Guide to Comparing Web Platform Costs
People sometimes object to investing in Squarespace, or a website in general. “Why do I have to pay for Squarespace when Wordpress is free” is the question I hear the most among that crowd. The truth is that when you break down the cost of Squarespace and other platforms, including Wordpress, no website platform is free. Squarespace, however, provides consistent, comprehensive services essential to maintaining a live website at a cost that makes it super accessible for small to medium businesses.
When it comes to choosing a platform for your business website, you want to look into a few key features by asking the following questions:
Does the cost include web hosting? If so, what are the storage and bandwidth limits?
Does the cost include SSL certification (security/encryption)?
Does the platform have enough native features to let you avoid dragging in third-party products or plugins?
Is the platform usable in a way that is easy for you to manage on a day-to-day basis?
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is the service that allows your website to be accessed online. It’s different from domain hosting, which is the service that provides you with the unique URL with which your site is pulled up. With Squarespace, web hosting with unlimited storage and bandwidth is included in the cost of each plan. Storage is important because it determines how much content you can have on your website and bandwidth is important because it facilitates how many users can visit your website. Unlimited storage and bandwidth mean you can build an enormous blog, online store, image gallery, or whatever your business needs and as many people as possible can visit it. If you had to hire a stand-alone web hosting service, this could cost you as much as a Squarespace plan alone in annual costs - without any of the other features.
SECURITY AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
The web is a crazy place, quite frankly. If you’re going to have any kind of exchange of information between your website and users, you’ll need to have an SSL certificate. This provides the necessary encryption to protect the user's information, whether they’re filling out a form or purchasing a product. The value of an SSL certificate is typically around $99 per year with the additional task of installing it onto your site. With Squarespace, you’re automatically provided an SSL certificate. The cost is built into your plan without any additional work needed.
ASK ABOUT NATIVE FEATURES
Platforms such as Wordpress are “free,” but they’re also limited in what they can provide for you. If you want to have a form on your Wordpress site, you’ll need a third-party product to do that. If you're going to build a store, you’ll need another third-party product. These additional items are known as plugins, and they come with technical and security risks that can destabilize your website and put your customer’s data at risk. They also all come with their own costs so you’ll need to ask about those, too.
Squarespace, on the other hand, has a robust lineup of native features that allow you to embed limitless custom forms for lead generation, build a robust (or simple) online store, host a blog, create image galleries, add video and podcasts, and more. Because they’re all developed by Squarespace, they don’t require any additional cost or work. Moreover, they’re stable and safe because they’re built into the system. In short, native features save you money, time, and a lot of headaches.
PLATFORM USABILITY SHOULD FACTOR IN YOUR DECISION
Unless you know that you will never take on the task of managing your website, it’s important to look at how usable the platform is. Squarespace offers a what-you-see-is-what-you-get editor that removes the technical challenges from building a webpage, updating content, and making changes to your site navigation and so on. Businesses often choose Squarespace because they feel that after the initial development they can handle making small changes on their own. That’s a time and money saver in itself!
WHY PLATFORM CHOICE MATTERS
Ultimately the goal is to have a stable, functional website that can represent your brand online, help visitors learn what they need to know, and possibly have them convert right there on the site. Compromising on any of the features above can put those goals at risk and lead to visitors having some negative brand interactions.