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Squarespace vs WordPress – Which should you use?

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Squarespace vs. WordPress, which to use WHICH TO USE?!

Feeling tense? Not sure which option to choose for your website?

Breathe!

The moments before starting a website can be overwhelming. Without any background or experience, the sheer multitude of options available to you could be the source of a lot of indecision and frustration.

It’s normal to be confused. But try to avoid falling into that information overload trap where you find and decide on the first thing that looks as if it will be “good enough”.  Moving website platforms is a true PITA (pain in the ass) so you'll want to choose the right platform from the beginning. That means you should take a minute, look at your options, consider, think, and THEN choose... and no sooner.  

Why? 

I know a TON of people who simply didn’t know any better when starting their website. So they opted for poor quality hosting options or weak website builders that looked super easy (drag-and-drop).  Yes, they're still living and breathing to tell the tale, but they've had to deal with growing pains and other issues throughout the years.  Blindly choosing a platform on which to build your website is never a good idea.  Do your homework! 

So, to make the decision making process a little simpler, let’s talk through two extremely popular website options.  Squarespace vs. WordPress – which one should you use? We’ll break both of these options down so you can understand where they succeed and where they fail.

First thing's first... It’s not a fair comparison

A lot of people want straight up WordPress vs. Squarespace comparisons, it’s not entirely fair. It’s like comparing apples to oranges.

Squarespace is a online website builder, hosting solution, domain name registrar all rolled into one solution. When you pay for Squarespace, you’ll simply login to your profile and create a site.

WordPress is an open source software, website content management system that provides the foundation for you to create a website. You don’t need to sign up for WordPress… it’s completely free for you to download. But before you can start building your website on WordPress, you need to purchase web hosting.

Bluehost is a great web hosting solution for beginners and it’s not awfully expensive either. To start creating your WordPress site on Bluehost, you’ll install WordPress through the easy install feature, and then you’ll be able to move on to the fun stuff – creating the site.

So, as stated earlier, Squarespace vs WordPress … not entirely a fair comparison. They are VERY different. As with everything, there are pros and cons to both and determining which option is best for you and your website will greatly depend on what your goals are for your site.

Now that we clarified those fine details, let’s move on.

squarespace vs wordpress pros and cons

1.  Squarespace vs WordPress - Ease of Use

Squarespace is incredibly easy to use. Even if you feel you’re inept at all things technical, you’ll be able to create a fairly professional looking and sophisticated website using Squarespace website builder. The great thing about Squarespace is that you’ll enjoy using the drag and drop website builder. So, there is absolutely no need to worry about writing a single word of code… ever.

WordPress is also easy to use. Even if you’re a beginner, once you’ve chosen the right theme to use, you’ll breeze through creating websites. Since WordPress is an open source platform, there’s literally an endless supply of themes for you to choose from and many of them come equipped with drag and drop website builders that are arguably more functional than Squarespace.

Conclusion:

Squarespace wins in terms of ease of use. WordPress is SUPER simple to use, but it might be more confusing for a beginner to complete the initial setup.

2.  Functionality

Squarespace provides lots of premade templates and allows you to customize basic design, but it offers MUCH less control than you’d think. Beyond the templates, there’s not much you can do to customize your site.

WordPress is the opposite in this category. As mentioned earlier, WordPress is an open source platform meaning developers go absolutely wild creating awesome themes and plugins for you to install on your site. The opportunities on WordPress are literally endless. Any function you want on your site, you’ll be able to make it or find someone who already has. Will it always be free? No. But the functionality is there for you if your business scales and you one day need it.

Conclusion:

WordPress blows Squarespace out of the water in terms of flexibility and functionality. Even without knowing how to develop and code, there’s an endless supply of already configured plugins for you to simply install on your site and put into use. While Squarespace’s limited functionality ensures you’ll encounter less bugs and glitches, it also severely restricts what you can do with your site. Business will do well to go with WordPress so that they can leave room to grow and scale.

3.  Pricing

Squarespace is an all-in-one solution, which isn’t necessarily a good thing, because if something goes down your whole site comes tumbling down. The upside is that all of your costs are in one place. Squarespace isn’t free, but when you purchase their services you get your web hosting, your domain, and your website builder design templates and functionality in one place. Is it expensive? Well that depends on what you need.

For a personal website, your costs will start out around $12 per month. If you’re a business, you’ll start out around $18 per month. You can upgrade at anytime to include more services, get more space, the whole 9 yards.

It’s not super cheap but it’s not horribly expensive, either.

WordPress is technically free. You don’t have to pay for WordPress itself but you’ll need to pay to host your website (between $3-$8 per month for small, starter sites) and your domain name (which could be around $15 per year). There is a library filled with free WordPress themes but if you’re looking for a functional, nice website theme, you’re looking at a one-time cost of around $60 - $80 for a nice theme. Some plugins do cost money but if you get a great theme, you’ll need less plugins. Many plugins offer great functionality for free.

Conclusion:

WordPress pricing for the first year is more expensive than Squarespace because it requires purchasing a handful of one-time cost tools like themes and plugins. Squarespace pricing is consistently about $150/year minimum. For a basic blog/personal website on WordPress, you’ll pay around $80 - $100 per year. In the long run, WordPress is more cost effective. Plus, the value for the price of WordPress is incredible.

4.  Stability

Squarespace is extremely stable given it’s restrictions on customization. Because Squarespace provides you a limited choice of themes and additional features, they are able to ensure you encounter very few issues and bugs.

WordPress is less stable given the fact that there are endless amounts of themes and plugins to choose from. The combination of certain themes, plugins, and version upgrades, your site could return certain errors and not function as well at times. It requires more hands on management.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for the easiest solution that will essentially prevent any headaches, go with Squarespace. Though this stability comes at the hefty cost of limited functionality and flexibility. If WordPress is managed well, you’ll encounter few issues. However, it does require that extra oversight. Essentially, Squarespace stability is stronger, though it comes at a cost.

5.  Ability to scale

Squarespace has limited ability to scale. There are only a dozen of templates available for your website design wise. And beyond just tweaking the design, you’ll find your hands are tied when it comes to changing or adding anything else. So what happens when your business grows and you need to add more functionality? Squarespace doesn’t have the capability to offer things like a member’s area, for example. And, if you’re running an ecommerce site, you won’t even be able to accept PayPal payments – crazy! Simple things like that which you’d think should be easy to accomplish, are just not possible within Squarespace.

WordPress, while offputting for begginers at first, is the ideal solution for small businesses to grow. Even if you feel you’ll never need to take advantage of all the capabilities that WordPress has to offer, it’s best to plan for the “best” case scenario. Hopefully your site does take off. And, when it does, if you’re using WordPress, you can rest assured that your site can quickly ramp up to offer any of the advanced services/capabilities you can think of. If you’re running an ecommerce site, it’s best to never start on Squarespace. It just can’t support the sort of functionality you need. While it might give you the bare bones at the beginning, taking your site from Squarespace to WordPress later on will be a pain. Start with the platform that you plan to stick with. Start with the platform that can support you from the beginning all the way through to the (hopefully very far off) end.

Conclusion

Unless you’re running a basic one-time event website, simple resume site, or something similar along those lines, it’s recommended to choose WordPress to allow your website to scale. Squarespace provides very basic functionality but it won’t give you the foundation you need to grow your business.

WordPress vs Squarespace – which should you use?

Here is a list of ideal websites for Squarespace

  • One-time events (wedding websites, fundraisers, things of that nature)
  • Resume websites – websites purely for the purpose of displaying your record (NOT portfolio sites)
  • Very small blogs that aren’t looking to monetize

Should small businesses use squarespace? Probably not. Small businesses need a more robust system to ensure they market themselves properly as professionals. Also, the functionality is too limited within Squarespace.

Should solopreneurs use squarespace? Probably not. If you’re a solopreneur, you’re likely trying to make money off of your site in some way. Stick with the CMS that offers the most flexibility.

Squarespace should really only be used by people to create extremely quick websites that don’t have the goal of making money.

Concluding Thoughts

Ultimately the decision depends on what sort of site you’re planning to run. For the vast majority of sites, however, we do recommend going with WordPress. Since long-term pricing with WordPress is actually slightly cheaper than Squarespace (which charges a minimum of $12/month) and the functionality and customization on WordPress is virtually limitless, it’s the better alternative. WordPress is the ideal software for you to both start and grow your site no matter what space or industry you’re in.

​So Squarespace vs WordPress - when in doubt, go WordPress.

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Eden Fried
 

Freelance writer, blogger, WordPress web designer.

  • Hi Eden,

    Big WordPress fan here. Agreed that it is a bit apples to oranges too, as each are different animals. AGWW: Always Go With WordPress. OK maybe not always, but if you want to build a pro blog no better platform exists to do it right. From branding, to customizing, it is a no brainer across the board. Super insights here and fab blog 😉

    Ryan

    • Ryan, Tend to agree with you there 🙂 WordPress is an AMAZING option for many projects. Thanks for the compliments. I’m a big fan of your blog, as well!