squarespace vs. wordpress
It’s Squarespace vs. WordPress matchup time. *In my best announcer voice* Let’s get ready to rumble!
If you are looking to create a beautiful site that makes an impact on the web, you probably have been considering to use one of two platforms: Squarespace or WordPress. Yes, there are a lot more out there that are also great options (looking at you, Shopify) but for the sake of keeping things simple, I want to start out by considering these two as they’re likely to be the ones most creatives choose.
So, before we dive in on the pros and cons of each of the platforms, let’s talk a little about what Squarespace and WordPress are.
Squarespace is an all-in-one website builder that is known for its modern and beautiful templates. Users pay a monthly fee to access templates (premium templates are an extra cost) and have their site hosted by Squarespace as well – this way, you don’t have to worry about maintenance, installing, or even researching which hosting providers are best since that’s all taken care of.
WordPress actually has two different versions. WordPress.com is a hosted website builder and if you go with their free plan, it will provide you with a subdomain blog (think, YourBlogTitle.Wordpress.com) and little else. WordPress.org however is a free, open source software that allows you to install WordPress on any server you wish and customize it any way you wish. For the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to go with WordPress.org because A) a matchup between WordPress.com and Squarespace just wouldn’t be fair and B) this site is built using WordPress.
Right now you might be thinking, “Wait. This site is built using WordPress. Doesn’t that make you a little biased?” Well… yes and no. While I am a big fan of WordPress, I strongly feel like Squarespace can be a really wonderful option for some – even better than WordPress might be. So let’s get crackin’.
EASE OF USE
Between the two platforms, Squarespace wins for ease of use. The reason being is that, as a Squarespace user, Squarespace will take care of all the maintenance for you (including updates) and is incredibly user-friendly. If you’re not a big fan of technology or aren’t very comfortable with the idea of installing templates, plugins, or making slight tweaks with HTML or CSS then you might want to skip on WordPress. There is a slight learning curve with WordPress’s backend and if do not use a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) builder like Elementor, Beaver Builder, or Divi, you might get overwhelmed.
CUSTOMIZATION & FLEXIBILITY
There are no arguments here, WordPress is the king of customization and flexibility. You know that saying, “there’s an app for that”? Well, regarding WordPress there definitely is “a plugin for that” and thousands upon thousands of free and premium templates. Because of this, if you’re looking to grow your business (you want to start with a simple blog and services page then maybe add a shop, podcast, or courses) then WordPress is going to be your best bet. BUT! If you don’t see yourself needing a ton of bells and whistles – maybe you just want a blog and to sell a few products – Squarespace will probably have more than enough for you.
On the surface you might think that WordPress is a clear winner on cost considering the open-source platform is completely free to install. And while that is true, there are a few caveats. The biggest (and most obvious) one is that while you are free to download the software however many times you’d like, you have to pay a hosting company to actually get it up and running. So let’s break it down.
On Squarespace a website hosting plan will cost between $12 and $18/month for the annual plan or $16 – $26 if you opt to pay monthly. That comes out to be between $144 and $312 depending on which plan you choose. But, that’s pretty much about it. You won’t have to pay more unless you want to purchase a premium template or you want to upgrade.
The cost for WordPress, on the otherhand, is going to be largely dependent on you and your wants/needs. I use SiteGround* as my hosting provider and their plans start at a very modest $3.95/month for the first 12 months. That’s less than $50/year and a lot of money saved. But, say you want to go with a specialty host like WPEngine.com as your hosting provider – well, their base plan is $35/month – much more than the cost of Squarespace.
Plus you have to consider the cost of customizing your WordPress site just the way you like it as several of the best themes and plugins are paid or have options of upgrading if you pay. To keep costs down, I recommend using Divi by ElegantThemes.com* or Elementor as a page builder. ElegantThemes starts at $89/year and Elementor starts at $49/year and come with customizable templates.
All in all, Squarespace and WordPress are just about tied here since the cost of having your WordPress site(s) hosted can fluctuate depending on you.
Considering how many people surf the web using their smartphones, I cannot stress the importance of making sure your website is responsive on mobile. This means that your website resizes its layout in order to fit and look great on a screen as small as a phone. You can be assured that with Squarespace your template will likely look great on a phone. With WordPress it’s a bit trickier than that. Since there are SOOO many templates, how responsive your site is will depend upon which one you choose. This is why I’m a huge fan of builders like Divi or Elementor – you can tweak just about anything to make sure it looks great. Here, Squarespace wins slightly over WordPress because you don’t really have to worry whether or not your site will be responsive.
Last but not least… Ooh the dreaded search engine optimization (SEO) – this has caused many a headache from developers to newbies alike. I’ve had my fair share myself but when it comes to SEO, WordPress is the winner with plugins like Yoast which make it so much easier and so much more powerful to control. The wonderful thing about the backend of WordPress is that you really can customize any aspect of your site including your meta-keywords and how your page title reads to make sure you’re making the Google-gods happy.
SO WHO’S THE WINNER?
I know you’re going to hate this answer but, *drumroll*… it depends on you and your needs. If you hate the idea of installing software or plugins and don’t consider yourself tech savvy at all, Squarespace is a wonderful place to start. The same goes for you if you know that all you need is a simple site with a handful of pages and not a ton of fanciness.
However, if you want to build an empire and are open to learning a bit of a new skill, my suggestion is to choose WordPress. WordPress powers millions upon millions of sites and with the number of resources, forums, and pros out there who would be willing to help, you won’t be alone. I also am more of a fan of being able to control where my site is hosted and that as WordPress is open-sourced, it’s not likely to go anywhere. However, if Squarespace disappears for whatever reason, your site is likely to disappear with it and as someone with anxiety, that’s a scary thought for sure.
If you’re still struggling with what platform to use, I’ve made a super easy, printable clarity sheet. With just a few questions and a dash of introspection, you’ll get a good idea where the Squarespace vs. WordPress matchup will land for you. Download it for FREE below!
DOWNLOAD YOUR *FREE* CLARITY SHEET
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