Among numerous website builders available today, WordPress and Squarespace take the leading positions. WordPress is an open-source CMS that has been in service since 2003 and can be used in two forms: WordPres.com and self-hosted WordPress. The latter will be the subject matter of this comparison as long as the software has many advantages. Still, many users become disappointed with its complexity and search for a more straightforward solution.
Squarespace is another Content Management System whose story started in 2004. Now, this is one of the most popular site development solutions. The vital benefit of the software is its high level of usability. Users without coding skills can easily cope with it hands-free. Even if they wish to migrate their existing WordPress site to Squarespace, they can expect complete assistance from Support and run the procedure in no time.
However, both solutions are well-equipped and have enough tools for your project. Which one should you choose? Our detailed comparison will let you find the answer.
Overview of Squarespace and WordPress
Both Squarespace and WordPress serve the same purpose and grant similar services. These are website builders with built-in CMS software. They offer a wide range of instruments to design your website and provide it with specific functions.
Squarespace is initially known for its sleek design, user-friendly interface and a range of customizable templates that are particularly attractive to those with little to no coding experience. As the all-in-one platform, it includes hosting, domain registration and multiple tools for website customization, blogging and eCommerce.
Squarespace is often favored by artists, small business owners and bloggers who consider ease of use and appealing design a priority. The platform’s drag-and-drop editor makes it simple to create and maintain a professional-looking website without the need for technical expertise.Read also: Squarespace Review.
WordPress has won global recognition as a full-featured CMS. As a self-hosted platform, it offers greater control over website reaction process and customization options. The software is particularly popular among those who require more functionality and customization as it allows users to install templates and plugins, offering extensive options for personalization and functionality.
The CMS enjoys popularity with diverse user categories – from bloggers and up to large corporations due to its scalability and vast community support. However, it typically requires a steeper learning curve, especially for those who wish to use the entire powerful feature set the system has in stock.Read also: WordPress Review.
Thus, Squarespace and WordPress are both worth user attention, although their approaches to the process of website creation differ a lot.
Ease of Use
Website creation has never been a simple task. Squarespace and WordPress, however, make it a smooth and hassle-free process, offering a diversity of built-in features. Squarespace is a website builder, while WordPress is a CMS and that is the major distinction between the platforms, their complexity and overall web design approach.
Squarespace: Simple DIY Website Builder
Squarespace is a simple DIY website builder. Its latest version is Fluid Engine. With its help, a user can easily define the design and content organization of their website, no matter how deep their knowledge in web design is.
Thanks to Drag & Drop, they only need to click on an element to manage its settings or move it around the page and position it wherever they want. The editor also allows for maintaining several versions of the website under construction. They can be previewed before publishing.
No coding at all. And the best thing about the Squarespace editor is that all its functions are designed so that you can’t spoil your final result or make a critical mistake during the creative process.
WordPress: Professional Web Creation Platform
In the case of WordPress, users can expect a high level of ease of use, too, but only if they have certain skills in coding and web design. For a beginner, the downloadable variant of WordPress might be too complex.
Here, much depends on your chosen hosting company, but the editing process might require time and effort anyway. The good side is that you can customize practically everything in your website’s structure.
But if you wish to launch a site with the help of WordPress and have no special skills in website development, you’ll need to involve someone competent in such a task.
Another solution is to use a third-party application to supply your WordPress editor with Drag & Drop functions. This, however, may lead to a significant slowdown of the whole process.
Thus, Squarespace is an absolute winner here. The site builder is equipped with a very simple-to-use editor, while the entire web design approach is simple and intuitive even for beginners. WordPress is much more complicated and it certainly requires a high degree of coding proficiency to be used to the advantage.
Design and Templates
Let’s compare the templates of both platforms now. This aspect should not be overlooked as it has an impact upon the way your website will eventually look.
Squarespace Designs and Customization Features
Squarespace currently offers about 150 templates. This is obviously less than WordPress has yet these designs have two essential advantages for beginners.
First, their quality is one of the best, if not the best, when compared with WordPress and other competitors. The second benefit is that you can pick any Squarespace template and easily customize it. Fonts, elements arrangement on the pages, styles, sizes – everything is simple to edit thanks to the very handy interface of the software. When using Squarespace templates, be ready for the following:
- No coding is involved.
- Edits are easy to do thanks to a Drag & Drop template editor.
- You see all the changes at once.
- The Preview option.
- The custom CSS editor option.
- Limited customization power when compared with WordPress.
- But there’s no chance you create something completely unfit with Squarespace templates.
These are only some of the features that make Squarespace a smart pick for newbies.
WordPress Templates and Customization Tools
In terms of template quantity, WordPress has no counterparts. The number of official themes only make up a thousand items. This is not to mention the number of themes available online.
When it comes to WordPress, its big plus is that it gives you practically complete customization freedom. Yet, in many cases, you’ll need to add specific plugins to the editor to implement your web design ideas.
However, the main drawback of WordPress for a non-coder is that you must know strictly which features are necessary for your website and which WordPress template will suit this purpose. If you are at sea at this, the freedom offered by the software may turn into a real disaster for your project. And you won’t be able to see your edits until you publish your website!
Moreover, when choosing a non-official theme for WordPress, you should realize that any third-party templates may contain malicious code. So, again, Squarespace is better for beginners and non-developers since they would scarcely need a choice of thousands of templates. Still, they are sure to need high-quality, easily-customizable and secure themes. This is where Squarespace is the winner.
Features and Functionality
Squarespace and WordPress both allow for external app integration. It’s just that they realize this opportunity in different ways.
Squarespace integrations are somewhat similar to WordPress plugins. Their number is limited – you have a choice of about thirty add-ons. These, however, are ultra-useful, quality apps necessary for auto-syncing your data to QuickBooks or Xero, launching feedback surveys, managing the inventory and many more.
Mind that Squarespace does not have a standalone app store, which is the reason for limited choice of integrations. Apart from built-in apps, the website builder grants access to third-party extensions. There is an opportunity to integrate with social media tools as well as marketing tools and analytics services like Mailchimp, Google Analytics, Google Maps, Acuity Scheduling platform, Unfold App etc.
A recent innovation offered by Squarespace is the Video Studio App that allows creating professional video presentations without any programming background.
The WordPress Plugin directory contains over 60 thousand plugins. You can also hire a specialist to create a wholly original plugin for your website. So, when ready to raise the cost of your website, you are free to supply it with absolutely unique features.
WordPress itself offers only a small number of plugins. These are pretty useful features like these:
- Design customization tools;
- An image editor;
- Publishing/Scheduling instruments;
- Password-protected pages;
- Multilingual site tools, and more.
All the others represent third-party software. But each WordPress plugin requires installation on your website and proper maintenance in the future. This can cause problems for your website if using too many of them. If not updated in time, they may significantly slow down your website. Your Squarespace project definitely won’t depend so much on plugins, and most of them will be updated automatically.
Where WordPress beats Squarespace is in customization. Once you have installed a plugin on your WordPress-based website, you get complete control over its functionality. Squarespace won’t grant you such freedom (if you actually need it!).
Pricing and Costs
Finally, let’s compare the pricing models of both Squarespace and WordPress. You might be ready to assume that the latter is more affordable since one can download and install it for free. But do not judge too fast.
Squarespace Pricing Tiers
Squarespace has quite an affordable and versatile pricing policy – there are several tiers that target diverse user categories. Whether you plan to set up a personal website for a business project, you will certainly find a subscription to comply with your needs. Mind that there is no free plan here, but Squarespace subscribers can still test the software during the 14-day free trial. Have a look at the plans and features they include now.
- free custom domain registration for the first year,
- SSL security,
- unlimited bandwidth and storage,
- SEO features for site visibility,
- basic website metrics.
- all the features of the Personal plan,
- premium integrations and blocks,
- advanced website analytics,
- professional email from Google.
- Business plan features,
- secure online payments,
- customer account creation for faster checkouts,
- order management,
- no transaction fees for Squarespace transactions
- features of the Basic Commerce plan,
- abandoned cart recovery,
- subscription selling capabilities,
- advanced shipping and discounts,
- more robust analytics for commerce insights.
Each subscription can be purchased on a monthly or annual basis. If you make a one-time payment for a year, you will be offered a discount that lets you save big.
When it comes to WordPress, it all starts with hosting. Without it, you won’t have the place to install WordPress and base your website on it. This is not necessarily a drawback because you are free to choose.
For instance, you can deal with such a reliable host as HostGator, which offers separate web hosting plans for WordPress sites. When opting for such a hosting company, you can expect excellent uptime, automated updates for WordPress plugins and many other things necessary for your website’s growth viability. The Starter WordPress hosting plan here will cost you $5.95 per month.
However, that’s not all. Be ready to pay for eCommerce add-ons, extra plugins, and pro themes for your WordPress site. Moreover, chances are you’ll need to hire a developer to help you with all this software in case you don’t have enough skills to do it yourself.
Thus, the total cost of your “free” WordPress website may be much higher than the one based on Squarespace.
SEO and Marketing
Comparison of Squarespace and WordPress would be incomplete without considering SEO and Marketing aspects. Meanwhile, both platforms offer distinct features and advantages that can boost your website SEO positions.
Squarespace SEO Features
Squarespace provides an inherently SEO-friendly environment, particularly advantageous for users without extensive niche knowledge. It automatically takes care of basic SEO best practices, such as:
- clean HTML markup,
- mobile responsiveness,
- fast loading speeds etc.
Squarespace also grants access to built-in tools for basic SEO strategies, such as customizable page titles, meta descriptions, URLs as well as easy integration with Google Analytics and Search Console. These features make the website builder an attractive option for small businesses and individuals who expect a hassle-free approach to search engine optimization.
WordPress SEO Options
WordPress comes as a more flexible and powerful platform for SEO and marketing, primarily due to its extensive array of extensions. With plugins like Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack, users can gain more granular control over their SEO strategies, including detailed content analysis, readability checks and advanced XML sitemap functionalities.
In terms of marketing, WordPress’s flexibility is again a significant benefit. The software allows for the integration of a wide range of marketing tools and plugins, from email marketing solutions like Mailchimp to CRM systems etc. This makes WordPress a go-to solution for businesses and professionals seeking a more comprehensive digital marketing approach.
As a result, WordPress gives you all the freedom to manage SEO for your website. It allows installing numerous apps for tuning up your SEO settings. As to Squarespace, you won’t be able to add Yoast or a similar extension to your site. Instead of this, the software allows the development of Google-friendly websites by default. Both systems are SEO-friendly.
Performance and Speed
When assessing performance and speed, Squarespace and WordPress offer different experiences largely influenced by their underlying structures and user control.
Squarespace Performance and Speed Settings
Squarespace websites generally maintain consistent performance and loading speeds. The system ensures a managed environment that involves several tech aspects:
- server response times,
- security updates,
- platform optimizations etc.
These parameters are handled automatically, ensuring a stable and efficient experience for most users. However, this convenience also means that users have limited control over deeper performance optimization techniques. This is a downside for proficient users who want to independently fine-tune every aspect of their website performance.
WordPress Performance Options
The performance and speed of a WordPress website largely depends on the selected hosting service as well as on integrated templates and plugins. This means that a WordPress site has the potential to be extremely fast and performant yet more profound project management is needed to achieve this.
Users have to pay special attention not only to the host chosen, but also to the process of image optimization, use of caching solutions and on-time template/plugin updates. A notable advantage is that WordPress users have access to a wide range of tools and plugins specifically designed for performance optimization. These include caching plugins and CDN integration.
This makes WordPress a more flexible choice for those willing to invest time and resources into maximizing their website’s speed and performance.
When it comes to security, Squarespace and WordPress present contrasting approaches, each with its own set of strong points and potential issues.
Squarespace Security Measures
The Squarespace team is responsible for all website security aspects, including monitoring for threats, managing software updates and ensuring that the hosting environment is protected from possible attacks. Users don’t have to manually update software or plugins and that is one of the undeniable software advantages. What’s more, Squarespace comes with SSL certificates for all websites it powers. This is crucial for protecting confidential info and improving search engine rankings.
WordPress Websites and Their Safety
WordPress is a self-hosted platform. This means that website security largely depends on the actions of their owners. In other words, it is you who is responsible for regular software updates, checking plugin/template compatibility, choosing from a wide array of security plugins that provide comprehensive safety features like malware scanning, firewalls and regular security audits. This obviously requires a certain degree of programming proficiency. Not all WordPress users are ready to encounter these challenges.
In terms of security, the two platforms differ very much. Squarespace offers packages with various features and built-in services, security options included. In the case of WordPress, your security is what you need to care about yourself.
Support and Community
Customer support is another issue that is worth user attention and is influenced by the differences between the platforms. Let’s figure out the major distinctions now.
Squarespace Community and Support Options
Squarespace is offered as SaaS, that is, Software as a Service. You may expect full support from the team – it’ll be included in your plan. Again, it is crucial for beginners, and Squarespace grants them a chance to build a professional website with their own hands. Currently, the website builder guarantees the following support options:
- 24/7 customer support via email and live chat,
- extensive knowledge base,
- user guides,
- video tutorials,
- community forums.
Squarespace’s dedicated support team can assist with a range of issues – from tech glitches to design recommendations, ensuring that users receive professional assistance with every problem they face.
WordPress Support Solutions
As the open-source software, WordPress does not have official customer support. Instead, it boasts an extensive and active community that provides powerful assistance due to the abundance of forums, blogs, online tutorials and meetups where users can seek help and share knowledge.
However, navigating these resources and finding the right solutions can be more challenging, especially for beginners. This certainly requires more attention to details and patience.
As for customer support, Squarespace is a more preferable solution for beginners as it offers instant assistance and a team of knowledgeable experts. WordPress does not offer any built-in support yet its community is much more impressive and vast.
Actually, you can start a web store both with Squarespace and WordPress. The thing is, however, that the systems use diverse approaches to the process of eCommerce creation and you have to be aware of that before picking one of the platforms.
Setting Up a Web Store with Squarespace
Squarespace comes with the built-in eCommerce engine, which means that you can set up a web store without connecting any external integrations. Mind, however, that the system lets you create small and medium stores only. Its functionality will not be enough to create a large-scale eCommerce project.
The major eCommerce features Squarespace provides include:
- inventory management tools,
- unlimited product listings,
- various payment gateway integrations (including Stripe, PayPal and Apple Pay),
- ability to create promo campaigns,
- eCommerce templates,
- easy-to-handle drag-and-drop interface,
- extensive web store/product management tools etc.
While Squarespace covers most basic eCommerce needs efficiently, its features might be somewhat limiting for larger businesses looking for advanced functionalities and customizations.
Launching a Web Store with WordPress
WordPress realizes an opportunity for web store creation by means of integrating external plugins. WooCommerce is one of the most popular eCommerce extensions for WordPress. This is a free plugin offering extensive customization options and control over every aspect of your online store.
Users have an opportunity to choose from multiple eCommerce templates and add-ons to enhance their web store functionality. This implies the use of various payment gateways, shipping options and advanced tax calculations. The flexibility of WordPress paired with WooCommerce makes it a smart pick for users who require a more scalable eCommerce solution. However, this process is quite challenging and requires coding proficiency. That may not be a good option for beginners.
To sum it up, both platforms work well for web store development and customization. As a beginner, you will find Squarespace more convenient. However, if you expect deeper flexibility and are ready to invest skills, effort and time, WordPress will be a great pick as well.
Making Your Decision
As you see, Squarespace and WordPress have multiple features that allow setting up various types of projects. Let’s summarize the major functionality of both systems to simplify your choice.
Considerations for Choosing Squarespace
Squarespace is a DIY website builder that grants access to the following features:
- Ease of use;
- Baseline eCommerce/blogging features;
- Unfold App;
- Video Studio App;
- Affordable fixed pricing;
- 14-days free trial.
Considerations for Choosing WordPress
WordPress is a large-scale CMS that boasts a diversity of integrated solutions. These are:
- Powerful website customization;
- Extensive plugin library;
- Rich template selection;
- SEO flexibility;
- Extensive user community;
- Need for programming skills;
- Hosting/domain choice;
- Cost variability.
When adopting the decision regarding the choice of suitable web design tool, you should clearly realize the important differences between the platforms. This concerns all the aspects of the systems, starting with their nature and initial implication and up to the pricing policy and support options.
Conclusion: Final Thoughts on Squarespace vs WordPress
WordPress and Squarespace serve the same purpose, but they do it entirely differently. While WordPress is addressed to professional website developers and ready to grant them complete control over their websites’ settings, Squarespace offers less freedom to its users. Still, even a total beginner can build a professional Squarespace website without a developer’s help.
WordPress is said to be “free,” but you’ll need to pay for hosting and, most probably, for the necessary extras and expert assistance. No matter which Squarespace paid plan you choose, it will cost you less in most cases. So, we recommend Squarespace to beginners and those searching for a site builder that offers good value for money.