Comparing WordPress vs Squarespace is a tricky business. On one side, you have a full-blown Content Management System (CMS), and on the other you have a website builder. Although these platforms share some features, choosing the best way to make a website will depend on what your goals are.
As with most platforms or tools, the debate comes down to which option is the best for your specific needs. Understanding the differences between WordPress and Squarespace will enable you to choose the best option for your next project, and save yourself from having to migrate to a different platform down the line.
In this post, we’ll discuss what to look for when selecting a website builder for your project. Then we’ll compare Squarespace vs WordPress on six key points, to help you determine which is best for your situation. Let’s get to it!
In This Article 🔮
An Introduction to WordPress 🔨
Before we dive into comparing the two platforms, it’s important that you have a general idea of how each of them works. For starters, WordPress is the most popular CMS on the web, powering about one-third of the internet:
It was initially launched as a blogging platform (and it still is the best blog software, as far as we’re concerned). Although it’s now used to create all kinds of websites, it still has a few features that call back to its roots. For instance, most content created with WordPress is split into ‘posts’ and ‘pages’:
WordPress is also what’s called an ‘open-source’ platform. This means its source code is available to anyone who wants to view, use, or modify it, and is distributed under a General Public License (GPL). There are many pros and cons to this arrangement, which we’ll discuss in detail later.
You’ll also need to supplement your WordPress site with themes (which mostly affect your site’s appearance) and plugins (which add functionality that the platform doesn’t include out of the box.) Many of these extensions are also open source.
It’s important to note that there are two versions of WordPress: WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress. This post will focus on the latter. ‘Self-hosted’ refers to the need to rent server space from a company to store (or ‘host’) your website and make it publicly available to visitors.
With WordPress.com, you get a version of the software that’s not as ‘open’, and you’re tied to that specific platform. Although it’s not a bad option for simple sites, it lacks a lot of the versatility that makes open-source WordPress such a powerful platform.
An Introduction to Squarespace 🔧
While WordPress places a heavy emphasis on content (especially posts), Squarespace is more of a ‘complete’ website builder. With Squarespace, you get an emphasis on visual building tools, so you can create pages by choosing what elements to add, then positioning and customizing them:
Squarespace powers about 2.5 percent of the web. Next to WordPress’s staggering 40 percent market share, that sounds pretty small. However, this number puts Squarespace right behind Joomla, Drupal, and Shopify. Compared to other website builders such as Wix and Weebly, Squarespace has a commanding lead.
Unlike WordPress, Squarespace is not open source. Using this platform is more like purchasing a regular product or service, with certain Terms and Conditions that you must follow and some restrictions. For instance, Squarespace can suspend or disable your account.
However, being backed by a company also has its perks. Squarespace provides users with access to a formal support team that’s motivated to help you resolve any problems you encounter.
Squarespace is also what’s called a ‘hosted’ website builder. This means that instead of having to find a provider to supply a server, Squarespace automatically installs your website on its own servers. The company also handles the maintenance tasks that go along with managing a site, such as domain registration and security.
In addition to general website-building features, Squarespace has several marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), e-commerce, and analytics tools built-in. We’ll examine them in more detail shortly. Across the board, it’s highly regarded as an all-in-one platform for launching your brand’s online presence.
If you want to expand Squarespace’s functionality even further, the platform also offers several additional services that complement its website builder tools. For example, you can use Squarespace to manage email marketing, hire dedicated business support specialists that work with the company, and even pay for email hosting.
For the rest of this comparison, we’re going to focus on Squarespace’s website builder software functionality, since that’s its core offering.
What to Look for in a Website Builder 👀
Every website builder is best for certain types of users. When choosing which one is right for you and your brand, you’ll need to consider several aspects of your future website, as well as your technical abilities and budget.
Here are a few factors we recommend that you think through carefully:
- Ease of use. A tool is no good to you if you aren’t sure how to put it to work. Being able to jump right into creating your website without having to spend a lot of time learning the platform is a plus.
- Customization. Every website requires some level of customization, such as adding branding elements and changing the style of each component on your pages. You may also wish to add custom coding (or hire someone to do it for you) to achieve a certain look or functionality.
Extensions. Most website builders offer extensions that expand the tool’s core functionality. Usually, popular website builders tend to have large libraries of extensions, many of which are free and get regular support from their creators.
- Flexibility. Websites come in all shapes and sizes. The best Do It Yourself website builder should adapt to your needs and scale with your brand.
- Price. You likely have a budget for your website, and sticking to it is a necessity. Choosing the right platform will give you the most bang for your buck.
Rushing through this decision could cause serious problems down the line. Migrating to a new platform if you find out that the one you initially chose is not a good fit isn’t an easy process. So it’s smart to take the time to compare your options – including Squarespace vs WordPress – to make the best selection the first time around.
WordPress vs Squarespace (6 Key Factors to Consider) 🥊
Now that you know what to look for when contemplating any website building platform, it’s time to see how two of the most popular options stack up against each other. In the following sections, we’ll compare Squarespace vs WordPress on the six factors we mentioned earlier:
1. Ease of Use
As we mentioned, how easy your website builder is to use ranks pretty high on the list of key considerations. After all, it doesn’t matter how inexpensive a platform is or what features it provides if you can’t figure out how to get started.
There are many different areas we could consider when assessing the ease of use of WordPress vs Squarespace. To keep it simple, we’re going to focus on two that every website owner will have to deal with – the setup process and content editing.
However, before pressing on, you’ll need to choose a hosting provider and register a domain name. A smart move is to invest in managed WordPress hosting. This type of plan comes with WordPress already installed on your server, so you don’t have to worry about the more technical steps we mentioned earlier:
The downside of using managed WordPress hosting is that it tends to be more expensive on average than other plans, such as shared hosting. Moreover, if you’re working on your first website, choosing the right web hosting provider is a massive challenge in and of itself, without even considering the WordPress setup.
By comparison, Squarespace’s setup is exceptionally easy. All you have to do is create an account:
Then you can input your name, email address, and a password – or sign up with Facebook, Twitter, or Google. That’s it!
Once you’ve set up WordPress for the first time, you’ll see that the process can be done in minutes. However, for first-time users, those steps will probably take a bit longer, so Squarespace wins when it comes to how intuitive its setup process is.
WordPress has two different content editing interfaces: the Classic Editor and the Block Editor. The latter is the default post and page creator. It works by enabling you to add and customize ‘blocks’ that contain different types of content, such as text or images:
The Classic Editor is the old content creation system. You can still access it via a plugin (more on those later). It looks and works a lot like a word processor with a built-in HTML editor:
WordPress’ Block Editor was designed to be easier for beginners to use, and to compete with website builders such as Squarespace.
As you may imagine, the second platform we’re looking at also uses a block system for creating and editing content:
Squarespace’s content editor and the WordPress Block Editor work in very similar ways. You can click on a block to access additional options such as alignment and style, and move elements around on the page.
One major difference you may have already noticed in the above images is that Squarespace provides a ‘front end’ view while you’re editing. What you see is exactly how your site will look to visitors. Some users feel that this feature makes for an easier content creation experience.
When using the WordPress Block Editor, you get a good idea of how each element will look on your site’s front end. You’re also free to preview each change that you make. As a whole, however, the process is not as seamless as using a dedicated website builder such as Squarespace.
It’s important to understand that ease of use does not translate to a depth of features. Although the Block Editor may not be as intuitive as Squarespace’s offering, it’s a powerful tool that can enable you to build amazing websites. However, it does have a steeper learning curve.
Overall, the WordPress Block Editor is still a little behind Squarespace’s editing interface. While the Classic Editor is nice for those who want to be able to easily incorporate custom code, it has a bigger learning curve and formatting limitations for those without technical experience.
2. Design and Customization
WordPress and Squarespace both enable you to customize your website with or without coding knowledge. In WordPress, a user can make changes to their website’s theme without code using the Customizer:
The options available will depend on your theme’s developer. However, most enable you to add your logo and title, make some cosmetic adjustments, and set up your site’s navigation.
This is WordPress’s open-source nature coming into play. By using WordPress, you get access to a staggering collection of themes that come in free and premium varieties.
There are thousands of themes to choose from, many of which offer unique customization options or built-in tools of their own:
Squarespace’s Design tab offers a very similar experience to the default WordPress Customizer:
Here, you can change your logo and title, modify your template’s color scheme and navigation, and more. If you happen to know some code or decide to hire someone who does, customization becomes a different story.
You also get access to a broad collection of templates that work similarly to WordPress themes. However, templates usually don’t come with built-in customization options.
As an open-source platform, WordPress offers absolute freedom to any developer or user who wishes to adapt it. Adding code to Squarespace is trickier.
Anyone can incorporate custom CSS and HTML, but updates may override your modifications. If you purchase a Business or Commerce plan, you can access the Squarespace Developer Platform.
However, you still won’t be able to modify blocks. You also can’t use FTP or Git to manage files or run server-side code. Plus, Squarespace support doesn’t cover custom code and won’t help you if you run into trouble.
As we said in our introduction to the platform, WordPress has two different types of extensions: themes and plugins. At this time, there are over 10,000 WordPress themes and more than 54,000 plugins – and those are just the free ones in the official Directories:
You can use the near-infinite combinations of themes and plugins available to do just about anything on your website. A few examples include:
Some plugins, such as WooCommerce*, are capable of transforming WordPress into a wholly different platform. Using that plugin, you can leverage the CMS to run online stores that include all the features you’d expect to see from major retailers:
However, when considering which plugins to use, it’s important to weigh their quality. Anyone can access the WordPress source code and build extensions for it, but not everyone should. There are plugins and themes available that are poorly coded or abandoned, which can lead to plugin conflicts, security breaches, and other issues.
Although that may sound worrisome, spotting good plugins and themes isn’t as complex as you might think. In our experience, if you stick with options that have positive ratings and get regular updates, you’ll be golden.
Squarespace offers the complete opposite experience in terms of extensions. There are 24 third-party add-ons for advanced functionality. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Squarespace tries to integrate all the features you might need as part of its core offering.
As far as templates go, the selection is a little better, with dozens of categories and options to choose from, each with a unique style:
When it comes to e-commerce in particular, Squarespace offers built-in tools. That means you don’t need to use extensions to sell products through your website. Even so, when comparing WooCommerce vs Squarespace, the former offers a lot more functionality, which is surprising considering that it’s ‘just’ a plugin.
Where Squarespace makes up for its lack of options is with the quality of the extensions it provides. You don’t have to worry about plugin conflicts or outdated code, because everything is created in-house.
With WordPress, it’s common to see websites using dozens of plugins. That level of customization is great news, but since you’re adding custom third-party code to the CMS, sometimes plugins can cause errors on your website.
Even so, WordPress takes the cake in this category. It’s not difficult to make sure you’re choosing tried and true extensions by checking ratings and reviews before you download them, and you can’t beat this platform’s vast pool of options.
Your brand is unique, which means you need a website builder that’s flexible enough to meet your specific needs. Customization options and the availability of extensions play significant roles in this aspect of both WordPress and Squarespace.
You can use either platform to create a wide variety of websites, such as:
- Small business sites
- Online portfolios
- E-commerce stores
- Non-profit sites
However, you can accomplish some less-conventional goals for your website with WordPress plugins. For example, there are several tools you can use to turn your site into a social network with thousands of users:
You can also create custom post types. These are essentially special templates for different kinds of content that have unique elements you may want to include, such as reviews or recipes:
WordPress also has a Multisite feature, which enables you to create several websites all connected in a single network.
Although WordPress still has a reputation as a blogging platform, you can use the CMS to create almost any type of website you want. That means blogs, online stores, forums, subscription websites, and much more.
Another element that is somewhat tied to flexibility is scalability, or how much your website can grow. As your website becomes more popular, you’ll get more traffic and will probably want to implement new features to improve your content.
From a practical standpoint, that means you’ll want access to more powerful hosting. Since WordPress is self-hosted, you can always upgrade to a better hosting plan. More importantly, you have dozens of options to choose from, including Virtual Private Servers (VPS), dedicated options, and the ability to use any provider you want.
With Squarespace, you’re tied to the parent company and its hosting services. The website builder comes as part of a package, so you can’t take Squarespace software and use it on any hosting provider you choose.
Squarespace promises that it can accommodate high traffic levels. However, there’s no guarantee other than having complete control. If you’re ever unhappy with the quality of the service you get, your only option would be to rebuild your website from scratch on a different platform and migrate its content. As you might imagine, that’s a time-intensive endeavor.
If you’re taking the time to build a website, chances are you want people to actually be able to find it. Therefore, you’ll want to consider Squarespace vs WordPress SEO when trying to find the best website platform for your needs.
Squarespace largely handles SEO for you. The website builder software also takes care of:
- Getting your pages indexed
- Adding tags
- Generating readable URLs
- Setting up redirects
- Creating sitemaps
All in all, Squarespace is aimed at users who don’t want to worry about manual SEO. Although that may sound appealing, manual SEO is practically a must if you want to compete in contested niches and outsmart other website owners.
With WordPress, you get access to a broad range of SEO plugins that provide drastically different experiences and features. In practice, that means WordPress enables you to dive deep into SEO, and tweak every aspect of your content and pages to get the best return possible on your investment.
Some WordPress SEO plugins even provide some level of guidance about how to improve your content for search engines as you’re creating it, which can be a huge boon. For example, Yoast SEO is a popular and widely-used tool for optimizing site content.
Although Squarespace isn’t bad for SEO, it simply doesn’t offer as much control as WordPress does. Therefore, when it comes to the best website platform for optimizing your site, we have to give this one to WordPress.
Last but not least, it’s important to consider your budget when choosing a website builder. This can get a bit tricky, as there are many different factors to take into account. However, we’ll take a closer look at pricing for WordPress vs Squarespace below.
Pricing for WordPress can get a little complicated, but some costs you’ll need to account for include:
- WordPress itself. The core CMS is always free, so this shouldn’t be a concern.
- Web hosting. Technically there are companies that offer ‘free’ hosting, but we don’t recommend using them. Your site will likely be slow and suffer from other complications. Instead, budget at least $5 per month for hosting. It will be well-worth it in the long run.
- Domain name registration. Your domain name registration will also be an ongoing cost. For a ‘.com’ site, you can expect to pay around $10 per year, and there are a lot of other Top-Level Domains that can be registered for even less.
- Themes. There are many free, high-quality WordPress themes available. However, premium ones tend to offer more advanced features. In our experience, premium themes usually start at around $20, and prices go up all the way to $100. Although you might find more expensive options, prices that fall outside of that range are not the norm.
- Plugins. Again, there are many free plugins you can use to meet most of your needs. Premium tools are usually available for monthly or yearly licensing fees of between $5 and $100.
You can launch a WordPress website for less than $20. From that point onwards, the only costs you need to keep in mind are monthly hosting payments, any premium themes or plugins you want to purchase, and domain renewals.
In our experience, a simple WordPress website using a shared hosting plan from a good provider can cost a little as $5 to maintain each month. In practice, you may end up spending a little more than that. However, the beauty of using WordPress is that you can adapt the experience to your budget.
WordPress hosting, in particular, can range from incredibly cheap to very costly, as in hundreds or thousands of dollars for websites that get thousands of visitors. Understanding what type of hosting services you need can be intimidating if you’re working on your first website.
However, as a rule of thumb, you want to use a provider with a good reputation and that offers plenty of room for your website to grow. That means you’re looking for a provider with a decent selection of hosting plans, so you can start with a basic option and upgrade as your site grows.
The other factor you’ll need to consider is your site’s maintenance. Time is money, so the work you put into updating, securing, optimizing, and backing up your site is another kind of ‘cost’. Alternatively, you can hire professionals to handle much of this work for you.
The starting price also includes a free domain registration if you pay for an entire year of service up front. Otherwise, you can add about $10 to that initial $12 expense for using Squarespace.
This puts your starting price at $144 per year. However, the lowest tier plan is rather restricted when it comes to features. You can only add two contributors and can’t access the analytics or e-commerce features. For this, you can count on paying at least $18 per month.
When comparing Squarespace vs WordPress in terms of price, the former can be a bit more expensive if you’re on a tight budget. For comparison’s sake, you can launch a WordPress website for an initial cost of as little as $20, and then only pay a few dollars per month for hosting.
The difference between WordPress and Squarespace is that, with the latter, you won’t be spending money on extensions, templates, or even website maintenance. The $12 per month covers all of the platform’s functionality, hosting, and ‘upkeep’, so to speak.
If you want the option to grow your website with full freedom, WordPress is the clear victor. For a more self-contained experience where you won’t have to deal with unforeseen costs, Squarespace is a solid alternative.
Summarizing Squarespace vs WordPress 💡
The short answer is that WordPress offers a lot more in terms of features and customizability. Using WordPress, you can build almost any type of website you want, with any features that you can think of. However, those same selling points also make WordPress a more complex platform to understand and master.
Squarespace, on the other hand, is a “what you see is what you get” kind of platform. Its visual website builder is among the most intuitive and user-friendly tools we’ve had the pleasure to use, and you can launch a website using Squarespace in a matter of minutes.
To be more specific, there are a handful of scenarios where we’d recommend considering Squarespace over WordPress, including the following:
- You want to build a very simple website, and not have to worry about complex customization features or digging too much into a specific platform.
- You prefer to use visual website builder tools that are easy to grasp.
- You don’t want to worry about choosing a web host, finding the right theme and plugins, and all the tasks that using WordPress encompasses.
If you’re okay with adding a bit more complexity to the mix, WordPress is an incredibly rewarding platform to use. Once you get the hang of how the CMS works, you’ll be able to use it to launch projects that aren’t possible to tackle if you’re using Squarespace.
Frequently Asked Questions 🤝
WordPress has a lot more customization options and flexibility than Squarespace. It’s also significantly more flexible, meaning that you can use it to build just about any type of website.
With that being said, Squarespace may be considered ‘better’ than WordPress in regards to simplicity. It is designed for beginners to use, so it’s a solid option if you’re looking for a straightforward, easy-to-use website platform.
Squarespace is without a doubt easier to use than WordPress. That’s largely true because, as a whole, the professional website builder doesn’t include as many features or customizability options as the CMS.
If you’re looking for the easiest website builder you can use, Squarespace is right up there alongside competitors such as Weebly and Wix. However, in our opinion, Squarespace is by far the most polished platform if you’re comparing it against close competitors.
WordPress itself is not a hard platform to use. You can launch a simple website and have everything set up in a matter of hours if you know what you’re doing. Moreover, some themes
You can launch a WordPress website for around $20. However, you’ll also need to consider the costs of hosting, premium plugins and themes, and maintenance.
Squarespace plans start at just $12 per month, which includes access to the platform’s features and extensions. However, you will also be limited in terms of your ability to grow and scale your site. In terms of value, WordPress offers a better deal than Squarespace.
Switching website platforms is always a complex process. If you’re migrating from Squarespace to WordPress, that means you have to:
- Rebuild your website from scratch on WordPress, or start with a new design
- Export all of your Squarespace content and import it into WordPress
Importing content into WordPress is easier than you might imagine. However, the same doesn’t apply to your website’s design. It should be possible to find a WordPress theme that matches your Squarespace website’s style, but it can be a long and arduous process. In most cases, it’s easier to use a new theme and embrace the change.
If you’re happy with the features that Squarespace offers and you’re not planning on adding complex functionality to your website, you might want to hold off on migrating to WordPress. However, once you’re ready to take that step, you’ll realize just how much more functionality and options WordPress offers vs Squarespace.
The main difference between WordPress vs Squarespace SEO is that the latter platform mostly handles optimization for you. While this may seem like a convenience, it may not be ideal if you’re looking to get a leg up over competitors.
WordPress, on the other hand, lets you leverage a wide range of SEO plugins to help optimize your website. You’re able to manually handle SEO yourself, giving you more control over the keywords your site ranks for.
If you’re a web designer with no background in development and you don’t want to touch a single line of code, using a visual website builder can be an appealing option. With Squarespace, you can create designs from scratch and tinker with them while directly seeing the end result.
Moreover, Squarespace’s website building tools are easy to use even if you don’t consider yourself technically inclined, which is a plus. However, using WordPress as a web designer can be just as engaging. Although the Block Builder doesn’t enable you to customize pages while previewing the final result, it’s also highly intuitive. This CMS also offers far more options and themes, making it easier to create a unique-looking website.
If you’re comfortable using plugins, there are a lot of options that incorporate full-blown website builder tools into WordPress. Some of the best examples include plugins such as Divi, Beaver Builder, and Elementor. In all three cases, by setting up a plugin, you get to experience page builder tools that are on the same level as what Squarespace offers (or better).
We can admit to a little bias when it comes to talking about WordPress. After all, we’re a WordPress company. However, you don’t have to take our word about which is the best Do It Yourself website builder; you can trust the numbers instead.
40% of the internet is powered by WordPress, which is a mind-blowing figure. All that popularity doesn’t just come from the fact that WordPress is free (although it certainly helps) but also because it’s such a versatile platform.
Using WordPress, you can create anything from a simple blog to an online store that can rival anything you can see online. All of that is possible because WordPress gives you full control over what you do with the software, and because it has an incredibly active online community that will help you with any questions you might have about how to use the software.
Speed eBook to improve Core Web Vitals
Wrapping Up 🌯
To help you in your quest to find the best website builder, we’ve compared WordPress vs Squarespace on six key aspects:
- Ease of use. For absolute beginners, Squarespace has the gentlest learning curve.
- Customization. Both platforms offer comparable features for non-coders, but adding custom code is much easier in WordPress.
- Extensions. Although Squarespace’s extensions are guaranteed to be of high quality, WordPress offers far more options.
- Flexibility. Through plugins, WordPress offers some less-conventional features. It’s also more scalable and can grow with your brand over time.
- SEO. Squarespace handles basic SEO tasks for you, while WordPress offers you the chance for full control over your site’s optimization.
- Price. Expenses vary for both platforms, but WordPress ultimately has a lower startup cost.
If you think WordPress is the best website platform for your needs, consider letting us help you maintain your new website. At WP Buffs, our expert team will handle updates, backups, and more, so you can focus on growing your brand. Check out our plans today!