If you’re thinking about launching a website, the first order of business is to decide which website builder to base your site. WordPress and Squarespace are two of the most popular site builders, and both for different reasons. Let’s take a look at WordPress vs Squarespace and the core differences between each site builder. You can see which platform will be right for you and your site.
Determining the true cost of running a WordPress site is difficult, because WordPress itself is free. It’s everything else that will add to the cost of your website build. Your domain, hosting, and SSL security certificates are not included with WordPress, so you’ll need to purchase those yourself. A standard domain usually costs around $10-$15, and hosting can vary from $10 to $30 a month.
You can also find packages that provide everything you need to host and manage your WordPress site. Nexcess offers fully managed WordPress and WooCommerce hosting for as low as $9.50 a month. Likewise, Bluehost offers hosting for as low as $2.95 a month, with your domain and SSL certificate included.
Your WordPress plugins can also cost money, depending on your needs. The good news is that there are thousands of plugins and add-ons for WordPress, and many are free! Even WooCommerce, WordPress’s eCommerce plugin, is completely free.
Unlike WordPress, Squarespace’s price is more straightforward. Squarespace has a number of plans, beginning with $16/month for a personal site, and up to $54/month for their advanced commerce plan.
Their plans include your domain, SSL certificate, hosting, and other basic necessities for running your site – such as SEO and design templates. For more features, you’ll need a more advanced plan.
It is worth noting that Squarespace’s Business plan does take 3% of your transactions. To avoid this, you need to upgrade to their more expensive Commerce plans.
Additionally, if you do want to add extra features to your Squarespace site, add-ons and code scripts are available for purchase. However, they can be costly, especially compared to other content management systems like WordPress.
WordPress can be straightforward, depending on the type of site you’re building. As previously mentioned, WordPress takes a little extra work to set up. Finding a hosting provider, securing your website, purchasing your domain name, designing your site, and finding the plugins and extensions you need to get your site up and running can be challenging, or costly. Additionally, because WordPress is self-hosted (unless you go with a fully-managed hosting plan as mentioned above), you’ll also need to check for new releases and updates.
Likewise, designing your site can be a challenge if you don’t have any tech knowledge. WordPress is highly customizable, meaning you can build almost anything on your site with code. If you have no coding experience and don’t want to take the time to figure it out yourself, you can hire a developer to build your site for you, or you can use one of WordPress’s many site-building plugins. There are lots of page-builders to choose from, and many of them (such as Gutenberg and Elementor) are completely beginner-friendly and require no coding experience whatsoever.
Squarespace boasts an intuitive, easy-to-use website builder.
Most necessities for your site are already built-in to your website, including your domain and SSL certificate, your SEO capabilities, social integration, and all the design tools you’ll need to create a beautiful and functional website. With their intuitive drag and drop page builder, it’s easy to build a beautiful-looking homepage.
However, there are a couple of downsides. One major drawback is their lack of autosave. Your work doesn’t automatically save, so it’s easy to lose your work if by some chance your computer freezes or crashes.
What’s more, there’s no way to return to an older version of your post or page. Once you make changes, that’s it – there’s no going back unless you manually recreate your old page. If you mess up or delete your page, you cannot restore it. On top of that, there’s no way to save a draft and publish it once you’re done. The only way to save your work is to publish it.
This combination of factors can make Squarespace a challenge for users.
WordPress does not automatically come with any SSL certificates and takes no responsibility in ensuring your site is secure. Security measures must be taken by the user by purchasing an SSL certificate (or a hosting package that includes one) and taking steps to make sure your site is secure. You can install a number of plugins such as Jetpack that help keep your site safe.
Like everything else with Squarespace, everything is taken care of for you. It comes with your SSL certificate built-in, and the company takes full responsibility in keeping your site safe.
One downside to WordPress is its lack of live support. If you’re experiencing issues with your site, you’re on your own but for their WooCommerce Docs.
The bright side? Because WordPress is so hands-on, many developers become experts in the field and offer their expertise in forums, tutorials, courses, and other resources. Most are free, although you can also find some paid courses led by WordPress experts if you’re serious about it. But for the most part, if you’re experiencing a problem you can almost certainly find a solution with all of the free support resources online.
Squarespace offers a Help Center, along with Webinars and video tutorials to help you fix your problems. Their support team is also available through live chat and email. But because there are so few developers using Squarespace, there are few external support resources.
When it comes to WordPress design, the possibilities are virtually endless. They offer a great selection of themes in their library – but the amazing thing about WordPress is that because it’s open-source, anyone can build on it. There are tons of online marketplaces where developers sell or give away their own themes.
On top of the endless selection of themes, you can also install visual builders such as Gutenberg, Beaver Builder, or Elementor to easily customize your site. These plugins do cost extra, but they make it much easier to make beautiful websites without any coding necessary.
Squarespace comes with over 60 expertly designed themes for any type of store – whether you’re running a blog, a portfolio, or a store. Their designs are all designed to be mobile responsive, and their built-in drag-and-drop page builder is intuitive and easy to use for beginners. With Squarespace, you’re almost guaranteed to have a beautiful website with little to no learning curve.
Of course, because most of the tools you need are built-in, there is little room for customization. You cannot add code or build your own design templates or themes.
While this makes your site more challenging to work with, as we discussed under Ease of Use, the payoff is that you can maximize your store’s performance to the best of its ability. There are thousands of WordPress add-ons to help with design, marketing, SEO, upselling, payments, and so much more. A lot of these plugins and extensions are free, too.
You can also hire a developer to build a custom feature in your site – or build an entirely custom site. It can be costly, depending on what you want. But with the ability to build almost anything into your WordPress site, it’s a reasonable trade-off.
With everything pre-built into your Squarespace site, most small site-owners won’t need anything else. However, Squarespace is extremely limited when it comes to any kind of customization. For the most part, you cannot add your own code or create your own designs on your site. You’re only working with what Squarespace provides you.
If you have their Advanced Commerce plan, you can connect to apps and services such as Amazon and Mailchimp. These can be costly, and they only provide a select few add-ons.
WordPress provides a great foundation for SEO. WordPress is designed with code that is optimized for SEO, and because it’s open-source, you can optimize your site using meta descriptions, title tags, alternative text, and so much more.
On top of its inherent SEO advantage, there are a variety of user-friendly plugins to boost your SEO even further, such as Yoast SEO, which walks you through the best SEO practices.
Squarespace comes with built-in SEO tools, and does most of the work for you, including automatic site mapping, page indexing, tagging, automatic redirects, and mobile optimization. This makes it excellent for beginners or users who are not tech savvy – you don’t have to worry about learning how to improve your SEO, because Squarespace takes care of it for you.
Neither site builder is inherently superior – they both have pros and cons. What matters more is what you need for your site, and your experience level. Squarespace is hands down the best option for beginners who don’t have a lot of tech knowledge.
On the other hand, WordPress is more suited for users who are more tech-savvy or who want more control over their site. WordPress requires more work than Squarespace, however the result is often a unique, one of a kind site that suits your every need. Squarespace does most of the work for you, but this means you won’t have as much control over your site, and you’re limited to what Squarespace offers.