarespace website, but, thanks to their design principles, less likely!
- I’d argue there is not as much functionality available as with WordPress, but as a result, Squarespace is easier to learn and to use.
- Blogging, an online store, and integrated appointment scheduling are all available.
- There is centralized support, so if you run into a problem, you can reach out to someone. The Squarespace team also handles security updates and patches on your behalf.
- Your SSL certificate (for https) comes as standard.
- Squarespace guides you through all the important steps for SEO, included in your package.
- There is plenty of choice of professionals to hire, either to create your website, or help you keep it fresh.
Why Squarespace may not be right for you
- If blogging is your raison d’être, Squarespace may be clunky for the number of posts you’ll create, and how you’ll manage them on an ongoing basis.
- If your business is an extensive online store (as opposed to service-based, or selling just a few products) the Squarespace shop feature may not be sophisticated enough.
- If you love tinkering with technology and editing html code (even just a little), you might be frustrated by Squarespace’s efforts to protect you from yourself. There are several design tweaks that require a knowledge of CSS (code) to implement.
- Squarespace websites start from about $144 per year, but some features cost more. Examples include integrations like OpenTable (if you run a restaurant), and promotional pop-ups on your site.
Nice examples of Squarespace websites
Why Carrd might be a good choice for you
- I have an in-depth article here that explains the benefits of Carrd.
- If you want a simple website, with a clean layout and only a few pages, Carrd is a strong contender.
- You’ll start from a template (although you’re not then tied to that choice; everything can be configured later) that makes it easy to achieve a sleek, modern design.
- Because it’s a simple platform, the annual cost of Carrd is stunningly low. The free plan is excellent, but I typically recommend the plan costing US$19 per year so you can add a few more features and use your own domain name. (Many website providers charge you that amount, per month!)
- For its size, Carrd is surprisingly flexible with plenty of useful features and integrations. Many items, like buttons and icons, can be configured in a way that Squarespace, for example, doesn’t offer without coding.
- There is central support available. Carrd is a small company and I’ve found help is both fast and accurately addresses my question.
- Your SSL certificate (for https) comes as standard.
Why Carrd may not be right for you
- Carrd markets itself as a one-page site builder and, although you can use sections to make your website show up with different pages, it really isn’t suitable for creating more than about 7-8 web pages.
- Carrd does not offer a blogging feature. There’s nothing to stop you posting news snippets and linking to articles you’ve published elsewhere, but don’t choose Carrd if your heart is set on blogging on your own website.
- There are no drop-down menus available (because you’re not supposed to create a complex site structure). You’ll create buttons to help your visitors navigate.
- There are some options for SEO configuration, but they’re limited compared to WordPress and Squarespace.
- You ability to analyze website traffic is more restricted, essentially because your site exists behind-the-scenes as one page.
- There are professional designers available to help you, but by no means as many as work with WordPress or Squarespace.
Nice examples of Carrd websites
- Zakiya Fatin (created by me)
- Ms Hannah Sings (created by me)
- Des Mahoney Golf (created by Des, with enhancements by me)
- Don’t let anyone tell you their website platform recommendation is “best” until they’ve asked you about your needs, budget, and appetite for technology.
- For useful prompts and questions to help you assess your preferences on those aspects, download my free Website Starter Kit.
- Because a website is a big undertaking, it makes sense to spend time assessing your options first!
- If you’re considering hiring me to create your website for you using either Carrd or Squarespace, I’m pleased to offer you a free consultation to chat about your project.