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Squarespace vs WordPress

Squarespace vs WordPress is a rather tough confrontation. Why? Firstly, because both services are very reputable and have millions of active users. Secondly, because the former is a website builder, while the latter is an open-source platform. It’s like comparing the strength of boxers belonging to different weight categories.

Nonetheless, one day you can find yourself deciding between these two services for your next online project. Which one to choose: Squarespace or WordPress? Read this review to find out the benefits and disadvantages of these web publishing solutions.

Important note: in this Squarespace versus WordPress review we’re going to analyze the self hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.org), which is more popular and scalable than its online, ‘.com’ counterpart.

#1 Ease of Use

Squarespace. The latest version of Squarespace, Squarespace 7, is much easier than its predecessors. Its interface is cleaner and less complicated. To create a website, users don’t necessarily have to know how to code. Unless you want to get under the hood, the builder is completely code-free.

Squarespace editor

At this point, the key advantage of Squarespace over WordPress is its coherence: you get everything you need to design, customize, publish and maintain a website in one place, with all the heavy lifting done by the system (hosting, maintenance etc.).

WordPress. WordPress is a rather intuitive CMS, but it still has a slight learning curve. If you know what it takes to get a site online, WordPress can be a great option. But if you’re looking for an ‘all-in-one’ platform that supports WYSIWYG and drag-and-drop editing, you’d better opt for a site builder.

Wordpress editor

Squarespace vs WordPress. The answer seems obvious. Of course, the site builder is easier than the open-source CMS. While Squarespace is mainly targeting the end user who has no idea about how websites are being made, WordPress is meant for those who know a thing or two about website creation.

Squarespace includes a library of themes, ready-to-use widgets, and hosting. This is a secure, managed hosting platform, which means you don’t have to do anything in terms of hosting. With WordPress, you have to purchase and manage a web hosting account yourself.

This is both a disadvantage and advantage. It’s an advantage, because you have full control over your site and can transfer it to any other provider, at any time. It’s a disadvantage because website maintenance is a complex process for a newbie.

#2 Feature Set and Flexibility

Squarespace. Squarespace is a feature-rich publishing platform. It offers a decent selection of in-house apps and widgets, and also leaves enough room for customization. In my opinion, it provides enough tools to build a quality website. These include:

eCommerce. The ability to sell both tangible and digital goods, ShipStation integration, customizable order confirmation emails, the ability to add store managers who’ll have control over inventory, but not the rest of your website, data export, coupons, taxes, and more.

Squarespace commerce

Blogging. Scheduled posts, built-in Google Author Rank, tag support, post display options, multiple author support, geo tagging, customizable URLs etc.

Importing and exporting. Import blog content from WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr or Posterous. Import products from BigCartel and Shopify. Export content to WordPress.

Multiple contributors with different access levels. Access levels include Administrator, Content Editor, Billing, Reporting, Comment Moderator, Trusted Commenter, and Store Manager.

Connected services. Dropbox file synchronization, simultaneous posting (auto-posts to Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr).

Squarespace commerce

For power users, Squarespace offers Developer Platform, where you get full code control, from the opening doctype tag to the footer. Besides, all templates are exposed via Git, meaning that you can work with a team and roll back changes easily.

WordPress. WordPress is very flexible. Whether you need to build a webstore, a portfolio or a blog, WordPress can be the right choice. Thanks to the extensibility of the platform, you can create almost any website imaginable.

However, you should know that almost any new feature requires a plugin, be it an SEO pack, a social media plugin or a commenting system. Though these are quite easy to install and configure, the flipside of this concept is that over time your website accumulates many plugins which can overlap and also make your website heavier.

Squarespace vs WordPress. Though WordPress seems more flexible, I wouldn’t call it the clear winner. It depends on your needs. Don’t get caught up in the “more is better” mentality, unless you really need it.

But you should also realize that if your website expands outside of Squarepace’s capabilities, and you don’t want to sign up for the Developer platform, you’ll have to migrate your website to a more scalable platform.

#3 Designs

Squarespace. The builder offers a range of beautiful templates, including cover pages. Every design automatically includes a mobile version that matches the overall style of the theme. Custom CSS can be applied to any template design.

You can switch Squarespace templates, but it’s important to note that certain changes may not carry over to new templates.

Squarespace Designs

WordPress. There are loads of both free and paid themes for WordPress out there. However, it can take you awhile to learn customizing them. The best place to find quality WordPress themes is the official theme directory.

In case you decide to go with a free theme, make sure it’s malware-free. Theme customization requires at least a basic knowledge of CSS and HTML.

Squarespace vs WordPress. Squarespace designs work seamlessly and don’t require installation. WordPress offers a greater selection of themes, but their quality is sometimes arguable. Make sure you get a theme from a trusted provider.

#4 Customer Support

Squarespace. Squarespace has an impressive knowledge base. They also offer live chat, support through the Community Forum and email support.

Squarespace help

Squarespace also holds regular one-on-one workshops that take place in their Customer Care headquarters in New York and Portland.

WordPress. There are thousands of video tutorials, forums and other resources offering detailed guidelines on creating and maintaining WordPress-powered websites. But there’s no phone number or email to call for help.

Squarespace vs WordPress. Squarespace has fewer customers than WordPress, and they can serve all of them via live chat, email or their well-structured knowledge base, while WordPress has no support staff at all.

#5 Pricing Policy

Squarespace. There is no free version on Squarespace, but you can try it free during a 14-day trial. They offer three packages in case of annual subscription: Cover page ($5/monthly), Websites ($12-28/monthly) and Commerce ($26-$87/monthly). The price depends on the website size and subscription period. All annual packages include a free domain name.

Squarespace pricing

If you’re looking to build a simple portfolio site or a blog, then the cheapest version of Squarespace will certainly handle it.

To get access to the Developer platform you have to subscribe either to the Professional or Business plan. The Business plan is meant for webstores. It includes unlimited products, integrated accounting by Xero, and other eCommerce-specific features.

WordPress. It’s free. However, you’ll still have to pay for hosting and your domain name. Besides, you may have extra expenses (paid templates, plugins, etc). If you have no prior webmastering experience you may also want to hire a developer.

Squarespace vs WordPress. Actually, the difference in prices isn’t that great. WordPress is technically free, but in the long run you’ll still have to pay for extra functionality and hosting.

Squarespace vs WordPress: Conclusion

Selecting a web publishing platform is a crucial step. If you’re a pro, you will enjoy the flexibility of WordPress at its finest. WordPress is a full, scalable content management system, but it lacks the visual interface that modern DIY website builders offer.

If you have no idea about how to find a reliable hosting provider, install and configure a theme or use plugins, you’d better opt for Squarespace. It will help you focus on what really matters – your product/service, rather than technical details.

However, with all its advantages, Squarespace does have its downfalls that may drive you towards a more user-friendly or a cheaper site builder.

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  • MKJ

    This is a bias article. Every positive comment that’s listed for WordPress has but added on. Every negative comment for Squarespace has a positive spin. Example of the bias writing: Square space has live chat community support, wordpress doesn’t have a telephone number.

    Well neither does Squarespace, but you failed to mention that. Also to mention that “live chat community support” is just another name for a users forum, which is what WordPress has also. – smh

    • Come on. Those who can’t choose between Squarespace and WordPress will certainly check them out themselves to feel the difference. And only based on their own experience they’ll make their choice.

      My website is built with WordPress, Wix’s official blog is built with WordPress. WordPress is an excellent choice, we all know that. But my five-star award for its extensibility means nothing to a person who doesn’t know a single HTML tag. The non-technical will choose Squarespace over WordPress.

      I’m sorry if this article sounds biased. That’s probably because my website is dedicated to website builders 🙂

      • MKJ

        Fair enough. Thanks for the reply.
        -MKJ

    • Bryon McCartney

      Just to clarify, Squarespace has a support team. You can create support tickets and Squarespace staff respond to issues. I have had issues escalated and they have kept me informed all the way through to feature implementation. Yes, there is a great user community for Squarespace as well, but there is also an in-house staff that actually addresses issues when they arise.

  • Garden & Bag

    Hi, Howard –

    Thanks for this, but have you actually used Squarespace for a blog? We read so many reviews hailing Squarespace and decided to give them a try, yet not one review mentioned a GAPING flaw: there is absolutely no way to tell how many blog posts you have in Squarespace! We even imported our blog posts from WordPress to Squarespace and we couldn’t even tell if we had imported everything, because there’s no counter! You don’t know if you have 12 posts in there, 30 posts, 496 posts, and for people like us who imported posts in the thousands, there was no way to determine if all of the thousands had been imported.

    It is really shocking that no one on the Web has written about this, and it would be really helpful if people were alerted to this before they go exporting all their WordPress posts to Squarespace. We are no paid fans of WordPress, by the way, and we like Squarespace’s designs, but come on: the first thing you see in any blog portal, space, platform, area, or page on the planet is just how many posts you have! When you log into WordPress, it shows you, you have: 4,573 posts. When you log into Squarespace, there is no way on this green earth you’re going to have any idea how many posts you have!

    How can a company as big as Squarespace have such a major oversight? If you decide to design a blog using Squarespace, and you have a goal of writing 500 posts a year, there is no way you can tell if you’ve reached that goal. They want people to scroll down 500 blog posts, and count them individually? At least WordPress (.com) tells you when you reach certain posting goals: hey, you’ve posted 5 blogs, now 10, now 20, etc.

    This has been very disappointing to discover, and I hope our revelation helps someone else, as we certainly wish we’d known.

    (P.S.: It gets worse. Their blog pages aren’t even paginated, so we can’t even work out a caveman way of multiplying the number of posts per page by the number of pages. :-/ I’m sorry, but this is really not good if you’re a blogger).

    Thank you.

  • Blogarama

    This article is more about building a website with Squarespace or WordPress. It’d be useful to see the comparison of hosting and running a blog with them.

    • Hi, Thanks for your comment,
      I will surely compare those aspects of Squarespace and WordPress in my next comparison updates.

  • false1

    The thing that keeps me on WordPress is the fact that I can have a nearly unlimited number of sites on one hosting account. It’s only limited by the number of databases and webspace your host provides. I believe my current host provides 100 db and some ungodly amount of webspace. This means 10 different sites with 10 different domains costs the same $7+/- monthly as a single site. I’ve run as many as 4 I think, plus numerous testing sites. I pay yearly for each domain but I would do the same with SquareSpace as I don’t want my host to also control my domain.

    I was pleased with my latest WP upgrade to find out that many of the new themes provide serious automation panels to do simple sites without using any coding at all.