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Squarespace vs. WordPress: Your Full Breakdown

Last updated: November 20, 2019
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Whether you’re opening a retail store or starting a blog, your modern business needs a website to operate and grow. But what platform should you actually be using to create your website? For many business owners, it comes down to a Squarespace vs. WordPress battle.

Squarespace and WordPress are two popular website builders that can help you achieve a stunning website. However, they each have a set of unique features that may or may not be favorable for your needs or skills. In this article, we’ll break down how these two website building platforms compare in a handful of major categories.

Before we dive into the comparisons, we should note that there are two different versions of WordPress to choose from: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Our WordPress comparison can give you a closer look at the key differences, but a major point to remember is that WordPress.com is a free but highly limited website builder that often isn’t the best fit for business use. Because of this, this article will instead refer to WordPress.org, the complete content management system (CMS) that gives you full ownership of your website.

Pricing

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To give you a great point of reference as you begin to consider the relative value of Squarespace vs. WordPress, we’ll start by examining the cost of each platform.

Squarespace has four different pricing plans that range from $12 per month (for a Personal plan) to $40 per month (for an Advanced Commerce plan) if you pay for the entire year. If you opt for monthly payments instead, the price range is $16-$46 per month. All of these plans will already include your basic necessities, including a free domain and web hosting, so you don’t need to spend extra seeking these out.

Still, you will likely need to select the Squarespace Business plan — the second tier, costing $18 per month ($216 per year) when billed annually — to meet your basic business needs. This is because the Personal plan restricts you to two users, doesn’t allow any e-commerce features, and limits your ability to customize.

As an open-source software, WordPress.org directly contrasts this pricing structure. The WordPress CMS itself is completely free to download, including all of its features and thousands of WordPress themes. Instead of paying for your website building tool, you can expect to pay:

  • An average of $10 to $15 per year on a custom domain name, which will be your website URL.
  • An average of $5 per month ($60 per year) on a shared hosting service, which makes your website accessible online.

Hosting companies like Bluehost and GoDaddy may offer even cheaper rates for dual domain and hosting packages.

Features

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So at their given price ranges, what exactly can Squarespace and WordPress.org provide?

As we just touched on, opting for a WordPress site will allow you to get all of the content management system’s features at no direct cost. These features include:

  • Thousands of customizable website templates
  • Robust content publishing tools
  • A built-in image editor
  • Password protection for any desired page
  • Multilingual publishing options

In comparison, we’ll look at the built-in features that the Squarespace Business plan offers:

  • About 70 Squarespace templates, which are less flexible than WordPress themes but more polished for both mobile and web
  • Blog management tools
  • Advanced website analytics
  • Fully integrated e-commerce with 3% transaction fees
  • An Adobe image editor
  • Dropbox and social media integrations
  • Free SSL certificates for security
  • Email campaigns

As you may see, the built-in features of Squarespace sites are far greater in quantity than the ones that WordPress websites provide. However, a direct comparison of the two platforms’ similar features may show that the offerings WordPress has are more robust.

Add-Ons and Plugins

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Where WordPress truly does stand out is in the plugins category. Because it is an open-source platform, users can freely implement custom CSS to change how their site looks and functions. Many developers have chosen to share their own tools by adding them to the platform’s massive listing of over 50,000 WordPress plugins.

Helpful WordPress plugins include:

  • WooCommerce, a popular e-commerce tool for business owners looking to create an online store
  • Yoast SEO, a powerful tool that can help your business rank higher on Google through search engine optimization
  • Akismet Anti-Spam, which filters out spam from your blog post comments and contact form submissions

If you choose Squarespace to build your business website, be aware that you won’t have the option to use extra add-ons to customize your website. Squarespace instead offers “apps,” which are tools for blogging, viewing analytics, creating a portfolio, and more that are already a part of your built-in features and can be activated as needed. You can tweak these apps, but you can’t create fully custom tools from them.

Ease of Use

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While you may not be able to take advantage of a huge library of plugins on your Squarespace website, this means that you won’t have to deal with extra setup time to get the necessary features in place.

Squarespace is an incredibly beginner-friendly website builder with an intuitive backend and visually pleasing frontend. When designing your website, all you need to do is drag and drop content blocks until you get the look you like.

Squarespace even offers 24/7 customer support, so if you’re running into a snag that’s not so user-friendly, you can call professionals to help for free.

WordPress.org definitely has a steeper learning curve. While you don’t necessarily need to understand code to have a strong WordPress site, you will have to find the plugins you need and figure out how to set them up yourself. Even before that, you’ll need to know how to set up the CMS with your hosting provider.

A big downside of having a free WordPress CMS is the fact that you won’t be able to take advantage of a support team. Instead, you can rely on the company’s support forums or Google searches in hopes of getting answers for a DIY fix. Other business owners may choose to hire or contract an expert for website updates and repairs.

Squarespace vs. WordPress: Our Final Review

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There isn’t a perfect answer for which website builder is better. However, there are definite positives and negatives to each platform that can help you determine which you should use for your own website.

Squarespace is a great starting point for entrepreneurs, especially freelancers and small business owners with little experience with managing a website’s backend. This is because the platform is incredibly simple, offering all your options upfront. To create a highly professional, mobile-friendly website, all you need to do is use Squarespace’s drag-and-drop editor.

Choosing Squarespace is also a great route for anyone who simply doesn’t have time to put into their website management. It limits the amount of tasks you have to juggle by making website maintenance extremely easy.

However, if you’re a digital-first company, you may want to choose WordPress. WordPress plugins are unmatched when you’re looking for high-quality tools that can boost your SEO, data capturing, and more. These plugins also offer far more robust e-commerce capabilities, so you can sell products more effectively. WordPress.org can also be a great choice for bloggers and content-heavy websites as it has highly sophisticated publishing and content management tools.

WordPress is also the most scalable option, so starting off on the platform will ensure that you’ll never have to switch if you find Squarespace’s built-in features too limiting.

Start Your Site on the Right Platform

Whether you’re looking for premium themes, great e-commerce functions, or built-in blogging tools, there’s a website builder out there that can deliver.

As you use this article to compare Squarespace vs. WordPress head-on, think about what tools you absolutely need and how much time you have to maintain your website. You may also want to think about what features may be game changers for you in the future. Website migration isn’t always easy, so take some time and make a list of the biggest pros and cons of each platform from the perspective of your business.

If you’re a blogger and want to add another option to your list, GoDaddy is another top contender among website building platforms. Check out our Squarespace vs. GoDaddy comparison to see how it stacks up.

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