If you’re looking for the ultimate Squarespace vs WordPress comparison post, you will love this tell-it-all review of both platforms.
We actually think you’ll agree when we say: You want only what’s best for your online business as far as website builders go.
That said, which website builder is the absolute best?
The better question is: Between Squarespace and WordPress, which is the better platform for your biz?
In this comparison post, we take an in-depth look at each platform, so you can choose one that’s perfect for your needs.
As a bonus, you get free web hosting and an awesome test drive of both platforms, so get ready to have fun.
Before we shift into high gear, we would very much love to welcome you to post your questions and suggestions in the comment section at the end.
Ready? Awesome. Let’s roll!
Now that we are on this Squarespace vs WordPress business, wouldn’t it be nicer if you learned a bit about each platform? We thought so too.
For starters, both platforms help you to create websites – an integral part of your online presence. The merits and demerits of each platform is where the differences between the two arise.
Squarespace is a subscription-based website builder/host that incur a recurring monthly fee. In its most basic form, you sign up, design and pay to get your site online.
Squarespace usually comes with a couple of customizable templates to help with the design. They start you off with a subdomain, but you can purchase your own custom domain name.
They host the site for you and the hosting fees are part of that monthly subscription fee we mentioned a few lines ago.
On the other hand, WordPress is the leading application framework (or content management system (CMS)) on the web. The platform comes in two flavors:
- WordPress.com, which is a subscription-based service that offers you WordPress-based sites and
- WordPress.org, which is the website where you download the free and opensource WordPress software, free themes, plugins and get support
Thanks to a new technology known as the REST API, WordPress is an application framework you can use to power a wide range of apps including Android and iOS apps, not just websites.
In comparison, Squarespace is like takeout food and WordPress is like making a homemade meal from the start.
In other words, Squarespace is suitable for people who can’t design to save their lives or simply need a quick fix without much design freedom.
WordPress is amazing for beginners as well as folk who have probably learned some coding, and need a CMS that grants them absolute design freedom to create whatever they can imagine.
Still, which one is perfect for your business needs? As we install and test-drive either platform, keep in mind the platform you ultimately choose depends on your business needs and personal preferences.
Main Takeaway: Choose either Squarespace or WordPress depending on your business needs.
Squarespace vs WordPress Installation
Having a platform you can’t install to begin with isn’t how you create a website. So, how easy is it to move from zero to functional website with either platform? Let’s dig in.
For starters, you don’t install Squarespace; it is a subscription-based service remember? You sign up to Squarespace same way you sign up to Facebook or Gmail.
This means you simply need to head over to Squarespace.com and hit the Start A Free Trial button:
This leads to the Templates page, which makes picking your starter design the obvious thing to do:
For the purpose of this post, we chose to start with the Bedford template. There are a couple more templates with the apparent preview link (just mouse over the thumbnails).
Next, you create an account:
Do the necessary; fill out the form and hit the Sign up button.
Next, click the Start button (see image above). On the next screen, specify what your website is about and click the Next button. For this article, we chose professional services:
After this, select your site’s goals and click Next. You’re goals are the things you expect to achieve with your website. For this article, we chose a common issue among webpreneurs such as yourself; growing and engaging your audience:
Comes the third part; describing your website. You can use this area to add a short bio of yourself and/or details about your business. While you have 1,000 characters at your disposal, keep the description/bio short.
Keep in mind some templates show the description on your website:
Hit the Next button to launch step number 4; adding your site title:
Enter your site’s title and click the Done button. This leads you to the site customizer that lets you:
- Create pages
- Design your site without writing code
- Add products
- Track traffic
- And much more (We will see more in the design and features section, so keep reading)
So far so good, we’ve created a Squarespace site on their subdomain e.g. https://your-name.squarespace.com. The only downside? Your website is invisible to the public unless you upgrade to one of their paid plans.
Needless to say, you manage your entire site from this customizer. It’s all easy – installing Squarespace.
Now let us see how WordPress stacks against Squarespace in terms of installation.
WordPress is a piece of software that you install on your server. After installing WordPress, you can then create a website on top of it.
Installing WordPress is pretty much straightforward especially since most web hosts offer you one-click WordPress auto-installers.
And now the best part: For this post, we use the free web hosting service courtesy of 000webhost, the first and biggest free hosting provider.
This means you get your own free hosting account before the end of this post, just follow these instructions.
How to Get 000webhost Free Hosting
You need a web server to run WordPress. There are two options available to you here:
- Installing WordPress on your computer using local server software such as WAMP, MAMP or XAMPP
- Sign up for free or premium web hosting
For this Squarespace vs WordPress comparison, we spring for 000webhost free hosting. Unlike local WordPress installation, 000webhost offer you a secure (SSL) sub-domain such as https://your-name.000webhost.com among other things.
Note, 000webhost free hosting is aimed at beginners who would like to test the waters. Think of it as an opportunity to learn more about the hosting environment and WordPress in general.
Head over to 000webhost.com and click the red Free Sign Up button:
The next screen offers you a short form for your email, password and website name. Fill out the form accurately and hit the Get Free Hosting button:
Next, you have the chance to pick either Hostinger Premium Web Hosting or proceed with the free hosting from 000webhost. Click the It’s ok, I want to learn button:
This leads you to your hosting account dashboard:
Before you do anything here, we recommend activating your account by verifying your email (000wehost sents you a confirmation email after sign up):
After activating your account, you’re redirected back to the 000webhost dashboard. In your dashboard, click either the Build site icon or the Manage website “your-website” button:
The page that loads next helps you to:
- Build a website using the Easy Website Builder
- Create a WordPress site (we choose this option in the next step)
- Upload a pre-built website
Here, click on the WordPress option:
Next, fill out the pop-up that appears and click the Install button:
Note: Keep the above details safe since you’ll need them to login to your WordPress site.
Wait out the installation:
A successful WordPress installation leads to this page:
If you don’t see the above page, you either missed a step or something went completely wrong. Simply try the procedure again.
But if everything is okay, click the Go to configuration page button to login to your site via the famous WordPress login page (we sure do hope you remember your login credentials):
You’re now logged in to your WordPress admin dashboard…
…where you can do a lot of things including:
- Create pages
- Write blog posts
- Install different WordPress themes and plugins
- Customize your site
- And have complete control of your site settings
If that last point didn’t sink in, you manage your entire WordPress from this dashboard unless, of course, you’d like to tinker with your databases and such, in which case you have complete control of your free hosting account unlike Squarespace.
At this point you have a live website that’s accessible/visible to the entire world at your subdomain e.g your-name.000webhost.com.
Verdict: You can have a live and fully-functional WordPress site in the next minute for free! Need I say more? To be fair though, Squarespace sends you some on-boarding emails as well, but you must pay first to go live. While setting up WordPress involves setting up web hosting beforehand, installing either platform is the stuff of fourth graders.
Nothing much to see here, so let’s look at how the platforms compete in terms of design options and features.
Squarespace vs WordPress Design & Features
What good is a website builder that doesn’t offer the design options and features you need to build the website of your dreams?
Every business is unique and your needs determine the features you need in a website builder. We are of the opinion that it is better to have the feature and not need it than need a feature that, to your dismay, you don’t have.
Remember, you will use your website in the future as well, so it makes sense to go with a future-proof platform you can bend and extend to your heart’s content. In this section, we discover what each platform has to offer in terms of design and features.
How does Squarespace stack up against WordPress in terms of design options and features?
Squarespace Design Options & Features
From where we sit, all the design and features appear to live within the site customizer:
Whenever you mouse over any element on your template inside the site customizer, an editor for that specific element appears. For instance, to edit your main navigation, mouse over the navigation and click the Edit button:
You can edit any other element on your template in a similar manner. On top of that, you can change your website’s colors by navigating to Design -> Style Editor:
Additionally, there is provision for custom CSS, but the support team at Squarespace “…will be limited in their ability to help you with design issues if you have custom CSS”:
You can even design a checkout page although checking out is disabled in trial accounts. Just navigate to Design -> Checkout Page Style Editor:
If you’d like to change your template, you have access to 80+ templates built by Squarespace’s award-winning design team. All templates are top-notch quality and mobile friendly:
Other features you can add under the Design tab include an announcement bar, mobile information bar, Squarespace badge, lock screen for password protected content and custom fonts.
To add and edit pages, click the Pages tab:
Configuring an online store is as simple as navigating to the Commerce tab:
We don’t need to tell you what the Analytics tab does, but for the absolute beginner, click this tab to track your traffic:
The Settings tab allows you to:
- Edit business information i.e. business hours, address,, email, phone, business name
- Choose a time zone
- Transfer website ownership
- Add contributors and authors
- Manage billing
- Edit your site’s description
- Manage your domains
- Setup professional email address as long as you have a custom domain e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Connect your site to social media services
- Link to your Facebook page and add share buttons
- Optimize your site for search engines
- Configure blogging options
- Setup SSL
- Export/import content and products to and from other platforms including WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and Shopify among others
- Set your 404 error pages
- Enable 3rd-party services Google Analytics, Amazon Associates and Google reCAPTCHA
- Inject code to your
<footer>tags, lock screen and order confirmation pages
- Enable the developer mode that offers you developer-level access to your site including a Squarespace Development Server
- Change URLs
- Import image metadata
- Switch menus
- Configure various ecommerce settings i.e. payments, checkout, custom accounts, notifications, shipping, taxes, accounting and donations
Moreover, you can accept payments using gateways such as Stripe, Apple Pay and PayPal if you’re in it for the ecommerce functionality.
However, if you go for the Business plan (which is something you might want to do if you’re into ecommerce), you incur an extra 3% charge on your sales. Other plans i.e Basic and Advanced don’t attract any Squarespace transation fees.
Other than that, they sell you domain names and logos. That, and we eventually found the post editor and it is awesome for lack of a better word:
They just need to make it easily accessible, something WordPress has perfected.
The best part? The whole thing is responsive and mobile friendly. Plus you can always download the Squarespace Blog mobile app from Google Play Store or the App Store.
The app has an above average rating of 3.2/5.0 at Google Play Store and a dismaying rating of 2.6/5.0 at the App Store.
If you’d like a good example of a Squarespace site, just have a look at Squarespace.com. Yep, they built their front-site on Squarespace. Other examples include Pixar, Lyft blog and Tony Hawk just to mention a few.
Sadly, there are no plugins to extend your site like WordPress, which means you cannot create websites such as social networks and membership sites among others on Squarespace.
Still, it’s an impressive list of features, but how does WordPress compare?
WordPress Design Options & Features
Just to put it out there, WordPress beats Squarespace hands down in the design and features department. It’s the blunt truth mate, and it’s a good thing.
For starters, WordPress is a great CMS with an even greater templating system. After you create your site, you can install any WordPress theme and customize it to create the website of your dreams.
There are tens of thousands of free and premium WordPress themes at your disposal:
Plus, there are many other WordPress theme shops. You can get free WordPress themes at WordPress theme repository and premium themes from Themeforest among other theme shops. Besides, you can create unlimited child themes and customize your website until you drop.
That, and we haven’t mentioned the powerful WordPress live customizer that puts you in complete control of your website:
On top of that, you can easily customize your CSS and edit theme files however you desire. This means that you can add any design element anywhere on your site provided you have some coding skills:
If that isn’t enough, the market is flooded with WordPress theme frameworks that allow you to build the design of your website from the ground up. Great examples include Genesis and Thesis among others.
Then we have WordPress page builders – excellent tools that help you to create awesome layouts without coding knowledge. You simply drag and drop elements into place to create pages and posts out of this galaxy.
And if you had no idea, the most popular WordPress themes come with built-in page builders that make creating your dream site not only a reality, but also extremely fun.
Furthermore, the same popular WordPress themes come with plenty of demo sites that you can import and customize in a matter of clicks. For example, the Total WordPress theme comes with over 45 demo sites you install in a single click:
In addition, each WordPress theme out there comes with a unique set of theme options that allow you to turn the theme whichever direction you desire.
Best part is how free all these things are. We mean, you can get amazing WordPress themes, theme frameworks and page builders for free. If you go with premium options, you get more features and incredible support.
In a nutshell, the type of website you can create with WordPress is only limited by your own imagination. You can create any website you can imagine since:
- There is a large collection of themes from where to choose
- You can customize any theme however you desire without any restrictions whatsoever
- WordPress comes with thousands of plugins for any functionality you need
Additionally, there are numerous WordPress themes designed specifically for various fields and industries. For instance, there are thousands of themes for education, lawyers, construction, health, blogging, photography and so much more.
Moreover, WordPress supports widgets. Widgets are simply content blocks – tiny areas on your site where you can display a varying range of content such as menus, recent posts, social media streams, subscription forms, images and so on.
Out of the box, WordPress is poised to run any website under the sun. You can add pages and blog posts with a single click unlike Squarespace where we had to dig deep to find the post editor.
If need be, you can customize your themes directly from within the admin areas, but we already mentioned that.
What we haven’t mentioned is most of WordPress’ power lies in WordPress plugins – and there is a horde of these, both free and premium.
There’s probably a plugin for any feature you’d need, including plugins that reinforce features that are already in WordPress.
Need email opt-ins? There are countless plugins for that. If you need social media integration, there are a million and one plugins for that.
And with a plugin such a WooCommerce, you can add full ecommerce functionality to your WordPress site at the drop of a hat. There are many other ecommerce plugins for WordPress you’ll go bonkers because of the multiple options.
We would love to mention you can use nearly any plugin with whichever WordPress theme you have. Some plugins such as WooCommerce come with add-ons that extend what that specific plugin can do.
Are you looking to build a social network for your business or community? Hey, who knew there is the BuddyPress plugin just for that?
A plugin such Symple Shortcodes allows you to add features such as call outs, buttons, accordions, Google maps, highlights, columns, social media buttons and so much more anywhere on your site with a couple of clicks.
Since you customize your WordPress and themes however you like, you can add custom features directly into your website, something that’s impossible with Squarespace.
The WordPress page and post editors are some of the best tools the web has ever seen. That, and you can always extend the editor with plugins for extra features such as SEO and so on.
The post editor supports multiple blog post types including standard, video, quote, link, audio and gallery among others. On top of that, publishing content with WordPress is a straight-forward process unlike Squarespace.
In terms of search engine optimization, WordPress win again. Firstly, it is built around semantic code and web standards that make the platform search engine friendly.
Secondly, you can optimize any page or post extensively using Yoast SEO, one of the best WordPress SEO plugins.
We can’t possibly summarize all of WordPress features in this post, because WordPress has as many features as there are plugins. Instead, let us look at the things you can achieve via the WordPress admin dashboard:
The first screen you see when you login to your WordPress site offers you a glimpse of your site and the chance to write a quick draft among other things.
The Updates screen shows you available updates for WordPress core program, themes and plugins:
Next, we have the Posts screen, where you create, edit and view your blog posts, tags and categories:
Clicking the Add New button above takes you to the WordPress post editor, which looks like this:
Below that, we have the Media Library where you can upload, view and edit your images. You can create galleries and do so much more here:
Note: You can upload images via the post editor as well.
Then we have the pages screen, where you can create, view and edit your pages as shown below:
If you click the Add New button, it launches the WordPress page editor, which looks like the post editor with minor differences:
The Comments screen shows you the number of comments left on your blog and related details such as the commenter’s name and address among others things. You can moderate your comments here as well:
After that, we find the Appearance screen where you can choose your theme (you can install a couple) and customize your site to great extents:
Note: In the image above, we’ve installed the Child Themify plugin that helps you to create a child theme in no time, which is why you see Create Child Theme on the Appearance sub-menu.
On the Plugins screen, you can add, update, edit, deactivate and delete plugins to your heart’s content:
If you’d like to run a multi-author blog, or would like to give administrator capabilities to a member on your team, WordPress makes it incredibly easy with the Users screen:
WordPress offers countless of user roles with the default ones being Subscriber, Editor, Author, Contributor and Administrator.
We say countless user roles because the plugins you install can add more user roles such as SEO Editor and Customer among others. On the Users screen, you can add, edit and delete users whenever it suits you.
Under Users, we have Tools, where you can import and export content from/to a wide range of services such as Tumblr, RSS, Live Journal, Blogger and Movable Type among others:
Lastly, we have the Settings panel, which helps you to configure settings such as edit your site title and tagline, permalinks, discussion, static home pages, site address, activate user registration, change date, language, toggle search engine visibility and so on:
Note that your WordPress admin dashboard might look a little different depending on the plugins or theme you have. All the same, you can expect your admin dashboard to have the above sections.
Verdict: WordPress wins hands down in terms of design and features even without touching on the many other features that are available in themes and plugins.
Squarespace vs WordPress Support
How affordable is it to build a website with either Squarespace or WordPress? That’s the big question, right? Depending on your budget, you may decide to go with either, so let us break down the costs of running a simple portfolio website.
Squarespace Pricing + Support
We’ve made it clear your site remains invisible to the public until you subscribe to one of their paid plans.
Squarespace offers four prices points. We have the Personal plan that cost $12/month if you pay annually and $16/month if you pay on a month to month basis.
Then, there is the Business plan that costs $18 per month if you pay yearly and $26 per month if you pay on a month to month basis.
They offer two more packages for online stores: Basic that costs $26 per month billed annually or $30 month to month and Advanced, which costs $40 monthly if you pay annually and $46 per month if you pay on a month to month basis.
This means you can be online for about $12 to $46 a month. This is between $144 to $480 per year. Keep in mind paying on a month to month basis costs between $192 and $552 per year.
They offer you a free domain for the first year that you can replace the sub-domain they start you off with. However, you don’t own this domain and it might cost you more to transfer out.
Since it is a paid service, Squarespace offers 24/7 support via a knowledge base, videos, email and live chat.
WordPress Pricing + Support
WordPress is a free and opensource software. This means it’s absolutely free to download and use.
It also means you can modify WordPress however you want without any legal repercussions.
To host a WordPress site, however, you’ll need a web host and a domain name unless you’re hosting it locally on your computer or on free WordPress hosting from 000webhost.
A domain name costs less than $10 per year nowadays and we just gave you free hosting to get you started. If, at any time, you require more server power, you can always migrate to Hostinger Premium Hosting, which starts at about $2.15 a month.
This means, if you go with 000webhost free hosting, you can have a website online for as little as $10 per year!
If you choose Hostinger, you can have a fully functional website online for about $36 a year (domain + hosting), which boils down to about $3 a month. Guys, this is a steal.
You can always get WordPress support in forums, on numerous blogs online and via 3rd-parties such as plugin/theme developers and web hosts.
Verdict: WordPress is way cheaper than Squarespace if you’re running a simple portfolio website. And with all the features available in WordPress, you can’t get a better deal elsewhere.
We choose WordPress over Squarespace any day. The main reason being it’s more flexible than Squarespace. It offers you more design freedom to create any website you desire unlike Squarespace that sort of squeezes you in a mold.
Now you. Which website builder do you think is the best? Squarespace or WordPress? Let us know in the comment section below.