Looking to create a stunning website? Then it’s no surprise you’re choosing between Squarespace and WordPress.
Squarespace is a website builder with the highest quality designer templates on the market. It’s hosted for you, so you don’t have to worry about managing updates or finding the perfect hosting provider. You can just focus on creating your website! You don’t even need to know code, although the option is there if you want.
WordPress also allows you to build your own website, but it’s not a website builder. We’re reviewing WordPress.org, which is an open source platform and is what most people are referring to when they say “WordPress”. WordPress.org is different from WordPress.com, which is hosted for you and designed more like a website builder, making it easier to use than the original. WordPress.org is the more popular and advanced platform, and this is what we shall be comparing with Squarespace in this review.
The main difference is you have to find your own hosting for your WordPress.org website. You will also definitely need to know how to code. The upside of this is it gives you the ultimate level of customization.
There really is no limit on what you can build with WordPress, which makes it extremely popular. In fact, 3.2% of the whole internet is powered by WordPress!
Even from a brief overview, you can already see some key differences. Squarespace aims to allow people with creative ideas to succeed without needing coding skills. WordPress aims to give people total freedom to think outside the box and achieve their goals.
In this article, we’ll compare these two stylish and powerful builders side by side. By breaking down their strengths, weaknesses and differences, we can give you the best idea of which builder is the best for you. We’ll drill into areas such as ease of use, design flexibility, quality of features, apps, SEO, support, pricing and more.
|Ease of Use||Pros||Cons|
The first thing to say is, Squarespace is easier to use than WordPress. It’s not the most beginner-friendly website builder on the market, but if you’re not confident with coding, it’s still the easier choice.
Because Squarespace is a website builder, you can pick, switch, and personalize your templates using drag-and-drop. You simply choose an element like a text box, drag it to where you want it, and drop it – and that’s exactly how it will look once your page is published.
This is called “What You See is What You Get”, or WYSIWYG editing. It makes it super easy to make changes because you’re seeing everything right in front of you, exactly how visitors to your site will be seeing it once it’s live.
WordPress is different. Because it’s an open source CMS platform, it doesn’t use drag-and-drop: instead, you use code and third party plugins to customize your pages. This gives you lots more creative control, but makes the whole process a lot more difficult, especially if you’re not tech savvy.
You don’t see your changes as you make them like you do with Squarespace. Instead, you make edits in the backend. This is like flipping switches backstage. You can walk round to the front to see which lights you’ve turned on, then go back behind the curtain to change the settings.
WordPress is highly customizable. It’s a powerful and flexible platform, which is great if you’re confident with code. If you’ve got money rather than coding skills, you can hire a developer to help you at around $100 an hour. This will raise your costs, but reduce the amount of tech you need to deal with.
If you don’t want to hire a developer or don’t have time for the steep learning curve that comes with WordPress, Squarespace offers a much more beginner-friendly experience.
Although it has less freedom in its customization, Squarespace still offers super flexible and stylish designs. More importantly, it affords you lots of creative control, whether you’re a tech guru or total code-phobe.
Verdict: Squarespace wins for ease of use. With Squarespace, you can easily modify your design, while WordPress requires coding. This makes Squarespace more beginner friendly, as you can simply drag and drop features onto your pages. For most people, Squarespace is simply easier than WordPress.
If you want a website builder but don’t want to compromise on design, don’t worry: Squarespace has the best quality designs of any website builder on the market. Its designer templates are clean, modern and professional. You’ve got over 60 to choose from, covering a variety of categories from online stores to fashion sites.
If you’re up for the coding side of things, WordPress has even more to tickle your fancy. Thousands of themes mean you have nothing to worry about besides picking one! And that’s not all. You can browse commercial themes, or even upload your own theme to host on WordPress and be downloaded by others.
Once you’ve chosen your theme, you want to have fun with it! Make it yours and change things up by adding images and videos, or changing the fonts and backgrounds.
With Squarespace, you can customize to your heart’s content. See all your changes right in front of you and easily add galleries, slideshows, video backgrounds, and more with just a few clicks. If you want to go even further and really get creative – and technical – you can use the built-in custom CSS editor. This lets you apply custom code to your template.
Of course, WordPress has quite rightly made a name for itself in this area, giving you ultimate control over your website. It may not be quite as easy as drag-and-drop, but there are no limits on what you can change in your template.
One of the most important parts of picking a template is making sure it looks great on all devices. When you’ve put so much hard work into giving it that wow factor, you don’t want your site to be the ugly duckling of the mobile world. Mobile responsive templates make sure your website still looks stunning on, you guessed it, mobile devices.
All of Squarespace’s templates are fully mobile optimized. Every template design has a mobile view automatically built in, which makes sure your website looks great on all devices. This even includes any emails you send.
WordPress is slightly different. Because there are so many themes to choose from, there are different levels of quality. Some themes will be older than others, meaning they don’t have mobile optimization. In a world where over 50% of traffic comes from mobile users, you’d be missing out by choosing an outdated theme.
With so many designs to choose from with both Squarespace and WordPress, it would be too hard to pick just one and stick with it forever. Luckily, you can change your template any time you like!
This is a more complex process on WordPress, so it’s a good idea to backup your website before you set out to switch your theme.
Verdict: Squarespace wins! While WordPress has more themes than Squarespace, they’re not as high quality. All of Squarespace’s themes are designer and mobile optimized. It’s much easier to switch templates with Squarespace, and it supports best practice in user experience and branding.
You don’t just want your website to look good. Beneath that attractive design, you want it to pack one hell of a punch. That’s where features come into play.
Both Squarespace and WordPress have tons of built-in features. Squarespace has top quality customization, ecommerce, blogging, and design tools, to name just a few! The list goes on and on, but here’s a sneak peek at just a handful of the features included with Squarespace:
- Free Typekit and Google fonts
- Adobe Image Editor
- Install multiple templates
- Audio collections
- Dropbox file synchronization
- Social integration
- Blogging features
- Email campaigns
- Product quick view
- Sell unlimited digital and physical products and services
All of these plus much, much more all come as standard automatically included in your Squarespace editor. You don’t have to install extra apps or plugins – simply go to your dashboard and select the feature you want to use. Easy! You’ll be blogging, selling, creating and sharing in no time.
WordPress is known for its powerful functionality. A lot of this is down to the endless plugins you can install, but there are in-built features to make the most of too. Some of these include:
- Customizable designs
- Publishing tools such as scheduling
- Password protected pages
- Multiple contributors
- Image editing tools
- Comments management
- Multilingual options
These features aim to make publishing your website with WordPress simple and effective. Although there are fewer intuitive features than Squarespace, WordPress isn’t left in the dust. The multilingual option means you don’t even have to publish your site in English: in fact, you can choose from over 70 languages!
It’s not enough to just have loads of features – there needs to be quality as well as quantity. Squarespace updates and introduces new features every few months. This keeps current features from becoming outdated, and gives you new tools to play with when they come out. Everything you need is right there at your fingertips.
WordPress is a little different. Because you’re managing your own site, you need to check for new releases and update your website to keep up. This is really important because an outdated site is more at risk of being hacked.
Verdict: Squarespace wins for features. WordPress relies more on its vast range of plugins rather than quality in-house features, whereas Squarespace comes with everything you need to create a stunning and powerful website. What’s more, it came top in our research for the quality of its features.
|Apps & Plugins||Pros||Cons|
WordPress is an open source platform, meaning that its codes are open to everybody to use and customize. Any developers or programmers can use WordPress to create their own tools (such as templates, themes or plugins) to share for free, or sell to other WordPress users.
There are more than 55,000 WordPress plugins, and that number is only going up. This is an amazing range of choice! You can expand the functionality of your site in any way you can think of. Sell through your WordPress site with WooCommerce, add contact forms, open comment sections, improve your Google rankings with SEO plugins… the possibilities are endless.
There are free and premium plugins on WordPress, so there’s something for every site – just be aware that quality and cost often go hand in hand. For one, paid plugins often come with more support. Another important thing to consider is how faulty plugins can make your website far more susceptible to being hacked.
With such a large community, it’s impossible to police the quality of all the products being created and downloaded. Some plugins are being created by developers at the top of the industry; others are being made by rookies, who can make mistakes and leave gaps which hackers can use to gain access to your site.
We’re not saying this to scare you, or put you off! But it’s an important thing to remember when you’re faced with thousands of plugins to choose from. Make sure you’re choosing relevant plugins from reputable sources, and make sure they provide a service you really need. keep the number to a minimum.
Squarespace doesn’t have a separate app store, or offer extra plugins to add to your website. It does have apps, such as the blog app, analytics app, note app, and portfolio app, but they are all integrated already.
This means you know for certain that you can trust these apps, that they’ll work seamlessly with your Squarespace site, and that you’ll have hands-on support in case you need help.
Think of Squarespace like a restaurant. Your food is prepared and cooked in-house. Your waiter knows the menu inside out, and is there to answer questions. You can pick and choose what you want, but all the food arrives from the Squarespace kitchen.
WordPress is more like a fancy buffet. It’s got dishes from all different places and all different kitchens. You don’t know exactly where some of them were made, and some are better quality than others.
With WordPress, you have to put the dishes together yourself. This is perfect if you know all about which flavors work best together, but the waiter can’t help with all your questions because the food was made somewhere else.
Either way, you can end up with a delicious meal – it’s just how you want it to end up on your plate!
Verdict: WordPress wins, but Squarespace comes a very close second. WordPress has thousands of plugins, while Squarespace has a smaller range of in-house apps. With WordPress you have more choice, but you must be careful when you’re choosing. Squarespace has less choice, but less risk.
You’ve perfected your stunning designs. You’ve got the features and apps of your website running like clockwork. Now all you need is an admiring audience to appreciate all that hard work. Time to become an SEO pro!
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and this is what gets you found in Google search results. If your website has bad SEO, it could stay stuck in the 100th results page forever. With amazing SEO, you could get to number one.
But who wakes up one morning ready to be an SEO expert? That’s where your chosen builder can help you.
Squarespace has built-in SEO tools to boost your website. This includes indexed and searchable pages, automatic tagging, canonical tagging, clean URLs, robots.txt, automatic redirects, automatic Google Sitemaps, and more. All of these are totally integrated, so you don’t need to download any extra plugins for total SEO power.
If none of that made any sense, don’t worry! Squarespace does that all for you, so you don’t have to spend a second thinking about it.
WordPress creates SEO-friendly websites, but there’s more you can do to reach the masses. As always, it comes down to plugins, and some of the most popular plugins on WordPress are for SEO.
For example, Yoast SEO has a five star rating from over 22,000 reviews, and has over 5 million active installations. This takes care of your WordPress SEO, unlocking powerful features for you to tackle.
So which is best? This really depends on you. WordPress certainly has more room for powerful tools with these hefty SEO plugins, but this is no use if you can’t get to grips with it.
Squarespace’s in-built SEO features do a lot of the work for you, plus anything you need to do yourself will be more guided. Either way, you won’t be languishing in the dregs of Google’s search results.
Verdict: WordPress wins for power, BUT Squarespace wins for beginners and in-house tools. By installing SEO plugins on WordPress, you can choose powerful tools like Yoast. But if you want built-in features and much less work, then Squarespace is the better choice.
One important thing you should know is that WordPress is continuously updating its platform to fix bugs and improve security. This means that whenever it rolls out updates – which could be multiple times a year – you may also need to update your WordPress site.
Thankfully, some reputable theme and plugin developers will also update their products to make it easier for you to update them within your website and remain compatible with WordPress updates. The real headache comes when you have a custom theme and are also using multiple plugins.
While some developers will bear WordPress updates in mind when updating their own products, this is not always the case.
Without the right updates, you run the risk of these tools causing conflicts, harming the performance of your website, not working properly with the updated version of WordPress, or even crashing your site.
Here is an article from WP Engine, one of the premier WordPress hosting services, about replacing a security plugin with its own in-house built security system. This security plugin is quite commonly used by WordPress sites, but has not been updated for over two years – meaning security risks have increased significantly.
In Securi’s report, they’ve identified that in most instances, WordPress websites that were hacked had little, if anything to do with the platform itself.
The reason the websites were hacked had to do with improper deployment, configuration, and overall maintenance by the webmasters and their hosts.
While WordPress is a fantastic website building platform, if you are not monitoring it all the time, your website could become vulnerable to attacks. You have to take charge of your own website maintenance, which is another layer of work (unless you pay someone else to do it).
Also, when you receive a notification from WordPress to update your version of the site, you should do so quickly as outdated versions of WordPress may present security risks (just as this website has been hacked to display spam messages). Keep in mind that when you update your version of WordPress, this may potentially conflict with your other tools and website features.
By contrast, with Squarespace, ongoing maintenance is simple. All updates are tested and pushed to your website automatically; Squarespace takes care of all that for you, so you can focus your time on other things that may be more important for you.
Verdict: Squarespace wins. It’s much less work than WordPress because all updates are managed for you. There’s no danger of downloading an outdated plugin like there is with WordPress. With this low maintenance system, Squarespace saves you time and effort.
The internet is a wonderful place. It can be fun, exciting, educational, and social. But it can also be scary. Just like in the real world, your website needs security to keep it safe from intruders. You wouldn’t leave your front door wide open, and your website is no different.
With Squarespace, it’s like having a bouncer standing in front of your house. Squarespace looks after the security of your website for you; it’s the platform’s responsibility to make sure your website is safe from hackers, and that the system stays online and running smoothly. And overall, Squarespace does a pretty stellar job!
You also get an SSL certificate included in all Squarespace plans. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and encrypts data which is entered into your site. This is incredibly important: not only does an SSL certificate build trust with visitors, but it helps you rank higher in Google. It’s even more essential if you’re selling through your website, as it protects customers’ payment details.
The only drawback is that big ships attract pirates. As Squarespace has become more popular, it has suffered from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. These are basically attempts to disrupt normal traffic and prevent it from reaching a server.
WordPress is not as liable to these DDoS attacks, but it really depends on the hosting provider you choose. With WordPress, it’s your responsibility to look after the security of your website. This includes sorting out your own SSL certificate, carrying out regular backups, and regularly updating your WordPress site. There are plugins to help with some of the running of your site, but ultimately it’s down to you.
Another thing you must do is carefully choose reliable plugins. We’ve already mentioned how outdated plugins can weaken your site, or even make it crash. But that’s not all. Some plugins can actually contain harmful code which will affect your website’s security.
The main difference between WordPress and Squarespace is what happens if something does go wrong. If Squarespace is under a DDoS attack, it’ll let you know while its in-house experts sort everything out for you.
If you install a faulty or malicious plugin to your WordPress site and get hacked, you’ll be putting out fires on your own.
Verdict: Squarespace wins. It’s less vulnerable than WordPress because all its features are in-house. It has expert support and handles everything for you. You don’t have to manage your own security, unlike WordPress, where you’re responsible for everything from SSL certificates onwards..
|Help & Support||Pros||Cons|
When it comes to support, WordPress has a massive community and vast amounts of resources and tutorials to help you. However, in our experience, it’s hard to find good and relevant help due to information overload.
This is mainly due to the fact that anyone can develop tools for WordPress, so the quality of the tools are not monitored. Most of the time, only the original developer of the tool can help you – and that’s assuming they are even willing to help.
One alternative is to hire a contractor who is skilled in WordPress to help you configure your website, but that can get expensive very quickly – even if you outsource to the likes of India, Eastern Europe or Asia where wages are not as high.
Squarespace, meanwhile, has a centralized support team dedicated to its own website builder. This team has developed a library of support articles, Workshop videos, live chat, 1-hour email support and a community forum to help you build your website.
Furthermore, since Squarespace creates and tests its own tools, the chances of your website running into issues are fairly low.
Verdict: Squarespace wins. While WordPress has a larger community forum, Squarespace’s knowledge base is much easier to use. In-house support means you’re guaranteed an answer to your question, unlike WordPress. Squarespace has a strong support system including guides, videos, and email support.
|Pricing & Value for Money||Pros||Cons|
Before building a website, it’s important to consider how much you’d be willing to invest in it. How much to invest in your website is definitely a very important consideration.
All of Squarespace’s plans have unlimited storage and come with a free domain name for the first year (worth $10-15). The dedicated 24/7 support included in your Squarespace plan is a valuable feature, as it could save you hours if you’re ever in need of some help.
Squarespace offers 4 premium pricing plans, ranging from $12-40 per month (billed yearly).
If you sign up to an annual plan, you can save between 13% and 25% compared to signing up to a month-to-month plan.
|Squarespace Pricing Plans||Monthly Plan ($/month)||Annual Plan ($/month)||Savings (%)|
The cheapest Personal plan costs just $12 per month (billed annually) and gives you all you need to create a simple and stylish website.
The next plan up is the Business plan at $18 per month. Perfect for businesses, it supports ecommerce and has over double the features available on the Personal plan.
The remaining two plans are aimed at creating online stores. The $26 per month Basic plan includes all the features from the Business plan, plus advanced ecommerce tools. The most expensive plan is the Advanced plan at $40 per month, which is aimed at growing businesses.
Don’t forget: all Squarespace plans come with a 14- day free trial!
WordPress is a free platform, but you’ll still need to get your wallet out to help cover other aspects of your site. Five main factors to think about when working out your costs are:
- Hosting – paying a hosting provider for space online where you can install and store your WordPress site
- Themes – while some themes are free, for top quality it’s worth thinking about investing in paid themes, or a designer
- Ecommerce integration – if you want to sell through your site, you’ll need ecommerce tools
- Plugins – reliable and trustworthy plugins can expand your website and are worth paying for
- Developer costs – are you building this site yourself? Are you hiring a developer to help you? This decision will affect your overall budget
WordPress will require you to sort your own hosting, which generally costs around $7 per month (so roughly $84 per year, although Bluehost does offer cheaper packages).
On top of this, you will most likely need to purchase a theme, which on average could cost about $30-80 per theme. How much you spend will depend on how reliable and reputable the theme developer is (as a rule of thumb, the more expensive the product, the more reliable it is).
If you want to add more functions to your WordPress site, you may need to add a few free or paid plugins. This could come to around $15-50 per plugin, again depending on the reputation of the developer.
With WordPress, you will also need to purchase your own domain name, which will be around $10-12 per year.
So the initial investment for a WordPress website could range from $139 to $200 or higher, depending on how many paid plugins you decide to pick up. Also, remember this does not come with support.
Depending on your WordPress needs, you may also have to hire a contract developer or designer to implement them – which could end up costing you thousands.
All in all, the estimates we have provided for the cost of setting up a WordPress site are at the lower end.
According to Elegant Themes, a popular WordPress theme developer, setting up and running a WordPress site (without hiring any external help) could cost you anything from $200 to $1,000+.
The main costs are attached to purchasing premium themes and plugins. Premium themes typically range from $50-200 a month, while premium plugins can vary from $15-200.
A standard domain costs roughly $12 per year. Hosting is very dependent on the provider you choose, but on average, hosting prices tend to fall between $10 and $30 a month.
Note that this does not factor in ongoing costs; if you need to hire someone to help you make modifications to your WordPress site or to help troubleshoot, this will inflate the cost even more.
Elegant Themes also estimated that a custom WordPress theme will cost you around $3,000-6,000 (for design and development), while a custom WordPress website will be around $6,000-15,000 (for design and development plus custom plugins). You can see their estimates here.
Verdict: WordPress wins. It’s a free platform, so any money you do spend is totally under your control. You can choose your own hosting, plugins, and themes depending on your budget, although there’s risk of extras increasing your costs. This isn’t a danger with Squarespace’s set plans.
Squarespace and WordPress are both design giants of the website building world. Either will help you create a beautiful and powerful website. But there are some big differences too.
Squarespace is aimed at people who lack expert tech skills. You don’t need to code to create a website on Squarespace, but with its high quality designs, people will have a hard time believing it! You can code if you want to, but thanks to its drag and drop editor, it’s not essential.
WordPress is only suitable for the more technically confident. You will need to code, and you will need to be happy managing, updating, and protecting your own website. The results will be satisfying, though; WordPress is extremely popular, and if you’re on the technical ball, you can create a website that’s stylish and packed with features.
Overall, Squarespace offers an all-round package which is more suitable for more people. It’s easier to use, but still builds professional and complex websites. It’s less vulnerable to threats, and is much lower maintenance than WordPress.
WordPress has undeniably earned its reputation as the power platform of the internet. But for an advanced and accessible all-round builder, Squarespace is the real deal.
Here is a summary table of our comparison above.
|Squarespace vs WordPress||Squarespace||WordPress|
|Ease of Use||A very user-friendly, drag-and- drop website builder. You can build a website without knowing how to code or hiring anyone for help.||Steep learning curve, especially if you are a beginner. You need to know how to code and be technically savvy, or hire someone who is.|
|Flexibility||Less flexibility, but all tools and functions are closely controlled, monitored and tested to ensure they are up 100% of the time||Very flexible and customizable, especially with plugins, but could be very problematic if they break down.|
|Features||A range of in-built features with impressive quality covering a variety of areas. New features are regularly added and updated.||Smaller range of in-built features – more reliant on third party plugins for extra functionality.|
|Apps and Plugins||No external apps or plugins to install, as they’re all fully integrated into Squarespace already. This means they’re all compatible and updated.||Thousands of plugins to choose from to install to your WordPress site. Endless extra functions available. However, this can be risky due to outdated and poor quality plugins.|
|SEO||SEO features already built-in and managed for you.||SEO plugins can add powerful tools and guides to your WordPress site.|
|Ongoing Maintenance||Very little – Squarespace is a “closed” environment, meaning they control all aspects of the platform and manage all the updates and maintenance work for you.||Requires frequent maintenance, especially if the platform, theme or plugins are updated by their developers. You are responsible for maintaining all aspects of your website.|
|Security||All security and updates are managed for you. If there is a security issue, Squarespace’s experts will deal with it.||You are responsible for managing the security of your website.|
|Help and Support||Dedicated support team with organized tutorials. You can also get help through live chat or email.||Big community with resources and tutorials, but not well organized. Most users end up paying developers for help.|
|Pricing||4 premium plans, ranging from $12 per month to $40 per month.||Could range from $200 – $15,000, depending on various factors (hosting, themes, plugins, hiring help, etc.)|
Is WordPress better than Squarespace?
The answer to this question lies in your personal preference. If you’re looking to create a really complex site and would like total flexibility, WordPress will be the better option for you. On the other hand, if you’re a smaller business or a one-person team, Squarespace will be your best option. You can create a smart, elegant website very quickly without needing to know any code.
How much does Squarespace cost?
Squarespace’s monthly pricing plans start at $12 per month. You do have the option to try it out for free for 14 days before you commit to a plan. Check out our pricing review for a deep dive into the true cost of Squarespace, and to find out which plan is best for you.
How much does WordPress cost?
WordPress is technically a free open source platform. What you’ll need to remember when building a website with WordPress is that you’ll need to pay for a domain name, hosting for your site, and potentially a theme on top of that. You can expect to pay anywhere between $200 and $1,000+ to get a WordPress site up and running. Check out the pricing section of this comparison for more detailed information.
Which website builder is easier to use, Squarespace or WordPress?
You can use Squarespace without needing to know a line of code, which makes it great for the non-technical among us. It’s definitely the easier option compared to WordPress.
Can you switch your site between WordPress and Squarespace?
Yes! You can move your Squarespace site to WordPress, or move your WordPress website over to Squarespace. So even if you start off on one and then change your mind, it’s not the end of the world! You don’t have to stick with your first choice forever.