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WordPress, Squarespace, and Drupal: Which CMS Is Best for Your Site?

By Cale Loken | Business Website

Jul 06
WordPress vs Drupal vs Squarespace

Learn the positives and negatives of each platform

By the end of this article, you will learn about three of the most powerful CMS(Content Management System) and which one is best for your business.

We break down the basics, functionality, scability, SEO, price, user and mobile friendliness of each platform.

WordPress, Squarespace, and Drupal are among the top contenders in content management systems and web building. But does one surpass the other in terms of what is best for your website? All three applications offer similar options but each one is unique in its offering. Here we break down the basics of each software and the benefits each offer for your business.

WordPress Basics

WordPress has two versions available to build your website: a self-hosted version and Hosted WordPress. Both applications are open-source, which means that anyone can easily view and modify it. This means your website design options are essentially unlimited.

Most people use the self-hosted version of WordPress, WordPress.org, which is software you install on your own server or web hosting. You’ll also need to register your own domain with this application. Since WordPress is the most common version used, this is the version we’ll focus on. You can learn WordPress and can build anything you want for your business.

With WordPress you have the flexibility to develop your website to its full potential. You have more themes and plugins at your disposal, which can really help you to customize certain aspects of your site such as your blog. If you are a commerce company or blog regularly, WordPress will help you stand out.

A self-hosted website on WordPress allows you own your content and maintain rights to do anything you want with it including sell it, advertise on it, and monetize your site. WordPress powers more than 30% of the websites on the internet and Google wants more of the internet powered by WordPress.

Squarespace Basics

Just as with WordPress, there are two versions of Squarespace. There is a standard version which is suitable for people who aren’t developers and another version that was created with developers in mind. Most people use the standard version of Squarespace.

The developer’s version acts more like an open source CMS as it allows you to see and modify the code. The problem with this is that you have to have developer skills to be able to use it. As most people these days try to create their own website, this is a problem for everyday laymen.

And, as stated, most people who use Squarespace use the standard version, which is quite limiting in its functionality. On this premise alone, you get much more flexibility with WordPress.

Drupal Basics

Drupal was designed more with developers in mind. If you don’t have the level of experience to accommodate the complex design of the platform, you’ll likely have to pay for it. On the other hand, Drupal is more geared for complex websites and web projects, and also offers a higher level of security than some of its contenders.

You have to think of Drupal as a tool cabinet that has some very sophisticated tools hidden inside. While not inherently user-friendly, you can design your website to be user friendly with Drupal, but a higher level of work and skill is required. You’ll need a few developers to determine which tools are needed to customize your website and handle any potential hiccups along the way.

Website Development CMS

Comparing Primary CMS Functions

WordPress, Drupal and Squarespace are all powerful and flexible platforms to build your website, and each CMS has different strengths and weaknesses. All cater to a loyal fan base but deciding which CMS to power your website can be difficult. It depends on your ambitions, your end goals, and a variety of other factors. But the most important factors to consider are SEO, content management, user friendly, mobile readiness, scalability, and price.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

When your website is optimized for SEO, your search rankings will improve and lead to more conversions for your site, making SEO among the top priorities if you want your website to rank well. The entire point of having a site is for people to discover your brand or service and without solid SEO tactics and features, that won’t happen.

WordPress

WordPress has every other CMS beat on SEO. The range of available SEO plugins cannot be beaten. Many are capable of assessing the quality of your content and suggest improvements to increase your SEO efforts.

WordPress uses alt tags, metadata, rich snippets, and allows you to choose your own host. All of these features improve your website’s accessibility and are loved by search engine spiders.

Squarespace

Squarespace has a strange way of offering similar SEO efforts as WordPress. You can add captions and descriptions which can end up on the webpage. However, Squarespace in comparison to WordPress or Drupal doesn’t hold up in SEO efforts.

Drupal

Most of the SEO features for Drupal are already built into the system. While it does allow you to use external plugins, like Yoast SEO, it isn’t a match for the number of plugins WordPress allows that will give your site a boost.

Content Management

The proper platform for your content will allow you complete control over the content on your site and will consistently crawl your site to ensure your content is consistent with SEO practices.

WordPress

WordPress gives you complete control over your content and also provides you with helpful expert tools so if you need to move hosts, you won’t lose any of your content.

Squarespace

Squarespace limits both content that you can export and has power to remove your content if they find it unacceptable or conflicts with their terms of use.

Drupal

Drupal, as mentioned, is geared towards more complex web projects and will handle managing your content and blogging, however you will need a professional to get it up and running. If you don’t have an experienced developer on your staff already, this is not the platform for your content.

User Friendliness

When you’re contemplating which CMS system to subscribe to, ergonomics may play a big part. This is especially true if you plan to build your own website.

WordPress

WordPress has often been referred to as user friendly, or “out of the box”, meaning there’s a very small learning curve. The interface is simple and clean, making it a perfect choice for someone who isn’t as tech oriented. However, it is worth noting that the additional tools available in WordPress that take more time to learn and utilize properly.

Squarespace

Squarespace offers an uncomplicated and intuitive drag and drop interface. It’s easy to change various elements of design, such as heading sizes, colors, etc. Basically, all you have to do is point and click to make changes.

Drupal

With Drupal, things are not going to be out-of-the-box user-friendly. You have to think of Drupal as a tool cabinet that has some very sophisticated tools hidden inside. While not inherently user-friendly, your website can be designed to be, but it’s going to take work. More than that, it’s going to take skill. You’ll need a developer to figure out which tools are needed to build and customize your site.

Mobile Readiness

Over 80% of connected consumers use their mobile devices to access the Internet. Furthermore, half of all digital media engagement is done via mobile. Overall, your website should offer an optimal user experience across all devices including desktops, smartphones, iPads, and the like.

You’ll want to choose a CMS that offers responsive themes that enable the user to not have to concern themselves with where they view a site. Mobile responsive themes enhance readability and an optimized mobile solution will adjust the layout according to the screen size and resolution.

WordPress

WordPress is optimized for multiple devices, especially, mobile usage by both desktop and mobile applications. WordPress has thousands of themes that are mobile responsive and use a primary domain for both desktop and mobile applications.

Squarespace

Squarespace offers a variety of templates that are mobile ready and responsive, so in this category Squarespace scores just as high as WordPress or Drupal.

Drupal

Drupal mobile sites need a subdomain to run butter and this can have a negative effect on SEO rankings if you choose a Drupal CMS over another. Unlike a site such as WordPress, Drupal does not have a native app which makes it less convenient in regard to editing or updating your site.

Scalability

What makes a website scalable? This refers to a website that has the ability to increase capacity. Since most websites are not a static page, your website should be able to have a scalable platform by either scaling vertically or scaling horizontally.

• Scaling vertically- increase the power of the hardware
• Scaling horizontally- increase the capacity by adding more nodes (having identical copies of your site distributed among multiple machines)

This allows your site to have the flexibility to accommodate growth and extend your site without any problems.

WordPress

WordPress allows you to build a scalable website that is powerful enough to handle any amount of traffic. The WordPress core implements layered software architecture conventions that allow you to ensure maximum scalability.

Squarespace

Squarespace does include the functionality to export your website to a variety of formats. However, you do hit walls with Squarespace. There are simply features or functions that are not achievable through their platform.

Drupal

Drupal powers more than a million sites worldwide and thus can scale well to millions of users if it’s optimized well.

Price

Price is a huge factor in the development of any project. Interestingly enough, the three CMS platforms range the most in price in comparison to several other factors.

WordPress

WordPress is completely free- since it’s an open source platform you pay nothing for the backend. The only thing you purchase is the hosting account from a provider, which is less than $5 a month. However, as your business grows, you will want to potentially invest in managed WordPress hosting like WP Engine, or consider paying for WordPress support.

Squarespace

Pricing on Squarespace is tiered into three levels:
– Basic website of 20 pages/blog posts or less: $10 per month
– Professional website with unlimited pages: $20 per month
– Ecommerce website: $24 per month

Drupal

Drupal is also open sourced, but the price of a Drupal site is dependent on how complex it is. A developer with Drupal experience is needed, so the costs can be high.

Prices can be as little as $5,000 to $50,000 or more. It simply depends on what you require.

Who’s the Winner?

More WordPress from GoogleAll things considered, WordPress is a better option for your CMS. You can really build the kind of website to your liking and any content is yours. The system offers a commanding advantage in terms of SEO tools to help rank your website in the front of the competition. In the end, what counts is ease of use, optimization, and mobile responsiveness. WordPress clearly has mastered these functions more efficiently and is favored by developers and businesses.

There are other considerations I didn’t go into too much depth about, such as the cost factor. But, there are so many variables where this is concerned, that a fair comparison is not feasible.

All platforms are achievable for those who don’t have development skills, but when it comes to an overall analysis, WordPress doesn’t have all the limiting factors. So, any small advantages you might find with Squarespace or Drupal don’t compare to the bounty of benefits that WordPress offers.

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About the Author

Marketing Consultant. Minneapolis. I've worked in digital marketing for several years, mainly working with businesses on overall digital strategy, including building and ranking their websites on the first page in search engines. Businesses want to invest in a successful website that ranks well on Google and is easy to add features, content and can be scaled. The problem is that the average hourly rate for a digital marketing consultant is $150. Many businesses don't have a budget to hire a consultant but could do much of the work themselves or by one of their employees if they knew how. That's why I created the Business Website Blueprint course. An easy, step-by-step guide to empower businesses to build their own, successful website.