How To Choose the Right Website CMS for Your Company

Two people facing a laptop and having a meeting on a coffee table inside a café.


our website may have a best-in-class public-facing design, but it won’t work correctly without a little magic behind the curtain. A content management system (CMS) is the tool that allows you to change and add content, move things around, and make technical adjustments from the back end of your website – in other words, it empowers you to modify and adjust your website’s content as necessary for your brand.

If you start Googling, you’ll quickly see that there are endless CMS choices out there. How do you narrow the field and pick the right system for your site? We’re going to discuss three of the most popular options: WordPress, Squarespace, and Webflow. All three have the same end goal — to provide users with an intuitive, problem-free website experience on both the front and back ends.

So, which CMS is right for your business? We’ll break it down to help you make the right decision.

Information Gathering

Before you decide which CMS to use, there are quite a few things to consider. Some of the starter questions are below, and if you’d like to dig even deeper, we put together a guide for writing a website design RFP that goes into more detail. (You can find it here.)

  • What is your budget for the website build? For ongoing maintenance?
  • What does your business do and how does your website fit into your processes for running your business?
  • Do you plan to expand your business in a significant way in the future? Will your website need to scale with this growth?
  • Who will be editing your site? How much experience do they have and what is their skill level?
  • What third-party tools are you using for marketing? (Hubspot, Salesforce, etc.)
  • Will you need booking or marketing integrations?
  • How hands-on do you want to be once your site launches?

If your site will include e-commerce, here are a few more questions to consider:

  • What are your product offerings?
  • How many products do you have?
  • What is the level of complexity with your products? (Add-ons, variations, customizations, etc.)
  • Do you have a fulfillment process in place? (Will your site builder integrate with that service?)

This isn’t a comprehensive list of questions, but it will get your gears turning in the right direction. Site needs can be extremely unique, especially if your business follows industry regulations like retail, restaurants, or alcohol sales.

With all those answers on hand, here are some of the pros and cons of each CMS:


More than 43% of websites use WordPress as their CMS, making it by far the most used system available right now. Although it started as a simple blogging platform, its open-source nature has helped it grow into a tool that can allow users to create any type of site they want. That level of freedom and flexibility requires more developer knowledge than some of the other platforms out there.


  • It’s completely customizable, with underlying code that’s accessible and editable.
  • There’s a library of almost 100,000 plug-ins available from WordPress and third-party marketplaces (add-ons like e-commerce, SEO, security, and so on).
  • Pre-designed themes are available (some free, some paid).
  • It’s free to use without a monthly plan.
  • Have questions? There’s a large developer and support community online to help.
  • Integrations are available with APIs, payment portals, booking software, Shopify, and marketing CRMs like Hubspot.
  • You’ll have the ability to grow and scale your website (however, you may need to upgrade your hosting platform if your site grows in page count).


  • The Gutenberg editor is a form of a drag-and-drop editor, but if you’re planning to make any site updates on your own, WordPress isn’t intuitive out of the box.
  • Customization requires a basic knowledge of coding language.
  • Frequent security updates are required.
  • Not all plug-ins are created equal, and some can cause SEO and/or functionality issues.
  • Highly complex sites with many images, plug-ins, etc. can cause lag time.


While the WordPress software is free to use, its functionality is limited. To customize your site, you need to add plug-ins, which range from free to monthly subscriptions of $50 or more. Additionally, WordPress is a third-party hosted site, which means you’ll need to pay for your domain name and hosting separately.

That said, this is purely the cost of hosting the WordPress site. Factors like choosing paid themes, customization, development, and back-end maintenance are all at additional costs, which means WordPress could get quite expensive depending on your needs.

The Bottom Line

  • Choose WordPress if your site is either already complex or may grow in the future, if you need integrations for booking or marketing (or something else), or if you want complete control over website design and customization options.
  • Don’t choose WordPress if you only need a simple site without the potential for scale.
  • Don’t choose WordPress until you’ve partnered with an experienced, smart agency team who can not only help with the design and initial build, but maintenance and back-end upkeep as well.


Squarespace is a closed-source program, which means that others can’t contribute to it. It’s also fully hosted, which means that your domain name, hosting, and site build take place within the Squarespace universe. There’s no software to install and it’s extremely intuitive to use, but that convenience and ease of use comes with limitations.


  • The drag-and-drop interface makes design easy.
  • Sites can launch live quickly.
  • It’s perfect for the basics, like call-to-action landing pages.
  • Mobile responsiveness is automatic.
  • There’s a library of gorgeous, modern templates.
  • Everything is integrated, so no plug-ins are required.
  • SEO is integrated, but only with basic features.
  • No coding experience is required; there’s no access to the Squarespace back-end.


  • No access to the back end of the site means that the options for customizing templates or fixing certain issues are limited.
  • The hosting plan can get expensive if you’re paying for features you don’t use.
  • It’s possible to outgrow the builder, and Squarespace sites only work within the platform.
  • Integrations would require some coding knowledge or a third-party service. Not all integrations can work with Squarespace, and results are not guaranteed.


Squarespace pricing ranges from $16 per month for personal use to $52 per month for the advanced commerce plan, and more for enterprise plans. Every monthly plan starts with a 14-day free trial. As with WordPress, this does not include design, development, and ongoing maintenance. Your partner agency will typically provide custom quotes for this aspect of the work.

The Bottom Line

  • Choose Squarespace if you want a simple solution that lets you set it and forget it (unless you need to go in and make small content updates).
  • Don’t choose Squarespace if you expect your website to grow, if you have a large or complex site with multiple integrations, or if you want a customized design.


Webflow combines all of the best elements of Squarespace and WordPress into one – an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface that allows complete customization. Because Webflow tackles design and development in one process, you can change things up as you go. That said, the level of freedom that comes with Webflow also means there’s a steep learning curve.


  • There’s a real-time, drag-and-drop visual builder (which can cut development time and cost).
  • You’ll have the ability to add (limited) customization.
  • Pre-designed templates and themes are available.
  • It allows for team collaboration when building, which can cut development time.
  • There are automatic responsive designs.
  • Animations can be integrated without having to know coding.
  • E-commerce is built in (with the paid commerce plan).
  • SEO is integrated, but only with basic features.
  • No plugins or code are required, but basic knowledge of HTML and CSS is helpful.


  • You need to invest the time and effort to learn how to use it.
  • You’re unable to customize at the code level.
  • There’s no mobile app for quick changes – it only works on desktop.
  • Pricing plans can be confusing and expensive.
  • Customer support is limited to email only.
  • Integrations are limited and require knowledge of code.
  • Like Squarespace, websites built on Webflow are hosted on the platform’s servers and can’t be migrated to another system.


Webflow splits its pricing between general and e-commerce plans. General plans for simple sites are free but slim, with only two pages through $39 a month for business plans up to 150 pages. E-commerce packages start at $29 a month and range up to $212 a month for websites at scale. Beyond that, design and development costs will depend on the complexity of your site and your individual business needs.

The Bottom Line

  • Choose Webflow if you want to be able to design your site in real time, require limited customization, have a website that’s large but not necessarily complex, and need something budget-friendlier.
  • Don’t choose Webflow if you need a simpler site or if you prefer to work out of a template and don’t need customization.

The more you understand your goals, your brand story, and your functionality needs, the easier it will be to choose the right platform. And if you’d like some expert guidance, we’re only a few clicks away. At Hawthorn Creative, our experienced team of website builders has crafted custom, best-in-class sites for businesses of all sizes across the hospitality industry. If you’d like us to take the lead on your project, let’s talk.


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