Where Should I Build My Website? 8 Reasons Why I Recommend Squarespace to Fitness and Wellness Business Owners
updated: Aug 23, 2017
Bottom line up front:
Wordpress is a self-hosted platform. YOU (or someone you hire or employ) are responsible for everything. Big problems can happen when you aren't even aware of all the things you should know and do OR don't have the time or resources to spend on it.
A Squarespace website is hosted by a business (with offices in NYC) who's job it is to take care of a lot of these things that can get you in trouble. By spending less of your day-to-day business time making sure your website is running smoothly, securely and efficiently, you will have more time for marketing your business, teaching a class or just taking your dog for a walk. Win.
Now on to the full post...
You're busy running a studio, you don't have time to worry about your website being hacked.
Choosing the right platform from the start can save you much time and frustration later.
Wordpress? Wix? Live-Edit? GoDaddy?
There are a lot of options out there for website platforms but the absolute best combination of ease-of-use and powerful capabilities—for small business owners who would rather be working in their business than updating software—is Squarespace.
Wordpress is the next best competitor, and since it's the most widely used and talked about platform in the world I thought I'd list out 8 reasons why I recommend Squarespace over Wordpress for yoga, fitness and wellness studios:
1. No Security Concerns
Even seen a frantic facebook post from some poor business owner looking for emergency help because their site’s been hacked? How about a slew of blog posts warning you to immediately remove a certain plug-in from your site because of “security holes” just discovered?
Yep- those are Wordpress problems. Squarespace website owners get to ignore all that stuff.
Why? Squarespace is a closed platform with a strong wall of protection in place on your behalf. With Wordpress, the only wall you have is one you build yourself.
2. No Updating Software
On Wordpress you need to keep the platform software and all plug-ins updated continually (see #1 above) and since they all come from different sources, they update on different schedules. Add any custom work on your site with a child theme, or a plug-in that conflicts the with another plug-in’s updated version and the update process can get hairy (& time-consuming!)
The engineers at Squarespace are continually adding updates to your site while you sleep. You do nothing & occasionally you may even notice a new feature show up (bonus!).
3. Customer Service
Wordpress has none. Any help you find is going to be from individuals helping out in open forums or from hiring a Wordpress pro to step in.
Squarespace has real people, in a real office in NYC, whose job it is to help you. Have a problem? Send a help request & their Customer Care team typically gets back to you within a couple days.
Website down? (this happens at times to everything on the internet.) If you’re using Squarespace, chances are very high the outage is affecting a lot of other businesses too and you can bet the Squarespace team of engineers are already both aware of the problem and are working on your behalf to get your website back up asap. No need to drop all your afternoon appointments to spend the day troubleshooting yourself.
4. Mobile-Friendly (right out of the box)
A mobile-friendly (or responsive) website looks great & remains readable (without scrolling or zooming) on all screens, regardless of device size. In this age of mobile internet usage, it’s pretty much required that your website be responsive.
On Wordpress, some of the themes are responsive, some aren’t. Some require a plug-in to make them responsive and if you’ve ever visited a wonky-looking site on your phone, you’ll know these plug-ins don’t always work perfectly.
Every Squarespace website was built right from the beginning on a responsive grid. If your site is on Squarespace, you simply don’t need to worry about it—your clients will be able to view your upcoming events and book classes easily while on the go.
5. Drag & Drop Design Interface
With Wordpress, unless you can write code, you’re pretty much stuck with the layout that comes with your chosen theme. If you’ve found the A+ perfect theme, or an amazing designer/developer you may be OK with this, but it is limiting when it comes to your ability to add, adapt or update your website yourself.
Squarespace’s layout engine lets you easily insert & rearrange text, images, galleries, forms, videos and more...wherever you want them. It automatically resizes items as you rearrange them too, keeping your site readable and looking good on screens of all sizes, all the time. This makes it easy for you or your staff to make changes to your website yourself.
Yes, the basic Wordpress software is free, but having a Wordpress site is anything but free. Add up a hosting plan, plug-ins, a theme, back-ups, and payment processing and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll be paying way more than you would with the flat-rate Squarespace subscription. Take a look at this article to see a detailed break-down of Wordpress-associated costs.
Your Squarespace website costs between $12-$18 / month. That’s it. This includes hosting, site security, templates, customer support, ecommerce & the user interface. The only other expenses to consider are approx. $13 /year for a custom domain name and the studio scheduling software you choose to use.
Squarespace takes care of things you don't even know to be concerned about.
7. Integration with some Pretty Handy Tools
Yes, you can research, purchase and then add in endless functionality to a wordpress website, but with Squarespace the majority of things you'll need to grow your wellness business are already built in and included with your subscription. No need to pay extra monthly fees or purchase new plugins; Squarespace comes pre-installed with a full ecommerce checkout system, Acuity Scheduling integration, the ability to create landing pages optimized for conversions and promotional pop-up forms just to name a few.
8. Secure Socket Layers (SSL)
SSL is the latest widespread security technology used on websites to protect information that’s submitted online (ie. contact and payment forms.) It’s what gives your website a httpS:// address instead of the old http://. Having a website that has SSL enabled is very important in 2017 and beyond—many customers check for it before entering payment or personal info and Google has recently started annotating search result listings as “unsecure” without SSL. It’s a must-have and it’s standard on all Squarespace sites. This is not always the case with different hosting situations.
Common concerns about having a Squarespace website:
Am I going to be limited in my website design by using Squarespace?
Yes, and no. Squarespace does have a developer platform, so design-wise anything can be built on the Squarespace platform that can be designed on Wordpress—if you’ve got the right set of developer skills. Even without using the developer platform, Squarespace supports code injection, custom css and code blocks so a Squarespace website really can have a lot of custom elements.
That being said, if a one-of-a-kind, totally custom website with complete control over design is your goal (in my experience, few wellness businesses both have the need and budget for such a unique website build), then Squarespace is probably not right for you. You’re going to have a lot easier time finding a wordpress pro to help you with that than you are a Squarespace developer.
Choosing a good template on Squarespace that gives you a lot of flexibility is the best way to give yourself a lot of design options. I recommend any template in the Brine family.
Is Squarespace bad for SEO?
Not at all. In fact, for the average business owner, having a Squarespace website is going to save you from some of the major SEO problems that often surface on a wordpress website.
That being said, if you are in an extremely competitive industry SEO-wise AND you have the knowledge or resources to put toward an aggressive SEO strategy for your business, it’s possible to squeeze a little more SEO power from a wordpress website.
Will it work with my studio management software?
Yes! Both Wordpress and Squarespace integrate nicely with MINDBODY, Tula, Acuity and other scheduling software as well as can be integrated with Constant Contact, Mailchimp and other newsletter service providers.
So, who shouldn't use Squarespace?
If your business is ecommerce based (ie. you sell physical products) I’d recommend looking at Shopify. Although the Squarespace Commerce plan is good and getting better, Shopify is the industry leader in the ecommerce niche.
If your business has huge amounts of content (news/media or your primary source of income is for paid content—not services,) Wordpress is probably better for you. You'll have better ability in the long-run to organize, index and display that content in a wide variety of ways.
If you dream about a unique, imaginative design or very specific effects are on your must-have list, hiring a Wordpress designer/developer team is your best bet. The Squarespace consumer platform does require some compromise.
If you're in an extremely competitive industry for SEO like retail clothing or hotels you’re probably not reading this blog. ;) But if you are...and SEO is your primary plan for marketing, best to use Wordpress and hire a good SEO consultant.
What about Wix, Weebly, GoDaddy and LiveEdit?
Although these other platforms might have some cool features, great marketing or a free starter plan, they really aren't in the same league as Squarespace and Wordpress. That's not to say you can't have a good-looking, functioning website for your business on any of them, but in the long run you’ll find them less flexible, harder to work with and lacking some key features.
Don't just take my word for it…
I’m by no means the only Squarespace fan in the web designer world. Check out more on the Squarespace vs. Wordpress discussion:
We Love Squarespace: Here's Why We'll Never Leave this Platform — podcast episode on the The Strategy Hour Podcast
The Truth about Squarespace SEO on the Elle & Co. blog
Building an Agile Website Presence with Squarespace — an interview I did with Maggie Patterson on the Marketing Moxie Show (it was recorded in 2015 though so when I talk about membership capabilities being a weakness, there are great options now, so ignore that part)
The REAL Bottom Line
I’ve worked a variety of health and wellness small businesses: yoga teachers, yoga studio owners, a medical spa, pilates coach, fitness center, meditation lounge, dentist office, elite athlete training program and a chiropractic office.
Each of these businesses is on Squarespace and able to have an easy-to-manage, easy to grow website that cleanly integrates with their marketing and office workflow. It's the only platform I work with because I’ve seen the advantages first hand for business owners like you.