I’m going to compare Squarespace vs. WordPress (org) as well as thoroughly review both of these website building platforms – to help you decide which is a better pick to build websites with.
Squarespace is quite a well-known website builder even to people who don’t have anything to do with web development. I mean, you definitely heard a few YouTubers mention it as a sponsor for any kind of content, and well, that’s all thanks to the massive budget for its marketing.
On the other hand, WordPress.org is also quite a common name that can be noticed whenever you’re surfing the Internet. Well, it doesn’t surprise me. After all, this Content Management System (CMS) is a foundation for more than 30% of websites worldwide.
Considering this is a clash of two very big titles, I wanted to find out whether Squarespace or WordPress is more efficient for building a website.
Squarespace & WordPress
Squarespace is easier to use by a mile. However, ease of use isn’t the only factor to consider when looking for a site builder. To make it easier to understand, think of Squarespace vs. WordPress comparison as a restaurant versus your own kitchen.
Dining at a restaurant requires more money, yet your order is served on a shiny plate. On the other hand, making your own meal requires skill and time though it might cost less, depending on the ingredients.
The same goes for both of these platforms – Squarespace takes care of hosting and maintenance, and the creation of your website is super easy but may cost more than a WordPress setup.
Meanwhile, the WordPress website’s cost combines hosting, a premium template (if you need one), and plugins – all separately. Of course, it also requires a lot of time and skill to reach the best possible result.
In my Squarespace vs. WordPress comparison, I’ll take you through everything I found — from design capabilities and ease of use to business features, scalability, and more. Along the way, I’ll also highlight which platform is better for specific website needs.
WordPress.org & WordPress.com
Before getting into the comparison, it’s good to know which WordPress I will talk about.
If you’ve heard of this platform before, it could have been either WordPress.org or WordPress.com. These two website-building tools are entirely separate from each other despite having the same title. The website building process that they provide is also very different.
WordPress.com is a website builder. This means that, like many website builders, it offers an easier code-free way of creating a site.
The process consists of picking a template, editing it to your heart’s content, and publishing without worrying about hosting fees or other specific maintenances.
On the other hand, WordPress.org is a free, open-source Content Management System (CMS) that provides you with code access and immense flexibility for the site creation process. However, this flexibility has its own cost – your time.
After all, this method requires a lot of dedication as there are skills required to work with code. Also, you will have to juggle all types of website maintenance.
For example, the user must take care of hosting, design, content, and other technical hurdles that – when encountered – won’t always be solved quickly.
So, WordPress.com is a website builder that provides an easy way out for people who want to create a site without having to deal with codes and third-party essential payments. While WordPress.org is an open-source CMS platform that allows immense flexibility yet has a steep learning curve.
Now that we know the difference, I want to inform you that this comparison is between Squarespace and WordPress.org.
Squarespace vs WordPress
Squarespace and WordPress are both popular choices in the industry of website building. However, as they offer quite different approaches to get to the final result – the comparison itself gets complicated.
Both are in the same basket, yet it doesn’t change the fact that they are apples and oranges.
Squarespace, for example, is a solution that can suit many, as it offers excellent beginner-friendliness that even a first-timer can get around its interface.
The same couldn’t be said about its competitor – WordPress. It offers way more flexibility than Squarespace ever will. However, it also sacrifices beginner-friendliness to make this a reality. After all, the more tools you can use – the more confusing the process.
As amazing as that flexibility may sound, it can cost more than just your time. Yes, WordPress.org is a free platform. Still, as free as it is, WordPress alone won’t be enough to have a fully functioning website online.
Many additional functionalities (i.e., eCommerce integration) in WordPress.org come from third-party sources, such as WooCommerce.
These add-ons aren’t always free as well. Let’s not forget that you also have to pay for essentials like hosting providers, SSLs, security backups, and a domain.
Of course, many can proclaim that creating a WordPress website is cheaper than Squarespace, especially when Squarespace doesn’t scream “affordable!” on its price landing pages.
However, with Squarespace’s subscription, you get everything in one place, requiring only one monthly payment. Moreover, it has all the essential site-building features and doesn’t rely too much on third-party integrations.
All in all, WordPress vs Squarespace comparison just ends up being an advanced DIY tool versus a super attractive out-of-the-box solution for building websites.
Of course, there’s so much more depth to this comparison’s conundrum – which one’s better for businesses?; what performs better?; which one’s the better blogging tool?
To answer these questions, let’s dive deeper into this Squarespace or WordPress comparison and find out which website builder will benefit you more.
Ease of Use
When it comes to ease of use, I fall heavily in favor of Squarespace. It’s not that WordPress is hard to use, but it does require a fair bit of technical knowledge to get started. Squarespace’s cohesive menu organization is much simpler to navigate than WordPress’s busy dashboard.
Getting started with Squarespace is ridiculously simple. All you have to do is sign up for the service, then choose a template. You can add your domain name automatically and begin customizing your site.
With WordPress, getting set up is much more of a process. To start, you don’t actually go to WordPress but rather to your host’s cPanel (there are also other ways to install WordPress).
Hopefully, you’ll find a one-click installer that will automatically download WordPress and launch the installation wizard.
If you don’t have a one-click installer from your host, you’ll need to install WordPress manually. This is a bit of a technical process that will require some time to research how to do it properly.
Even after you’ve launched WordPress, your work isn’t entirely done. You’ll need whatever theme you want to use with your site from the WordPress theme marketplace.
You’ll need to upload the theme files to your website if you want to work with a third-party theme.
The same is true for plugins. When you first get started with WordPress, you’ll want to download and activate several essential free plugins like Yoast SEO, WPForms, Akismet Anti-Spam, and more.
Again, you’ll want to devote 15 minutes or so just to get all of the basic plugins your site needs to be installed.
Menus & Organization
WordPress and Squarespace have left-hand menus that consistently display all of your back-end website options. Unfortunately, both navigational schemes are far from perfect, in my opinion.
Squarespace’s menu is clean, with just a handful of top-level pages depending on whether you run an eCommerce shop or not. It also comes from within the site editor, making everything clear and easily accessible.
WordPress’s menu is less organized, with the new menu sections appearing every time you activate a new plugin. It can quickly become a long list of menu items to sift through when you need to do something.
Still, I have to say that Squarespace’s menu layout felt confusing. Not all of the settings were where I expected them to be. For example, the ‘Custom CSS’ option is under the ‘Design’ menu rather than under the ‘Settings’ menu, but you’ll find a ‘Code Injection’ option there.
Eventually, I figured out where everything was, but it took some getting used to. It definitely took less time than getting around WordPress’s dashboard.
EASE OF USE WINNER: Squarespace makes it significantly easier to launch your website and start designing. The process takes just a few minutes. Whereas with WordPress, you often have to wrestle with installing the software as well as themes and plugins, and it’s easy to run into hitches that can complicate the process.
Design & Templates
Squarespace and WordPress are extremely closely matched when it comes to design. Ultimately, which is better depends on what you need.
Squarespace offers an enclosed environment, while WordPress allows you to expand your design tools endlessly.
One of the most significant differences between Squarespace and WordPress is how the two platforms approach templates. Squarespace has a set of around 90 templates.
On the other hand, WordPress has tens of thousands of templates available either from its own library or through third-party providers, which can range widely in quality and price.
I’ll start by saying that it’s possible to find stunning templates for both platforms. In Squarespace, you simply can’t get a bad template. All the options on offer are extremely well designed, not just in terms of customizability but also in how they look by default.
Most templates feature full-width home screen images as well as clean menus. Many also use negative space to give your website or online store a unique look.
What I like about Squarespace templates is that many are designed for a specific business purpose and come with specialized pages. For example, restaurant templates come with ready-to-go menu pages that you can customize for your business.
Similarly, photography and real estate templates have beautiful gallery pages to show off your work or properties.
In WordPress, you can search through around 5,000 themes in the template marketplace alone. On top of that, sites like Theme Forest and Template Monster each have thousands of more templates available for you to use.
It’s simple to find templates explicitly crafted for a particular type of business, for a unique layout, or eCommerce.
There are a few important differences between Squarespace and WordPress templates beyond just the number available.
First, the themes for the two platforms differ in who designed them. The platform’s developers created every Squarespace theme, so they are optimized for SEO, performance, and compatibility.
You’ll never run into a situation in which your Squarespace theme causes glitches with your website’s functionality. Plus, every Squarespace theme is responsive for smartphones and tablets.
While WordPress does have a few native templates, most are contributed by third-party designers. They vary widely in how well they are streamlined for SEO, how the underlying code is organized, and even how compatible they are with WordPress and its plugins.
Not every WordPress theme is actively supported, so you could run into a situation where the latest version of WordPress or your favorite plugin is incompatible with your template.
It’s also important to ensure that your theme is responsive for mobile devices, or else you could miss out on traffic to your site.
Second, WordPress and Squarespace templates offer different possibilities. Squarespace themes are all alike in a way that they each rely on a standardized grid pattern for content layout.
Menus, site styles, and other features may change, but your main page layout will always be the same in Squarespace.
WordPress templates aren’t so constrained. You can find a template that offers a grid layout or one that provides tons of unique call-out content spaces.
Finally, WordPress and Squarespace templates differ in price. Every Squarespace template is included for free with your plan, and there are no premium upgrades to unlock.
Meanwhile, WordPress offers many free templates, but you’ll typically need to pay if you want a template whose quality matches Squarespace’s offerings.
Drag & Drop Editor
Squarespace and WordPress offer drag-and-drop editors. However, WordPress comes with a plugin.
WordPress on its own doesn’t offer a drag-and-drop editing interface and relies only on a simple what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) editor that, at first, can be quite of a hassle to work with. But with Gutenberg, the default WordPress editor, some drag-and-drop options are available.
Meanwhile, the Squarespace drag-and-drop editor is convenient. You can’t put content anywhere on the page since you’re limited to a grid layout. Nevertheless, you can easily arrange content blocks with respect to one another.
Even better, you can use the drag functionality to resize content. The only thing I didn’t like about this editor is that you can only resize blocks in pre-defined jumps rather than having no restrictions.
WordPress editors are much more limited. Using the pages’ customization, you can change only the order of content from top to bottom, and if you use the theme editor, you can customize minor things only – colors, headers, footers, etc.
Content elements are essential because they’re your website’s building blocks. With Squarespace, the content blocks included in the platform are ultimately all you get to choose from to create your site. In WordPress, you have much more flexibility to add content elements through plugins.
That said, I think the content elements available in Squarespace are terrific. There is no website builder I’ve come across with better-looking gallery elements.
Plus, the image blocks are extremely versatile — you can choose from basic images, images with text that appears on hover, poster-style images, images with overlapping text, and more.
Importantly, Squarespace really hasn’t missed any essential content element types. There are calendars, newsletter signup buttons, integrations for most social media platforms, and even integrations for Amazon and OpenTable.
If you do find a need for a content element that isn’t available, you can add it as a widget using an HTML block.
The big difference between WordPress and Squarespace is that you can add a virtually unlimited number of content elements to WordPress through widgets. There are thousands of free widgets available in the plugin marketplace, and thousands more are paid.
This is huge since it makes it possible to add some concrete content blocks or elements that integrate with more obscure online channels.
It’s a little bit hard to compare how WordPress and Squarespace allow you to control the site’s styles. That’s because both platforms vary style customization options based on a theme.
Squarespace lets you apply site-wide changes through its style editor. The style editor allows you to customize fine details about your theme, such as the text size within call-to-action buttons, the space between images in galleries, and the opacity of poster text.
Very few things are off-limits within Squarespace, which I thought was nice to see from the editor.
Your control over WordPress themes varies a lot more since the themes are contributed by different developers. In general, your customization options are much more limited than in Squarespace if you only change things through visual editors.
Using WordPress editors, you can typically change background colors, font styles, and a few other things, but you won’t get fine control over every detail of your theme. The only solution to get the immense flexibility with WordPress is adding custom code to your website.
Both platforms allow you to access the site’s HTML and CSS code. But, WordPress makes it a lot easier to do than Squarespace does.
The main difference is that WordPress gives you a dedicated code editor when you edit your theme’s code. You can see all of your theme’s HTML and CSS files and edit them directly.
In Squarespace, you can’t actually see the code you’re editing. The platform doesn’t publish its themes’ files, so you’re left adding code to a black box.
That means that modifying the CSS of a page in this system can be a trial and error process, with many errors. Squarespace allows you to edit code, but they don’t really want you to.
Thankfully, the Squarespace user community is very helpful in publishing code that works. So, you can pull directly from that if the changes you need have already been accomplished by someone else.
It’s also worth noting that both platforms give you HTML content elements that you can use. These are a big help, especially in Squarespace, because they allow you to create widgets that integrate with an otherwise unsupported website or platform.
Squarespace and WordPress each offer limited mobile apps that allow you to access some features of your site’s back-end. However, don’t expect anything near as fully functional as the desktop editors.
The WordPress app is primarily centered around writing and publishing blog posts on the go. However, you can also use it to edit basic page content (primarily text content) and check on visitor stats.
If you want to run an eCommerce store on the go, you’ll need to check whether your online store plugin also has a mobile app. WooCommerce, one of the most popular WordPress eCommerce solutions, has a capable app both for iOS and Android.
Squarespace has a couple of different apps available to separate the different parts of managing your website. You can access the page editor and write blog posts from the Squarespace App, which is available for iOS and Android.
There is an additional Analytics app for tracking visitor stats and a Commerce app for tracking orders in your eCommerce store.
If you have an international audience for your website, having multiple versions available in different languages can be massively important.
Thankfully, WordPress and Squarespace support multilingual sites to varying extents.
In Squarespace, setting up a copy of your website in another language is mainly manual. You can use a custom landing page, which appears before your language-specific homepage, to let visitors choose their language.
From there, you essentially just use Squarespace’s menu structure to build out two different websites.
In WordPress, you can use plugins to help you create a multilingual site. Add-ons like Polylang, WPML, Weglot, etc., allow you to easily write page content or blog posts in your primary language, then translate them and mark them for the other language versions of your site.
WordPress integrates multi-language support into the platform’s framework by allowing you to tell the software whether there are multiple versions of your website.
Alternatively, you can use Google Translate with WordPress if you’re short on resources. This will automatically translate your website into another language.
The translation may not be perfect, but it’s a much faster option than manually building out a translated site like you would have to do in Squarespace.
DESIGN WINNER: Squarespace and WordPress both offer some very impressive design features. On the whole, I’m a huge fan of Squarespace’s templates, drag-and-drop editor, and style customization options. Yet there are some significant advantages to having thousands of themes for WordPress and the ability to add widgets for almost any need you could imagine.
Squarespace and WordPress have a lot to offer for online businesses. Squarespace is significantly cheaper for eCommerce and offers a versatile suite of selling tools, but it’s not particularly scalable. WordPress can be costly yet may adapt to any business and scale as your company grows.
Importantly, while Squarespace includes its own eCommerce functionality, WordPress is simply a platform that relies on third-party extensions for the job. If you want to run an online business with WordPress, you’ll need plugins to do it.
There are many options here, although just a few dominate the WordPress eCommerce landscape. WooCommerce is an online business solution built by the developers of WordPress.
It’s the Cadillac of WordPress eCommerce plugins with a rich set of features and a high price tag. Since it’s the most popular eCommerce solution for WordPress, I’ll use it as a frequent example in comparing against Squarespace.
Let’s start by looking at what payment providers Squarespace and WordPress can accept.
Squarespace is much more limited here, offering integrations only with PayPal and Stripe. You can take payments in most global currencies via credit card or online. Still, you don’t have a lot of freedom in setting your home currency or finding better transaction fees.
WordPress integrates with virtually any payment provider you can find. WooCommerce alone boasts a list of around 70 different payment processors around the globe.
You can also find plugins to extend your eCommerce store’s payment gateway offerings.
Product design in Squarespace is straightforward, but it’s not my favorite system overall. The problem is that your product information is split across multiple tabs, which slows down the process of adding details for many products simultaneously.
On top of that, I felt like Squarespace was a little behind the times when it comes to dealing with variant options. If you have multiple variant categories, it’s actually not possible to cross out certain combinations that don’t exist. Instead, you simply have to set them as out of stock.
I loved that Squarespace’s product description pages use the same drag-and-drop designer as the rest of the platform. This means that you can really go to town designing your product pages, with videos, signup forms, and other complex content to draw in customers.
Product design in WordPress will vary a lot based on which business extension you use. But, a common theme among WooCommerce and others is that all your product details will be on a single page.
Even better, you get very detailed control over your product options, such as whether gift wrapping is available and what combinations of variants to display.
However, you do lose out on Squarespace’s excellent design features. WooCommerce suffers in this respect, giving you only a rich text editor to describe your products.
Ultimately, this isn’t as important as having detailed control over your product listings, but it’s a definite drawback to me.
Store management is where Squarespace and WordPress eCommerce abilities begin to separate.
Squarespace offers excellent management tools, but they’re extremely limited compared to what you can do with WordPress and WooCommerce.
Both platforms offer the basic tools that you need to manage your business. Inventory tracking works well, although I liked that you can set low inventory alerts using WordPress, whereas Squarespace doesn’t have the same functionality.
In addition, both platforms make it easy to categorize products so that they’re easier for customers to find.
Squarespace and WooCommerce offer advanced selling features like coupons, gift cards, and abandoned cart recovery. However, the pricing diverges quite a bit.
Coupons and gift cards are pricey in Squarespace, whereas it’s much cheaper to get abandoned cart recovery on that platform as opposed to WooCommerce. However, let’s not forget that eCommerce maintenance in WordPress is quite expensive.
Abandoned cart recovery is about where Squarespace hits its limit, though. WooCommerce continues with hugely important features like wishlists, loyalty programs, faceted product searches, and integration across sales channels like Amazon and eBay.
The downside? Adding any one of these selling features can be costly, and complex businesses will likely need several of them.
Another difference between Squarespace and WordPress is how they sell bookings. Squarespace integrates with Acuity to enable customers to book services, while there is a much wider range of integrations available in WordPress.
WooCommerce has its own bookings extension (again, it’s expensive), but you can also find numerous other add-ons to help you with this business function.
As you can see, Squarespace may provide a more limited scope of features, yet it has nearly all of them in-house and doesn’t end up being as expensive as WordPress can.
When it comes to managing shipping, WordPress wins easily. The platform has a huge number of shipping management solutions available as plugins.
Many of these shipping add-ons are designed around WooCommerce, but many are versatile enough to work with other WordPress eCommerce solutions or as standalone tools.
WordPress is particularly helpful for dropshippers. Dropshippers can find plugins, like DropshipMe, Bigly, Spocket, and more, that allow you to automatically import products from hundreds of manufacturers into your store.
These plugins will then take care of shipping your products without any involvement on your end when an order comes in.
In Squarespace, managing shipping is difficult to the point that dropshipping is virtually impossible. You can define shipping zones and per-weight or per-item fees, but the interface feels clunky and inflexible.
Even worse, the shipping quotes available through Squarespace are much harder to parse than the shipping interfaces I tried in WordPress.
Squarespace’s shipping is dismal enough that I’d actually recommend skipping the platform’s tools and using ShipStation instead.
Squarespace has integration with this shipping manager, and with plans starting at $9 per month, I’d say it’s worthwhile if you need to coordinate complicated orders from a Squarespace business.
Mobile Business Access
Squarespace and WordPress make it relatively easy to manage your business on the go.
Squarespace offers a dedicated Commerce app, which is separate from the editing and visitor analytics apps so that you can manage your business without distractions. I really liked this app. It’s relatively straightforward to use, and there’s a lot you can do with it.
That includes not only approving orders but also scanning shipping labels and tracking shipments. You can also manage inventory and edit products on the go, which is a big plus when a flood of orders comes in unexpectedly. You can even message customers through the app and even issue refunds.
How much mobile control you get over your business with WordPress depends on using an eCommerce provider. WooCommerce’s mobile app does everything that Squarespace can do, plus offers real-time push notifications when new orders come in.
The WooCommerce app also has more of an analytics bent than the Squarespace Commerce app, so you can track customers and sales without jumping over to another screen.
However, not every WordPress eCommerce solution is quite as advanced. If mobile access is important to you, check what different online store providers offer before committing to one.
I touched on scalability above, but I think it’s worth calling out again. WordPress is far more scalable for online businesses than Squarespace is. That’s because, with Squarespace, you can’t go past the platform’s tools even if you have money to spend.
With WordPress, you can always find an eCommerce solution with more features and plugins to add to your functionality.
That’s a huge deal if you own a growing business that aggressively plans to capture new customers. Squarespace can keep pace for a while, but it will eventually struggle to keep up with your business’s needs. On the other hand, WordPress can help you charge ahead into the new selling territory.
Just remember, though, that you pay for scalability. Running an eCommerce shop in WordPress is generally far more expensive because you pay for functionality piecemeal, whereas it comes as a package deal in Squarespace.
Especially as you expand into using advanced selling and analytics tools, expect to invest a significant chunk of money into your WordPress store every month.
ECOMMERCE WINNER: Squarespace is an excellent choice for small- to medium-sized businesses. If you don’t need more than what the platform offers, it’s far cheaper than putting selling tools together one at a time in WordPress. However, WordPress offers far more options for growing businesses, complex logistics, and advanced product design.
WordPress has long a reputation as the best platform for blogging. I think that’s still true, but Squarespace comes close.
Both platforms offer incredibly nice, although somewhat different, blog editors. In Squarespace, your blog post is essentially another page of your website. You get access to the drag-and-drop editor and all the content elements available for building your site.
This is terrific because you can easily add galleries and image-text combinations to your blog with just a few clicks. I loved how your blogs transform in Squarespace from a simple wall of text into a versatile page.
In WordPress, you get a fantastic blog post editor as well. But, as I noted above, it’s a lot less versatile than the editor in Squarespace. What WordPress mainly has going for it – is that the blog editor feels like a Word document, which is hard to beat for familiarity and comfort.
Your options for categorizing your blog posts and sharing them across social media channels are largely similar between the two platforms, even if the menus are laid out slightly differently. I didn’t have a strong preference here — both interfaces work well and are easy to interpret.
However, there are a few big things that WordPress has that Squarespace doesn’t. The first is Yoast SEO, which is one of the first plugins that every WordPress user should install.
With Yoast SEO, you get an automatic analysis of your blog post’s SEO and readability before you publish. That way, you can ensure that your post will have a maximum impact on your site’s visibility.
The second is how easy WordPress makes it to monetize your blog. You can add Google AdSense as a plugin and start selling ad space on your blog immediately.
Squarespace allows users to integrate Google AdSense, but it involves code and wasn’t as easy as I expected. More problematically, because it was a code-based integration, I couldn’t really customize settings or opt for a different ad service if I wanted to.
Finally, I loved the fact that WordPress has a media library when it comes to blogging. The library function meant I already had SEO-tagged images that I could recycle into new posts.
With Squarespace, I had to re-upload images every time I wanted to use them for a new post and re-add all the SEO metadata.
BLOGGING WINNER: Squarespace and WordPress are both excellent blogging platforms. I like Squarespace’s blog post editor better than WordPress’s. However, WordPress has a few external features, like content SEO management, better ad integration, and a media library, that make it the preferred choice for blogging.
Options for marketing, SEO, and visitor analytics are virtually unlimited in WordPress. Squarespace is relatively well-matched in analytics and offers a cheaper solution for marketing.
However, Squarespace definitely falls short of WordPress on SEO.
Squarespace includes a versatile tool for producing email newsletters, which can be used to particularly strong effect by online businesses. The email marketing platform offers a number of templates based on eCommerce events like sales and product releases.
Better yet, Squarespace gives you access to the platform’s universal drag-and-drop editor to allow you to customize your emails.
I thought this tool was one of the best features of Squarespace. It’s at least as good as what you’d get with something like MailChimp, and it’s free with your Squarespace plan.
Squarespace does a relatively good job of collecting emails from site visitors since you can place newsletter signup blocks wherever you want on your site.
WordPress doesn’t come with any marketing tools. Instead, you can choose your own adventure through plugins. As you might expect, there’s no shortage of options here.
You can choose from integrations with major email marketing services like MailChimp or Constant Contact. Alternatively, I liked the fact that there are a number of free plugins. However, these are primarily suited for rich-text mailings rather than complex, template-driven newsletters.
Paying for email marketing with WordPress is a big drawback to this platform compared to Squarespace. You can get all the same capabilities as Squarespace’s integrated marketing tool, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find them for cheap.
Regarding SEO, WordPress’s plugins offer a ton of versatility that Squarespace otherwise lacks. This is quite big since you can put WordPress SEO add-ons to work to help your website or online store get discovered.
You’ll find a ton more helpful and often free tools for improving your WordPress website’s SEO. For example, the Broken Link Checker plugin ensures that your links are up to date. At the same time, the All in One SEO Pack is another comprehensive add-on for optimizing your site’s visibility.
Squarespace doesn’t have anything close to these tools. Unfortunately, that can make it hard to find the root of the problem if your site isn’t getting the traffic you expect.
Still, Squarespace does a decent job of SEO with the contained platform. You can add meta descriptions and titles to individual products and easily add alt-text to images throughout your site.
Squarespace offers an excellent analytics tool, while there are tons of analytics offerings for WordPress websites and eCommerce stores.
I loved that Squarespace analytics emphasizes your purchasing funnel for online businesses. That way, you can immediately see where you may be losing out on sales and take steps to fix the problem.
Even better, you can investigate details about where your visitors are coming from and what they’re looking at.
This is particularly important if you’re running an advertising campaign with Google or Facebook since you can ground-truth those platforms’ reporting figures for referrals and actually see whether those visitors are converting into customers.
WordPress has plenty of plugins that match this analytics functionality, but you typically have to pay for more detailed data.
For example, you can get information about site visitors and your purchasing funnel from WooCommerce for free. Although, if you want to determine what products are your best sellers or which pages site visitors are spending the most time on, you’ll need to pay.
Honestly, I think you’d have a hard time finding a better analytics app for WordPress than what Squarespace already offers. The platform really nailed this component, and there’s not much that could be improved, in my opinion.
Overall, I preferred Squarespace’s solutions for analytics and marketing but WordPress for SEO. Squarespace’s tools aren’t necessarily better than what you could find in WordPress, but they’re way cheaper considering that they are included with your website. Although, after investing some time, you can find workarounds for Squarespace to some extent.
Apps & Plugins
WordPress is a platform designed to be built on. Apps and plugins are at the very center of this software. WordPress itself doesn’t have very much functionality, but that’s intentional so that you can add whatever functions you need and none of the functions you don’t.
I’ve already talked a lot about plugins you can use to add everything from content elements to eCommerce and SEO management. Nevertheless, there’s so much more to plugins than just those things.
In reality, there is a plugin for virtually anything you could want to accomplish online or any platform you could hope to integrate with.
The place to start when looking for an extension is in WordPress itself. The platform has a community-contributed plugin marketplace with more than 60,000 plugins.
If you can’t find what you need in there, you can also find WordPress plugins offered outside the platform.
If you find a function for which a plugin doesn’t already exist, you can even design your own app or hire a WordPress developer to build one for you. That’s the beauty of an open-source platform.
Still, there are some things to be aware of how WordPress plugins work. Most of them are designed to add functionality rather than change how WordPress functions.
So, if you don’t like something about your WordPress theme or the WordPress content management system, plugins may not be able to solve the problem.
On top of that, plugins aren’t always free. Many are, and it’s easy to build a very powerful website without paying for a single plugin. But if you need advanced integrations or an online store, you should expect to pay sooner or later.
Many extensions charge a one-time fee, although others, like SEO and security add-ons, charge monthly or yearly. Prices range widely, from a few dollars to hundreds per year.
Squarespace is on the other end of the spectrum regarding extensions. The platform is designed to be a closed ecosystem.
However, it recently expanded its horizons for the lack of functionalities it may have and added extensions.
This is a big deal, especially if you want to grow your website into the future. Squarespace itself can handle any size website, and it supports a lot of custom content.
Moreover, recently, it worked its way around the features it lacks and finally started offering extensions as a solution.
WordPress is an open-source platform designed to be extensively augmented with plugins. That dramatically increases the scope and functionality of the software, although many plugins come at a price.
Squarespace, on the other hand, catches up to WordPress with its recently added feature that allows you to use third-party integrations to back up the platform’s downsides.
BUSINESS WINNER: Squarespace is a better choice for small-to-medium businesses as it has many features in-house and balances out the lack of specific tools with its extensions. However, WordPress has a plugin for nearly any functionality you may think of. It just might end up costing way more.
Security & Maintenance
When it comes to securing and maintaining your website, choosing between WordPress or Squarespace is consequential. With Squarespace, most security measures and updates are hidden from view, and you never have to worry about them. With WordPress, you are responsible for protecting your site and keeping it updated.
Squarespace includes security and maintenance as part of every plan. You never have to think about taking steps to secure your website content and visitors’ accounts, even if you have an online store where they enter personal information and credit card data. The platform takes care of all of that for you.
For example, Squarespace transitioned to the new GDPR rules without much of a hitch. The company did the work needed to update its terms of service and data agreements.
Individual site owners only needed to ensure that their custom terms of service to users didn’t violate the GDPR, and Squarespace offered support for that process.
WordPress, in contrast, leaves all of this up to you. Your security depends partly on your hosting provider, but you’ll more likely need to pay for security plugins like Sucuri to defend your site against malicious attacks.
You will also need to invest in an SSL and connect it to your domain to protect website visitors. If you don’t, many visitors’ browsers will actually warn them about your site being unsafe.
Moreover, maintaining your WordPress site falls on you as well. You must routinely check for updates to the software, your theme, and your plugins and decide what to update and when.
Keep in mind that changes to the WordPress software can render your theme or plugins incompatible, which can cause anything from a minor inconvenience to an entire site blackout.
Another thing to consider is who owns your site content. Thankfully, you own all your own content with either Squarespace or WordPress. There are limitations on transferring themes for both platforms, but all of your site text and images remain your own.
Furthermore, both platforms offer export functions if you want to backup or migrate your website.
WINNER: Squarespace and WordPress take opposite approaches to security and maintenance. With Squarespace, everything is behind the scenes. With WordPress, you must take an active approach to maintain your site. This includes paying for apps that can help with security or streamline the updating process.
One huge difference between WordPress and Squarespace is in customer support. WordPress has no customer support or centralized development team. Squarespace promises 24/7 email support and instant live chat support 16 hours a day.
This probably won’t sway you one way or another, though, especially since you can find answers to most questions online for either platform. WordPress has a user community that is millions strong, and it’s an extremely supportive community.
There are numerous forums for WordPress website owners, in addition to the official WordPress user forum, where you can ask a question or find answers to help solve your issue.
The same is true for Squarespace. The platform has a centralized forum with answers from both individual users and Squarespace moderators. It also has an extraordinarily detailed online guide to walk you through the most frequently asked questions.
WINNER: Customer support probably won’t determine whether WordPress or Squarespace is better for your website. Both platforms offer extremely helpful user communities. But, if you need to speak with a developer, Squarespace is available 24/7 by email.
Squarespace and WordPress operate on entirely different pricing structures, making them somewhat difficult to compare directly. Squarespace plans start at $14 per month (if paid annually), making this platform sound expensive if you just need a basic website.
Yet, unlike WordPress, Squarespace’s $27 or $49 per month eCommerce plans are cheap. That’s because WordPress on its own doesn’t provide a tool for eCommerce and requires you to opt for plugins that can sometimes cost up to $100/month.
Squarespace pricing works on a four-tiered subscription system that’s relatively straightforward to understand. Every plan comes with unlimited bandwidth, storage space, and a free domain for your first year.
On top of that, all of Squarespace’s templates are free, and you get 24/7 support. One of the things I liked about Squarespace is that within the platform, there are very few hidden upgrades or features that you have to shell out more money for.
Squarespace plans start at $14 per month for a ‘Personal’ subscription. This doesn’t include eCommerce functionality, but there are very few limitations if you want to create a basic website.
The only thing to watch out for besides having no eCommerce functionality, Squarespace also doesn’t provide any marketing features with its cheapest subscription.
The remaining Squarespace plans allow you to add an eCommerce shop to your website. The $23 per month ‘Business’ plan is surprisingly cheap for building an online store, but Squarespace takes a 3% cut of all your sales.
If you want to keep all your revenue, you’ll need a $27 per month ‘Basic Commerce’ plan. This also gives you more selling features, like checkout on your domain, cross-selling on Instagram, and customer accounts.
The vast majority of business owners will need Squarespace’s $49 per month ‘Advanced Commerce’ plan, though.
This plan allows you to create complex discounts, gives you tools for shipping management, and, most importantly, includes a premium feature – abandoned cart recovery to increase your sales conversions.
So, as you can see, Squarespace has a great pricing structure for scaling your online business and relatively affordable eCommerce plans. However, if you need it for a basic website, the starting point with this platform can quickly become expensive.
WordPress itself is free, but there’s a lot more to the cost of using this platform.
To start, every WordPress website needs to pay for hosting and a domain name. Basic shared hosting can be very cheap, but this package isn’t enough for people who want to build a content-heavy site or an online store.
However, if you plan to open an eCommerce store or a high-traffic website, you may need a more advanced hosting solution like VPS hosting.
All in all, that’s still pretty inexpensive, especially compared to Squarespace’s starting point, which is $14 a month. However, your spending does not stop here.
You’ll also need a domain name. Depending on what URL you’re looking for, you can typically buy a domain for around $10 per year. Some hosting providers even include a free domain for the first year (just what Squarespace offers).
It’s also a good idea to get an SSL certificate before setting up your site, especially if you’re planning on running an eCommerce business. Many hosting providers throw this in for free, or you can use Let’s Encrypt, which is free.
The next big potential cost that you could have in WordPress is a theme. Many free templates are available for WordPress through the platform’s theme marketplace, and many are quite good.
But, if you really want your website or online store to stand out, a premium WordPress theme is one of the best ways to do it.
You can find premium templates through WordPress or through third-party sites like TemplateMonster or ThemeForest. There are hundreds of themes for less than $50.
Given that this is a one-time purchase, these prices are pretty reasonable and still allow WordPress to compare favorably to Squarespace.
Where you start running into significant added costs is in the WordPress plugin marketplace.
To be sure, there are hundreds to thousands of free plugins available, and many personal website owners will never have to pay for an extension as there aren’t many additional functionalities required.
However, it’s important to know that many of WordPress’s functionalities come from those plugins. So, it would require some time sitting down and thinking through – what are the essential features are for your project and how much you’re willing to pay for them.
So, the questions you have to answer before jumping onto the WordPress bandwagon – can you find an extension that will work for free? Or do you need a subscription that pushes up the monthly price of WordPress past what Squarespace will charge you?
Unfortunately, it can be hard to get this right before you actually start building your website. As a rule of thumb, I’d say that WordPress is cheaper than Squarespace for most personal websites and simple online stores with just a handful of products.
As soon as you really get into selling, your dependence on paid WordPress plugins increases dramatically, and the cost of the platform skyrockets.
WINNER: Squarespace offers a four-plan pricing structure with few hidden fees or paid add-ons. WordPress may be cheaper for basic sites if you only pay for hosting and a domain. But for online stores, which require a lot of paid plugins, WordPress can get very expensive very quickly.
WordPress vs Squarespace Verdict
Squarespace and WordPress are highly versatile website builders and eCommerce platforms. Squarespace is an all-in-one solution with an imposing suite of site editing and selling tools.
WordPress is an open-source platform designed to be extended with plugins so that you can scale your site’s functionality to fit any need.
Overall, I really like Squarespace for a lot of things. I think it presents a much better value than WordPress if you have a small- or medium-sized business and the selling tools cover everything you need.
On top of that, the drag-and-drop editor is one of the best I’ve seen, and the templates are nothing short of stunning. Even Squarespace’s closed-ecosystem approach has been improved, and now it allows us to use third-party integrations to cover lacking parts of the platform.
WordPress requires a bit more technical savvy to launch, but your possibilities are virtually unlimited with this platform. There are more than 60,000 plugins you can use, including multiple options for adding an online store to your website.
While WordPress’s designer isn’t as easy to use, I also liked that it functions more as a content management system than just a website builder compared to Squarespace. In the end, that’s what they both are.
If neither Squarespace nor WordPress are quite what you’re looking for, don’t worry. There are plenty of excellent alternatives, including Wix, Shopify, and Joomla!
Wix is a close competitor to Squarespace, featuring a drag-and-drop editor and more than 500 themes. If Squarespace is slightly too constraining for you, Wix is worth a closer look. This platform offers the ability to place content anywhere on your page and a small plugin marketplace so you can extend your site’s functionality.
While Shopify has a WordPress plugin, it’s also a standalone eCommerce platform that allows you to build your own website and online store. Shopify is typically cheaper than using WordPress and WooCommerce, and it allows you to sidestep the technical nature of WordPress. This platform offers tons of extensions aimed at sellers and dropshippers.
Joomla! is a content management system with more power than WordPress. It’s definitely more complicated to get started with, partly because the menu setup doesn’t look like most other modern website builders. However, this is an ideal platform for setting up social networks or online forums.
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