Should You Build Your Website On Squarespace or Wordpress?
Squarespace and Wordpress are two of the world’s leading web building platforms – with very different functions and characteristics. Which platform is right for you and your business?
First things first –
What is Squarespace?
Squarespace is a “software as a service” (SaaS) website builder, meaning you pay a monthly subscription fee to use their sparkly all-in-one platform. A Squarespace subscription comes with domain hosting and registration, built-in eCommerce, access to template designs and their content management system, and 24/7 support – virtually everything you need to build and maintain a website. In addition, you can edit your website directly on Squarespace’s drag-and-drop platform, meaning there is zero coding involved and you can make customizations and updates on the fly without running the risk of “breaking” anything.
What is Wordpress?
Wordpress, on the other hand, is a piece of software that you install on your own web server – for free, no less. However, you must purchase hosting and domain registration through a third party provider like Bluehost or GoDaddy to get your site up and running, and there are other costs like plugins and development help to consider. That being said, Wordpress is “open-source,” which means the software code is available for everyone to see and can be easily modified. This combined with the thousands of Wordpress templates and plugins out there available for download means that Wordpress is a much more flexible and customizable option than Squarespace.
Who are they meant to serve?
Squarespace caters to:
Those with no coding experience.
Those who don’t require highly customized functions for their site.
Those who want to streamline everything on one platform.
Wordpress caters to:
Those who have custom needs for their site, like a client login area, specific eCommerce functions and custom metadata.
Those who have complex websites with numerous page hierarchies that require more than two levels of navigation.
Those who need a scalable site – meaning, their website needs may change significantly in the future.
How much does it cost?
Squarespace offers several monthly plans:
Websites Personal: $16 per month (or $12 billed annually)
Websites Business: $26 per month (or $18 billed annually)
Online Store Basic: $30 per month (or $26 billed annually)
Commerce Advanced: $46 per month (or $40 billed annually)
If eCommerce is an integral part of your business, we would recommend starting with Websites Business or higher.
Wordpress can be installed for free. However, there are other costs to consider:
Hosting, which you must pay for to have a functional site. Annual hosting with WPEngine, for example, is $29 per month.
Some templates are free, but not recommended as they tend to look generic and do not have much capacity for customization. Premium Wordpress templates can be anywhere from $50-$200 to download.
Development fees, if necessary.
eCommerce integration. The Shopify Wordpress plugin starts at $9 per month.
Notable key features –
Squarespace offers the following key features:
On-page editing, or live editing where you can see the changes you make on your site instantly.
High quality templates that are responsive, or sized correctly for different devices.
Zero site maintenance, since software updates and most technical aspects of the content management system are run by Squarespace.
Their “content block” feature allows you to add many functions to your site on the fly: text, images, video, buttons, lines, spacers (adjustable padding that is great for design purposes), audio, embeds, forms, gallery blocks (sets of filterable images) in multiple formats, summary blocks (sets of filterable blog posts) in multiple formats, and integrations with MailChimp, OpenTable, Acuity, among others. See Squarespace’s full list of content block features here.
Wordpress offers the following key features:
Compatibility with literally thousands of plugins through their plugin marketplace, which can add virtually any type of functionality to the site.
More flexible content managing and blogging capabilities, like content versioning (an autosave of previous versions of a blog post), custom page and content hierarchies, and the ability to inject HTML into your content without being restricted to “content blocks”. The code injection feature is only available in certain Squarespace subscription tiers.
Effective SEO through comprehensive alt tags and metadata, rich snippets or bits of data that enhance your search results and robust third party SEO plugins like Yoast.
In conclusion –
Usability of drag-and-drop editing and hassle-free interface.
“All-in-one” nature of their platform.
Zero site maintenance.
Limited page hierarchies – only offers up to two levels of navigation.
Limited content hierarchies – only offers “categories” and “tags”, as opposed to Wordpress’ ability to integrate “parent categories” and other custom hierarchies.
Doesn’t offer content versioning.
Limited to “content block” capabilities – only offers code injection for certain subscription tiers.
Less than intuitive SEO. Instead of alt tags and metadata, Squarespace uses “captions” and “descriptions”, which are visible on some templates. This means you must formulate alt tags that include your SEO keywords and are also legible and viewer-friendly.
Limitations on data forms. For example, you can’t upload files through built-in Squarespace forms.
Unlimited flexibility via third party templates and plugins that can significantly expand your site capacity.
Highly customizable page and content hierarchies.
Slightly steep learning curve to navigate backend.
Multiple logins for hosting and Wordpress platform.
Not all templates are created equal – you must check for responsiveness, sufficient documentation and compatibility with plugins before you purchase a third party theme, which is not always possible.
You must also check the integrity of your plugin downloads, since plugin conflicts may crash your site.
May require developer intervention. Even though Wordpress itself is free to download, you must budget for other recurring costs like hosting, templates, eCommerce integration, and additional development assistance.
You must keep track of software and theme updates on your own.
All in all, Squarespace and Wordpress are both powerful web builders – neither is better than the other. That being said: