In the following Squarespace vs. WordPress.org comparison, we’re going to take a look at what differentiates these two popular content management systems.
We’ll take a side-by-side look at important decision-making factors like:
While you’ll be able to create a great looking, professional website with either platform, how easy it is to do so and what you’re able to build will differ. So let’s pick apart those differences now:
Squarespace vs. WordPress: A Comparison of These Top Website Builders
However, that is where the similarities end.
Here’s what you need to know about the two content management systems and how their differences impact what you can build and even how long it takes:
1. Hosting & Domain
First things first: WordPress offers two different products. WordPress.com is similar to Squarespace in that it’s a hosted CMS. This means that web hosting is built into the plan and isn’t something you have to manage.
WordPress.org, on the other hand, is a self-hosted CMS. This means that before you can build a website, you need to buy web hosting and a domain name for it.
WordPress.com is nowhere near as useful as Squarespace or WordPress.org. So we’re going to focus on the technical differences between the latter two.
There are a number of reasons why you might prefer hosted vs. self-hosted, and vice versa.
Let’s start with Squarespace. Signing up to use the website builder is straightforward. You could realistically be inside the platform, with a half-designed website ready for you to customize, within 15 minutes of signing up. In addition, you can buy your domain name directly from Squarespace, so you don’t need to leave the platform to do that.
What’s more, you’ll never have to worry about managing the technicalities of running your website. This includes:
- Software updates
- Resource management (like storage and bandwidth)
At the same time, this means you have no control over any of these things. For some of you, that may prove problematic.
With WordPress.org, the initial setup of your website can take some time.
First, you’ll need to research web hosting providers and plans. You’ll also need to secure a domain name, either through your web host or a DNS provider. What’s more, you’ll need to install WordPress on your server. Many hosting companies these days offer a convenient one-click installation setup, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about that.
The process may be quick if you’ve worked with WordPress before. If you haven’t, though, it can take some time to navigate.
The technical maintenance of a WordPress website isn’t simple either. Unless you pay extra for a managed WordPress hosting plan, you’ll be responsible for managing security, performance, backups, software updates, and more.
Then again, that might not be a bad thing. If you intend on building a scalable website that receives a ton of traffic and performs complex tasks, it’s beneficial to have control over the backend performance of your site.
2. Ease of Use
The WordPress content management system hasn’t changed much over the years.
For someone who’s never used WordPress before, it can be intimidating to use at first. Even then, long-time users can experience issues getting around the platform when new plugins are installed as they don’t always end up in the most logical or visible of places.
In terms of building out content, WordPress has its own visual page builder.
While it got a modern upgrade some years back, many of its users still prefer to install a third-party page builder plugin like Elementor because WordPress’s builder isn’t as easy to use. It’s also not a true visual builder, so what you see when you’re laying out your content might not perfectly match up with what appears on the site.
Squarespace, on the other hand, is an easy platform to get started with and to use. There is little to no learning curve with this builder.
This level of simplicity is useful when it comes to using the platform. Each of the tools available is clearly visible and well-labeled on the left-hand side of the screen. There’s no mystery about what you can do and where you go to make modifications.
However, there’s a tradeoff. While the page builder allows you to control each element that appears on your web pages, the customization controls are limited when compared to a platform like WordPress.
3. Design Templates
One of the benefits of a do-it-yourself website builder like Squarespace or WordPress is that you don’t need professional design software to create great looking and responsive web designs. Both platforms offer an array of design templates in common categories like:
- Real Estate
Once your theme or template is installed, you use the page builder to customize the pages that have automatically been generated. You can personalize as much or as little of the designs as you like. It’s completely up to you.
The main difference between these platforms is the number of design templates available as well as their cost.
Squarespace’s free templates are available within the page builder. There are hundreds to choose from.
You may prefer this option for a couple of reasons. For starters, if you plan on doing heavy customization, then you might not be super picky about what the designs look like or what features or pages are included in the template.
Another reason is that you might not want to spend too much time having to look through a bunch of templates. You’d rather find something quickly that looks great so you can devote your time to adding content and getting your site online.
WordPress is the oldest and most popular content management system. Because of this, it offers an enormous selection of themes and templates. You can choose from over 5,000 free WordPress themes inside of the platform.
You also have the option of buying a premium WordPress theme from ThemeForest.
Unlike many Squarespace themes that come with a fleshed-out home page design and bare-bones internal pages, WordPress themes are usually fully formed. Not only that, they offer alternative design options so you can pick and choose the layouts and features that you prefer.
In addition, the WordPress community is active. This pertains just as much to the people who develop themes for WordPress as it does to the users. So you won’t have to choose a theme based on your gut instinct or a quick preview of the design. You can read what others have to say about the theme, see how the developer supports their product, and explore immersive demos of each.
4. Features & Extensibility
What you see is more or less what you get with Squarespace. You can build basic business or personal websites out of the box. You also have the ability to activate additional content hubs for:
- Scheduling appointments
- Selling event tickets
- Showcasing portfolios
- Selling on-demand videos
Squarespace also has a few dozen extensions that will help you build out certain portions of these content areas. That said, most of their extensions revolve around ecommerce, so that’s really where this platform shines in terms of building anything other than a basic business site.
Out of the box, there’s not much you can do with WordPress aside from some light blogging.
However, WordPress has an active community of plugin developers that make it possible for users to build anything they can imagine with this platform. Inside of WordPress alone, users will find over 55,000 freemium plugins that do all sorts of things:
- Add contact forms.
- Optimize your site for search.
- Transform the WordPress page builder.
- Add security features.
- Compress images.
- Enhance website search.
- Translate content.
- Add forums.
- Enable ecommerce.
- And much, much more.
You’ll also find thousands of additional plugin options available through sites like CodeCanyon as well as independent plugin developers. If there is something you’ve imagined doing with your website, there is most likely a WordPress plugin for it.
While it’s important that you find a website builder that makes it easy to build beautiful websites, none of that will do you any good if your website doesn’t rank in search results. Granted, there’s a lot you can do to optimize content so that it ranks well. However, certain website builders can provide some assistance as well.
As far as Squarespace is concerned, it’s light on SEO. Here’s what it allows you to do:
- Create a formula for each page’s SEO title.
- Write a custom website description.
- Set a unique URL for each page.
Search metadata isn’t the only thing that matters in the grand scheme of SEO. Having a website that performs well in terms of speed and security matters too.
Squarespace status reports suggest that the platform enjoys high uptime. Every few months there’ll be an incident that drops uptime to around 99.95%, but that’s still good. Having a website that visitors can reliably access is important.
Security breaches aren’t something you hear about often with Squarespace websites either. While part of that is due to Squarespace’s security measures implemented at the hosting level, I suspect it also has to do with the popularity (or lack thereof) of the platform.
This is where being a smaller player in the space has some advantages. WordPress has the largest market share of websites. Because of this, the platform’s vulnerabilities are well-known to hackers.
Speed can also be tough to wrangle in WordPress.
Squarespace limits what you can build and how many extensions you can use, which means performance won’t be much of an issue. With WordPress, however, you can install huge multipurpose WordPress themes, add as many plugins as you want, and upload limitless images and videos. Every single one of these can slow a site down if it’s not properly optimized.
That said, the one area of SEO where WordPress really stands out above other platforms is on-page SEO. Out of the box, WordPress doesn’t give users much to work with aside from permalink editing. However, WordPress’s plugins do a fantastic job of filling in the gaps.
There are plugins to help you generate sitemaps, analyze each page for SEO, connect with Google, cache your content, secure your login, and more.
6. Customer Support
Nothing is worse than waking up and seeing the white screen of death where your website was just yesterday. Or discovering that a critical plugin has stopped working.
When something goes wrong with your website, the last thing you want to do is pay someone a ton of money to try and troubleshoot the issue. So having dedicated customer support to resolve the problem and in a timely manner is a must.
Squarespace offers its users self-service support options inside of the platform:
- Knowledge Base
- API Docs
- Community Forums
There is also a pop-up Assistant that provides users with a checklist to ensure they’ve done all they need to do before publishing their website.
For users that need more hands-on support, there are a few more options available:
- Email Squarespace 24/7.
- Use live chat Monday to Friday during business hours.
- Ping the dedicated support account on Twitter.
WordPress has always been a community-driven platform. Because of this, the support offered by WordPress itself is scant. The WordPress support page offers up simple guides to help users get started and to troubleshoot common issues.
If users can’t find help for their issues there, they can turn to the community forums and see if there’s another user or developer who can help them out. And if that doesn’t work, they can reach out to their WordPress theme or plugin developer or their web hosting company for help.
While WordPress users have many avenues they can pursue, getting support can be a lot of work.
One of the benefits of using a hosted website builder is that your costs are clear, consistent, and all-encompassing. You’ll find evidence of this in Squarespace’s pricing plans.
There are four monthly or annual plans available to users. The price goes up as you gain access to more features, ranging from a basic personal website to an advanced ecommerce site.
If you want to keep your website’s costs consistent for the foreseeable option and not stress about surprising costs popping up, this is a good option.
That said, you can still stick to a steady website budget with a self-hosted platform like WordPress. You’ll just have to do some planning ahead to ensure that you’ve accounted for everything you need.
In terms of how much a WordPress site generally costs, it’s difficult to say. WordPress.org is free to use, so your monthly or annual website costs will be determined based on your:
- Web hosting plan
- Domain name service
- Security and performance add-ons
- WordPress theme
- WordPress plugins
While this might not seem like a good thing, it can be when you think about why Squarespace’s costs stay fixed. Because your website is on a hosted platform, you have no control over the backend. This includes your hosting plan, available resources, and so on.
With WordPress, you pay for exactly what you need, which removes those types of restrictions which could hurt your ability to do business online over the long run. It all depends on what you want your website to be able to do.
Should You Use Squarespace or WordPress.org to Build Your Website?
In the comparison between Squarespace and WordPress.org, there is no clear-cut winner.
Hosting & Domain
Ease of Use
Features & Extensibility
Both website builders have their strengths — it all depends on what kind of website you want to build. For instance, if you want to launch a blog or a small business website, then Squarespace’s ease of use, timely customer support, and steady, affordable costs will be more attractive to you.
WordPress, on the other hand, is best for people with lofty goals for their website. That’s not to say you can’t use WordPress to run a small website. However, WordPress has a huge community behind it and that community makes it a powerful brand-building tool for the Internet.
If, after reading this, you’ve decided that Squarespace is the one for you, then your next step is to get started. Learn how to build a Squarespace website now.
WordPress for Beginners
Learn how to use WordPress from start to finish in this free WordPress tutorial for beginners; the only WordPress beginner's guide you'll ever need.
Squarespace for Beginners
In this course you’ll learn how to use Squarespace for creating professional looking websites without writing a single line of code.