Squarespace and WordPress are the two most well-known brands in the web design industry. Both are excellent options in general. I have written a Squarespace Review as well as a WordPress.com Reviews separately before.
However, if you’re comparing Squarespace to WordPress, which one is best for your project?
Before we can discuss the differences between Squarespace & WordPress, it is important to first define what Squarespace & WordPress are.
Squarespace (also known as website builder) is an all-in-one “hosted website platform”. Hosted website platforms are where all components required for a website are included in one bundle at a single monthly cost.
Squarespace offers the software that will manage your website content. They also provide the design and functionality. They also offer hosting, which is the place where your website files reside. Squarespace prohibits self-hosting. Their servers must be used.
Check out Squarespace’s plans
Check out WordPress.com’s plans
WordPress is a free website software that lets you manage your website content and design. It can be used in two ways, but you will also need a hosting and a domain to use it.
First then self-hosted WordPress, also known as “WordPress.org”. It is free, open-source and community-supported software. Anyone can install it on any website that meets the minimum requirements. Hosting is paid for, you can install WordPress and manage your website as you wish. I created a setup manual. You can also get self-hosted WordPress here. Find the best WordPress hosting packages here.
Second, there’s WordPress.com. It is a hosted platform service that is sold by WordPress’ main corporate supporter. WordPress.com allows you to get any website that runs a limited version of WordPress hosted for free. Then, you’ll need to pay for any upgrades. It is essentially a website creator similar to Squarespace …. but built with WordPress. View the plans for WordPress.com here.
It’s confusing. If you’re interested in learning more, I have written a little bit about the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org .
Here’s an analogy:
Imagine that you are searching for a home.
Squarespace or WordPress.com can be used as a way to buy a condo. Your condo is yours. You have the freedom to do what you like inside. The condo association handles the security and water issues. You can even choose to furnish your unit. Condo association rules must be followed. Their structure is restrictive and you will have to pay additional HOA fees.
Self-hosted WordPress can be like buying a home. You can do whatever you like. There are no restrictions or rules. You have to do everything or hire someone to do it. You can make it as affordable or expensive as you like. You will also need to learn a little more.
Hosted vs. self-hosted platforms
We’ll be comparing Squarespace to WordPress. Let me tell you what my primary considerations are. In each section, we’ll be looking at Squarespace, Self hosted WordPress and WordPress.com.
Remember that control and convenience will always be the main tradeoff. Squarespace and WordPress.com both host platforms that want to provide the best and most convenient experience. However, convenience comes at the cost of control and features.
You can’t add a feature to either platform if it doesn’t already have it. You can’t simply pick up a website and start a new one if you wish to migrate to another platform.
You can host both on your own server and self-host. It’s not as easy as hosting on a shared platform.
This is the main tradeoff you need to remember. However, as I have mentioned in other website builders reviews, website setup guide, and eCommerce platform reviews, it isn’t the only tradeoff. That’s what we’ll be discussing.
Squarespace offers two website plans and two eCommerce packages. The Personal Plan costs $12/mo and is billed annually. The Personal Plan is limited to 2 contributors and does not allow for editing HTML / CSS, or bundled Google mail. The Business Plan costs $18/mo and is billed annually. It includes Google email as well as some analytics tools.
Squarespace includes hosting, customer support, design, and other services.
|Plan||Personal||Business||Basic Commerce||Advanced Commerce|
|Yearly price (discount).||$12.00/mo.||$18.00/mo.||$26.00/mo.||$40.00/mo.|
|Domain Name Design|
|No cost domain name||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year|
Get a Free Trial with Squarespace
WordPress.com has a free plan for a [yourwebsite].wordpress.com subdomain. The Personal Plan costs $4/mo and is billed annually. A custom domain can be created, but the storage space and designs are limited. If you pay annually, the Premium Plan costs $8 per month. You get more storage and more upgrade options.
|Plan||WordPress Free||WordPress Pro|
|Storage||1 GB||50 GB|
|No cost domain name||1 Year|
* Prices per month for 12-month subscription
Start with WordPress.com for a Free
The Business Plan costs $25/mo if billed annually. The Business Plan includes Google Analytics and more design options. It also allows for unlimited storage. And, most importantly, it allows you to use 3rd-party themes & plugins, which opens up an entire world of extensions.
These plans only allow for a one-site.
Self-hosted WordPress software is free and can be installed on any server. You can technically run it free of charge from a home computer if you’re a true geek. Your main cost will be shared Linux hosting. Good Hosting is available for as low as $3/mo, and it renews at $8/mo if billed annually.
Many great hosts can be set up in just one click. HostGator is a great host that I use for multiple sites (review).
InMotion hosting is slightly more expensive overall, but offers excellent support and a drag-and-drop tool for WordPress called BoldGrid.
Regardless of the WordPress host you use , self-hosted WordPress will be much more affordable.
Self-hosted WordPress is not only cheaper than monthly, but you also have unlimited design options, unlimited features and unlimited websites. *
You can have multiple website ideas on one self-hosted account. Squarespace & WordPress.com – Each new site incurs a new monthly fee
Self-hosted WordPress has a big pricing problem. You don’t pay for many things, but you still have to pay.
Pricing with Squarespace vs. WordPress – WordPress.com offers a better deal than Squarespace. This is for most websites.
Self-hosted WordPress is a better deal, purely on price.
But let’s move to the next asterisk/considerations.
Onboarding and User Experience
“Onboarding” is the process of moving a new customer from signup into an active user.
It’s basically helping customers to figure things out. It’s not fun to regret buying something only to find out how to use it.
As I said in my Squarespace review Squarespace has significantly improved their onboarding. Although their backend is intuitive, there are still some quirks.
A beginner can create a website in minutes with the preloaded designs. It takes some time to learn how Squarespace works and to customize the site. They have 24/7 customer support available to answer your questions.
WordPress.com has a great onboarding process. The backend requires that new users learn some vocabulary. WordPress.com’s onboarding process is better if you want to quickly publish content on a beautiful website.
WordPress.com doesn’t have customer support for lower-tier plans, at least not in the same way Squarespace. This is likely why it’s so great (and we’ll come back to). WordPress.com almost has to make it easy for users to use their setup.
Hosting companies have different ways of integrating self-hosted WordPress.
Actually, I created an easy WordPress setup guide here with WordPress tutorials because some hosting providers tend not to give you your account information.
Some hosts, such as Web Hosting hub and InMotion, will ask you some questions to sign up and then send you some resources. To assist, they will also provide a WordPress building app. Bluehost offers a custom hosting dashboard which makes it easy to set up. However, setup and onboarding are still up to you.
For specific questions, you can email support, but after installing WordPress, there is no clear “do this, then” process.
Self-hosted WordPress is a great option for those who find terms such as “FTP” and “Security Patch”, or even going online to search for overwhelming answers. Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s easy to use.
One common misconception in website building is that a ” WordPress website”, “Squarespace site”, or ” Wix webpage” are specific web designs or looks. Too many customers decide to leave a platform or choose another one because they don’t like its look.
The truth: Just because a program uses “themes” and “templates”, it doesn’t mean you can’t design your software however you like.
HTML/CSS is what creates the look of a website. Software that can edit CSS can create almost any design you can think of.
Squarespace WordPress.com , WordPress.com , and Self hosted WordPress all permit CSS editing.
The main three questions are:
- Is it easy to use their plug-and-play designs?
- What are the different “plug and play” premium designs?
- What is the maximum length a professional designer/developer can go to support the design?
Answer #1 All three have easy-to-use plug-and-play designs. Squarespace provides a wide range of free designs you can choose from.
There are thousands of free designs for WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress.com. You can simply choose from the Appearance Menu.
Question #2 All three offer a wide range of design options, with self-hosted WordPress offering the most. Professional designers and developers have been creating premium themes for WordPress for years. Squarespace is also a popular choice.
The WordPress universe is much larger. That bigger market draws more designers/developers.
There are many premium WordPress themes makers right now – even whole marketplaces like themeForest or MOJOThemes. Squarespace offers a similar marketplace, but it is smaller.
Question #3 All three allow designers (not developers), to do their own thing with self-hosted WordPress providing the best freedom for both good and bad. Squarespace recently added support to common developer tools such as Git, whereas self-hosted WordPress is able to do everything a professional developer would need.
WordPress.com is more limited than Squarespace and self-hosted WordPress. This is because they do not allow scripts, FTP access, or custom themes…unless a Business plan is purchased (which might be worth it).
All three offer design options that are varied in “flavors”
WordPress.com offers a large selection of click-and-go themes. Squarespace offers a lot of freedom and great designs, but a limited number of premium themes.
WordPress hosted on your own server offers you unlimited control and choice, which is fantastic, but it can also cause problems with code conflicts, quality control, security, and/or code conflict.
Technical and Customization Features
This technical feature set shows the control/convenience spectrum more clearly than any other option.
WordPress.com provides a lot of control, but it also offers the most user-friendly setup. It is easy to use and has many built-in features. The features most users want/need are included. You have full control over your business plan if you pay.
Squarespace gives you more control than other website builders, but it is still not free-for-all. If you’re on the Business plan, you can make many modifications, add scripts and adjust many technical settings. The Personal plan has less control.
Developers have access to Git and SFTP for design-related files. You cannot modify functionality or implement any you wish. Squarespace ensures that all features work, and that there are no conflicts or crashes.
WordPress self-hosted allows for unlimited customization and technical features. For beginners, it’s easy to add new functionality. You can add “plugins” to self-hosted WordPress by clicking a button. These are mini-apps you can add directly to your WordPress installation.
Self-hosted WordPress can be used for everything you need, including better SEO functionality, setting-up an eCommerce site, adding appointments and bulk uploading information. You can also add a social network, or just about anything else.
It is possible to cause a WordPress code conflict and cause your website to crash. This is unlikely if you use well supported plugins. However, it can happen.
You can add shutters or a deck to your house. You can do it safely, but you are responsible for any damage to your house.
This consideration is the most important. There’s no winner overall. It all comes down to what is best for you.
Marketing Features & Search Engine Optimization
The marketing and SEO considerations are very similar.
Each platform generates HTML & CSS that are well-coded and crawlable.
All of them support social networking tags like Facebook’s Open Graph.
Despite this, many digital marketing tools aren’t available due to technical limitations.
WordPress.com allows Google Analytics only with its Premium plan. They do not permit tracking and conversion pixels (ie, from Google or Facebook) before their Premium plan. They do not permit technical SEO enhancements like Schema, page edits and other technical fixes.
Squarespace offers more scripts and tags. Squarespace also offers more technical SEO options. However, Squarespace cannot do all of the technical marketing or SEO work. The upside is that many small websites and those just starting out with SEO aren’t going to give technical fixes or tags much priority.
Publishing quality content that is shared and linked to by many people is the best thing you can do.
You can do everything marketing with a self-hosted WordPress site. Even beginners will be able to use advanced techniques such as implementing tags, tracking information, advanced SEO changes, running email opt-ins and schema tests, or any other thing you might want.
Again, the priority of your priorities is what will determine which marketing feature wins. WordPress.com or Squarespace are great for simple, user-friendly publishing.
A self-hosted WordPress WordPress website is required if you need complete technical marketing tools.
Customer Support & Services
Customer support is essential, no matter who you may be or what you build.
WordPress.com is different in how it approaches customer service. They do everything possible to make customer service “scale”, meaning they don’t answer the same question repeatedly.
WordPress.com organizes their backend in an effort to solve questions & issues. If you do have a problem, you must post it in a public forum.
To find the answer to your question from an older post, the contact form searches for them automatically. WordPress.com’s Happiness Engineers will quickly answer your question, either via email or publicly.
It’s all virtual and interesting, but it is not for everyone.
Squarespace provides more traditional customer support via support tickets. They don’t offer phone support but they do offer 24/7 support via chat, email and Twitter.
If you own a WordPress website that is self-hosted, you can contact your hosting company to resolve technical issues. Google/forums can be used for any other issues. I have reviewed many hosting companies, and the service/approaches varied greatly.
InMotion, Web Hosting Hub (review), SiteGround(review), and DreamHost are all independent companies that invest in customer support – and can help with more WordPress-specific issues.
HostGator (review), Bluehost(review) and other companies offer excellent hosting support, but recommend an upgrade to WordPress Hosting (vs. web hosting) to get WordPress-specific assistance.
Even if you have great hosting support, your WordPress site is still unique.
Squarespace and WordPress.com are hosted platforms, so their customer service is limited in scope. Because you can only customize your website so much, there are fewer potential problems.
A troubleshooting procedure will be required if you have a very customized WordPress website that you self-host.
A self-hosted WordPress website with a reliable hosting company is the best choice if you’re comfortable solving problems and troubleshooting. Squarespace / WordPress.com is a better choice.
Speed, Backups and Security, as well as Maintenance & Maintenance
Customer support is closely linked to issues such as speed, security, and maintenance.
These are not the problems you have if you use Squarespace or WordPress.com. All three are covered by the package.
You will need to update WordPress regularly if you host your site yourself. You’ll also need to install a basic security plugin, and understand how your site is fast/slow.
These topics do not require deep technical knowledge or a developer, but they are important topics to be aware of.
To return to the house analogy, it’s about changing the air filter every month and setting up a security system. These aren’t difficult, but you have to take responsibility for them. This article on essential plugins for WordPress provides valuable information.
Which is better Squarespace or WordPress?
Squarespace and WordPress are both well-known for their good work. Both have made it so much easier to get a website.
Squarespace’s Current Plans
Check WordPress.com’s Current Plans
Refer to the Self-Hosted WordPress Guide
Both are good options. If you prefer control over convenience, then choose a self-hosted WordPress website. See my website setup guide.
If you want more convenience, more features at a lower price point, and are focused on publishing / blogging & easy use, then I’d recommend WordPress.com.
If you are looking for a general purpose website with traditional support, then Squarespace is the best option. You can also look at other popular website builders.
Check out these Related Posts about WordPress for Websites
- Before you buy hosting for your website, try WordPress free of charge
- WordPress.com Review w/ Pros & Cons
- From Scratch How to Set Up WordPress Websites
- Squarespace Review w/ Pros & Cons