Squarespace vs. WordPress: Which Platform Should You Choose?

Squarespace vs. WordPress
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Trying to make the decision between Squarespace and WordPress?

Both platforms make it easy for you to create a fully functioning website. But they go about it in two very different ways.

So, before you start building your website, it’s important to know what you get with each platform, as well as some of the reasons why you’d want to choose one tool over the other.

In this post, I’ll investigate the battle between Squarespace vs. WordPress, and give you a recommendation for which platform you should choose for building a website.

Squarespace vs. WordPress: It’s A Tradeoff

When you make the decision between Squarespace and WordPress, your choice basically comes down to a simple tradeoff between two concepts:

  • Ease of use
  • Flexibility

Do you want the absolute easiest way to create a website? Or do you want a way to create a website that gives you the flexibility to add the exact styling and features that you want?

Squarespace wants to offer its users the absolute simplest method to create a website. But, in order to make its tool easy to use, Squarespace operates as a closed ecosystem and sacrifices a good deal of flexibility.

WordPress goes in the other direction. It’s not quite as easy to use as Squarespace, but that sacrifice is often worth it because of how flexible WordPress is. WordPress offers tens of thousands of themes and plugins to customize your site’s styling and functionality.

There are other smaller considerations like:

  • Content/data ownership
  • Maintenance/security
  • Pricing

But in general, that dichotomy between ease of use and flexibility is what should shape your decision.

Below, I’ll dig into how these differences play out when you actually go to build your website.

How You Build A Website With Each Platform

Squarespace is the winner (slightly) when it comes to how easy it is to build a website from scratch.

While WordPress is still easy for most beginners to grasp, the setup process is a bit more involved because you’re responsible for certain technical details like hosting.

Squarespace

When you build a website with Squarespace, you don’t need to worry about technical details like choosing hosting and purchasing a domain name.

Instead, all you do is sign up for a Squarespace account, and you’re off to the races.

Immediately after signing up, Squarespace will prompt you to choose a template for your new website:

Squarespace
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Then, you’ll need to answer a few simple questions. And once that’s done, you’re all set!

You can customize your existing template pages by clicking and typing. And if you want to build your own layouts, you can do so using a simple drag and drop editor:

Squarespace Editor
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If you’ve ever used a WordPress page builders, you’ll feel right at home with Squarespace’s drag and drop editor.

WordPress

With WordPress, you’ll need to complete a few technical details before you can start building a website.

These are:

  • Choosing and signing up for web hosting.
  • Purchasing a domain name (you can usually do this through your web host).
  • Installing the actual WordPress software (most hosts offer one-click installers to simplify this process).

As a result, the process is a little bit more technically involved than Squarespace.

With that being said, it’s still fairly easy to launch your own self-hosted WordPress site. So even though the process isn’t as simple as Squarespace, it’s still pretty straightforward and easy for most beginners.

Once you install the WordPress software, you can choose and install your own theme from the tens of thousands of free and premium WordPress themes:

WordPress Theme Directory
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Then, you can start writing content. And if you want to build more complicated pages to approximate the functionality of the Squarespace editor, you can install one of the many drag and drop WordPress page builders.

How You Add Functionality To Your Website With Each Platform

While Squarespace is the slight winner when it comes to how easy it is to create a basic website, WordPress dominates when it comes to extending your site with new functionalities.

Squarespace

Because Squarespace is a closed ecosystem, you’re unable to install your own functionality. Squarespace does let you add your own client-side code, but that’s pretty much it as far as external functionality goes.

With that said, Squarespace does at least include some built-in functionality to extend your site.

For example, Squarespace makes it easy to set up an eCommerce store and start selling products through your website, though they will charge more for this functionality:

Squarespace
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Additionally, they have pre-built modules for basic functionality like:

  • Social share buttons
  • Newsletter subscribe forms
  • Contact forms
  • Analytics

All in all, though, Squarespace just can’t compete with WordPress in terms of potential functionality.

WordPress

When you build your website with WordPress, you get full access to the massive WordPress plugin ecosystem. Plugins add all sorts of functionalities to your site without you needing to know any code.

Right now, there are 52,000+ free WordPress plugins, plus thousands of more premium plugins. Those huge numbers are why people say that you can find a WordPress plugin for pretty much any type of functionality that you want to add to your site.

Plus, installing a plugin is as simple as clicking a few buttons inside your WordPress dashboard:

WordPress Plugins
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Remember – if you can think it, there’s probably a WordPress plugin for it.

How WordPress & Squarespace Handle Data Ownership

When you’re deciding between Squarespace vs. WordPress, data ownership and privacy should be something you give serious thought to.

When you build your website with Squarespace, you’re handing control of your data over to them, which is part of how Squarespace is able to provide such a streamlined, user-friendly interface.

With WordPress, though, you retain full control over all of your data. You can do whatever you want with it and manipulate it as needed.

Squarespace

So why does data ownership matter? Let’s say that a year down the road, you decide that you want to move away from Squarespace.

What happens to all of your existing content? Because you don’t control your web server or have access to your site’s database, you’re basically at the mercy of Squarespace.

Now, Squarespace does let you export some of your content as an XML file. Currently, you can export:

  • Regular Pages
  • Gallery Pages
  • One Blog Page and all of its posts
  • Text Blocks
  • Image Blocks
  • Text from other blocks like the Embed Block, Twitter Block, and Instagram Block will export with minimum structure
  • Comments

But you cannot export any of the following content:

  • Product Pages
  • Folders
  • Index Pages
  • Event Pages
  • Album Pages
  • Cover Pages
  • More than one Blog Page
  • Audio Blocks
  • Video Blocks
  • Product Blocks
  • Drafts
  • Style changes
  • Custom CSS

Additionally, this limitation means that you can never truly back up your entire website. Unlikely as it is, if Squarespace were to experience a failure, you wouldn’t have access to a working copy of your site.

WordPress

With WordPress, you have 100% ownership and access to your data.

You can create full backups, export every single bit of data on your site, and do, well, pretty much anything else you want.

How You Handle Maintenance And Security On Each Platform

Because Squarespace is a closed ecosystem, you don’t have to worry about maintenance or security – the Squarespace team is responsible for all of that.

With WordPress, though, you’ll need to take a more proactive approach to security and maintenance, or at least pick a host that does it for you.

Squarespace

There’s not much more to say here – you don’t need to lift a finger when it comes to maintenance and security. That’s the benefit you get for giving Squarespace complete control over your site.

WordPress

With WordPress, things are a little bit more complicated. Because you have full control and ownership over your site, you’re also responsible for maintaining and securing it.

Most of the time, this is pretty simple because the WordPress team does a great job at releasing secure code. But you will still need to do things like:

  • Ensure you swiftly update WordPress and all of your themes/plugins.
  • Regularly back up your site.
  • Implement basic security protocols.

Most of this can be done by:

  • Choosing a managed WordPress host.
  • Installing the proper plugins.

But the fact remains that security and maintenance are things you need to think about with WordPress, which is not the case with Squarespace.

How Much You Need To Pay For Each Platform

There’s no clear answer to which platform is more affordable. A basic WordPress site will cost less than a basic Squarespace site. But if you purchase premium hosting, themes, or plugins, a WordPress site could also cost more.

Squarespace

With Squarespace, you’ll always know exactly how much your site will cost. You pay a fixed price per month or year.

Those prices start at $12 per month (billed annually) for a basic site and go up to $40 per month (billed annually) for an eCommerce site.

WordPress

With WordPress, there are only two fixed costs – you pay for:

  • Hosting
  • Your domain name

If you choose a cheap WordPress host, that could cost you as little as $40-$50 per year.

On the other hand, premium WordPress hosts like Kinsta start at $100 per month, and you also might find yourself wanting premium themes and plugins.

For that reason, a high-traffic WordPress site could easily cost significantly more.

Should You Choose Squarespace Or WordPress?

For most users, WordPress is the best choice.

While Squarespace is a user-friendly tool for creating a basic website, it lacks:

  • The ability to easily add more functionality.
  • True data ownership.

Those sacrifices might be fine in the beginning – but as your site grows, you’ll likely find yourself wishing you had more flexibility.

It is true that WordPress isn’t quite as beginner-friendly as Squarespace, but that shouldn’t necessarily scare beginners away because:

  • WordPress is still fairly easy to use, even if it’s not to the level of Squarespace.
  • WordPress has a huge third-party support community that makes it easy to find help.

Now I’m wondering what you think. Do you prefer Squarespace or WordPress for building websites? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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Authored By
A Blogger, Author and a speaker! Harsh Agrawal is recognized as a leader in digital marketing and FinTech space. Fountainhead of ShoutMeLoud, and a Speaker at ASW, Hero Mindmine, Inorbit, IBM, India blockchain summit. Also, an award-winning blogger.

37 thoughts on “Squarespace vs. WordPress: Which Platform Should You Choose?”

  1. Wow! That’s very good article. I personally like to use wordpress platform.
    Thanks for this article.

  2. Hello Harsh Sir,
    To be really honest I am in the favor of WordPress! Because I really like the Freedom i get from WordPress CMS platform…

    Any normal Non-Techy person can start his blogging career with WordPress as easy as possible. Also, due to variety of Themes and plug-ins you can achieve any desired results from WordPress platform for your website or blog.

    At last…I have to say this “I love WordPress!”

    – Rajinder

  3. I’ve used Squarespace and WordPress for more than 10 years, and whilst I don’t have any issue with the differences that you’ve identified between them, I do disagree with you strongly on the magnitude of those differences.

    For example, you say WordPress is not quite as easy to use as Squarespace. I would say Squarespace is a LOT easier to use than WordPress.

    You say Squarespace is the winner (slightly) when it comes to how easy it is to build a website from scratch. I would say Squarespace is the winner (by a big margin) when it comes to how easy it is to build a website from scratch.

    On maintenance and security you say with WordPress things are a little bit more complicated. I would say they are a lot more complicated.

    You say WordPress isn’t quite as beginner-friendly as Squarespace. I would say WordPress is a LOT less beginner-friendly than Squarespace.

    You conclude that for most users, WordPress is the best choice. That may be the case if “most users” are looking for a website with lots of bells and whistles and the ability to customize beyond what Squarespace permits, but it wouldn’t be the case if “most users” were looking for a simple website for which they don’t have to worry about maintenance and security.

    I’m not a sales advocate for Squarespace (in fact I have more WordPress sites than I do Squarespace sites). I just think you have downplayed the differences between them too much.

  4. thank you for the heads-up harsh! you have stated the difference very clearly between the WordPress and Squarespace. I would prefer to stick with WordPress,

    1)Plenty of themes and plugins
    2)I am using managed WordPress, so security and backup are taken care by the service provider
    3)comfortable with the enviorment
    4)There are millions of tutorial blogs for WordPress. So can fix anything as it comes around.
    5)Wordpress forums and community are amazing, there are another millions of folks who are steering the support groups.

    Can you please write about the email marketing and opt-in forms for giving away free books such things like that!

    am to look out for those articles.

    As always your blog rocks!! Happy weekend!

    Regards
    JJ

  5. Rushikesh Sonawane

    Hello,
    sir i was read that “WordPress using by 28 % people in the whole world” in your previous article. Toady i want to know, which platform is most popular. with their percentage.

  6. HY HARASH AGRAWAL

    I READ YOUR WORDPRESS GUIDE AND FINALLY I SELECTED WORDPRESS FOR MY WEBSITE. ACTUALLY I AM A STUDENT AND IT IS MY PASSION FROM CHILDHOOD THAT ONE DAY I BECOME A FAMOUS BLOGGER AND I THINK IF I FOLLOWED YOU THEN I BECOME A GOOD BLOGGER LOVE YOU.

    1. @Yashpreet
      Appreciate your comment. A suggestion: Don’t use all caps when writing a comment or blog post. It’s rude and makes it harder to read.

  7. Vishwajeet Kumar

    Hello harsh,

    WordPress is my favorite tool for blogging and it is one of the best and widely used blogging CMS. Plethora of plugins and themes can help bloggers to make a professional looking blog and make most out of it. The flexibility of WordPress makes it much better than any other CMS. Thanks for sharing these great comparison.

    Have a great day:)
    Vishwajeet

  8. Md Kafilur Raheman

    Very good kowlege you have.Last six months I use wordpress.org.The squarespace is look like difficult to me and please say what you use for shoutmeloud wordpress or squarespace.

  9. Both are excellent platforms; I think it also depends on what you want to achieve and what kind of blog you want to create.

  10. Hi Harsh,

    Thanks so much for sharing the information. We used some of them and found them very useful in defining and restricting user roles. Infact we started our website based on your valuable suggestions, keep up up the goodwork. again thanks

  11. Hi Harsh,

    I know WordPress very well but I don’t know about Squarespace, not quite a bit.
    You have written a very well article including all detail about Squarespace.
    So it’s not difficult to understand the Squarespace.

    One question, Does it have a system like WordPress.org (self-hosting platform)?

    Thank you for introducing a new platform for Blogging and much more.

    Ashutosh Singh

  12. I will go for wordpress because it is easy and much more reliable than squarespace. WordPress gives more freedom while building a site and in case of any problems you can easily get solution through youtube or search engines. When it comes to squarespace most people don’t go for it because of lack of plugins and themes.

    But thanks Harsh for make us think about these platforms.

  13. Hari Mohan Sharma

    Hi Harsh,
    Very good explanation of Squarespace and WordPress platforms for a user point of view.
    Thanks for sharing.

  14. WordPress has the huge popularity nowadays for its functionality and flexibility.

    But the information regarding both aspects were good.

  15. Hlo harsh
    I am agree with you because wordpress is a good platform for begineers. And it was easily understandable and their is also a lots of plugin for user to make their website better.
    Thanks for sharing this article is really helpful.

    Anshul

  16. Raghunath Samantaray

    Hi Harsh,

    Good CMS comparison Article, But WordPress is the best blogging platforms with Ease of use and Flexibility. Now WordPress is our life.

    Thanks for Sharing this comparison post!

  17. I just came to know about the Squarespace. I always use WordPress and for me WordPress is very easy to use and after reading your article, I can say that WordPress would be better. I’ve never faced any major problem using WordPress unlike other CMS. I would surely recommend WordPress to others.

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