Posted on Feb 24th, 2017
If you have landed on this page thinking whether to choose WordPress or Squarespace – choose WordPress every time. WordPress powers 27% of all websites on the web, while Squarespace only hosts 1.2 million websites. WordPress is available as both hosted and self-hosted platform, but Squarespace is only available as a hosted version. WordPress vs Squarespace – find out which is better
WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world, but it is not the only option. There are other platforms that can help you build your website. In this article, we will compare Squarespace vs. WordPress and list the Pros and Cons of each.
It’s important to note that we’re comparing Squarespace vs. self-hosted WordPress (not WordPress.com).
1. Free to Download
WordPress is free to download. The only real cost is web hosting and domain. Additional costs would be commercial WordPress themes. However, you are not required to use those.
Squarespace is not available for free. Users have to take hosting from them. Squarespace plans are paid monthly or yearly. So you are stuck with them.
WordPress is an open source software licensed under GNU GPL. So you are free to use the existing code and build upon it. So any developers/programmers can use WordPress to create their own tools (such as templates/themes or plugins) to share for free or sell to WordPress users.
The downside of allowing anybody to build plugins and tools for WordPress is that either the quality is awesome or sometimes the tools are terrible.
Squarespace has no such license and forbids you to do reverse engineering. Their platform is gated off so only their own in-house development team can produce tools for users.
The benefit of Squarespace is that their tools are of high-quality and fully integrated into their website builder.
3. Ease of Use and The Learning Curve
Most beginner-level users are not familiar with HTML, CSS, and other code related things. They want a platform that helps them build their websites easily. Let’s see how both WordPress and Squarespace stack up in this category.
WordPress is a robust platform with a lot of choices. It can be used by a beginner level users as well as advanced level users. It can be used to start a blog or a highly professional website.
While WordPress is fairly intuitive and easy to use, there is definitely a slight learning curve. Beginners will need to familiarize themselves with WordPress terminology and concepts such as the difference between posts vs pages, categories vs tags, understanding themes, and plugins.
The default WordPress post editor is fairly easy to use even for beginners. It comes with a visual editor as well as a plain text editor for advanced users. Adding interactive content such as images, videos, and audio is extremely easy.
Despite the slight learning curve, in our experience, most users quickly adapt to it. However, there is still room to make the platform simpler and easier for beginners.
Unlike WordPress, Squarespace does not come with too many choices. However, this lack of choices makes it very simple and easy to use. Even the absolute beginners can quickly write content and publish it.
Adding images, videos, and audio files are simpler than WordPress. With its drag and drop content editor, creating new pages and posts is extremely easy even for users who have never worked on a website before.
Squarespace lets you customize your templates and pages using a visual editor. However, you are limited to the options available in the customizer.
Squarespace fares a little better than WordPress in terms of ease of use for absolute beginners. On the other hand, WordPress offers beginners a lot of choices right from the beginning which might be confusing at first, but it is a lot more flexible in the long run.
4. The Costs
Knowing how much each platform can cost is important in making a business decision. Let’s look at how much Squarespace cost vs. how much WordPress cost.
WordPress is free. You are free to download, use, change, and build upon WordPress. It is an open source software licensed under GNU GPL.
In order to build your website with WordPress, you will need a web hosting provider. Depending on your needs, you can choose a shared hosting plan, a virtual private server, or even a dedicated server. Shared hosting plans work for most small personal and business websites.
The cost of web hosting and domain name vary depending on which hosting provider you go with. You are in charge of how much resources you need for your website, and how much you will pay for it.
One of the reasons for the immense popularity of WordPress is that the overall cost of building your website with WordPress is very low. Apart from that, you can change your hosting plan as your site grows. This means you only pay for the resources you will be actually using.
With over 2700+ free templates and 33,000+ free plugins, you can run your website for as low as $3.95 per month (which includes your domain name and hosting – we recommend WP Engine, Bluehost or SiteGround).
The personal plan for Squarespace starts from $8 per month. That’s almost as affordable as a shared hosting plan for WordPress. However, unlike a shared WordPress hosting plan, this personal plan comes with very limited features. You can only create 20 pages, a blog, and add only two contributors to your site. You can sell only one product and accept donations.
The professional plan which costs $16 per month allows you to sell up to 20 products. You can create unlimited pages and enjoy unlimited space and bandwidth.
The business plan allows you to sell unlimited products for $24 per month with unlimited pages, blogs, galleries, space, and bandwidth.
WordPress beats Squarespace with flexible plans available from a variety of web hosts from around the world. The cost depends on how much resources you use, and you are free to use your WordPress site in any way you want.
5. Design and Features
As your business grows, your website will too. Let’s take a look at how WordPress and Squarespace compare in terms of design and features.
The real power of WordPress is in its extensibility. There are thousands of free and paid WordPress plugins which you can use on your site to add new features. Ranging from simple social sharing plugins to robust membership site plugins, you can create almost any kind of website you can imagine with WordPress.
Similarly, WordPress has thousands of free and paid themes available which you can install on your website. Themes control the visual appearance of your website. There are WordPress themes for almost every industry, business, or any kind of website that you want to create.
Installing a WordPress plugin or a theme is super easy. Most themes and plugins come with their own documentation and support forums.
This is one area where Squarespace seriously fall behind. There is a very limited number of templates that you can choose from. You can change only a limited set of features by using the site customizer feature of Squarespace.
Same goes for the plugins, you can only use the plugins and features built-in Squarespace. There is no easier way for you to extend the functionality of your website by installing an external plugin.
WordPress beats Squarespace in terms of extensibility and abundance of design and feature choices.
Are you building an online store? Let’s compare the eCommerce functionality of WordPress vs. Squarespace.
WordPress allows you to integrate and use any payment processor or platform you want. There are many WordPress plugins that allow you to easily integrate PayPal, Google Checkout, Stripe, 2Checkout, Payoneer, Skrill, and even Bitcoin.
WordPress has plenty of eCommerce plugins that can turn your website into an online store within minutes. There are countless WordPress themes designed specifically for eCommerce websites. Apart from that, you will find some awesome tools to manage affiliate tracking and add affiliate links to your site.
eCommerce is limited on Squarespace. You can only use Stripe for payment processing which is only available in select few countries. There is no other payment system available which restricts your ability to accept payments from a larger global audience. For a growing business, starting with such limitations is not a great idea.
Apart from that, there is a limit on how many products you can sell on Personal and Professional plans. Let’s say you want to sell only 22 products, you will still have to pay for the Business plan, and the yearly costs of hosting a site with just 22 products to sell will be way higher than a shared hosting plan or VPS for WordPress.
As for third-party services, there are very few external services that you can integrate with your Squarespace website. Even these integrations are controlled and very limited than the original features of the services you are adding.
WordPress is way ahead of Squarespace when it comes to running an eCommerce website. The limitations of Squarespace are not so good for the growth of an online business.
7. Data Portability
When signing a business agreement, you always have safety clauses. Such as if you’re not happy, then you can leave without any hassle. This concept extends to online businesses as well and is referred as data portability. If you’re not happy with the platform, can you take all your work and move it somewhere else.
Let’s look at how WordPress and Squarespace compare in data portability.
WordPress comes with built-in tools to easily export all your data. Not just your content and images, but you can also backup your themes, plugins, and the entire database.
You can then easily move this content to any other Content Management System you want. You can store your content anywhere else and change web hosts at any time you want.
Just like everything else, the export feature on Squarespace is also very limited. You can only export certain parts of your content in an XML file. This includes your pages, galleries, and one blog page with all its posts.
Your product pages, album pages, text, audio, and video blocks will not be exported.
The content you create on your site is yours, and you should have the freedom and tools so that you can move it elsewhere. WordPress again beats Squarespace with easy to manage tools to export your entire site.
When it comes to support, WordPress has a massive community and “endless” amount of resources and tutorials to help you.
But it is hard to find relevant help. Anyone can develop the plugins and themes for WordPress. If you are stuck somewhere, you are dependent on the original developer. It is difficult for the developer to support so many people free of cost. So you don’t get the help many a time.
The other option is to hire a WordPress developer, but that is costly to maintain.
With Squarespace, because they have a centralized support team that’s dedicated to their own website builder, they’ve created a library of support articles, Workshop videos, live chat, 1-hour email support and a community forum to help you build your website.
It’s really a matter of personal choice. As powerful as WordPress is, it’s definitely more difficult to find relevant and good help. But on the flip side, WordPress really allows you to build some amazing websites with the right resources.
With Squarespace, you get help right away, get your website up and running, and you can move on to doing other things.
WordPress is also a much more scalable solution, thanks to the multilingual and multisite options that are available. A Squarespace site is fine for a business that knows it’s only ever going to operate in one location and in one language – but if your plan is to grow that business and open premises in a variety of locations, then WordPress is an option that is much better suited for the long-term.
The drawback with WordPress is that it takes time to find the right tools which are needed to maintain a site. Hiring a WordPress contractor is a very common practice for most non-technical WordPress gurus and the cost can add up over the years.
With Squarespace, all the updating and servicing are managed by the Squarespace team so you don’t have anything to worry about. Squarespace is a great solution for the likes of photographers, bands, and small business owners, who just want a simple website quickly and with a minimum of fuss.
WordPress does have its costs to get more out of the platform via plugins and themes, but hypothetically, if you wanted to get the same features from Squarespace, you would have to pay more as well. Squarespace doesn’t offer comparable features, though, when you factor in all the plugins and themes that are available.
But if you do have a tech-savvy person on your team, and you want to build a very sophisticated website that goes beyond what Squarespace has to offer, then definitely pick WordPress. See our post on WordPress Managed Hosting