Both WordPress and Squarespace are stunning platforms that help you build gorgeous and completely functional websites. However, both provide very different approaches to building a website and have different tools and functionality, which is why we have written this guide to better clarify all aspects ‘WordPress vs Squarespace.’
Read on to see how WordPress and Squarespace compare.
1. Design and Flexibility
Squarespace website templates are absolutely lovely. However, they are also somewhat restricted in terms of customizable possibilities. Sure, they look pretty stylish when you pick them up, but that’s because they’ve been beautifully made with fantastic, stunning images. If you don’t have access to the same content for logos or background photos, your beautiful website could end up looking a little cheap.
With WordPress, you have an almost infinite range of free and paid templates to pick from and nearly unlimited customization choices.
WordPress has updated its editor with the Gutenberg upgrade, introducing a block building system similar to Squarespace. However, you will also need a minimum amount of technical skill. And if some hosting companies provide “one-click solutions” to install WordPress, you would always have to deal with software upgrades now and then.
Likewise, if you want to make the most of the platform, it will benefit if you could manually upgrade your plugins, have simple FTP knowledge to upload files to your website, and maybe even databases like MySQL if you want to do some very advanced things. All in all, with WordPress, you’ll find a much steeper learning curve.
Squarespace provides a very practical, efficient, and convenient online shopping portal for your website right out of the box. You can quickly add a Product Page to your website to create an online shop and add products to it. You can manage the inventory. You may apply variations to the items. You can monitor your discounts and mailing options. And you can sell both physical and digital merchandise, including subscriptions.
You can also combine the shopping platform with other products such as Mailchimp for mailing lists and Xero for accounting purposes. Their integration with Zapier helps you to connect to hundreds of other email providers and CRM software. It also gives you a very good set of payment providers: credit cards via Stripe, Paypal, ApplePay, and Point of Sale support.
3. Uptime & Pagespeed
Google favors faster websites and tests their speed by using a variety of factors, including how responsive they are and how fast they launch on a mobile device.
The results from Squarespace are ok. Although all their templates are responsive and mobile-ready, page speed checks are not outstanding, and they are borderline punishing when it comes to mobile devices. It is worth remembering at this point that all their servers are located in the US, which could slow things down if you interact primarily with visitors from other geographic areas.
With WordPress, the speed depends on which website host you go for. Check out your uptime and speed analysis before you commit to a WordPress host.
If you’re in a highly competitive niche market and want to stand out from the crowd, you’re going to have to apply the latest SEO practices. Here again, Squarespace makes it convenient for you to do so. This service lets you conveniently customize title tags, meta descriptions, custom URLs, and even build 301 redirects.
Yet you need to know what you’re doing here. For example, Wix provides a more hands-off approach with its SEO Wiz tool. But again, it’s easier to learn the fundamentals than to mistakenly rely on a magic weapon.
WordPress is fairly effective when it comes to SEO, due to a range of plugins. But once again, you’re going to have to provide some elbow grease to get the job done. You have a few options: either you can get right under the hood and manually tweak HTML, or you can use plugins that make it effortless to simply fill fields with your Google-friendly data.
One such plugin is the free Yoast SEO, which gives you advanced features such as real-time page analysis, image titles, optimization options, and XML sitemaps.
5. System Migration
You can always transfer content from one platform to another. But be mindful that it’s not going to be easy.
Squarespace does provide an import/export feature, but it’s easier to get things in than to send them out. For example, when uploading to WordPress, you will need to manually manage the images, and the CSS (i.e. all style-related) will be ignored. In addition, before importing, you will have to disable any WordPress plugin that can often break your theme and easily become a bit of a headache.
WordPress, on their side of things, doesn’t provide native Squarespace import, so you’ll have to install another free WordPress Importer plugin. You’ll be able to import galleries, blog entries, and static pages.
Please note that neither service would allow you to migrate items such as audio, video, event pages, or product pages that can be a major challenge for online stores. In addition, you’re not going to be able to replicate the layout of a website, so you’re very likely to have to re-design it from scratch.
Each Squarespace option comes with dedicated personal email support and even a live chat. So if you need a helping hand through setup, or if you’re trying to upload images of your pet to your page, you know who to talk to.
For the WordPress platform, it’s a bit of a mixed bag since there’s no official support. Yes, you benefit from a large user community and extensive documentation, but finding a solution to your dilemma will easily become difficult. However, once you buy a paid WordPress style, certain developers provide free help so you can email them to change the layout to your heart’s content.
7. Conventional vs Unconventional Websites
Use Squarespace if you are creating a conventional website and use WordPress if you need an unconventional feature on your website.
That raises the question: what is conventional and unconventional?
Photography portfolios, blogs, and websites for small businesses are examples of conventional websites. They need features such as photo galleries, forms, and maps—all of which Squarespace does an outstanding job of supporting.
A feature is unconventional if it’s not something you would imagine a typical small business website to need. For example, what if you needed a social network on your website? WordPress has BuddyPress, a plugin built to do exactly that.
8. Open vs Closed
WordPress is open-source—which ensures that everyone can contribute to it. It’s both a strength and a weakness. The strength is that there is a vast range of themes and plugins developed by the WordPress community. The weakness is that a lot of themes and plugins don’t work completely out of the box.
But if you can deal with a rare incompatibility error, you’ll love having a WordPress plugin for just about everything. Some plugins are also very sophisticated—for example, WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin that’s almost as good as many dedicated eCommerce site builders.
Squarespace isn’t open source. Instead, it’s got a more curated, closed approach. Developers can’t just opt to build a Squarespace plugin. Instead, Squarespace is curating a list of 60 partners, including Instagram, Acuity Scheduling, Apple News, Zapier, and more.
Squarespace can’t equal the number of plugins and themes found on WordPress, but the upside of Squarespace is that everything just functions. You don’t have to patch incompatibilities or fear that your theme doesn’t accept a plugin. If Squarespace embraces integration, you can be assured that it has been completely integrated.
9. Ease of Use
If you consider yourself a total n00b when it comes to technology, if you don’t even know what n00b is, or if the term “plugin” sends you to the hills, then here’s the good news: Squarespace is an incredibly beginner-friendly platform with a drag-and-drop interface.
While it’s worth remembering the other website builders out there are much easier to use, all you need to do to set up a new site is know how to click a mouse on your screen. Very good stuff for anyone suffering from source code phobia.
With Squarespace, you have very clear pricing options and you can quickly calculate how much it will cost you every year, all included: $12/month for your personal website; $18/month for your business website; $26/month for a basic online store or $40/month for an advanced one. Not very cheap, but easy to calculate.
With WordPress, you have to budget your hosting plan, the price of your website theme, and the price of additional plugins. This suggests that you could spend as little as $4 a month if you do it cheaply and don’t care about hosting speed, but your website could also turn into a real money pit if you want it to show every feature in the world.
Squarespace vs WordPress: Which is Better?
If you just want a simple, good-looking blogging + e-commerce solution that works out of the box, then Squarespace is probably the right solution for you.
But if you have huge ideas for your website, go for WordPress. Yes, it will take some time and effort (and maybe some cash too), but the volume of choices doesn’t even equate to the competition. Multilingual support, specific templates, membership areas, searchable databases: these are only a couple of the things you can’t get with Squarespace.