If you’re looking to easily design, build and manage a new website for your business the Elementor visual page builder for WordPress and Squarespace’s fully managed website builder are two of the most popular options available, but which should you pick?
In 2022 we’re spoiled for options when it comes to building highly functional and good-looking responsive websites. Gone are the days when you needed to learn programming languages like HTML or fork out for expensive desktop software like Adobe DreamWeaver in order to build a professional looking website.
Nowadays websites can be quickly and simply put together using online website building services that offer customisable templates and interchangeable widgets. This has levelled the playing field and lowered the barrier for entry for anyone looking to promote their presence on the web.
But with so many services and packages out there it can be a bewildering experience trying to determine which website building option is going to work best for what you want to achieve. That’s why in this post we’re going to take a look at the pros and cons of two popular services for designing and building websites: Elementor and Squarespace. You can then make an informed decision about which would be best suited to your needs.
Squarespace and Elementor: what are they?
Though these are both designed to help you build a website, it’s important to make the distinction between them that Squarespace is an online service that allows you to create and serve a website from start to finish whilst Elementor is a tool that works with WordPress, the world’s most popular content management system. With Squarespace you login to their website and begin building your site, with everything managed within their online interface. With Elementor you need to already have a domain with WordPress installed, from which you can add Elementor as your visual page building tool.
Squarespace bills itself as:
The all-in-one solution for anyone looking to create a beautiful website. With domains, hosting, analytics and support all included.
Meanwhile Elementor’s developers have pitched it thus:
The platform web creators choose to build professional WordPress websites, grow their skills and build their business.
Though there’s a material difference between Squarespace as a service and Elementor as a tool, in practice they are both used to meet the same goal: to enable users to create and maintain visually appealing websites without needing to code. So let’s run through how they stack up against one another.
Elementor vs Squarespace: which is easier to use?
In terms of hitting the ground running Squarespace offers a simpler and quicker route to putting a new website live. Within minutes you can be signed up and choosing the settings you want for your fresh new online presence. You pick from a selection of templates and effectively start filling in your own text and imagery. As everything is managed in one place there are no complicated settings with regard to where your site is hosted and how it is served to users.
By contrast Elementor is a little more complex to get up and running. Being a tool that sits on top of WordPress, Elementor by itself can’t offer any support in terms of choosing and managing the domain you want to use. Nor can you start using it in the cloud, as you can with Squarespace. You’ve got to already have a hosted domain you can use to install both WordPress and Elementor on to. Thereafter the process of building and editing your website within Elementor’s simple but powerful interface is much more straightforward. But there’s no escaping the fact that the journey to get there is more challenging than using Squarespace.
Of course to the end user this makes Squarespace the simpler solution, but it’s more nuanced if your choice is actually between putting a Squarespace site together yourself and engaging a specialist WordPress development agency to build your site in Elementor, who can then hand over the highly customised framework for you to work with. This gives you the ability to add to and update the site within the simple WYSIWYG Elementor interface, with all of the heavy lifting with regards to design, wireframing, user experience (UX) and overall strategy done for you.
Elementor vs Squarespace: which offers more creative flexibility?
With Squarespace you will always be limited by the total number of templates they’ve built for you to pick from and use. There are hundreds of templates with many customisable features, but the total number of options open to you is ultimately finite.
When you’re using Elementor the options available to you are essentially unlimited. Instead of being beholden to the developer’s library of templates, you can customise every single element of your Elementor-built site from the very first pixel. True, there are popular pre-designed templates you can pick from (as is the case with all WordPress-built websites) but you aren’t forced to use any of these and even if you do choose to, there are hundreds of thousands of templates in existence today for WordPress sites. What’s more any WordPress template you do pick can be customised in so many ways as to be entirely unrecognisable from the original design.
Because WordPress powers over 40% of all websites across the entire world, new themes, templates and plugins are being developed every minute by the millions of active WordPress developers globally. As an open-source platform absolutely anyone can build resources for WordPress, meaning closed fully managed platforms like Squarespace will never be able to compete in terms of raw number of templates and themes available.
Additionally, when you’re engaging a developer to build out your backend you’ve got a great deal more flexibility to specify precisely what you’re after by utilising the infinitely customisable Elementor interface. A good developer will be able to provide solutions to the real world design challenges you give them, whereas Squarespace-designed sites will ultimately have to obey the rules of Squarespace.
Elementor vs Squarespace: which is better value for money?
With Squarespace you pay a monthly fee to the company for as long as you have an active account with them and once you stop paying them your Squarespace website ceases to exist. Currently their plans start at £13 per month, though most businesses will need the £21 per month plan and ecommerce sites start at £24 per month.
For your monthly subscription fee you get domain registration, hosting and round the clock customer support as well as access to all of their templates and site design tools. You can edit and update your website as much as you like for as long as you’re paying for the service.
Elementor meanwhile works quite differently. The standalone plugin for WordPress starts at $49 (approximately £36 at the time of writing) per year and allows you to work with their simple drag and drop editor interface. You would need to pay separately for your domain name and hosting.
However, Elementor now also offer a package with hosting included, which starts at $89 (approximately £66) per year. This means that less technically minded people can have Elementor setup and install WordPress on a newly hosted domain, so if you don’t already have a domain and hosting this makes the process a lot simpler.
What’s more Elementor have a variety of licences that allow use of the plugin across multiple websites and this is where your business can really benefit. If you have your site designed and built by a specialist developer, they can use their own Elementor licence for your website, giving you the flexibility of Elementor’s excellent visual builder without any additional cost to you.
Obviously you would always have ongoing costs for domain registration and hosting, but beyond this your Elementor built site never need cost you more than the annual licence fee, and even that may already have been covered if you engaged an agency to get the site built for you. Meanwhile a site built in Squarespace will always cost a minimum of £156 per year.
If you’re going to be doing things by yourself there’s no doubt that a WordPress-built site with Elementor visual editor on top will cost considerably less in the long term than building and managing a site wholly through Squarespace. But even if you’re seeking to partner with a development agency to design and build your site, whilst the upfront cost would obviously be more, in terms of value for money it’s easy to argue you get a better deal opting for the more bespoke solution. Because Squarespace users are beholden to the Squarespace tools and templates, as well as the lifetime monthly financial commitment, over the lifespan of your site a few quick sums might determine that the initial quality development outlay makes prudent economic sense.
You can find more information on guideline costs for a website in 2022 which helps run through estimated fees for different types of websites you might be looking to build. WordPress and Elementor allow highly experienced web developers to deliver incredibly flexible and unique websites at a fraction of the cost they’d need to charge for a fully bespoke site built from scratch. This is where you gain so much more added value, leveraging the expertise of highly trained design specialists over trying your luck with rigid online templates.
Squarespace vs Elementor: which has the best integrations for ecommerce & CRM?
Whilst Squarespace has an ecommerce site builder its capabilities are limited and bigger operations shifting thousands of products are going to be better served by a more bespoke solution. This is where the incredibly popular WordPress extension Woocommerce comes into its own. Woocommerce powers 22% of the world’s top one million ecommerce sites so you know this is a powerful and flexible solution for running and managing your online store. Quite frankly there are few better options than Woocommerce on the market, short of building your own platform from scratch at great expense, and naturally it integrates fluidly with Elementor. So on this basis it’s a hands down win for Elementor here. Squarespace isn’t designed for serious commerce and is better suited to smaller stores and hobby sellers.
But what about CRM (customer relationship management) integration? If you’ve already got a CRM system in place it’s important to consider whether it will function effectively within your chosen site platform. First up let’s look at Squarespace, which does offer integrations with a number of popular CRM platforms including Zapier, Pipedrive, Zoho and Wufoo. If you’re keeping things simple and you already use one of their supported CRM systems then you’ll be able to connect your site and CRM up fairly painlessly.
With WordPress and Elementor however, your options are far greater. For a start the previously mentioned Woocommerce plugin is also an extremely powerful CRM system for ecommerce sites so if online sales are your primary goal you’re invariably going to be best served by Woocommerce CRM, which you’ll only get with a WordPress powered site. Additionally WordPress features integrations with near enough every major CRM platform you could care to mention including Hubspot, Salesforce, Zoho, Zendesk, Monday, SugarCRM and our personal favourite, Sharpspring.
Essentially this boils down to your site’s primary function and existing systems you’re working with as to which platform will serve you best, but for the sheer flexibility and range of options Elementor and WordPress will be the better choice for most users over Squarespace’s more patchy capabilities.
In some respects comparing Squarespace and Elementor is like apples and oranges, they are fundamentally different propositions. However, just as with apples and oranges fulfilling the same ultimate function of sating hunger and delivering a sweet sugar hit to your body, Squarespace and Elementor do essentially meet the same end goal: design and management of your business’ website. They may have different ways of getting there, but these are two of the most popular methods by which to get yourself a new website online.
The real question is whether you’d prefer a global software as a service (SaaS) provider to look after your website over working with skilled developers using a trusted flexible framework that can grow with your business.
Hopefully the above gives you a good idea of the differences between Elementor and Squarespace, along with an idea as to which would be a more suitable option for your business.
At Preface Studios we have been working with Elementor for many years and find it to be an incredibly flexible and limitlessly customisable platform to design, build and grow impressive, modern websites. If you’d like to know more about how and why we work with Elementor for our clients, why not get in touch with us?
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