How To PLAN Out A High Converting WordPress Website (Don’t Skip!)

Do not just dive into building…….please.

If there was one thing you got out of this post, that’s what it would be.

WordPress is no small feat if you are just getting started. There is plenty of learning and WordPress setup to do for you to come out with a functional website. A lack of a planning can certainly hurt your results and leave you wondering why you even tried.

So in this post I am going to take you through a process that will help you plan out a website that will give back what you put in. You’re going to learn what you need to make a professional layout and navigation that will ensure users find what they need and stay on the website.

This is a bit of what we do here for website planning at MarvelousWeb Media to create powerful websites that double conversions on launch with our redesigns. I want to teach and share this with you to create a more navigable world and help you get better results from your efforts. So let’s get into the details.

We’ll start with why.

Keep and Convert Planning

Oh boy, there are so many quotes related to the importance planning. I’m gonna go with this one:

“An hour of planning can save you hours of doing.”

In my previous article, The Absolute Best Way to Setup a WordPress Site, we discussed how ranking on Google comes down to getting people to click with a great title and keeping them on your page. Those two elements together are all Google needs to know you should stay high up in the rankings.

So what we’ll be doing is focusing on the Keep part. Getting visitors to stay on your website after they click. I am going to outline a process that you should follow for every single page on your website. This is powerful stuff and I wish I could add more sensationalism to it but this is the reality of a website that performs excellently.

If you follow these steps below, you will create a powerful website that converts, ranks, and certainly impresses.

Are you ready to become a website planning expert?

The First and Most Important Steps

We are going to go through each step to plan out a high converting WordPress website that will get you noticeably better results than if you didn’t. You’ll want to follow these steps for each page, with a little more time and effort put onto the home page. My goal here is to lay this all out so well that you find you don’t even need to hire a developer. Because with the right website planning, the results are your to get.

With that said, let’s start with the first step, identifying your ideal customer/client.

1) Identifying Your Ideal Customer/Client

Don’t be scared! I am not going to ask you to create a customer avatar where you need to have a photo of an ideal client, know how many family members they have, what magazines they read and so on. None of that! We’re going to do this is the simplest way possible.

I am going to have you put together a single sentence which will define your customer enough to help you with the rest of the steps and planning. If you don’t know who you’re designing your website for, then you can’t help them.

If you don’t know who you’re designing your website for, then you can’t help them.

Here’s what your identifying sentence should include:

  • Demographic – gender(s) and age should suffice( go into more depth if you need like salary, location, etc)
  • Your Offer
  • Problem you solve for your customer
Demographic – The Who

You want to know these details as they will inform how your website will look, what it will say, and in a lot of cases, even the size of the font and other accessible type elements.

As an example, if you mostly service seniors, then having larger text, clear navigation (no hamburger menus), and an easy to find phone and form is important here. Or let’s say you serve high-end clientele that make over $1,000,000/yr. You might want to have a more sleek high-end design that better appeals to them and does utilize more modern elements that might not be suitable for seniors. So having this clear in your head is critical.

Your Offer – The What

For this section we want to create a nice hefty list of what makes you unique in offering your services and what you do for your clients. To keep it simple, I won’t divide this further and we’ll have things can go within the same list. We’ll use personal training for an example. Here’s what they might list off:

  • I offer plans that they can take home
  • With me, they get consistency and someone that’s going to keep them on the top of their game
  • They get to contact me 24/7 with any questions or concerns
  • We include an online community of all our members to collab and motivate each other
  • We do all this at a very affordable rate
Problem You Solve – The Why

Now, the next element is getting clear on what your ideal customer/client’s problem is. In other words, WHY do they hire you? There’s a couple ways to answer this, so let’s use the example of an personal trainer. People hire a personal trainer because of the following problems (I encourage you to try and think of more:

  • They aren’t happy with their appearance
  • They aren’t eating as healthy as they know they should
  • They don’t know how to to lose weight
  • They aren’t as strong as they’d like to be
  • They want to drop 10 pounds and reach their goal weight.

And the list goes on. Make sure you go through your typical customer’s problems and list them all out. As many as you can. We’ll go over what to do with that info in a sec.

Tip: If you want to take it a step further add to your list, things that they might feel about their problem in their every day like this, “they feel unhappy when they look in the mirror or can’t fit on their old jeans” or “they aren’t as confident as they’d like to be in public”. These sorts of insights and statements are POWERFUL and you’ll learn how to use them in just a bit.

Now let’s put it all together where you can fill in the blanks:

My ideal customer/client is (demographic), they hire me because [their problem].

And here’s an example: My ideal customer is a 30+ year old male looking for workout plans, personal attention, and our tight knit community. They hire me because they don’t feel confident and want to reach their ideal goal weight while gaining more muscle.

With the biggest part out of the way let’s move onto research and competition.

Action Steps:
  1. Define your demographic
  2. Make a list of what you offer and your uniques
  3. Create a list of problems you solve for your clients/customers

2) Researching the Competition

If it wasn’t #2 in my list, I’d say it’s the most important thing. Researching your competition is a part of business and it’s going to go a long way with website planning. If you don’t want to do it, just know that everyone else is. I think it is a very old rule of war, business, society, and so on. If you don’t know what other people are doing, how can you truly compete? It’s a very real question. So what I want you to do is find your top 3 competitors.

And yes, I understand that maybe you’ve just started your business, and don’t have true “across the street” competition yet. In that case just find 3 people that are where you want to be with your business.

What you want to note is what are they doing right with their website. What points are they hitting for similar clientele? What features? What pages?

For this step, I want you to take note of what you like about the website and what you admire in terms of content and point they are making. Write down the things that make sense to you.

Action Steps:
  1. Find 3 competitors
  2. Jot down what you like about their websites

The Page Building Steps

Now we get to the individual page steps of website planning. Here we want to iterate through these options as you work on each and every page. In other words, for every page, you should have the below listed out for it.

1) Key Elements – The Question

Now, with that done, we’re going to do something a little odd. We are going to write a list of things that are simply important.

Let me explain.

Whenever I build out a website, there are things that seriously matter to the website. I break these things down into what I call Key Elements. It means things that must go on the website in some form or another. We’ll organize these “things” in the next step.

Alright, so here’s the brain space for this:

Keeping in mind your demographic that you serve, what you offer, and what their problems are, create a list of key terms, copy, or ideas that MUST go on your website to service your ideal customer/client. i.e. What will people want to know when they browse your page? Why are they on that page? What are they looking for? What kinds of questions might they ask?

I think examples are useful so let’s go with a digital agency home page for this one. Here’s what I might write for a digital agency website. They may need to know…..

  • what our services are
  • why we are different
  • who is on our team
  • our advertising certifications
  • how many years we’ve been around

Now let’s do this for a digital agency PPC (pay-per-click) page. Here’s what people might wonder:

  • Are you a certified Google Partner?
  • Can you handle my budget?
  • How do you charge for PPC?
  • And so on…..

And keep in mind for this step, you can use what clients or customers in the past have already asked you about your business or individual services overall.

So what we want to do with this information, is ensure that as we write content, as we decide on what sections for each page, that we are able to check off all of these things. By checking off, I mean have a solution and answer on the page for everything. Leaving no one to wonder.

It’s not an easy step, but I simply want you to try your very best.

Here’s a few examples. They may need to know…..

  • what our services are – Have a section on your home page that lists all of your services
  • why we are different – Have a section that clearly says what makes you different and why they should choose you. In fact, here’s a great place to utilize the list of uniques you made above.
  • who is on our team – Show your team members and even talk a bit about who each person is what they do

Do you see how you can utilize this info to create a website that answers people’s concerns and clear away any questions or reasons to not go with you?

Action Steps:

(For each page)

  1. Create a list of key elements that provides the likely information your customer will want to know as it pertains to each page

2) Sections – The Answer

We’ve listed out key elements for our page, now we want to structure it.

Sections are how we divide important content on a page. If you have a typical home page, you might have a hero section, services/products section, reviews section, about us section, and contact section. All to help split content and what you want you customer to know into clear digestible areas. So in the key elements discussion above, I showed examples of how you can answer your ideal customer’s questions and concerns with sections. So that’s what we’ll do in this step.

Every key element you come up with needs to fit into a corresponding section that you create. So if you have a key element, you need to make sure it can properly fit into a section on your page. Look at other websites to help you with this step and make sure you are answering a good amount of what you customers might be asking (or have directly asked in the past).

Let’s walk through this together, using a digital agency PPC service page as an example.

We know people will wonder the following:

  • What is PPC?
  • How can it benefit me?
  • What results have you gotten in the past?
  • Are you a certified Google Partner?
  • Can you handle my budget?
  • How do you charge for PPC?
  • Do you serve my industry?

And again, try to recall what customers have asked you in the past about your own services. Really take the time to do this. 

Now looking at the elements/questions above, let’s think on how we can arrange the info. An overview section including the benefits of PPC probably wouldn’t hurt. We should probably show our results in a section. And it seems a section about our certifications and qualifications would help. Next let’s group the budget and industry together as it relates to Who. Let’s end with our pricing structure.

Here’s what it would look like organized:

Overview Section

  • What is PPC?
  • How can it benefit me?

Results Section

  • What results have you gotten in the past?

Certifications and Qualifications Section

  • Are you a certified Google Partner?

Industry & Who We Serve Section

  • Can you handle my budget?
  • Do you serve my industry?

Pricing Section

  • How do you charge for PPC?

Yay! We now have the sections for our page. Now, what you would do next is write your content for each section so that it answers each of the questions you’ve listed out. At this point, you’ve created a very useful page for your customer or client that answers their biggest concerns and questions.

By being the most helpful, you are not only providing the most value but you also are keeping people on your website longer and showing Google, you should stay in the ranks.

Consider Wireframes

You can consider using wireframes to build out your sections. It could prove rather useful but I wouldn’t say you must do it for these steps. It’s a more advanced step in website planning but not necessary for this tutorial.

Either way, here’s what that would look like.


You made it through! I assure you, if you follow these website planning steps as you build your own website, you will stand far out in front of the competition and move your own website along faster than anyone else doing it themselves. Not only that you end these steps, with a THOROUGH list of who your customer is, what they want for themselves, how they feel, and how you uniquely help them solve those problems.

You will be able to use all of the work you’ve done here for marketing, social media, hiring help, and then some!

You are the 1%

I want to end by saying, you are the 1% and they go far. 99%  of people who read this article will not follow it. Website planning is the hard stuff that yields the best results meaning most won’t do it. If you’ve made it down here and have done the steps, you are going to do excellent in your business. So keep at it, utilize this content to the max and I’ll see you next time!

If you have any questions, let me know below. I’d love to answer.

The Absolute Best Way To Setup a WordPress Website (Hosting, SEO, Security, and More)

In this article we will discuss how to setup a WordPress website. This isn’t as much a reference to how to build a WordPress website from start to finish but rather the plugins that should be present for you to start as well as your outlying setup such as hosting and domain. I recommend using this for reference against any tutorials you may watch and use it to keep your WordPress site in check.

The #1 Goal With a WordPress Setup

The #1 goal with a WordPress setup has everything to do with the three mission critical S’s. Those are speed, security, and SEO. In fact those three right there are the main reasons people hesitate to use WordPress. They’ve heard that it’s a slow bulky platform that gets hacked every day. Well, that’s another great reason this article exists. I am going to show you what you need to do to have a fast, secure, search engine optimized WordPress website. 

Getting Started

I’ll keep this really simple, as best I can. I want you to understand what makes a WordPress setup good and what makes one bad. This will help you set up your own website but it will also help when you are following a tutorial or potentially hiring a WordPress Consultant.

With all that said, we are going to dive in and go through the following topics:

  • How you should setup your hosting, domain, and email
  • What you want to avoid on your WordPress site
  • Plugins you should always have
  • Page builder setup and choice
  • The three mission-critical S’s (Speed, Security, SEO)

What We Want To Avoid

First things first, let’s go over what we shouldn’t do. When building out a WordPress website, there are some things that we might want to avoid. I’ve seen many business owners get stuck because of the issues I outline below. They may end up with a slow website or even worse, a broken website.

Here’s what you want to avoid when building a WordPress website.

Too many plugins

Think minimal.

You don’t want a lot of plugins. At the very most you want 10. So always keep this in mind. If you log into a website that someone has created for you, and there’s a plugin for every little thing, they don’t what they are doing, just to be clear.

Limiting or broken pre-designed theme

We don’t want to use a limiting theme that looks like everyone else’s. For example, one that you get for free in the Themes section within the Dashboard (you can nip that habit in the bud right now). Or one that you get from a website like Envato Themes. Unless they are Elementor or another page builder equivalent based, I would not ride. Keep reading to find out what I recommend.

A truly custom theme

I don’t encounter too many developer doing this any more but pretty much this is a custom developed theme made by a developer that you hire and it avoids using plugin while completely limiting your ability to change or edit it.

At MarvelousWeb Media, I use Elementor on most website, Divi on a couple, and Beaver Builder on my earlier websites. With all these page builders, I can, at the end of the project, show my clients how to go in and make changes when they need to. A custom developed PHP theme would totally limit their power and control with their website. It also would limit other people that may end up working on the website.

A Google Analytics plugin

Let’s shed all the weight that we can. An extra plugin CAN do some damage to your speed so if we are using a plugin to simply place a couple lines of Google Tracking code in your header, then we’re doing something wrong. I say don’t bother with Monster Insights or any of the other dashboard plugins. Set up your Google Analytics account and place the code in the header. Most page builders make this easy without the use of a child theme.

Step-by-Step Setup

Hosting, Domain, & Email

The Why

Doing this part right will save you days or potentially weeks or months down the line. The amount of days and months, we have spent helping clients track down domains from runaway developers to deceased developers to finnicky developers. I get clients set up this way, and there is never of question of “who has my domain”, “what is my hosting” and so on. Here’s how you want to do it….

The What


Don’t go with Bluehost. But no seriously, do not go with Bluehost (I’d skip GoDaddy as well). It is promoted a lot but far from the best host. One of my third party favorites right now is Siteground. They made a serious comeback and their server quality is up to par with what someone needs to run WordPress. I don’t recommend shared hosting but even their shared hosting is running fast.

We offer old fashioned one-on-one service, website hosting to our clients at a premium fee.


Purchase your domain from Namecheap. They have the best deal, the nicest, and most reliable interface. You can also get away with professional email for $12/yr. I recommend Namecheap for a few reasons:

  1. You don’t want everything tied up in one place. Have your domain over there, hosting over here, and email right over there. This avoids the hassle of switching if you don’t like the host. It also minimizes risk if something did happen with the host. Let’s say you lost your password or they drop you out of the blue because your cc expired. I’ve seen it all happen so keep your domain in a place you fully control.
  2. You can provide limited access to developers. Let me say this clearly. Developers do not need to transfer your domain and they should never purchase it for you. If you provide access to the DNS through Namecheap, then you are good and so are they. Your domain simply needs to point to the right place so transfers, nameserver changes, and other nonsensical developer requests are not necessary.
  3. Namecheap is cheap. It’s in the name. You will get the very best deals available on their platform for all sorts of extensions.
  4. They have more than domains. I don’t recommend this unless you are a tight budget, but they offer email at a great price and other website services too. If you are looking to get professional email though, I would recommend Google Workspace hands down though I have used Namecheap email in the past for a couple startups.


Google Workspace. That’s all.

Okay, fine….let’s discuss in more detail. Google Workspace costs around $10/mo/usr for me and it is worth every penny. It is a hard winner over cheap cPanel email, Namecheap email which I mentioned above, and……I don’t want to say it……FORWARDING.

My biggest argument when setting up clients is that Google is everything and everywhere. Because you are setting up an email account with them, you now can do quick login with your professional email to sites you may use for professional purposes. You can connect your email to your phone in seconds. You can setup a Youtube channel which uses your professional email. You can access the oh so useful Google Workspace tools like Google Docs and Sheets under your professional email account. All in all, it provides easy access and far reach. I cannot say the same for cheaper email options or it’s “equivalent”, Outlook.

Page Builder

The Why

No code is the way. Especially for beginners.

By installing a page builder, you are shortcutting the design and building process of your WordPress website. It will let you visually build out a website without ever having to figure out a lick of code. The other option is to use Gutenburg, but if I am being honest, I am not too familiar with it but I do know it doesn’t offer the functionality and features of a full page builder plugin. It’s trying though.

The What

My top pick for a page builder is easily Elementor. I have extensively used Divi, Beaver Builder, WPBakery : ( , and even SiteOrigin (if anyone uses that anymore).

Right now I’m testing out a very new one called Oxygen. It apparently outdoes all the above but I will be the judge of that soon!

Elementor beats the other page builders in the following ways:

  1. Highly intuitive column/section navigation
  2. Loads faster than the others when testing the exact same looking website
  3. Better for SEO because less code is used to build the same thing as the others
  4. More intuitive settings for elements
  5. Easy drag-and-drop system which stays presence while not getting in the way of your build
  6. Quick and easy access to page essentials like Featured Image, Title, Template, and so on.
  7. I could go on but that should do it for now.

Elementor’s software is simply better and you will most certainly builder faster with it than with the others.

I’ll do a thorough comparison one of these days.


The Why

WordPress is well known for how vulnerable it is to attack. And it’s true! If you have a plugin that’s a little outdated, your site could be exploited. So a quality security plugin plus the techniques I outline below, will help you to avoid ever getting your WordPress site hacked.

The What


I recommend Sucuri, Wordfence or my new favorite, WPCerber. I love WPCerber because it shows who is logged in, who has attempted to log in and let’s you cancel sessions. Then of course, it offers the basics of a scan and file verification while being more lightweight than Wordfence.

Another thing to note along the lines of plugins, is get rid of any you don’t from your website in general. The more plugins you have, the more likely you are to encounter an exploited plugin. So less is best.


Take backups of your website or ask your host or web designer to provide you with a offline backup. You’ll also want to check with your web designer that they are doing some sort of regular back up for your website. That way if something went wrong and you needed to confidently go back, you could.

Enable Auto-Updates

Make sure Enable Auto-Updates is on for all plugins on your website and ensure WordPress Core is update regularly. The biggest risk with doing this is that sometimes updates break things. But I’d rather your site have a little issue in the front end then get exploited. For our hosting customers, we have this setup but we also back it up with uptime monitoring and weekly manual checkins on the website to make sure everything is running smooth.

Avoid Shared Servers

I recommend going with at least a VPS (virtual private server) at the minimum because that provide more of a barrier between the hundreds or even thousands of people on that same shared server. In the past, I have seen too many client sites get hacked as a result of someone else’s website on that same server being hacked. So avoid the mess and go with a VPS. A dedicated server would be the next best option.


The Why

Maybe the most important term on the internet for business owners and the biggest buzzword too!

SEO is pretty important but I do believe there’s too much hype and confusion over it. Nevertheless, it does matter and I want to help you do the basics for your WordPress website. Improving SEO will allow you to better rank in the search engines and therefore bring in more traffic or leads.

The What

Quality Useful Content

Always the most important aspect of ranking. Make sure your website is helpful and thoroughly helps users find what they are looking for and create engaging content that does this. I have seen it play out time and time again. Your website structure is king.


You’ll want to install RankMath or YoastSEO. YoastSEO has been THE plugin for SEO for a long time now but I’m starting to like RankMath a little bit more.

Install one of these and go through the steps they outline to get it fully setup and maximize these plugins.

Google Analytics & Google Search Console

Setup Google Analytics and Google Search Console for your website. You’re essentially submitted your website to Google when you do this and getting more insight and data into your website and how it performs. Elementor allows you to place code right into the head of your website so you won’t need to install a Google Analytics plugin.

Page URLs

Setup your categories right from the jump and make use of parent and child pages. As an example, if you have services that you offer, make Services a parent page and all your services pages child pages. Your URL would look like this This sort of URL structure is everything for Google to better understand what you offer and where you should be placed. It provides context for your offerings.

Meta Titles and Descriptions

Another one I’ve seen play out first hand. The things REALLY matter. On multiple client websites, I have seen rankings increase simply based on a change to the meta title and description. But if you think about what it means, that sort of result makes sense. Similar to Youtube, you’ll find success when you are able to get people to click on and watch your video. Same for Google Search. You win if you can get people to click first then stay and read what you have to say.

When people search for key terms, they are shown many options. The more intriguing Title and description that best ropes in their keywords will get the click. Then, to keep your rankings, make sure they stay on your page which means you also need to serve them the best through your content. Any SEO plugin will allow you to set these up when you edit a page.

Speed (the simple way)

The Why

Speed actually relates a lot to SEO. In fact, the main reason I care about speed is because of SEO. Most people won’t wait more than a couple seconds for a website to load, which means when they click they aren’t staying afterwards, which means your content wasn’t helpful and you shouldn’t rank for that keyword. So we want to maximize this with WordPress as best we can since WordPress is a HEFTY HEFTY piece of software! (I say this compared to an HTML site like one you can build with Webflow. Those sites seem to load before you even click the button! 😀  )

The What

Remove Plugin & Theme Bloat

I won’t dive into more details on this as we cover it above but make sure to remove plugins you don’t need and themes that you don’t need.


A caching plugin will help a lot with speed as well. It is responsible for saving your pages on someone’s browser so they can be served quicker. Most caching plugins also offer other sweet features like deferred loading, code minification, browser caching, Lazy Load, and more. I use Breeze because it comes with Cloudways (my preferred host for purchasing your own servers). Breeze also has a lot of great features but there are others out there. If you use SiteGround (certain other hosts) you’ll get their own propriety caching software which you have to use anyway.

Server Response Time and CDNs

Servers seriously matter in the speed department. Let’s say your WordPress site loads in 1s but if your servers don’t respond for 2s. Your total load time goes down to 3s. That’s where CDNs come into play. A CDN or content delivery network, delivers your content from servers all over the world so when someone accesses your website in New York, they get faster load times, though your main server may be in California.

And of course, make sure your baseline servers have a good load time to start. A CDN should be an improvement not a fix.

Image Optimization

Images and videos will be some of the content takes the longest to load so having these files minimized will go a very long way in your load speed. I find that most images can also reduce about 80% of their file size while maintaining similar quality. I use EWWWW Image Optimizer for all my client websites. Some caching plugins will offer this however. Some image optimization plugins will offer CDNs too so be sure to fully scope out and minimize what you need. In other words, choose your plugins wisely.

Another option for image optimization is ShortPixel.

Something to Note: If you have videos on your website, serve them through Youtube or Vimeo over your own website. I say, leave the video serving to the platforms that have already mastered it and reduce your website’s own load time at the same time.


So as you can see, there’s a lot that goes into doing a WordPress website right. I wanted to break down what I found to be the most important aspects to the setup after building about 100 of them. Be sure to check out some of the plugins I mentioned and get to building. Good luck! And remember, the more time you take to learn and understand, the better the results down the road.

Let me know if you have any questions below about this setup! I’d be more than happy to answer.


WordPress or Squarespace? (What You Need to Make a Decision Now)

Wordpress vs Squarespace (What You Need to Make a Decision Now)

Well, well, well, you’re ready to get a new website huh? Well, you’re in the right place!

In this article, we are going to discuss everything you need to know about WordPress vs Squarespace and by the end, I promise, you will know exactly which is right for you. There are some main areas to hit on and I believe, once we have gone through them all, you will confidently be able to decide which one is right for you, right now.

Who Am I To Tell You Whether WordPress or Squarespace is Better

Oh, hi there, my name is Hannah. I own MarvelousWeb Media. I mostly build on WordPress but have had the opportunity to build around a dozen sites on the Squarespace platform. I’ve also done Squarespace to WordPress transfers as well. (It’s probably useful to know that these transfers occur when people are ready to get serious about their business and want to upgrade with the help of a professional.)

So let’s dive in, and I’ll help you decide what makes the most sense for you.

Why a Website is Crucial

First, you’re certainly on the right track. You know you need a website for your business and now you are simply deciding what you will use to build it. So congrats! I wish you the best in getting your website up and empowering your business even more.

As a website designer, I know how important a website is. I’ve seen people swear by word of mouth but from the stats I’ve seen first hand and website can ONLY help your business grow faster. I like to think of a website as a free 24/7 salesman working around the clock to get you new clients or customers. So I’d rather have one than not.

You’ll find as you go along your online journey that a website is what it’s cracked up to be. You’ll find it to be a very useful tool as you look to sell your products or services.

Now, let’s talk about the two platforms that we are comparing.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System) that allows you to build a customize a website without any technical or backend knowledge. You can skip the degrees and get right too it!

WordPress powers about 40% of all websites on the internet so it must offer something that these other platforms don’t. As a developer, I chose WordPress as my main way of producing websites because I wanted to be able to do any my client’s heart desires. Whether it’s a custom social media platform, an custom designed ecommerce store, or a complex business website, I have not hit any limits yet.

To put it simply…..there is something for everything with WordPress. Between pages, posts, plugins & themes, you can achieve what you want on WordPress.

What is Squarespace

Squarespace is a online website builder and hosting platform. They have come a long way in over the years and remain the only website builder I recommend if you aren’t going with WordPress and need something cheaper at a lower budget with a lighter learning curve.

Squarespace offers many great tools that you will most likely need with your online journey. They offer ecommerce tools for selling your own products, booking solutions, email, and so on and so on. I find that most people in the beginning of their business will find this useful.

And the thing I find most impressive about Squarespace is that it designs for you, but more on that later….for now, understand, Squarespace is an all-in-one website builder that was created to help you put up a professional online presence fast and easy.

WordPress vs Squarespace

Now the fun begins. I have put together a list of everything that is relevant when choosing between the two. After working with both the platforms so long, you can trust me when I say the points outline below are all that matters. Those points being the following:

Price – which one is most cost-effective and what goes into the total

Ease of Use – which platform is easiest to use and get into to pop out a great, useful website for your business

Skill Required to Design – which one best allows you to go right in and produce a great looking website

Customization – how much you can do with each of the platforms

Best for Beginners – if you’re just starting out which is the most appropriate choice

Now, we dive off into battle, squaring off WordPress and Squarespace.

Comparing What Matters WordPress vs Squarespace



With WordPress the price varies because you might need a handful of things. When thinking about price with WordPress you must consider a few things:

Hosting – $8/mo – Depending who you get it through and the type. We charge $35/mo. Managed WordPress hosting costs a bit more but saves you a lot of setup time.

Domain – $14.99/yr – I HIGHLY recommend Namecheap)

Themes – $0 – You shouldn’t need to pay for a theme. I’d go with GeneratePress, OceanWP and use a page builder plugin instead.

Plugins – $49/yr – This would cover a great page builder like Elementor that comes with templates and let’s you build what you want. It’s a much smarter route than purchasing a limiting theme.

That brings you to a total of $159.99 per year to run a WordPress site. Adding plugins like WooCommerce for selling products, booking, events, or membership portals is free, or at least, I can guarantee you can make it happen for free. If you choose to get more features within plugins that offer these extras, then you still won’t be spending too much. Again, you can usually get away with utilizing these types of plugins for free.


Squarespace is a bit easier. They have a few plans to choose from and you can get add-ons as needed.

If you need the mother of basic, then their personal plan will run you $168/yr. This means no professional email, no commerce, no scheduling, no booking, no member areas and so forth. Each of those options will cost you extra.

If you needed an ecommerce website, your smallest commerce plan will be around $324/yr. This still doesn’t include features like booking or member areas. Each add-on like those will run you another $168/yr each.

So the costs add up quick with Squarespace.

Who Comes Out On Top? WordPress

Ease of Use


You will need to learn some things if choosing WordPress. If you build your own website with this great platform, you will come out the other side a more knowledgeable business owner. I believe it will only help you to have these basic skills. Plus the good news is, there’s so much content about the platform and how to get started with the basics. There are 1-hour “from scratch WordPress build” tutorials in plenty on Youtube. You can tap into any and just get started. Even better to choose one using a page builder, like Elementor.

With WordPress, you’ll need to add the most relevant plugins, learn how to use each, have a good run down of the Dashboard and where everything important is located. If you’re using a page builder, you can totally skip needing to understand code to builder something beautiful.

And it is very important to note, that in my experience there are only 2 reasons people have issues with WordPress (based on what people come to me for after trying on their own):

  1. Using a fully predesigned theme which limits their ability to add or remove what they would like
  2. A lack of knowledge in how to effectively structure a website or online store so that it will garner great results

Using a page builder and following a tutorial or course help exactly with the above. I’d even watch or read a thing or two on creating an effective website. (I’ll have an article and video on that soon!). With that WordPress becomes a bit easier to use. It’s just about knowing the best place to start.


I’ll be totally honest with you. Squarespace is pretty easy to use. That’s what you’re paying for! But as with any platform that gains significant traction, features go up along with complexity. You’ll see Squarespace building services more and more because their platform is getting just a little bit more complicated.

As I mentioned above, I have built Squarespace websites for clients. They paid me to build out a website on their “easy-to-us” platform. So you might see the issue here. They’ve gotten a bit too complex to be known as the easy website building platform.

Even with all that said, it is still easier than WordPress. Everything is under one roof, you don’t need to worry about plugins, you can get what you need in one platform. With their simplified website building tools, it comes out on top again because there is much less thinking you need to do to create a good looking website…..which leads us to our next point.

Who Comes Out On Top? Squarespace

Skill – Ability to build great looking websites


If I sat you down at these platforms and said to you “build a good looking website!”, your results with WordPress would be a bit iffy (unless you’re a technology savvy experience artist). If you’re going my recommended route with WordPress and using a page builder, you’ll find you can do anything. And sometimes that freedom given because of a lack of a pre-designed theme, can lead to bad results aesthetically. And that’s okay! We all have our jobs to do so I certainly won’t hold that against you. It takes many years to become good at web design so that is why it’s okay and that’s why it’s unlikely to hit it out of the park the first time around with WordPress.

Take Note: The biggest advantage you can get is using one of their pre-built templates that come with the Pro version. It’s different than using a theme you purchase because they are built using Elementor. So you’ll have full control over it after it populates your page.


I’d argue that it’s hard to build an ugly website with Squarespace. Because of their “limiting” tools, color integration, and block elements, you can’t do anything less than beautiful. It’s always a great experience to me as a web designer and developer because I don’t even need to create mockups sometimes to build something that looks nice. It’s very easy to design and build in browser with Squarespace. Just try it! You can’t mess it up, it’s amazing!

It’s another reason I much prefer Squarespace over Wix. It is far superior in every way in my opinion. Where Wix has hefty code and not the greatest design hand-holding, Squarespace shines through with lighter weight code for loading and SEO purposes and a design system in place that doesn’t let you go wrong.

Who Comes Out On Top? Squarespace


If you want to stand out online, a unique website is key. Not only do you want the website to fulfill your business needs, you also will do well to have a design that looks great and stands out. With my client websites, I make it a priority to make sure when they are being compared to their competition, they are the ones that stand out! So let’s compare the two and talk about what ‘customization” even means.

Customization: In the case of these two platforms we are comparing, customization means, you want something to happen and you can easily make that thing happen. This could be implementing booking, it mean adding in cool animations, implementing uncommon layouts, displaying content based on certain user conditions, and so on.


I’ll come right out with it, WordPress wins in this category. At MarvelousWeb Media, we design first, then build. WordPress + Elementor has never limited us in implementing the design. So simply put, whatever you see, you can create with WordPress. And this goes far beyond just design, even with function, I have yet to find limits with this platform.


Squarespace is not the winner here. Their platform is limited from design to functionality. You aren’t going to easily create what you imagine. In order to make their platform easier to use while letting you produce a good looking website, they have to limit you. This limits what I can do as developer and what you can do as a user. I’ve personally found it much more challenging to create from design in Squarespace than in WordPress. For that reason, Squarespace doesn’t win to me.

Who Comes Out On Top? WordPress

Best for Beginners

This topic is a bit simpler. It ultimately comes down to willingness to learn and what you want to produce.


WordPress is your choice if you are looking to learn because ultimately no matter what you do, you’ll always be a beginner if it’s something new. But just like playing an instrument, some are harder to get into. So if you are open to a slightly longer learning curve, go with WordPress.


If you choose Squarespace, you WILL have a good looking website up faster and it is that simple. You will understand how to get everything connected quicker than you would with WordPress so for that reason, Squarespace is the choice. WordPress is more powerful and customizable but if that’s not what you need right now, go with Squarespace.

Who Comes Out On Top? Squarespace

The Results of WordPress vs Squarespace

When Squarespace is Right For You

If you are a beginner, (and I’m saying this as a WordPress developer), I’ll recommend Squarespace. But only if you need something very simple, up and running fast, and cannot (important keyword here) afford to pay someone to develop it for you. Squarespace comes with a host of features and gives you the tools to do everything from a membership site to an ecommerce store but if you need something that is fully custom, you’ll find it gets a bit limited.

Let’s break it down a bit:

  • Have a low budget
  • Cannot afford a professional to plan and design for you
  • Want to get started right away and have something up soon
  • You have a strong idea of the informational elements you want to include on your website
  • Technology in general isn’t painful to you and you are happy to learn
  • And again, simple, simple, simple!

When WordPress is the Right Choice

You won’t be limited with WordPress. If you want to place a form over an image in a random place, WordPress has you covered. If you want to hide content to a certain user and display to others, WordPress! If you want a unique blend of a membership, ecommerce, and a blog and need to connect it all how you want, WordPress is your choice. If you want to show 2 phone numbers and a CTA (call-to-action) button in the header on the right side of the menu with a custom top bar, WordPress has you covered. You can do anything. If you need that versatility and are willing to learn how to implement what you want, then WordPress is the right choice for you.

Let’s break it down a bit:

  • Need something custom and unique to you
  • Know that you will pay for a professional down the line
  • Don’t have a good budget and need ecommerce or membership features
  • Open to the extra learning involved to get something simple up
  • You don’t want any limits whatsoever on what you create


If you had to take away just a couple things it’d be the following:

  1. Squarespace is an affordable, easy option that let’s you get a basic informational website up quick. I have found in my experience building well over 100 websites that it’s actually nicer, as a WordPress Developer, to start fresh with WordPress. I and probably many other web developers have their way of doing things and starting off with WordPress, installing your own plugins, can take more time to sync up with our own favorite tools. Leaving Squarespace as a good option even if you want to have a more custom website in the future.
  2. WordPress is great if you’re willing to learn and put in the time to do your website right with this platform. I recommend reading The Absolute Best Way to Setup a WordPress Website to get started the best way. It’s also a great option if you want to put whatever you want wherever you want. If you set it up right and use the correct tools, you’ll have a great head start, and a lot of useful knowledge to show for it. Heck, you might even enjoy it!

No matter what, just know that as you get more serious with your business and start growing, you will almost certainly upgrade to WordPress or an equivalent CMS. Hey, maybe I’ll be your choice for that upgrade : )

Now go forth and choose!

I hope this article is helpful to you! It’s my pleasure to distill all this information that I’ve learned over 10 years working with WordPress. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to let me know below.

Top 10 Free, MUST-HAVE WordPress Plugins (I’ve Used to Build Over 80 Websites)

I cannot stand plugin clutter.

There’s just no need for it. I’ve seen websites with over 60 plugins before and it nearly destroys my soul every single time. I’m in recovery and there’s no better way to recover than by writing an article to help people avoid this pit of despair that can lead to a slow, broken WordPress website.

The reality is that to make a great website you only need a maximum of 10, yes TEN, plugins on your WordPress website. 10 plugins to accomplish everything you want.

So in this article we will review, the top 10 essential plugins that you need for your WordPress website. I will explain, what they are, why you need them, and how to quickly get started with them the easy way.

And stay tuned to the end for a few bonus plugins and themes to really help you build a great site : )

So let’s dive right into it, shall we?

Let’s Explore the Top 10 (and ONLY 10) WordPress Plugins that You Need to Have On Your Website

So first, what exactly is a plugin?

Plugins are tools that you allow you to accomplish your website goals. Whatever custom functionality you think you need for your site, there’s a plugin for it. You need an event calendar on your site? Want you site to load faster? How about adding a Facebook commenting feature? Then there’s a plugin for that.

—Now that that’s settled, let’s move on.

I believe the top plugins should cover everything you need to build a full website from start to finish. What does that mean?

Building a full website means having a few key elements:

  • Speed – Caching abilities and fast loading images because loading times matter
  • Security – Keep visitor information and data safe from hackers while protecting yourself at the same time
  • Efficiency – Tools to build a complete website in the quickest way. We want a great builder and the best WordPress setup

All the plugins we discuss below will cover these key elements and then some. I’ve been using these for a long time and I find they are critical in the building process. Even better, using only a few plugins minimizes your risk of conflict and maximizes your ability to rely on your site to work the right way.

We aren’t just getting a few great plugins to add on to your site, we’re going to review the ONLY ones you’ll ever need on your site! Get these free plugins and you’ll have all the tools you need to create a great, lead-generating website!

1. Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress by MonsterInsights

What It Is

Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress by MonsterInsights is a traffic analytics plugin integrates with Google Analytics to help you monitor website traffic, goals, conversion rates, bounce rates and more. It takes the complexity of the actual Google Analytics dashboard and shows you just what you need within the WordPress Dashboard.

I’d never setup a website without it. For my clients and my own business, it’s so important to see who is coming to the site and can we service them any better to get them to become a customer. This plugin helps me and my team to come up with those answers.

Why You  Need It

Why is it #1 on the list?

Because website traffic and goals are the most important part of every website. Without this information how would you ever know who it coming to site? How would you know how well your website is performing? You wouldn’t! And that would defeat the purpose. I can’t recommend enough, getting Google Analytics setup for your website. It’s the next important step for website optimization.

How To Set It Up  Quickly

Here’s how you do the basic setup but please see my full guide to get into more detail here.

  1. Create your Google Analytics account at
  2. Select Admin in the bottom of the left sidemenu
  3. Click “+Create Account”
  4. Fill in your business info
  5. Now with the GADP by MonsterInsights, you can continue through the setup to connect and choose the account you just setup
  6. Then that’s it! You’ll have you Analytics data showing up on your dashboard. If you don’t see it on your WordPress Dashboard. Simple scroll down the widget and click to drag it up to the top. 


2. Yoast SEO

What It Is

Yoast is an SEO plugin used to customize and optimize your content. It is the top SEO plugin next to All-in-One SEO and offers many great tools to optimize your website for search.

With Yoast SEO, you can do 5 important things:

  1. Customize your search appearance by editing the meta data for posts and pages
  2. Optimize readability of your posts and pages with simple tips and advice to follow to help you along
  3. Set your focus keyword to make sure you blog post contains the right content and amount of keywords
  4. Easily setup the basics that Google and social media platforms, need to understand what your website is about
  5. And a lot more with the Pro Version. Though I find the free version is all the average website needs

I use it to manage my search appearance and make sure my posts and pages are optimized for readability and keywords.

Why You  Need It

SEO traffic is the best traffic. It’s free, it’s effective, it’s POWERFUL. Getting your SEO together should be a priority from the get-go. I can’t recommend enough, taking the time to sit down and build a list of keywords you feel people would use to find your business and content. After that’s done, come up with some potential blog post ideas that you can write about related to your service or product.

I could go on and on and on because there is so much you can do in this arena to grow your audience, but I need to keep it simple….

SEO traffic can make your business and bring you a lot of traffic. There is a lot that be done to optimize your website for better rankings in the search engines. Yoast SEO simply makes this easier to do.

How To Set It Up  Quickly and Work With It

  1. Yoast makes it pretty simple with a full Setup Wizard to get the basics together
  2. As you  work with your posts and pages be sure to always scroll to the bottom and setup the Search Appearance, which means customizing your meta title and meta description and set your focus keyword to get relevant feedback on optimizing your post/page

That’s it!


3. Elementor

What It Is

Elementor is a WordPress page builder. It’s my favorite page builder as a matter of fact! I tried Divi, SiteOrigin, Visual Composer, and theme builders. None truly compare to Elementor in my experience (especially with the PRO version).

Elementor let’s you build your WordPress site visually. Literal drag-and-drop. You your page to be laid out a certain way? You can build it exactly how you want with Elementor. It comes with so many great elements in just the free version and I’ve found that it can do just about everything I want as someone that designs from scratch. It gives me the ability to create freely, knowing I can bring that visual to life.

Why You  Need It

I know the number one issue for individuals when creating their business website it the look of it. You’ll scroll through theme after theme, trying and testing so many, only to find neither one looks the way really want it too.

And I’m with you.

It’s those kind of limitations, I like to avoid.

You can build what you want. You can make it look the way you want it to and guess what? You don’t need a theme to do that and you don’t need to program to do that. All you need is Elementor and one special theme that I mention at the end of this article.

Trust me on this one ( ;

How To Set It Up  Quickly

  1. Search for Elementor and install and activate it on your site
  2. As an example, go to your Home Page under Pages and select Edit With Elementor to officially activate Elementor for that page
  3. You’ll now be in the builder. Here you can literally drag and drop Elements from the left sidebar wherever you need.
  4. When you’re done, click Update!
  5. Now click

I’m actually building a course at the moment where I go into much more detail on building your website from scratch using Elementor. In the course I also review design and how to create a good looking website without any design skill. I recommend checking it out and signing up for the early bird pricing. You can do that here.


4. TinyMCE (now Advanced Editor Tools)

What It Is

TinyMCE has been around for a long time and for good reason. It provides options in the toolbar that aren’t there by default in WordPress. This plugin is so simply useful and now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever made a website without it.

It just makes things more efficient.

Underlining items and setting font sizes becomes much simpler tasks.

It’s easiest to show why. Below I took a snapshot of what the text editor is by default before TinyMCE has been activated and setup and then what it looks like after:

Before TinyMCE:

After TinyMCE:

You can see how many more text editing options are added once you get TinyMCE. They are al very helpful and even if you don’t think you need them now, you definitely will at some point when building your WordPress website.

Why You  Need It

Efficiency. Plain and simple. You won’t need to edit code to do a strike-through or underline (see that? took me 2 seconds!). You won’t need to figure out pt vs px when sizing fonts or struggle wondering if you can highlight text. TinyMCE has everything you need. You’ll save time and that’s a huge win.

How To Set It Up  Quickly

  1. Install and active TinyMCE. It’s always easy to find as it’s one of the top WordPress plugins
  2. Under Settings, you’ll find TinyMCE. This is where you can configure it.
  3. Select the Classic Editor tab
  4. Drag elements to the toolbar that you’ll use. I recommend adding Strikethrough, Underline, Background Color, Toolbar Toggle.
  5. Scroll down a bit and check Font sizes
  6. Finally, click Save Changes and you’re done!


5. WordFence

What It Is

You don’t want to skip this plugin.

Wordfence keeps your website secure. It includes an endpoint firewall, a malware scanner, with everything built to protect WordPress. But honestly, you don’t need to know what any of that means and there’s no need to go through all the details.

There’s only one thing you need to know.

It adds a serious layer of security to your website. I won’t say it completely keeps you protected because there are so many factors that contribute to keeping a website totally secure but Wordfence is a truly great start.

(I’ll detail another method below).

Why You  Need It

It will help you keep your website secure. I’ve seen too many websites get hacked due to poor security ad the website owners always suffer. Wordfence isn’t going to completely secure everything but it would’ve been enough for the cases that I’ve encountered.

To top it all off, Wordfence is a very passive plugin that won’t require much attention from you to keep you website secure. Just make sure you keep it up-to-date and you’re good!

How To Set It Up Quickly

  1. Install and activate the Wordfence plugin
  2. Enter your email to receive alerts about your website
  3. Opt out of upgrading to the Premium version. You can No thanks in the prompt to skip the license.
  4. Now go to Wordfence in the left sidemenu to edit the plugin settings. Since you just installed it Wordfence will take you through a short tutorial showing you around the place. I recommend going through all the steps to learn more about how to use it correctly
  5. That’s it!


6. Really Simple SSL

What It Is

Security has never been more important to consumers. Companies like Firefox and Chrome seem to understand this and take it seriously. You may have noticed the green lock in your website address bar when browsing online. You may have also noticed the warnings that Firefox and Chrome will give you if a site isn’t secure.

What you’re seeing is exactly what Really Simple SSL helps with!

Really Simple SSL is probably the simple and most effective plugin on this list. Once you purchase and install an SSL certificate on your website, it’s important to switch your site over to the secure version.

  • Unsecured sites start with http://
  • Secure websites will start with https://  (notice the ‘s’)

Installing an SSL certificate on your website doesn’t change the http:// to https:// by default, so you need to Really Simple SSL to handle this for you.

Why You  Need It

There are two reasons why you need Really Simple SSL.

First, data is encrypted. When someone submits info on your website you or your website visitors, it will be encrypted which means hackers can’t read it. This is a very good thing : )

Second, a secure website is a ranking factor for Google. This is most likely because people are quick to leave a website that isn’t secure.

Well, you tell me. Do you think people will stay on your site, submit their personal information if they see this….

No sir!

Really Simple SSL will hand the switch from http:// to https:// for you in one click.  It is not a SSL certificate but it will switch all your links after you install an SSL certificate.

How To Set It Up  Quickly

  1. Install and activate the plugin
  2. Now click “Go ahead, activate SSL!”
  3. Then you’re done! Told you it was easy!


8. EWWW Image Optimizer

What It Is

Optimize your images and you speed up your website! Loading speed is one of the top ways to get more people to stay on your website. You’ve probably heard many times that nowadays, a visitor won’t stay on your website if it doesn’t load in less than two seconds. It’s pretty true!

EWWW makes the process easy. You get thousands of free credits when you sign up which will be more than enough for building one website.

You’ll be able to bulk optimize images and reduce their file size dramatically to have them load much faster on your website. All that without losing the quality.

Why You  Need It

It’s easy to use and you’ll need an image optimizer. Our photos are such high quality now which means larger file size. To show beautiful imagery on your website, you’ll need those images to be smaller in size. This will ensure your site loads quickly and website speed is everything!

How To Set It Up Quickly and Use It

  1. Install and activate
  2. You’ll find the plugin settings under Settings in the left sidebar but you won’t need to edit these with the free version
  3. To optimize the images, select Bulk Optimize under Media to optimize all images
  4. Pro Tip: To optimize only select images go to Media > Library then click the list view (see screenshot).
  5. Now you’ll be able to optimize specific images or even restore some back to the original.
  6. That’s it!


8. W3 Total Cache

What It Is

Utilize a cache and speed up your website!

W3 Total Cache utilizes this and much more to improve the speed of your website and I highly recommend it or another cache tool. It enables website optimizing tools and effects and that you definitely wouldn’t want to do yourself all at the click of a button!

Here’s a great article on the top 8 wordpress caching plugins.

Why You  Need It

SEO couldn’t be mentioned more in this blog post. It is just that important. It can account for so much of your sales and business and can ultimately help you get exactly what you want from your website. Whether that be money, sales, exposure, a bigger audience, to reach more people, it can help you get there.

How does this play in?

W3 Total Cache speeds up your website. Speed is a huge ranking factor because Google is in the people business. Ranking is not about tricks and sneaky methods, it’s about people. If people don’t stay on your site to read your content, then you will not be shown. Make your website fast and secure, and you’re on your way to a website that can help you accomplish your goals.

Sounds good, huh?

How To Set It Up  Quickly

  1. Install and active W3 Total Cache
  2. You’ll find the settings for it under Performance in the left sidebar
  3. Select General Settings
  4. Enable Page Cache then Save All Settings
  5. Then you’re done!


9. Classic Editor

What It Is

Classic Editor was the default text editor used for posts and pages before Gutenburg which came with WordPress 5.0 on November 27, 2018. Let’s just say me and many many other WordPress users didn’t take too kindly to Gutenburg. Classic Editor quickly became the top WordPress plugin with millions of installs showing how useful it still is to WordPress users.

Without blocks and other clunky elements, it makes creating posts and page content a much quicker process and you know what that means? Efficiency!

Why You  Need It

Okay, okay, okay. I’ll set aside my bias for a second here. You don’t NEED this plugin. You can live with Gutenburg, just alright, especially if you’re new. It’s just…’s just hard for me personally *wipes tears* to use that over the Classic Editor. Objectively though, the Classic Editor is much more efficient than Gutenburg and that’s why I recommend it.

Also note, there are potential SEO benefits to using the Classic Editor because of the lack of blocks. Gutenburg creates more code that could effect speed and how easily Google can read and index your website. So do keep that in mind.

How To Set It Up Quickly

  1. Install and activate the plugin
  2. You’re done!


10. Disable Comments

What It Is

Disable Comments let’s you…………..disable comments!

WordPress sites unfortunately, get a lot of spam. A LOT. One way to stop this spam is to disable comments. The plugin allows you to disable comments on the entire site or only on certain types of post types like Media, Pages, or Posts.

Why You  Need It

I was asked by a nonprofit recently to help fix up their site, update it, and speed it up. Upon entering their WordPress site, I saw hundreds of thousands of spam posts and comments. I won’t go into the details of how they were hacked and what I did for that right now, but know that once that spam was removed, the website was notably faster. The database would hold all of the nonsense otherwise so let’s nip that issue in the bud right now and disable comments from the start.

If you would really like commenting. There are many other options like Disqus and Facebook that let you add commenting to your site without the spam that typically comes with it.

How To Set It Up  Quickly

  1. Install and activate the plugin
  2. Under settings, select Disable Comments
  3. Everywhere will be selected by default so all you need to do is click “Save Changes”
  4. That’s it!