Smiling woman typing on laptop in a van

Squarespace vs WordPress: The Definitive Guide

By Elliot Olson

By Elliot Olson

Lead Web Designer + Digital Strategist

So you’re ready to build a website, but you still have an important decision…

Which website builder is right for you?

If you’re like many others, you’re deciding between Squarespace and WordPress. After all, both may seem like good options.

Squarespace is…

  • Easy to setup
  • Simple to maintain
  • Beautiful straight out of the box

WordPress is…

  • Very robust
  • Scalable
  • Flexible for almost any website needs

So which is the right option?

If you’re like many small business owners, you don’t have time to waste on a platform that work for you.

You need to start with a platform that will set you up for success now and in the future.

(Wondering why it’s important to pick the right website builder from the start? Check out “Which website builder is right for you?”)

To help you choose between Squarespace and WordPress, let’s review each platform in six categories:

  • Cost
  • Setup
  • Maintenance
  • Appearance
  • Blogging
  • E-commerce

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Which is more expensive, Squarespace or WordPress?

Let’s start with a category at the forefront of many small business owners’ minds…cost.

Moolah.

Dough.

Cold, hard cash. ?

As a small business owner myself, I get it — you don’t have spare money to waste on a website that doesn’t suit your website goals.

You need a website that is affordable, effective, and does just what you need without breaking the bank.

Woman thinking and looking into distance

So is Squarespace or WordPress more economical for you?

To answer this question, we need to look at two categories of website costs — infrastructure and content.

Infrastructure costs are the technical things your website needs:

  • Hosting
  • Domain
  • Security certification

Content costs are the things that actually fill your website:

  • Design
  • Webpages

Squarespace packages these cost categories together. Their plans range from $12 to $46. Each plan comes with hosting, a domain, and design templates.

WordPress separates out the two cost categories. The WordPress software is 100% free, but you’ll have to pay for a domain and hosting — plus a theme and potentially plugins as well.

Let’s take an example to make things concrete:

Smiling woman at a cafe with text:

Sarah loves visiting new cafes in her city. To share her knowledge (and have an excuse to seek out more delicious coffees), she starts a blog about local coffee shops.

Sarah plans to publish weekly blog posts, and she’s ready to get started!

But is Squarespace or WordPress is better for her?

If she chooses Squarespace…

Sarah signs up for a basic Squarespace plan, which includes hosting and a domain.

Total monthly cost = $12

If she chooses WordPress…

Sarah signs up for hosting ($15 monthly) and a domain ($13 annually) through Bluehost. She uses a free WordPress template.

Total monthly cost = $16

Fast forward one year…

Sarah’s blog is wildly successful. Local cafes love the attention, and they want to partner with Sarah to sell mugs and beans. Sarah also wants to sell these products on her website.

With Squarespace, Sarah will need to upgrade to an e-commerce plan. New monthly cost = $26

With WordPress, Sarah can install the free WooCommerce plugin. Monthly cost = still $16

This example shows you how cost can vary based on your web needs — and how costs can grow as your website changes.

(And fyi, there are other costs associated with e-commerce. Keep reading for more info!)

So is Squarespace or WordPress better in terms of cost?

The Verdict:

Cost will depend on your website needs. Having a blog, online store, email service, and other functionality will all add up.

Is Squarespace or WordPress easier to update and maintain?

Unfortunately, many small business owners think about their website costs in purely monetary terms.

Squarespace is $16 per month, and WordPress is $12. Therefore WordPress is better for me.

However, it’s crucial that you also think about costs in terms of your future plans. How much will your website cost in terms of maintenance and updates?

Paved road winding into the distance

Squarespace handles maintenance for you — you won’t need to worry about updating your site software or security.

On the other hand, WordPress is constantly publishing new updates.

These new updates are good and bad. They make your site more secure, but they also can cause incompatibilities between different elements of your site.

Say your WordPress software upgrades to version 5.0, but your theme is built for version 4.9, and your plugins range from version 4.1 to 4.7 — these different elements can all cause broken elements across your site.

If you opt for WordPress, you’ll need to either…

A) Update your site yourself

or

B) Outsource web maintenance

Depending on your site’s complexity, monthly WordPress maintenance can range from $10 to $500+.

So is Squarespace or WordPress easier to update and maintain?

The Verdict:

Squarespace is definitely easier to update and maintain.

Are Squarespace or WordPress websites easier to setup?

So you want to launch your website pronto. Will Squarespace or WordPress be easier for you to setup?

There’s a clear winner for ease of setup and installation.

Smiling woman typing on laptop

Squarespace makes it super simple to create a website. The Squarespace team bundles your hosting, domain, security, and web design in one package. You just need one Squarespace account, and you’re set to start creating a website.

On the other hand, WordPress will be more complicated to set up. You’ll need to pay for website hosting and a domain, install WordPress, and select a theme. Some website hosts offer a one-click WordPress install, but this process still requires more steps than Squarespace.

A word of warning for both Squarespace and WordPress — both platforms will require time and learning to create your website. Building a new website from scratch can take professional designers anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months. And that draws on all their experience and knowledge of the platforms!

For many beginning Squarespace or WordPress users, the set up process can take days, weeks, or even months. Don’t think that you’ll have a website completely done in just a matter of hours!

So is Squarespace or WordPress easier to setup?

The Verdict:

In terms of simplicity, Squarespace beats WordPress for easy setup.

Do Squarespace or WordPress websites look better?

How that you have setup your website, it’s time to make that site look good.

Of course, what “looks good” is subjective and will depend on your design criteria. But even with that in mind, there’s still a “better looking” option.

Website mockup for computer, tablet, and phone

In general, Squarespace websites look fantastic straight out of the box.

Squarespace comes with pre-designed elements that you can easily drag-and-drop in place. By mixing and matching different elements — like galleries, text boxes, and social media displays — you can create an elegant website without having to ever touch a line of code.

On the other hand, WordPress is more complicated.

Yes, you can create a beautiful website on WordPress. In fact, I’d say that WordPress has more functionality to create gorgeous web designs. Unlike Squarespace, WordPress is truly unlimited in terms of design options.

However.

Unless you’re a professional designer or have plenty of time to study web design, WordPress will take more effort to create the sleek, polished feel that comes naturally to Squarespace sites.

You may need to modify templates and customize styles to make sure your website doesn’t have that DIY slapdash appearance.

If you’re like many small business owners, you just don’t have time to do it all…

  • Run a business
  • Manage employees
  • Keep up with your family
  • And be a top-tier website designer!

Don’t spend hours on website design if you can use that time in better ways. Rather than spending time on web design, I recommend focusing your resources on your strengths — like running and growing your businesses!

So does Squarespace or WordPress look better?

The Verdict:

Both Squarespace and WordPress can create beautiful, custom websites — but Squarespace will be much easier to setup and look great right away, without needing design experience or technical coding knowledge.

Is Squarespace or WordPress better for blogging?

Not every small business website needs a blog, so this category may not apply to your website. However, it’s still helpful to understand the difference between WordPress and Squarespace for blogging.

Woman typing on laptop next to flowers

WordPress was originally conceived as a blogging platform, so no surprise — WordPress is better for blogging.

With WordPress, you will have more control over the appearance of your website and individual blog posts. You also have a media library to store images and uploads. For anyone planning a website primarily for blogging, or business owners using blog posts as a main form of marketing, WordPress will give you a more comprehensive blog experience.

Squarespace is more limited in terms of blog functionality. Whereas WordPress is a blogging platform that now also powers websites, Squarespace is a website platform that also has blogging.

However, the Squarespace team has been upping their blog game. It’s now easy to create blog posts, manage comments, and publish posts automatically on social media channels.

So is Squarespace or WordPress better for blogging?

The Verdict:

WordPress is better for serious bloggers who want complete control over their blog appearance and functionality. Squarespace is probably sufficient for anybody blogging on a smaller scale.

Is Squarespace or WordPress better for selling products?

Creating an online store is possible on both Squarespace and WordPress.

Tiny shopping cart and wrapped packages balanced on a laptop

Squarespace makes it easy to get started selling quickly. All their sales tools are integrated and seamless, so it’s a straightforward process to sell products and get paid.

However, Squarespace lacks several features that serious online sellers will miss. Squarespace stores don’t support multi-currency payments, and you’ll be limited in terms of payment gateways and tax settings. Plus, Squarespace retail reporting is limited to basic information.

WordPress will give you more options to scale as your business grows. Planning on shipping internationally? Want to have more control over branding and appearances? You’ll have more control with WordPress, rather than being limited by Squarespace.

So is Squarespace or WordPress better for e-commerce?

The Verdict:

It depends on your online products, audience, and future plans. If you plan to sell just a small number of products to a limited audience, Squarespace is the easier option to setup.

Squarespace vs WordPress: The Final Verdict

Here are the winners of the six categories:

Cost: Depends
Maintenance: Squarespace
Setup: Squarespace
Appearance: Squarespace
Blogging: WordPress
E-commerce: Depends

Based on those results, it may seem like Squarespace is a clear winner for small business owners.

And in most cases, I do recommend Squarespace websites for small business owners who want a site that is fast, professional, and easy to maintain.

However…

There are some websites where Squarespace just isn’t enough.

  • Maybe you need more email options.
  • Or you have tons of webpages.
  • Or a specific design that just isn’t possible with Squarespace.

WordPress may be a better choice for you. At the end of the day, the choice comes down to your specific website needs and goals.

I hope this guide has helped you evaluate whether Squarespace or WordPress will be best suited for your small business.

Still have questions? Schedule a time to talk with me about whether Squarespace or WordPress is best for you.

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