Starting a website can be a daunting task, especially if you're unsure which platform to use and whether the features on offer are what you need. There are tons of popular website builders in the marketplace, and becoming informed about what each can do is critical.
Two such platforms which offer users different features and benefits when building a website are Squarespace and WordPress.
In this article, I'll compare these two platforms so you can decide which is the better builder for your needs. I'll also go into detail about the pros and cons of each software, along with the main features.
Let's jump right in.
Before I start this review, it's important to mention that there are two different versions of WordPress. WordPress.com is a hosted solution, which means that you don't need to think about finding your own hosting and end up having to install WordPress from scratch. On the other hand, WordPress.org is a solution where you have to find your hosting provider, pay for ongoing usage and install a new version of WordPress yourself when you start off.
While there are pros and cons to each of these, for the purpose of this review, I'm going to suggest that you go with WordPress.org. This is the better platform to perform all the customizations you want while controlling the content you publish.
Ease Of Use
When it comes to ease of using the platforms, Squarespace slightly edges WordPress in this category. As a hosted website builder, Squarespace uses a drag-and-drop interface where you can choose what elements you want and drag them onto the page. On the other hand, coding is sometimes required if you want to customize the WordPress platform.
That said, the advantage WordPress offers is that you can dial in and get the results you want.
Another consideration in terms of ease of use is the live preview. When working in WordPress, you cannot see what your changes will look like when you save and publish such changes.
On the other hand, with Squarespace, you can see a live preview as you are editing. This can significantly benefit beginners and veterans alike to ensure they get the results they want as they make various changes.
There are more than 110 Squarespace templates to choose from. This also means that you can select a Squarespace template specifically made for the industry you are in. WordPress also has templates (known as WordPress themes) that you can use in your website design. However, I have found that these themes are not industry-specific, making it hard to find something that captures exactly what you are trying to achieve in the design of your website.
On the other hand, there are thousands of templates for you to choose from created both by WordPress and third-party designers, which also increases your odds of finding what you want through the sheer number of themes available. Whether you want to make money on WordPress or simply want to share information, you will probably find a template that can fit your needs.
Again, speaking about customization, one can easily edit templates in Squarespace without much need to touch the code itself. With WordPress, this is almost mandatory if you want to make significant changes.
Maintaining Your Website
When it comes to Squarespace, site maintenance is seldom an issue. Many of the much-needed updates happen automatically and are done by the Squarespace team. As the end-user, you don't need to keep track of what new updates are available and implement them.
When it comes to having a WordPress website, various updates happen regularly, and you will have to manually (or semi-manually) perform these updates yourself. While the process is very straightforward, it is ideally something to be done as soon as the updates are out. If you do not do these updates, you will open your site up to various vulnerabilities, leading to potential consequences for your website.
When it comes to pricing, it's tough to compete with WordPress as it is free software. You don't need to pay an ongoing membership fee to use this platform. However, you will still need to pay for additional services to use WordPress to its fullest capacity.
The first thing that comes to mind is hosting, as you will not be able to have your site live without such service. This also means that hosting costs will vary depending on your provider.
When it comes to Squarespace, there are four pricing plans, starting from $12 per month. They are as follows:
These packages will combine everything you need to go from a simple idea to having a fully functional site open for visitors.
Squarespace is also great for giving you access to various features you might have to pay for with WordPress. This might include a free domain name, SEO features, bandwidth, etc. - this all depends on the package you go for.
Search Engine Optimization
Both of these platforms have great features in place for SEO. In terms of WordPress, there are various features that you can customize and adapt based on your requirements, but Squarespace is no slouch either.
As always, you have to consider the right plugins for WordPress. You'll have to install specific third party plugins to make it all work as you wish. With Squarespace, these features are already preinstalled with your plan.
Squarespace's features in terms of SEO tools include customizable meta titles and descriptions, customizable URLs, setting the alt text for your images, page redirects, sitemap generation, etc.
When it comes to WordPress, one of the leading and most well-known plugins available on this platform is Yoast SEO. What's great about this WordPress plugin is that it guides you through the best SEO practices - starting from creating great content that will rank for specific keywords, setting up your meta description and other essential information, and other crucial SEO ranking factors you must adhere to.
Other Features To Consider
Squarespace comes with many more inbuilt features when compared to WordPress. Some of the essential components to consider are the following.
In a nutshell, Squarespace provides all the information you need at your fingertips.
With WordPress, there are also many powerful features that you can use. The only downside is that you will need to install many of these plugins yourself.
While this is not rocket science, what's challenging is that there are many WordPress plugins that you can go for when trying to achieve a specific feature. You will need to research before deciding which plugin will work best for your particular situation.
Speaking of plugins, WordPress has more than 50,000 free plugins to choose from. This means that the functionality that you arm your site with is virtually unlimited. On the flip side, this also means that many plugins will be lower quality than those found on Squarespace. While this doesn't mean that you should not consider WordPress as a platform for your choice, you might have to do more research before finding a solution that fits your needs.
Squarespace has a higher quality of integrations right out of the box. With WordPress, you will have to install various plugins to make it all work. For example, if you are running an e-commerce store, there are plugins for both WordPress and Squarespace that will allow you to have a successful online store that sells products online.
When it comes to e-commerce, it's also good to notice that Squarespace has two specific plans that you can opt to go for (Basic Commerce and Advanced Commerce). This is great if you want to start a Shopify store and integrate it with Squarespace. With this plan, you will get various features (that are not found on other plans), such as:
When it comes to WordPress, a great plugin that offers all of the above features in one interface is called Woocommerce. The downside is that this plugin comes with a separate fee that you will have to pay to use all its features.
Woocommerce has been built to be used with WordPress, meaning that it integrates well with the system.
Looking a bit more in-depth about what Woocommerce does, these are some of the functions and features it offers:
Developers built the WordPress platform with blogging in mind. With the ability to have a two-way conversation through comments, produce top-quality content, use top-notch WordPress blogging tools, and much more, many bloggers use WordPress as their platform of choice. This means that it's tough to compare Squarespace and WordPress when it comes to blogging, as WordPress will probably win whenever you consider all the features on offer.
There is also the possibility to set different WordPress users and authors with various permissions when it comes to what they can do on your site. The good news is that this functionality is also available on Squarespace, where you can quickly create a blog with various coauthors.However, starting a WordPress blog is typically easier than doing the same on Squarespace.
One important factor to mention about WordPress is that site owners can directly access the HTML code and any custom CSS. This can take the already great plugins to the next level. While this is more of a specialized skill that you would need to have (or hire someone to do for you), it is something that web owners request when having a particular kind of site. This is even more so since you cannot access the HTML code with Squarespace.
These platforms offer their apps on both the Apple Store and Google Play store. With the WordPress app, you can do anything that you would do on a desktop computer. For example, you can create new blog posts, update them, track various site statistics (that can help you improve your website), look at notifications, and much more.
The Squarespace app also allows you to write new blog posts, review traffic analytics, etc.
Both of these apps give you the functionality you would expect when running a website, and as such, there's no one clear winner in this area.
Both of these platforms can be very secure under the right conditions. However, if you want a better solution in this area, you might want to choose Squarespace. If something were to go wrong, their team of security experts would fix any problems that arise.
On the other hand, you might not even know that you are under attack until it is too late for your WordPress site. Suppose you install a plugin developed with malicious intentions (or one that wasn't appropriately built and was open to attacks). In that case, you might not realize what is happening until the plugin has wreaked havoc on your site.
In addition, even if you realize that you are under attack, you might not necessarily know what you need to do to fix this problem. This all means that security on WordPress is your responsibility. While some people will like this because it will allow them to have complete control over this aspect, others might prefer to leave this in the hands of security experts.
It's also important to consider that the web hosting provider you use for your WordPress site plays an essential part in your website's security. Many providers will take extra security measures to protect websites hosted on their platform, as a compromise in one of these websites could lead to other sites ending up with problems.
Squarespace has an excellent support team that can help you as required. With a live chat available from Monday to Friday, email support available 24/7, and Twitter support available at all times, you will get all the help you need when using Squarespace.
On the other hand, there is no customer support team at WordPress. Since the platform is open source and anyone can add to it based on their specific requirements, there is no in-house team that can help you with any problems that you might run into. This means that you will rely on the support of forums, plugins, and WordPress theme creators when you need assistance.
If WordPress support is essential to you, you might consider what kind of customer support is offered by the hosting platform you choose. This might not be direct WordPress support, but it might still help you solve the problem since your hosting provider also has a stake in fixing any issues on its systems.
So, what is the better platform for you? As always, the answer is that it all depends on your needs.
These platforms can offer a great experience, but they have their unique pros and cons.
If you need a straightforward platform that you can use to build a website or blog without the need to look into the code and without the worry of website security, then Squarespace might be a good option for you.
On the other hand, WordPress might be a better option if you need a blogging platform that offers more flexibility and control while also being more affordable (over the long term).
In the end, it all comes down to your own specific needs. Evaluate what you require from a website platform before making a final decision.
Finally, check out my other comparison articles to learn more about the top platforms in the market right now: