WordPress vs Squarespace vs Shopify
WordPress vs Squarespace vs Shopify
For the most part we develop our eCommerce websites in WordPress, that’s the truth and you’ll probably see why by the end of this article.
That’s not to say that services like Squarespace and Shopify are not perfectly valid choices, they are and both boast some real benefits. Still one of the most common conversations I have with people is why we build our stores on WordPress rather than Shopify or Squarespace.
First off, this is not a promotion for WordPress. It’s just an explanation – we don’t work for WordPress and they don’t know who we are.
WordPress is totally open-source – a common misconception is that all WordPress websites are connected to WordPress, they are not. They certainly can be, but more often than not they are hosted on a regular web host, independently. It’s worth noting that 29% of the Internet is built on WordPress, that’s a substantial platform, and there is a reason.
WordPress is a very powerful and very flexible content management system (CMS) that’s totally open-source – which means developers work on different features and plugins all the time, all over the world. We offer comprehensive WordPress management / hosting plans where your WordPress site enjoys all the automatic security features and daily backups of regular hosting, but a live account manager that updates, maintains and tests your site’s features for you on a regular basis. This is especially beneficial to eCommerce websites as they get a highly functional website for a much lower monthly hosting cost, than a site (of the same caliber) based on the monthly price points offered on the Squarespace or Shopify websites.
Working with WordPress and the right designers / developers you can visually accomplish anything and create extremely comprehensive sites, rich in user experience design and capable of accomplishing almost anything online.
WordPress is based in PHP and is totally open-source, which means it’s got the largest collective of developers working on plug-ins and add-ons all over the world at any given time. Which is great! This also means it requires significant security and a dedicated hosting solution site to site to run properly. That said, with the right designers / developers it can accomplish almost anything.
Here are two beautiful sites we built with WordPress:
Shopify is dead easy to use, it’s absolutely insane how fast you can get an online store together. This process just sort of happens online over the course of a few days. So bonus to the store owner user experience! Shopify has that nailed down.
Security is built in so that’s a plus.
Shopify is built in Liquid. Liquid is a template language written in Ruby on Rails, so you’re going to have a slightly harder time finding a good developer if you want to overly customize the site and experience.
The last thing I found a bit limiting was the lack of content pages – while there is capacity to add a blog and even customize the blog to a more specific purpose like press galleries or a lookbook.
I do have to mention the Shopify POS system. This is a very clever, top notch feature. It’s only a useful solution if you have a brick and mortar location selling the same products. If that’s the case though – you can ditch your whole inventory control system and any costly POS system you’re using at the moment, get a fancy iPad, and presto! You have a brand new, easy to use POS/inventory management system that is linked right up with the products on your website.
Shopify is also a stand-alone company. This is one of the biggest reasons we tend to stay away from recommending it to clients. Apart from the fact that developers are expensive; if Shopify as a company goes under at some point – what happens to your store? This is a very, very unlikely scenario of course, but it’s worth noting that if you’re setting up a fully customized shop and hiring a designer and developer anyways you’re going to have more flexible options for where your site will live if you go with a stand-alone CMS like WordPress, going forward. Companies are fallible.
Here’s a great Shopify Example (disclosure – not affiliated with Toronto Creatives): NakedLoft.com – this one is also for sale by the way and asking just under $30,000 for the website and URL part and parcel.
It’s only fair to note that Squarespace was never build with eCommerce in mind, it was built for designers and photographers to show off beautiful work, and it does it really well. Another pleasure to use, Squarespace has a beautiful user interface and a gentle learning curve to it’s mostly visual editor.
Squarespace has a number of ready made templates that are fairly customizable and again, with some help from a designer / developer you can get pretty specific with the design and even customize it to some degree with CSS.
Squarespace again bares the same problem as Shopify, as a standalone company they are fallible.
Squarespace also offers limited functionality customization on the eCommerce side of things at the moment, again this was something they added to their service as a secondary thought – eCommerce was never the intention.
Here’s a beautiful eCommerce store on Squarespace: Xian.Zone
Take what we’ve said here with a grain of salt as we’re obviously partial to supporting the platform we work on most often, in this case WordPress.
We like the idea of the internet being as open as space as possible. Not to say there is anything wrong with service based companies like Shopify or Squarespace, there’s not. They are both great companies and they are both great at what they claim to be great at.
With WordPress however, you have several more options. As I said, the possibilities with WordPress are pretty much endless. WordPress sites can range in price from something rudimentary, to a fully customized site and theme with a fully customized back-end and guided user permissions, which is what we really like to build.
In the case of a proper WordPress site you’re probably going to pay more for development, but you’ll have a more powerful site in the long-run and you don’t have to stay locked into one company’s services.