What’s Better, Squarespace or WordPress?

If you’re considering building a business website for the first time (or even the tenth), you may be wondering: what’s better, Squarespace or WordPress? Luckily, we have a comprehensive list of all the factors you will want to think about when determining which platform is best for you. Comparing SquareSpace to WordPress is much like comparing a bike to a car – Squarespace is  a solution you can DIY, it’s inexpensive, and it can get you where you’re going with some time and effort. WordPress, on the other hand, is an option that you will need help or expertise to get going, and it will need regular maintenance. However, it’s extremely scalable and will be equipped for whatever journeys you may take.

What’s Better, SquareSpace or WordPress? Comparing the Most Important Differences

Customization

When you create a website for your business, you obviously want it to look and feel original and branded. You don’t want to give your customer the impression that your website is generic or straight out of the box, but you also want it to look professional and put-together. Both Squarespace and WordPress offer templates you can customize to better fit your brand and business.

How customizable is Squarespace?

Squarespace does offer a fair amount of customization. From the basic dashboard, you can make changes to the image and text, add some custom design features, and tweak the simple SEO settings. With a little expertise, you can build your own layouts using the builder tool. But while Squarespace offers the ability to make simple visual changes, it just can’t compare with the power of WordPress.

How customizable is WordPress?

WordPress isn’t without its problems. However, its ability to create a fully customized, truly unique website is pretty much unparalleled. Why? Because of plugins. WordPress has a greater ability to customize built into the Content Management System (CMS) itself, but it also gets help from tens of thousands of plug-ins. If you’re not familiar, a plug-in is a software add-on that can enhance the functionality of the existing system. In the case of WordPress, these plugins range from free to several hundred dollars, and they can modify your website in just about every way imaginable. REgardless of whether you are looking for a plugin to manage your newsletter sign-ups, let your customers answer trivia questions or spin a wheel for a promotion, improve your SEO and website speed, or any number of other things, the WordPress community has probably designed a plugin that will help. Hubspot has compiled an awesome list of some of WordPress’ best plugins here.

Ease of Use

Another thing to consider while you’re building your website is how easy it will be to build and update. Goodness knows that every business owner would like to prevent themselves from having headaches or costly problems down the road. Fortunately, neither WordPress nor Squarespace require an expert-level understanding to make basic changes. 

How beginner-friendly is Squarespace?

A big pro of Squarespace is that it’s aimed at beginners. The entire interface is designed to be implemented by someone who has never interacted with website design or development before. As we noted earlier, this comes with some downsides (mainly an inability to customize to a significant extent without a pretty big learning curve). Because so many beginners are using the platform, many people choose the same or similar-looking templates for their site, which can cause Squarespace sites to look generic.

How beginner-friendly is WordPress?

When you choose WordPress as your CMS, you are basically giving up a little bit of ease in exchange for a significant amount of customization, uniqueness, and scalability. This means there is more of a learning curve to WordPress. If you’re designing your own website from scratch, you may have a few problems or questions you may need to research. However, it is still fairly user-friendly and easy to pick up once you get the hang of it. Another layer to this is that Squarespace comes with hosting, while you’ll need to seek your own WordPress hosting. This is another moving part, but with WordPress, you have the ability to choose a hosting plan that works best for you; more on that in the next section.

Cost

Cost might be the first thing you think about when you choose a platform for your website. And while a great website is worth a lot, you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for the basics. The cost question gets a little bit complicated when it comes to SquareSpace vs. WordPress. Long story short, the cost of Squarespace is more fixed – it’s easy to figure out the specific number you’ll be paying per month based simply on which tier you subscribe to. With WordPress, while the CMS itself is free, individual business owners may have very different individual costs based on how much their domain costs, how much their hosting plan is, and whether they choose to pay for additional items such as maintenance, plugins, and photos.

How much does Squarespace cost?

Squarespace does a great job of providing a detailed, clear pricing table on their website, which is accessible here. We’ve included a screenshot of the pricing table as of 12/27/2021. As you can see, the plans start at $12 a month for the personal sites and increase from their based on your capacity and feature needs.

Squarespace pricing table

How much does WordPress cost?

This is a bit of a complicated question, but for good reason – just like everything else about WordPress is customizable, the price is too. You can decide how much you’re willing to pay and then decide what features you want and can afford from there. With Squarespace, your hosting is chosen and managed for you. With WordPress, you can self-host or choose from one of hundreds of hosting providers at various price points, ranging from a couple of dollars a month to a couple hundred depending on what you want included. In addition to this, there are plugin costs to consider. While many have a one-time license fee for lifetime use, some others charge monthly or annual fees. To summarize, you can set up a WordPress website for as little as a few dollars per month. It can be either significantly cheaper or significantly more expensive than Squarespace (or about the same!)

SEO: Is Squarespace or WordPress best?

In terms of search engine optimization (SEO), the two CMS options have comparable benefits, but they come in different forms. This won’t surprise you if you’ve read this far, but SquareSpace has good (but not excellent) built-in features that you won’t have to mess around with much. WordPress, alternatively, can be made much more powerful through the use of plug-ins and a little elbow grease, but it may take some learning and doing.

How good is Squarespace SEO?

The nice thing about Squarespace’s SEO tools is that they are built in and easy to use. However, that doesn’t necessarily make them excellent tools. In a data sample of almost 2 million sites, WordPress sites were found to receive much more organic traffic than Squarespace sites. The same research also notes that Squarespace performs significantly better than Wix, so if you have your heart set on an easy site builder like these, Squarespace is likely the better choice.

How good is WordPress SEO?

WordPress has a great reputation for SEO. Because almost a third of websites use WordPress, it sets the standard for the web and for many SEO tests. While the built-in SEO capabilities of WordPress in terms of analytics and optimization are not terribly significant, there are thousands of plug-ins (many cheap or even free) that can supercharge your SEO efforts. Tools like Yoast, SEOPress, and dozens more can quickly make SEO suggestions and aggregate your data to make it much more meaningful and easily interpreted. As in many other areas, this is a category where Squarespace may have the more impressive built-in functionality, but it really can’t hold a candle to the abilities of WordPress once equipped with a plug-in or two.

Updates and Maintenance

Unfortunately, many business owners don’t consider the necessity of regular maintenance and updates when they first construct their site. Website maintenance is absolutely vital, but it can also be costly. Forgoing maintenance has even higher long-term costs, though. If you’re not sure why website maintenance is such a big deal, read our post about the value of a website care plan here. Let’s take a look at what each CMS offers in terms of maintenance and how much time and money updates may require.

Updates with Squarespace

When Squarespace has updates to perform or maintenance to do, they do it automatically. This is a pretty big plus of using the service. However, this does come with some drawbacks and caveats. One of these is that you can’t schedule updates or maintenance to coordinate with your own needs. Another big drawback is that Squarespace doesn’t currently have any way to perform backups. If you make a change to your website that you regret, or if an update goes wrong, there’s no way to fix it aside from manually adjusting everything.

Updates with WordPress

As you’re probably expecting by this point, WordPress updates are a bit more hands-on. You’ll need to have either your own schedule on which you make sure necessary maintenance is performed, or you’ll need to hire someone else to perform this maintenance. The nice thing about this is that many WordPress service providers offer comprehensive bundles that include all the requisite maintenance along with some development assistance or other resources. So, all things considered, WordPress maintenance will cost you a little time or effort, but it can be performed on your own schedule and comes with the bonus of complete website backups, so you can essentially go back in time and restore a prior version of your site if anything goes wrong.

Final Comparison: What’s Better, WordPress or Squarespace?

When we consider all the factors involved in choosing a CMS, from cost to ease of use to maintenance and more, WordPress is the winner for flexibility and customization in most categories. If you’re looking for a super simple website and aren’t planning on growing your business, Squarespace could be the solution for you. However, WordPress is the CMS we would recommend for almost every business. If you’re ready to get started on your WordPress project, or if you’re looking for an affordable, reliable WordPress maintenance plan, contact us today for more information.

Need even more reasons to choose WordPress? Find 3 here.

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Chantelle Gossner

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