Squarespace vs WordPress: Comprehensive Comparison in 2023
Squarespace and WordPress.org are both among the most reliable and professional website builders in the market.
So which one is right for you?
As a former blogger and eCommerce store owner now running a marketing agency, I’ve built quite a few websites with different website builders.
So I’ve done the homework for you.
I went ahead and compared Squarespace vs WordPress side-by-side. I looked at five main areas with specific use-cases in mind to give you the latest information and help you make the choice for yourself.
Read on, and by the end, you’ll know exactly which one to pick.
- Ease of Use
- Templates and Themes
- Extensions and Plugins
- Who Wins in This Match Up?
Note: Looking for affordable, high-quality WordPress themes and plugins? Check out AppSumo’s latest lifetime deals for WordPress tools here.
|Maximum ease of use, no coding skills required, drag-and-drop interface, beginner-friendly.||No drag-and-drop interface, steeper learning curve, coding required for full customization.|
|All templates and plugins are free. Third-party themes can be purchased.||Themes and plugins are free on WordPress.org. Paid themes and plugins are available on both WP and third-party vendors.|
|Limited customization of design and functionality due to a rigid block interface.||Fully customizable design & functionality with the use of code.|
|Basic SEO features built-in. No SEO plugins available.||Several built-in SEO tools. Powerful SEO plugins available.|
|Squarespace is a hosted CMS website builder. You have access to the CMS from any web browser.||WordPress IS a CMS that has more in-depth functions than a website builder.|
|In-house eCommerce tools.||Ecommerce tools available with plugins like WooCommerce.|
|Free templates for bloggers and basic blogging tools built-in.||Free templates for bloggers and blogging tools like commenting. Large collection of plugins for bloggers available.|
|Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for security included||SSL must be installed/purchased from a web host.|
|Dedicated support team on live chat.||Massive community and extensive resources for support.|
While WordPress emerged as a website builder catering to bloggers, Squarespace started as a competitor focusing on visual creatives. Both website builders have since expanded to facilitate fully functional professional websites in multiple industries.
Let’s get into the use-cases.
Squarespace Use Cases
From established businesses like Wired, to small medium-sized agencies, to freelancers, Squarespace powers over 1.8 million websites.[*]
Here’s an example of a simple, professional freelancer site built with Squarespace.
Source: Beta Tataki
Of course, Squarespace has something for everyone, but it’s best for visual creatives.
- Are you looking to display an elegant portfolio with your work as a freelancer?
- Do you have a service business like an agency?
- Not tech-savvy when it comes to the technical side of building a website?
If so, Squarespace might be for you. It offers maximum ease of use with a drag-and-drop builder to create your professional-looking website.
There are 110+ gorgeous templates to choose from, you can use them for your business or organization website, art portfolio, store, and blog. And with the frequent addition of new features, your website will always look up to date.
With few designs and themes, Squarespace works just fine for blog posts. But it isn’t a blog expert. Why?
Because it’s less flexible and doesn’t offer much blogging functionality. Mainly, Squarespace’s blogging tools are a good match with a niche website that has a blog.
For example, if you’re a freelance photographer showcasing your portfolio on Squarespace, you’re good to add a basic blog, too.
You can use PayPal and Stripe services with the Basic and Advanced subscription plans so you can sell digital products and services. This makes Squarespace a reliable option for freelancers, small businesses/agencies, and ecommerce store owners.
The best part – you don’t need to pay before use. Try it free for two weeks and see if it suits you. You just need to sign up to start.
Most suitable for: Freelancer bloggers, photographers, artists, musicians, small medium-sized agencies, ecommerce store owners, and restaurant owners.
WordPress Use Cases
WordPress powers 30% of all websites on the internet. It’s the OG website builder that started off as a builder for bloggers. So it’s no surprise that the Content Management System (CMS) is brilliant.[*]
Although WordPress is harder to get the hang of for beginners, publishing content on your WordPress blog is a breeze and doesn’t require any technical skills.
You can easily write and publish your posts, upload videos, images, and maintain an image library. That said, you will need to become familiar with some WordPress jargon.
For example, the difference between “posts” and “pages.”
But WordPress isn’t just for bloggers. It’s one of the most powerful website builders on the market.
Want a customized, fully controllable, and professional website? WordPress will give you just that – if you don’t mind investing the time to learn how to use it.
With a huge collection of themes and plugins, you can literally build any website you envision. You’ll be able to make your website your own and get to use the endless resources and power of the builder.
Just look at this beautiful agency website built on WordPress:
Most suitable for: Bloggers, agencies, freelancers, ecommerce store owners (plugin required) and essentially every business that needs a website (if you have development skills or can hire someone who does).
Ease of Use
Both WordPress and Squarespace builders have their pros and cons when it comes to ease of use. So which is easier to use for beginners?
Squarespace Website Builder
While Squarespace does have a little learning curve, it’s not nearly as complex as WordPress. Squarespace doesn’t have too many options, which makes it easy for beginners.
With a sizable collection of templates, font colors, and sizes, you can easily change and edit your content. The drag-and-drop editor helps:
- Outline your content
- Move texts and image blocks, and even
- Drop content from other parts of your site into it: like gallery images and summaries of blogs.
The block editor makes it easier to add images, videos, and audio. You’ll also find lots of content blocks and layout controls.
Squarespace requires no code to customize design elements on your template. You can also include certain functionalities by adding snippets of code, which we’ll get into later.
That said, the ease of use does come with a tradeoff in customization. You’re restricted to a certain degree by the templates you choose.
WordPress is definitely not for beginners when it comes to the backend. While it began as a blogging platform, its user interface has grown into a full-fledged CMS platform.
For better control over website design and functionality, WordPress sacrificed a bit of beginner-friendliness. It’s fully customizable, but with a steeper learning curve compared to Squarespace. You’ll need to spend some time getting the hang of it to reap all the benefits.
WordPress lets you customize, create, and edit your website layout according your needs. Now, there are both codeless and coded builders available. But you’ll need a basic knowledge of PHP, HTML, and CSS to create or customize your website.
Luckily, there are many drag-and-drop website builder plugins available (Beaver Builder, Elementor, etc.). If you’re not into programming, the drag-and-drop builder plugins will do the work for you.
Content blocks are very appealing nowadays. The default content editor has customized blocks for you to add content elements, helping you build a media-rich layout for your website.
Source: Smashing Magazine
With the new Gutenberg editor, you can easily insert, rearrange, and style content with little to no technical knowledge. The editor helps add images, paragraphs, or quotes using blocks instead of writing complicated codes or plugins.
Having strong coding knowledge is a major advantage when it comes to changing and editing your website to make it your own. Plus, you can always code your website from scratch. For the coding newbies out there, you’ll be pleased to learn it’s not a must. The right themes and plugins can help you build a website drag-and-drop style. (But if budget allows, consider hiring a developer to save yourself some time and energy.)
Templates and Themes
WordPress has the biggest collection of themes compared to any website builder (literally, thousands), while Squarespace has over 110 templates in 14 different categories.
But is more always better? Let’s find out.
Squarespace’s templates are categorized according to use-case. There are templates for blogs, travel, tourism, portfolio, photography, business, online stores, and so on.
Squarespace covers a lot, but there aren’t too many templates per category.
Source: Squarespace Templates
When creating a blog on Squarespace, the platform offers a couple of template recommendations.
Here’s a preview of a blogging template called Stanton:
Most of the design elements, such as your blog’s fonts, colors, sizes, and content, are customizable. If you can’t find a template you like from the options, there are third-party templates available as well.
Are you a freelance writer, artist, or photographer looking for professional templates to give your website an identity at first glance? If so, Squarespace is the right track for you, offering freelancers polished templates that stand out.
Here’s a preview of my favorite template for freelancers:
Source: Mark Novo
And here’s a preview of an elegant template for marketing agencies called Nolan & Co:
Source: Nolan & Co
All the Squarespace templates are mobile-responsive, meaning you don’t need to do any extra work for mobile and desktop users.
That said, they’re based on rigid grids. So you won’t be able to make your website completely your own.
Although WordPress offers a lot more themes, not all of them are as polished, since WordPress is open-source and anyone can create WP themes.
It’s also not as easy to switch themes on WordPress as it is on Squarespace, so take your time to choose the right theme for you. The reason it’s hard to switch themes is because specific plugins and the functionality of your website might not work for every theme. If you’ve added custom code to your theme, you’ll also have to re-insert the code snippets into your new theme.
Looking for templates for your blog?
There are thousands of free options to choose from on WordPress.org.
Source: WordPress Themes
You can also find thousands of paid WordPress themes on vendors like Theme Forest.
The themes are organized by the categories shown below. There are themes suited for agency owners and creative freelancers under the creative category, for bloggers and for eCommerce store owners amongst others.
That said, not all WordPress designs are mobile-responsive. You might have to do extra work to ensure that your site is optimized for mobile and desktop users by picking the right theme.
Both website builders offer a ton of quality features. I’ll focus on the features that matter most for freelancers, agency owners, and eCommerce store owners:
- Built-in SEO
- Customer Support
- Website Performance (Uptime, Pagespeed, Security)
Squarespace vs WordPress: Built-in SEO Features
What does Squarespace do for you in terms of SEO?
Every Squarespace website has basic SEO built-in, meaning they’re automatically SEO-friendly. Your data is automatically structured, your sitemap is automatically generated and linked, and metatags are automatically generated.
Other aspects of SEO, like SSL certificates, are included and connected. If you don’t know what any of this means, you can read more here.
Squarespace also has SEO tools like Search Keywords which connects to Google.
WordPress also provides SEO-friendly themes.
But the real power of SEO on WordPress comes from the plugins.
The first company I worked at had an extremely complex and expensive website custom coded on WordPress. At the time, I didn’t know anything about SEO, but a little tool called Yoast saved me.
Basically, just install Yoast or any of the other SEO plugins. It’ll tell you exactly what you need to optimize in terms of title tags, metadata and descriptions.
Squarespace vs WordPress: Content Management System (CMS)
What is a CMS?
A CMS is simply an application that allows you to manage the creation of digital content.
Squarespace is a hosted CMS drag-and-drop website builder. That means it has a CMS that you can use on any web browser.
For a beginner building a website, Squarespace’s CMS offers enough for you to create and publish content. You have complete control over your headlines, images, texts, links, videos, and other content on your website.
On the other hand, WordPress is a CMS. That means you can build a fully customized website with complex functionality using the WordPress CMS.
The WordPress CMS has depth. But to unlock it, you need to pass a pretty steep learning curve. For the average beginner building a website, WordPress has solid CMS features to publish content, including:
- Post scheduling
- Managing comments
- Multi-author advantage & multilingual settings
Here’s a view from my post editor:
With these standard built-in features, WordPress can be a great blogging companion to make publishing a breeze. WordPress also has built-in RSS feeds as well, so your visitors can subscribe to your content and receive updates.
Squarespace vs WordPress: Ecommerce Compatibility
Now, the obvious choice for eCommerce store owners to build their store in the past few years has undoubtedly been Shopify.
But both Squarespace and WordPress are fully eCommerce-compatible and offer cheaper options.
Squarespace offers an all-in-one solution for eCommerce from the Business Plan and up. For serious selling, you’ll probably want to upgrade to a specific eCommerce plan.
Squarespace provides polished eCommerce templates and built-in eCommerce tools, shown on the left-hand side menu below:
It’s essentially everything you need to manage your eCommerce store. But keep in mind that Squarespace is only compatible with Stripe and PayPal for payment processing.
On WordPress, you’ll need a plugin like WooCommerce to transform your website into an eCommerce shop.
WooCommerce has you covered. It’s got every tool you need to get started right out of the box and it’s fully customizable. Of course, there are other plugins that you can use for extra features.
WordPress is also more flexible with payment processing and is compatible with Stripe, PayPal, Google Checkout, 2Checkout, Payoneer, and Bitcoin.
Squarespace vs WordPress: Customer Support
Squarespace offers help guides, videos, webinars, a forum, and email/live chat support.
The knowledge base on Squarespace is straightforward and easy to navigate and use, so you’ll be able to solve a lot on your own.
Source: Squarespace Help
In instances where you’re stuck, the customer support is open 24/7 over email and Twitter. However, when you need someone to help you in real-time, the Squarespace live chat is only active from 4am to 8pm Eastern Time, from Monday to Friday.
While testing Squarespace, I reached out to support for help. Live Chat wasn’t available, so I sent an email and received a response within 48 hours. Despite the slight delay, I was generally satisfied with the clear communication and helpful response from the agent.
WordPress has a variety of resources for support. Most notably, the forum offers a huge knowledgebase built by users in the WordPress community. You can also find guides in the support section.
Source: WordPress Forums
Since WordPress is an open-source platform, it doesn’t actually offer a support service via live chat or email. Only WordPress.com offers this kind of support, and you’ll need to have an account.
That said, a lot of the paid themes and plugins have customer support. For example, ZenDesk has live support. You can also get help from a specialized web host to help you with anything you need.
Extensions and Plugins
There are over 55,000 plugins for WordPress, while Squarespace didn’t even have an app store up until recently. They’ve since launched “Squarespace Extensions” which has third-party apps.
Squarespace offers very few extensions, or third-party apps, and they’re mainly for eCommerce store owners.
Source: Squarespace Extensions
For example, AfterShip and Easyship help you manage your fulfillment and shipments.
Source: Squarespace Extensions
Also worth noting: almost all the themes have built-in apps for blogs, analytics, and portfolios. Since these apps are developed in-house, they’re seamless and trusted.
You can also add plugins to your Squarespace website by pasting code snippets into the CSS. For example, if you have a Sumo account, you can easily paste the code to install it on your Squarespace website, enabling features like pop-ups.
WordPress functions without plugins. But you’ll definitely need them to unleash the builder’s full power. With over 55,000 plugins to choose from, you’ll be scrolling for a long time!
Source: WordPress Plugins
There are definitely a few plugins that stand out for me as I literally wouldn’t have been able to do much on my website without them.
The first that comes to mind is Elementor, which is one of the most popular drag-and-drop page builders available. You can essentially build your entire website with it. We even ran a deal for Elementor plug-ins.
Another one is Yoast SEO, which I mentioned helped me learn the basics of SEO and essentially saved me during my first job.
There’s a ton more that you’ll definitely want to check out for your website’s security, design, marketing and SEO, eCommerce, and content management. To make your life easier, check out our post of the best WordPress plugins. All you need to do is install them and take ’em for a spin.
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, click here to browse the latest lifetime deals for WordPress tools we have available on AppSumo.
We’re all budget-savvy and looking to save where we can. Now that we’ve gone through what each website builder offers, it’s time to find out which builder offers more bang for your buck.
Squarespace offers both annual and monthly plans.
Source: Squarespace Pricing
The four premium plans of Squarespace range from $12 – $40 per month. If you choose to pay annually, you can save around 13% to 30%, depending on the plan.
These plans come with unlimited storage and a free domain for the first year.
Squarespace monthly plans cost:
- Business $18/month
- Basic $26/month (includes Business plan features and advanced e-commerce tools)
- Advanced $40/month
You can try Squarespace free for 14 days before buying any plans.
While WordPress is free, you still need to pay for hosting, themes, eCommerce integrations, plugins, and developer costs. Here are the estimated costs based on my past projects:
- Domain: $10-$12 per year
- Hosting: $10 – $12 per month (higher as your traffic grows)
- Theme: $30-$80 on average
- Plugin: $5-$50 per plugin on average
The starting investment for a WordPress website will run you around $139-$200.
Generally, your recurring costs with WordPress wouldn’t be as high. Most plugins and themes come with a little annual cost, or a one-time fee. The biggest chunk of your expenses will come from domain and hosting, costing between $110 to $156 annually.
Squarespace vs WordPress: Who Wins in This Matchup?
Squarespace is simple, comfortable, and beginner-friendly. It’s a pretty solid choice if you want to get your website online quickly and have the budget for it.
If you have some patience and are in it for the long-term, WordPress will eventually unleash its full potential for you to create any design and functionality you want. You’ll never be trapped in a rigid theme and you’ll learn a lot along the way.
The winner in this matchup is WordPress, but I might be biased. Choose for yourself based on your own needs, budget, and use cases. Once you’re done, you also might want to compare image compression tools for your website, which we’ve done for you here.
If you use WordPress or plan to start using it, check out our latest lifetime deals on WordPress tools to save your time searching and get the most out of your budget.