WordPress vs. Squarespace, which should I choose? Beginner website owners are asking this question quite often.
If you’re reading this article then you either want to build your first website, or you’ve been dealing with WordPress or Squarespace for some time, but now want to learn about the alternatives and decide whether or not it’s worth migrating to a different platform.
In this article, we’ll compare the two platforms based on different criteria, including pricing, flexibility, design, ease of use and eCommerce.
By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each platform, and will be able to decide which one is better for you.
For those of you not familiar with WordPress or Squarespace, let’s cover each of these platforms briefly, before delving deep into the differences between them.
WordPress is an open source platform developed by a large community of developers all over the world. Because of its open source nature, it’s completely free. Anyone can use it and modify its code. WordPress is incredibly flexible and enables you to create websites of various complexities. It can be used both by beginners as well as seasoned professionals.
Squarespace is proprietary software developed and built by a private company. It's beginner-friendly and enables you to start a website quickly, providing you with both a website builder, hosting space and a template. The main disadvantage of Squarespace is that it limits your website and provides you with a restricted set of features.
Both WordPress and Squarespace are powerful platforms for building websites, and now it’s time to examine each of them in detail.
WordPress as an open-source platform is completely free. You can download it at any time from the official website. However it operates in a server environment, and that’s why you need to choose a hosting service before using it. Hosting is a memory space that you buy on a server computer so that your website is accessible to others on the Internet.
There are many great hosting providers out there, but we recommend InMotion Hosting. You can get a hosting space there for less than $3 per month.
Another thing that requires attention is your theme. Although if you are a blogger, you could probably stick to a free theme from WordPress.org for starters, the best themes out there cost money.
You can choose themes depending on the type of website you’re going to build, such as a one-page website, portfolio, blog, etc. There are also multipurpose themes that give you the whole package of possible solutions for the price of just one theme.
Monstroid 2, our flagship WordPress theme is available for $75 and allows you to choose from a variety of topics and layouts. It’s a one-time payment, and you get support, continuous updates and an unlimited number of usages.
Besides themes, there may be some additional costs for the plugins. Some of the WordPress plugins are free (such as Yoast SEO), some come pre-packaged with themes (Monstroid 2 comes with 10+ premium plugins), and there are a few you might want to buy (e.g. a backup plugin).
The Squarespace plans start from $12 to $40 per month if you stick to their annual plan and from $16 to $46 per month if you want to pay on a monthly basis.
Your website is going to be hosted on their servers, so there’s no need for you to search for a hosting provider. You also wouldn’t need to search for a theme either, since they provide you with a collection of their templates.
Since the platform is proprietary, there are some limitations regarding your website, for example, if you choose a personal plan you can have no more than 20 pages, galleries or posts on your website.
They also have a special pricing if you want to build an online store. The charges start from $26 to $46 per month.
|Software||Free||$12-46 per month|
|Hosting||From $3 per month||Included|
|E-commerce||Free||$26-46 per month|
|Total for the first year*||$111||$144|
* with minimum expenses
Although WordPress is a free platform, you would need to allow for some additional costs to make it work for you. The numbers are approximate, but this includes $3 per month for hosting $75 for a theme (one-time payment) and $0-100 for plugins (optional).
Squarespace, on the other hand, starts with $12-18 per month for their annual plan and $16-26 per month for a monthly plan. If you want to have an eCommerce store the prices start from $26 to $46 per month.
Creating a simple website
Creating a WordPress site requires two things: installing WordPress itself, and installing a theme. Nowadays many hosting providers offer a one-click WordPress installation, a simple way to start off with a new WordPress website, so we skip the step of installing the WordPress engine, and go straight to the theme installation.
The theme installation depends mainly on the template you choose. Some of these come with installation wizards, and some require manual installation. In the case of Monstroid 2, you can use the TM Installation Wizard.
Once you have installed WordPress using the single click installation feature provided by your hosting provider, open up your WordPress admin panel, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New > Upload Theme, click Choose File, and select the archive with Monstroid 2.
Wizard will upload the Monstroid 2 theme to your website. If you want to upload sample data to your site as well, install TM Wizard plugin, which provides you with step-by-step guidance through the installation process of sample content and additional plugins, depending on what website you’re going to build.
After you install the theme of your choice with sample data, the only thing left to do is to replace the demo content with your own, add images, customize existing pages and if necessary create new ones.
To create a website at Squarespace, you have to sign up for their 14-day trial. Since the hosting is already there, you can start building your website right after your sign up.
The next step would be to choose a template for your website. Once you select a template, you’ll be asked several questions regarding the purpose of your website to generate sample data.
After this process you can start editing existing pages, filling them with your text, adding images, and creating new pages.
Although creating a website with WordPress is easy and doesn’t require technical skills, it does involve some extra steps in comparison to Squarespace. Also depending on your theme, you have different ways of installing the sample data.
Squarespace, on the other hand, provides you with a consistent website creation system that many beginner website owners might like.
Themes manage the design in WordPress. Themes are responsible for the visual appearance of your website and include typography, image placeholders, colors and layouts. Your content is stored in the database and is mostly independent of the theme itself. However, it’s the theme’s responsibility to manage the content properly and make sure everything looks great on your website.
When it comes to picking the right theme, you have a huge variety of options. It may require some experience in selecting the right one for your needs. Depending on your project you may want to go with a portfolio theme, a business theme, a blog, etc.
Many of the WordPress themes are also free of charge and are available on WordPress.org for downloading. However, a lot of free themes provide you with limited features and can be useful for a small number of real-world projects. Also, there are a lot of so-called freemium variations out there that provide you with a free Lite version of a theme, which has limited functionality but also offer you a premium model of the same theme with extended features.
Many businesses and developers opt for a multipurpose solution, a theme that includes a variety of designs and plugins that enable you to build a website for almost any niche.
If we take Monstroid 2 as an example, it gives you the tools and designs that can be used for a large number of different projects starting from an eCommerce store to a fashion blog. It also has an unlimited number of usages, which means you can create with it as many websites as you want.
Overall there are tens of thousands of WordPress themes available on the Internet. When choosing the one you have to pay attention to the purpose of the theme, reviews, and the company that offers it. Quite often theme developers launch a theme and after some time of time they stop supporting it, that’s why it is a smart choice to look for trustworthy theme providers that will deliver you theme updates regularly.
Also, the support issue is very crucial, and that’s why you would want to seek out developers that provide continuous support with a fast response time rate. Some of the theme developers offer support on forums which may not be the best solution. Personal assistance, such as chat and email support can be much more effective and time-saving.
Templates determine the look of your Squarespace site. Since Squarespace is proprietary software, there are no other template providers except themselves. At the moment of writing their template collection consisted of 59 items.
Most of the templates feature simple, minimalist design and cover such topics as photography, travel, fashion, music, media, eCommerce, and more.
The advantages of Squarespace would be that all of their designs come from a trusted source, and if something happens, you can always turn to their support team. However, if you choose to try out a different design, there’s no other choice but to stick to their template inventory.
When you’re picking a Squarespace template, you get what you see, and it can be tricky to include other features in your design. Although you can build your own pages and customize existing designs, there’s no possibility of adding any external functionality. If Squarespace doesn’t have it, neither do you.
Although both platforms feature great designs, the main difference is that Squarespace provides you with their collection of templates that can sometimes be limited to certain use cases. The advantage of such limitation is that you can be sure your template doesn’t break and your website will receive regular updates.
WordPress, on the other hand, gives you more freedom in the design perspective. You can select exactly what you want from thousands of available solutions. The only requirement is to make sure that this is a competent team of theme developers, who provide quality themes, support and updates.
One of the main advantages of WordPress is its flexibility. Because of its open-source nature, the WordPress ecosystem has grown into a large community of like-minded people who continuously improve the platform and provide you with great tools to customize your WordPress website and turn it into something you want it to be.
This flexibility is possible thanks to such functionality pieces as plugins, WordPress extensions that add new features to your website, each one responsible for improving a certain aspect of your website. The beauty of WordPress plugins is that you’re the only one to decide which parts should be incorporated into your website, and whether you need specific functionality or not.
With the help of plugins a simple WordPress blog can turn into practically anything you want, an e-store, forum, social network, corporate website, portfolio, and much more.
There are colossal numbers of WordPress plugins on the Internet, and you can find a plugin for practically every purpose. This variety is influenced by the open source code of WordPress and enables developers from all over the globe to build WordPress extensions and improve its functionality.
The downside is that this variety comes at a price, and sometimes it can be difficult to find a high-quality plugin that works properly on your website. That’s why you should always check plugin ratings, user reviews and when it was last updated to make sure you’re dealing with a reliable plugin developer.
Squarespace is proprietary software, which means a private company develops it and no source code is available to the general public. Although being proprietary software is certainly not a bad thing, it limits the possibility of other developers to add their contribution and improve the software.
The main advantage of the Squarespace features is that you can be sure that they are reliable and integrate properly with your website. There’s little chance of things not working as expected and causing your website to break down. However your choice is limited to the features developed by the Squarespace team only, and there’s a little to no possibility of changing that.
Each of the platforms has its upsides and downsides. If you’re perfectly fine with the tools provided out of the box by Squarespace, and you’re sure you won’t need any additional functionality later, Squarespace may be a good choice. However if customizing your website is important to you, and you want to have control over your site, WordPress is the better platform for this purpose.
Since every advanced piece of functionality in WordPress is implemented with the help of plugins, eCommerce is not an exception. You build an online store with WordPress by installing the WooCommerce plugin. It is completely free, and anyone can install it on their WordPress website. However, it is better to make sure that your theme supports it because otherwise, your products may look different from the main theme design.
WooCommerce doesn’t limit you in any way, and you can sell as many products as you wish on as many websites as you like.
You can extend the functionality of your WooCommerce website and upgrade it with additional plugins such as Ajax-based Search, Product Wishlist, Product Compare, and others. Thanks to its extendibility WooCommerce enables you to create a fully featured professional store at little to no cost.
Because of the WooCommerce popularity and growing usage rates, it also provides you with a versatile number of payment services. With WooCommerce you can integrate your site with PayPal, Stripe, Google Checkout, Payoneer, Skrill, and more.
Squarespace also offers eCommerce features; however, they are very limited in a basic plan, so to create an e-store you need to choose one of their specific online store plans ($26 – basic plan, $40 – advanced plan). You’ll be able to sell an unlimited number of products and have no transaction fees.
When it comes to payment processing, you are limited to Stripe only. Hopefully, in the future, Squarespace expands the available number of payment services and adds integration with such popular ones as PayPal and Payoneer. For now, this remains a downside, which is particularly important to businesses that want to sell products worldwide.
Squarespace still has some room to improve their eCommerce services. Although some small businesses might find their current offering acceptable, the majority of online shop owners would be better off with WooCommerce, or any other eCommerce platform such as Magento, PrestaShop, or Shopify.
Monstroid 2 vs. Squarespace Comparison Table
Below we’d like to show you the benefits of each platform with Monstroid 2 as an example of a foundation for your WordPress website.
|Price||$75||$12-46 per month|
|e-Commerce||Free||$26-46 per month|
|Support||Phone, chat, email||Chat, email|
Both WordPress and Squarespace are solid platforms for building websites. While the first one gives you a great deal of freedom and flexibility, the second one provides you with essentials that are useful for beginners. If you’re comfortable with building a simple website that doesn’t include any customizations and doesn’t sell products online, you might want to try out Squarespace.
If you want a website that is powerful and highly flexible, that can be improved continuously relevant to how your business grows, you should stick to WordPress. If you’re building an eCommerce site, WordPress would also be a much better solution.
Choosing a platform is all about your needs and what you want to achieve with your website. I hope this guide has helped you decide which of the solutions suits you better.
Have you had experience with WordPress or Squarespace? Which do you like the most? Let us know your opinion in the comments below!