WordPress vs Squarespace: Is Open or Closed Source Better for You?

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There are a lot of WordPress vs Squarespace articles out there, but they strongly leaning towards one or the other. While I am a WordPress developer and love WordPress, it’s not right for everyone. And I’d rather not take on a client than have a client have a bad match for their needs. So I’ve written up this comparison which goes into a lot of detail showing the two platforms side by side.

This chart is broken down into sections because there are a LOT of things to compare.

General Platform Features

$12 + / month$10 + / month
Closed SourceOpen Source
connect your domain with GSuiteconnect your domain with any email provider you’d like
platform maintenance done for youdo your own maintenance or have a developer on retainer ($25 + / month)
platform security done for youdo your own security or have a developer on retainer
platform very hard to break your siteif you mess with things you understand, you can break your site
High-quality serversDepends on your hosting choice
50+ designsmillions of templates, plus custom
mobile website & AMPmobile depends on your choices, AMP available
WYSIWYG editorWYSIWYG editor
LayoutEngine buildermany visual builder plugins with almost unlimited extensions
live chat, email, and community forums supportcommunity forums support, hosting companies vary in support
RSS FeedsRSS Feeds (with many customizations)
import content from big cartel, shopify, etsy, WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, and Posterousimport content from SquareSpace, Blogger, Blogroll, LiveJournal, Movable, TypePad, RSS, and Tumblr
export content to WordPress formatexport content to WordPress format
search system for sitesearch system for your site, plus extensions for specific searches
streamlined, simplified dashboarddashboard expands as plugins are added (there are also plugins to clean up dashboard)

Closed Source vs Open Source

A closed source platform requires that you host your site on their servers, and they maintain complete control over the platform. An open source platform, on the other hand,  means that you can install the platform on any server you’d like and you can make any extensions / modifications to it that you would like.

This basically comes down to freedom vs responsibility.

  • With closed source, you give up freedom to do what you’d like, but you also give up the responsibility to take care of it.
  • With open source, you have the freedom to do what you want to, but with that freedom comes the responsibility to take care of it.

When it comes to servers, with Squarespace you know they will be high quality and controlled, with WordPress you need a hosting provider which has quality & controlled servers.

With WordPress, your cost of hosting will vary widely from provider to provider depending on your resource needs. Although, you should steer clear of any provider who is offering rates below $5/month for normal hosting rates (many providers offer discounted intro rates — you should look at their normal rates).

Squarespace offers GSuite integration, WordPress offers mostly unlimited email integration options. Many SEO & Marketing companies will want various email integration options.

Maintenance Needs

With Squarespace, you don’t have any maintenance to perform, which means if you make your website and don’t touch it for 6 months, nothing will happen to it (although I do have some concerns about how useful your website is if you haven’t touched it in 6 months).

With WordPress, you have your own hosting and you do need to perform some periodic updates to your site (just like your desktop computer needs periodic updates). Some hosting companies will push some updates to your WordPress site for you, but you still need to either go in and check on it yourself or have a maintenance plan with a developer who will check on it.

Security Needs & Breaking Your Site

As with maintenance, on Squarespace this is done for you. On WordPress, you’ll need to do it yourself. I recommend iThemes Security for WordPress websites.

And as with maintenance, it’s pretty darn hard to break your Squarespace site. Whereas you can break your WordPress site if you go touching things you shouldn’t.

Designs & Mobile

As Squarespace is a closed platform you have a list of curated designs to choose from as well as a LayoutEngine builder. These control your design options. They will also translate to the options available for your mobile website.

If you are interested in AMP (accelerated mobile pages), Squarespace includes an option for this.

On WordPress, there are literally millions of themes available (your theme is your design), as well as options for completely custom themes and designs. There are a wide range of page builders out there which can give a huge amount of control over individual pages.

If you are interested in AMP, WordPress has a plugin for that as well as a plugin to integrate it with your SEO.

Both platforms include a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor for text — this is very similar to what you use with most desktop or online text editing tools.


Squarespace offers support with live chat during US business hours and email support 24/7 (response times will vary on this).

With WordPress, your support depends on your hosting provider and the hours and availability they offer.

Both platforms have a community forum based help system. WordPress has an extremely extensive system here and answers to most common questions can easily be found.

Both systems have a lot of written and video tutorials available.

RSS, Import/Export, etc

RSS feeds are available on both platforms, however, WordPress has more customization ability for RSS as it was originally set up to be a blogging platform.

Both platforms and can import/export content with each other. Squarespace specifically includes import from other eCommerce solutions, whereas WordPress has import functionality from many other blogging platforms.

Both include a search system. Squarespace has a solid system, and WordPress has a good system with options to extend it.

Squarespace being a closed system has fewer things you are allowed to modify. This means that their dashboard is streamlined and quite simple. WordPress on the other hand, allows you to modify more, so the dashboard has more options. These options are increased as you add plugins, however, the dashboard can also be cleaned up and limited by the use of user permissions and/or plugins.

Customization of Platform

This is one of the biggest differences in platforms. Since Squarespace is closed source, it has limitations on customization. Since WordPress is open source, it has almost unlimited customization.

protect individual pagesprotect individual pages
N/Aadvanced membership sites
N/AeLearning websites
N/Ajob boards including integrations with outside boards
N/Amarketplaces and more
different levels of access and multiple contributorsunlimited contributors, almost infinite access levels
audio blocksaudio blocks and playlists included, more options with plugins
video blocksvideo blocks, more options with plugins
custom CSScustom anything you’d like
very limited 3rd party integrationsalmost unlimited 3rd part integrations
N/Acustomize database with additional information & custom queries
N/Aadd unique post types to handle custom types of information

Analytics & SEO

I work with several SEO & Marketing companies and because of their needs to highly tailor a site to work with their advertising & marketing they highly prefer WordPress, and using the Yoast SEO plugin with WordPress. For this section, I’ll be assuming that with WordPress you are using the Yoast SEO plugin free version.

SquarespaceWordPress with Yoast SEO
Squarespace Analytics + Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics + any other you want
Squarespace Analytics + Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics + any other you want
standard SEO toolsstandard SEO tools, many SEO extensions, and custom controls, generally the platform of choice for SEO & marketing agencies
Some additional scripts can be addedEasy to add scripts for call tracking, online chat, and more
Clean URLsCustomizable Clean URLs
blogging availablebuilt for blogging
built in spam prevention on commentsvery easy to add spam prevention on comments
301 & 302 redirectsany type of redirect you’d like with plugins
contact formscontact forms with tons of options with plugins
newsletter signups with MailChimpnewsletter signups with any provider, and plugins to connect contact forms to newsletter providers
duplicate pagesduplicate pages with plugins
N/Ano-index pages or sections of site, A/B testing with plugins
social sharingmany social sharing options & integrations with plugins
auto-post content to Twitter, Facebook and Tumblrauto-post content to almost any social network with plugins
CDN includedCDN included depends on hosting
Speed optimization handled by platform, you may need to tweakSpeed optimization may be done by hosting company, you may need to tweak


For the purpose of the eCommerce section, I will be assuming that on WordPress you are using WooCommerce (which powers roughly 30% of online eCommerce).

SquarespaceWordPress with WooCommerce
Stripe & PayPal payment processingAlmost any payment processing you want (including integration with SquareSpace)
Unlimited productsUnlimited products
Variable productsVariable products
product quick view on limited templatesproduct quick view on many themes, and plugins available
digital and physical productsdigital, physical, virtual, and many other types of products
custom forms on productscustom forms on products with plugins or custom code
product embed where LayoutEngine is supportedproduct embed anywhere with many options
customize checkoutcustomize checkout with plugins
coupon codescoupon codes
inventory managementinventory management with plugins for 3rd party inventory system integration
shipping options & automatic calculationsshipping options included & automatic calculations through plugins
SSL includedSSL included with some hosting providers

Which is the Right Platform for You?

Here are a few scenarios which should help answer your question:

Do you plan to work with an SEO or Marketing Agency now or in the future? Then WordPress.

Do you just want a simple web presence that you can set & forget? Then Squarespace.

Do you want a simple eCommerce solution with Stripe payment? Then Squarespace.

Do you want an eCommerce solution that integrates with your payment portal of choice and has almost unlimited product types & scenarios? Then WordPress.

Do you want customization, membership, eLearning, job board, marketplace, or other such items? Then WordPress.

Is support for every little detail on your site (including design and how to edit your own text) important? Then Squarespace.

Do you want to bring your own developer and integrate with other services or customize your database? Then WordPress.

Do you want complete design control? Then WordPress.

Do you want no additional plugins needed or maintenance fees? Then Squarespace.

It’s really a personal decision based on the needs of your business. Squarespace offers many of the advantages of living in an apartment. You have a property manager, you don’t have to worry about things like maintenance or who will fix your sink. Whereas WordPress offers many of the advantages of living in a house. You can customize whatever you would like to and make it just the way you want it. But with that, you’ll either need to pay someone to fix your sink or fix it yourself.

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