Squarespace or WordPress – Which One Should You Use?

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These days, if you want to build a website all by yourself, you get to pick from tens of tools. That said, when it comes to the absolute best solutions out there, you’ll want to narrow things down to Squarespace vs WordPress.

Since you’re here, you’ve probably heard about this Squarespace thing and this other WordPress thing — but you’re not exactly sure what these tools are and how they differ.

The good news is you’re in the right place to find out!

In this guide, I’m going to compare both platforms, describe the differences between them and tell you when using one over the other is a better idea. I’m also going to present a list of pros and cons of Squarespace vs WordPress, and examine how easy they are to use.

It may seem like a lot of information, but, when we’re done, you’ll know exactly which of the two will be best for your needs.

Let’s get started:

Table of Contents

Squarespace vs WordPress in a Nutshell

WHAT IS SQUARESPACE?

  • In a nutshell: Squarespace is an all-in-one platform that allows you to build a website from start to finish all by yourself — with no outside help — and then have that website hosted on Squarespace’s servers.
  • Price: $12 to $40 a month (paid annually) depending on the plan you choose. Plus, there’s a custom domain name included for free for one year. There’s also a free trial available.

Squarespace vs WordPress: Squarespace homepage

Squarespace is an online tool for building websites.

Think of it as a place where you can sign up, log in, and then get taken by the hand through all of the stages of getting a website created. You’ll go from a blank canvas to a beautiful, fully functional website.

Squarespace’s main selling point is that the platform can be used by anyone, even if you have no prior site-building experience. Moreover, this is not about building a so-so website, it’s about creating a beautiful, optimized site that’s in tune with modern standards and trends.

With Squarespace, you can create all kinds of websites — from simple business sites to blogs, eCommerce stores, portfolio sites and more.

WHAT IS WORDPRESS?

  • In a nutshell: WordPress is an open-source software that acts as an engine that runs your website. It has to be installed on a web server before it can be used. WordPress lets you create and manage web content in an efficient way.
  • Price: The main software is free, but you have to pay for the web host where you’ll install WordPress (usually from around $5 to $10 a month), plus there’s the cost of a domain name. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a domain name for free from your web host. If not, you’ll have to buy it separately.

Squarespace vs WordPress: WordPress homepage

WordPress is a piece of server software.

To use it, you first have to get access to a hosting account (which means buying some server space). Then, you can install the WordPress software on that server. Although this may sound difficult at first, in practice most web hosts have very easy-to-use one-click install tools for WordPress, so you really don’t have to worry about it. Getting WordPress itself installed will be a breeze.

After you have WordPress running, you can configure your site via a handy administration panel. This panel is where you can pick designs, add new features, set the core features to fit your needs, and so on.

There are no limitations to the type of websites you can build with WordPress. With the right set of plugins (add-on feature packs) and a good theme (ready-made design), WordPress is capable of running any — and I do mean any — type of website.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SQUARESPACE AND WORDPRESS?

I feel this is something I should emphasize some more since these things are often confusing to new users:

  • Squarespace is an online tool.
  • WordPress is a piece of software that has to be installed on a web server.

In practice, this means that to use Squarespace all you have to do is sign up for an account at Squarespace.com, and you’ll be able to start working on your site right away.

WordPress, on the other hand, involves a little more technical work and requires you to feel comfortable around software in general, playing with things such as plugins and themes, and not being intimidated by the technical side of how websites work. This experience is something that, in the long run, will generally be of huge benefit to anyone running any kind of online presence for their business.

Getting Started with Squarespace

Let’s get more specific about each platform in our Squarespace vs WordPress comparison, starting with Squarespace.

Squarespace provides a start-to-finish guided experience for building your website. Your adventure starts by selecting a design, and there are lots of interesting templates to choose from, covering a number of popular niches.

Squarespace vs WordPress: Getting started with Squarespace

Once you make your pick, Squarespace will ask you to create a new user account. This part is standard — you can sign up with your email, or by integrating Squarespace with your Facebook or Google profile.

In the next step, Squarespace will ask for your site’s title and give you a quick introduction to how to create new pages and edit them. After that, you’ll be redirected to the main Squarespace dashboard.

Squarespace dashboard

From there, you can begin working on your site. To make all of this easier to grasp, Squarespace has a cool assistant window on the right. You’ll find the most crucial steps of the website creation process highlighted there.

To change anything about your website’s design, click on the EDIT button in the upper left corner of the preview window. When you do that, you’ll be taken to Squarespace’s main customization interface.

Squarespace UI

This interface is fully visual and doesn’t require any coding skills to use it effectively. You can realign all elements with drag and drop, and also edit them individually by clicking into them and making your changes.

New elements can be added by clicking on the plus button. Squarespace is helpful here as well, and has a number of suggestions lined up for you. You can pick from various types of content blocks that are categorized in a neat way.

Squarespace content blocks

Your whole website is organized around individual subpages that are connected through the main menu. By navigating the options, you can adjust each page and set how it relates to other pages.

Along the way, you can also take advantage of various additional features, such as integrating an online store, a blog, social media blocks or even a reservation module for restaurants — plus many other components.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of this whole environment is that you’re seeing your site exactly as your visitors are going to see it, which isn’t standard among other similar tools on the market.

Finally, you get to choose whether you want to use your own custom domain or have your site hosted on a subdomain (i.e. YOURSITE.squarespace.com).

You can work on building and customizing your site during the free trial. However, to actually show that site to the world, you’ll have to upgrade to one of the paid subscriptions.

OTHER FEATURES OF SQUARESPACE

  • Wide range of website designs available (more on that in a minute).
  • Functional content customization module.
  • Good-looking portfolio templates.
  • Blogging tools.
  • eCommerce functionality.
  • Built-in SEO tools.
  • Third-party tool integrations.
  • Mobile editing via iOS and Android apps.
  • Integrated image editor.
  • Integrated social media features.
  • 24/7 support.
  • Hosting included in the main offer.
  • Built-in website traffic statistics.

Features: 9/10

Getting Started with WordPress

The peculiar thing about using WordPress is your adventure with it doesn’t actually start with it — as strange as that may sound.

Here’s the thing, if you want to use WordPress as the software running your site, you have to sign up for a hosting account first — and only then can you have WordPress installed on that account.

Depending on the hosting firm you choose, installing WordPress can be more or less complicated. Somewhat of a standard in the industry among web hosting companies is to give users access to one-click script installer tools — the most popular of which is called Softaculous. Those are not particularly difficult to use, and your host will have some guides to help you through the process.

Here at WinningWP, we recommend our readers use SiteGround — our go-to hosting solution for WordPress sites. They have great customer reviews throughout the web, and also makes it really straightforward to get WordPress installed. As soon as you sign up to SiteGround and log in for the first time, you’ll see a prompt asking if you want SiteGround to install WordPress for you. So, just like that, at the click of a button, you’ll have a working WordPress site ready.

Fast forward, and, with a clean version of WordPress installed, you can begin working on customizing your site to match your needs. As you can see, having to deal with hosting (via a third-party company) is an additional hurdle you must get over, compared with what the experience is with Squarespace. After that, though, using WordPress is quite easy.

You can find your WordPress administration panel at http://YOURSITE.com/wp-admin.

Squarespace vs WordPress: WordPress dashboard

A good place to begin working with WordPress is by picking a design for your website. This can be done by going to Appearance → Themes (from the menu on the left). Once there, click on Add New, which will then take you to the official WordPress theme directory.

WordPress themes

The themes you’ll find there are all free. There are literally thousands of them available, so you’re sure to find something that suits your needs.

Keep in mind, though, that not all themes come with optimized and customizable demo content — as they always do with Squarespace. To be on the safe side, you can check out some of the more popular themes in the directory first, such as Astra, Neve, OceanWP or GeneratePress. They all have demo import modules that are somewhat similar to Squarespace’s.

Once you have your theme, the next step is expanding the functionality of your site (should you wish to do it) using plugins.

Why might you want to install plugins?

Another difference between Squarespace and WordPress is that WordPress bets on minimalism when it comes to the features that are available in the platform out of the gate. In other words, you get only the absolutely necessary features, which is a great starting point to build on. Then, you can pick from, again, thousands of plugins (many of them free) for specific additional features, such as eCommerce, SEO, contact forms, improved security, and so on.

You can find plugins by going go to Plugins → Add New from the main menu.

WordPress plugins

At this point, you can call it a day in terms of putting the layout of your website together, and begin adding content (i.e. pages, images, and so on).

Since WordPress was primarily designed as a blogging platform, the main content type is ‘posts’. On the front-end of your site, posts are displayed in reverse chronological order, which makes them great for things such as company news.

OTHER FEATURES OF WORDPRESS

  • Thousands of free and paid themes and designs (more on that in a minute).
  • Thousands of free and paid plugins to extend the basic functionality of your site.
  • Advanced user management — great if you have more than one person contributing to the site.
  • Superior content management abilities, with revisions, media embedding and more.
  • Customize your content using advanced styling options and manual HTML editing.
  • Integrated basic image editing.
  • Social media integration available through plugins.
  • SEO features available through plugins.
  • Traffic statistics available through plugins or external tools.
  • Endless possibilities for adjusting the way your website behaves and looks.

⭐ Features: 10/10

Squarespace Design Options

When it comes to design, Squarespace subscribes to the idea of quality over quantity. It has a couple of dozen website templates available, which isn’t a lot, but they are all of top-quality. The list is heavily curated and features award-winning designs made by top designers in the industry.

What’s also worth noticing is that the templates are always kept fresh and follow modern web design trends. You won’t find anything outdated in the catalog. All templates are also optimized for mobile devices and tablets, provide good readability, and it’s pretty apparent that creating them took a lot of effort.

Most importantly, the templates can be customized freely to fit your website idea and make sure your content gets the spotlight it deserves.

Squarespace designs

⭐ Design Options: 9/10

WordPress Design Options

WordPress is king when it comes to the number of designs you can import on your site. There are literally thousands of themes available in the official directory alone (at WordPress.org), plus thousands of other themes — both free and premium — released by independent developers and offered through third-party websites.

That said, not everything is of high quality, so you have to do some more in-depth evaluation before committing to a theme.

Everything about WordPress is open source, which means anyone can start developing their own WordPress theme if they wish. As a consequence, you’ll find awesome, incredible themes, but you’ll also find themes that are simply mediocre at best.

Separating the wheat from the chaff may be difficult for an inexperienced user. (Note: We’ve tried to help a little by compiling a list of trustworthy premium-theme providers here.)

  • Keep in mind that if you decide to get a paid theme you’ll have to connect to your hosting account via FTP and upload it manually (although this isn’t actually at all difficult once you know how).

At the end of the day, WordPress still wins in terms of available designs. Yes, some of them are so-so, but there are still more awesome designs available for WordPress overall than there are for Squarespace.

⭐ Design options: 10/10

Next, which one is easier to use? Squarespace or WordPress?

Squarespace Ease of Use

As I mentioned in the previous sections, Squarespace is a platform that’s really easy to use and truly beginner-friendly.

The site builder module itself provides a nicely guided experience, so you’re taken step by step through the whole process of creating your website. There’s no previous site-building or coding experience required to use Squarespace effectively.

On top of that, you also get access to 24/7 support — so no matter what difficulties you may hit, you can always contact someone who’ll have answers for you.

⭐ Ease of use: 10/10

WordPress Ease of Use

I need to split this into two parts: The ease of building a website and the ease of running a website.

Let’s begin with running your site. Performing your daily (or weekly) tasks related to running a website is more than comfortable with WordPress. The platform is exceptionally approachable when it comes to creating new pieces of content (posts or pages) and managing or editing the existing ones.

However, the other side of the coin — building a website in the first place — isn’t as straightforward. Making your website look and perform exactly the way you want it will require some time and dedication.

There are numerous aspects and considerations that go into building a quality WordPress site, and some of them just can’t be skipped — such as getting the right set of plugins. If you’re a beginner, configuring your WordPress installation for the first time can be challenging.

On the other hand, if you want to go really deep into modifying your site — possibly at some point tweaking the source code (HTML and CSS), then only WordPress will give you full freedom to do so.

⭐ Ease of use: 8/10

Squarespace Pros & Cons

PROS

  • It’s an all-in-one solution. There are no technical aspects to worry about. The hosting is taken care of by Squarespace, as is everything else that sits under the hood and runs on your site, so you can just focus on creating content and enjoying your website.
  • It offers an impressive set of designs that are optimized for mobile and grouped into several categories according to their purpose (e.g, business, personal, and so on). Every design looks modern and is in tune with current trends.
  • It has a good interface that takes you through the whole process of making your new site a reality.
  • It has a nice set of built-in features that pretty much cover the entire spectrum of website building (you get a blog, an eCommerce module, a portfolio, and so on).

CONS

  • You don’t actually have full control over your website. If, for any reason, Squarespace questions your site’s content and decides that it’s not in tune with its guidelines, it can take it down.
  • Most designs available with Squarespace assume you’ll use attractive, high-quality images on your site — for example, there are large image backgrounds and huge image headers. This only works if you actually have such images at your disposal. If you don’t, high-quality royalty-free images have their price tags. You also need to be fairly design-conscious to take advantage of such images and be able to build your site’s final appearance based on them.
  • The possibilities in terms of customizing your content are limited. You have to make do with what the platform provides and you can’t make more in-depth modifications of your own.

WordPress Pros & Cons

PROS

  • The platform is free and open-source.
  • There are thousands of designs/themes and thousands of plugins available.
  • WordPress is the most popular content management system on the web. It’s estimated that nearly 40%(!) of all websites run on WordPress.
  • It’s a generally safe and secure platform with frequent updates.
  • You have full control over your website and its content. Even in an extreme scenario, if your hosting provider decides to cancel your account, you can still take your site and simply move it to another host. In short, you are the only person in charge.
  • WordPress has great content management features that let you take care of your posts, pages and other content. You can also manage media and everything else you want to publish on your website.

CONS

  • You have to take care of hosting your site through a third party.
  • It’s harder to find quality designs/themes that are equal parts optimized, modern, functional, mobile-friendly and overall good-looking.
  • The learning curve is a bit steeper if you want to master the admin interface and really understand how to use WordPress to its full potential.
  • You get no support, per se, from the WordPress team. You can always go to the official support forums, but there’s no guarantee anyone will respond. The only support you do get is going to be from your web host.

Squarespace vs WordPress: Who’s the Winner?

Squarespace vs WordPress
Squarespace WordPress
Price $12-$40/mo. $5-10/mo. (price of hosting)
Features 9/10 10/10
Designs 9/10 10/10
Ease of use 10/10 8/10

So, who wins this battle? As much as I hate saying this… it depends.

In some scenarios, WordPress is significantly better than Squarespace, but I could also make the case the other way around.

To give you the most accurate answer I can, here are some recommendations as to when you may want to pick Squarespace or WordPress:

  • Use Squarespace if you’re a total beginner to website building, and you just want to create a beautiful website for either yourself or your business.
  • Use WordPress if you want to have more freedom in crafting your website, you’re not afraid to experiment with different things, and you’re ready to spend time learning the platform. Also, pick WordPress if you want to have full control over your website with no one being able to pull the plug on it but you.

Squarespace or WordPress? Who’s your winner?

By Karol K

Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a freelance blogger and writer, WordPress figure-outer, and published author of "WordPress Complete". His work has been featured all over the web on sites like: Smashing Magazine, Ahrefs.com, Optimizely.com and Adobe.com.
Comments (policy)
  1. Apurva Desai says:

    Hey, Planning quite a large website that is going to feature an online store as well. I thougof ht Squarespace for its ease of use but I am not sure if my site will be future-proof moving forward.

    Let me know your thoughts!

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