Squarespace and WordPress are two very popular platforms for creating websites. Even though they both aim to do the same thing, they take a completely different approach. Both have their pros and cons, and it’s impossible to give you a definitive answer to which one is better for you without knowing all the details about your project.
In this article, we will try to objectively compare these two platforms by dissecting their most important aspects and features. We hope that after reading our comparison, you’ll be able to choose the one that’s best for you.
Important note! We’ll only be comparing Squarespace to the self-hosted WordPress version, not to the WordPress.com hosting service.
But first, what are WordPress and Squarespace?
WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS) that runs on a web server. It’s a full-blown CMS, where you have total control of every aspect of your website. To make it fully functional, you will need to install a theme and at least a few plugins.
In contrast, Squarespace is an all-in-one website builder. To use it, you pay a set monthly fee that includes everything you need to build and maintain a simple website – themes, hosting, SSL certificate, domain, etc.
Now that we know a little bit about WordPress and Squarespace, let’s dive a bit deeper and see how they stack up against each other.
1. Setup time
To set up your site on WordPress, you will need to learn about domains, hosting, SSL certificates, website security, and more. If you are a complete beginner, it may take you a few weeks to get the hang of it and set up your website.
Squarespace is an all-in-one platform to create websites. You won’t need to stress about any of the stuff we mentioned above as they will provide it all for you. The only thing you will have to do is pick your theme and create content.
Squarespace wins by a long shot.
2. Ease of use
Once a WordPress website is set up, it’s relatively easy to maintain and manage. However, you will need to familiarize yourself with the WordPress terminology and its content editing interface, learn how to install, update, configure and use different plugins, etc.
With the new Gutenberg editor, WordPress introduced the concept of blocks, very similar to Squarespace and other competitors on the market. The content editing experience has become pretty much the same – the content is split into smaller parts, blocks, which you can move around by dragging and dropping.
Squarespace is a simple drag-and-drop page builder. To create the content, you choose a block/element, drag it to where you want it, and drop it. The process of editing content is very intuitive and changing the basic design features, such as font sizes, or colors, is very straightforward.
Squarespace, but WordPress is not far behind.
3. Content management
WordPress has a relatively simple and yet powerful content editing interface. The admin area is fully customizable, allowing you to manage even the most complex and demanding websites.
Squarespace has a beginner-friendly content editing interface that comes with limited options. It’s suitable for simple websites but falls short for large, complex websites.
With its versatility, WordPress wins this one.
WordPress has thousands of free and premium themes. The sheer quantity of themes ensures users will have endless options to choose from and find a suitable theme for any type of online business or blog. At the same time, this can also be overwhelming, especially for beginners.
Squarespace has a fair amount of well-designed themes but doesn’t come even close to WordPress in this department.
WordPress is the clear winner here.
5. Flexibility and customization
With WordPress, the sky’s the limit! You can use it to make pretty much any website. The downside is that you often need technical skills or hire a professional to do that for you.
Squarespace aims to simplify the website creation process and therefore lower the entry barrier. For this reason, it has lots of limitations when it comes to design and other customizations. Even if you know how to write CSS code, there is only so much you can do.
WordPress. Hands down.
6. Extensions and integrations
The real power of WordPress comes from its abundance of available plugins. Whether you’d like to have e-commerce, SEO features, contact forms, display a beautiful photo gallery or show customer reviews, you’ll find a range of plugins to help you do that.
Similarly, you can easily integrate your WordPress website with almost any third-party services provider on the market.
Squarespace is very limited when it comes to plugins and integration with third-party services. In recent years, some developers have created snippets of code to extend the functionality of Squarespace sites, but these are not quite as easy to install as WordPress plugins, and there is certainly not as much choice.
Once again, WordPress mops the floor with Squarespace.
Right out of the box, WordPress offers some SEO functionalities, such as custom URLs for pages and posts, setting friendly URL structure sitewide, add alt text to images, etc. When you combine it with a plugin like Yoast, you get all the SEO functionalities you’ll ever need to optimize your website for search engines.
While Squarespace SEO functionalities are not as comprehensive, they are still good enough to optimize your website to achieve high search rankings. Unfortunately, there are no built-in tools or plugins available to assess how well your web pages are performing in terms of SEO (no keyword density or readability analysis as in Yoast for WordPress).
WordPress, but this is a close one. If you know what you’re doing, you can optimize your website on any of these platforms.
WordPress offers a lot of pricing flexibility. One of the main advantages is that you can choose a hosting according to your needs and budget. The core software is free, and so are many themes and plugins. You can end up spending anywhere from $50 per year (the price of cheap shared hosting, plus domain) up to a thousand – depending on the theme, plugins, hosting, etc.
Squarespace offers a couple of paid plans which are all-inclusive. They all include hosting, SSL, domain, DDOS protection, and more. The Personal plan is the cheapest and costs $16 per month (or $12 per month paid annually). However, it offers only basic content blocks and integration, customization with CSS is not possible, and you can’t have a professional email with your domain. So you will most likely need the Business plan ($26 per month) or Commerce plan ($30 per month).
Both will end up costing you more or less the same amount of money. So we have to give a tie here.
9. Scaling your website
When your website audience grows, you’ll very likely need to scale your website. In other words, you will need to add functionality and move it to a high-performance hosting server to accommodate for all your traffic.
WordPress allows scaling your website to meet all your requirements. You are free to host it on any server that supports WordPress, improve it with plugins, or hire a developer to customize it for you.
If you plan to build a large or complex website, then you should avoid using Squarespace in the first place. You’ll not be able to switch infrastructure (hosting server), and you’ll be very limited in the functionality you can use.
No competition here. WordPress is by far the most suitable option to grow your website.
The final verdict
Choose Squarespace if…
- You don’t want to commit a lot of time, or you lack the technical know-how to build and maintain a website.
- You need a simple website that has to be up and running as soon as possible.
Choose WordPress if…
- You want the freedom to tweak your website to your needs.
- Your website needs lots of functionalities or third-party service integrations.
- You are planning to scale your website over time.
- You are building a larger or more complex website.