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 Source||Open Source|
|connect your domain with GSuite||connect your domain with any email provider you’d like|
|platform maintenance done for you||do your own maintenance or have a developer on retainer ($25 + / month)|
|platform security done for you||do your own security or have a developer on retainer|
|platform very hard to break your site||if you mess with things you understand, you can break your site|
|High-quality servers||Depends on your hosting choice|
|50+ designs||millions of templates, plus custom|
|mobile website & AMP||mobile depends on your choices, AMP available|
|WYSIWYG editor||WYSIWYG editor|
|LayoutEngine builder||many visual builder plugins with almost unlimited extensions|
|live chat, email, and community forums support||community forums support, hosting companies vary in support|
|RSS Feeds||RSS Feeds (with many customizations)|
|import content from big cartel, shopify, etsy, WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, and Posterous||import content from SquareSpace, Blogger, Blogroll, LiveJournal, Movable, TypePad, RSS, and Tumblr|
|export content to WordPress format||export content to WordPress format|
|search system for site||search system for your site, plus extensions for specific searches|
|streamlined, simplified dashboard||dashboard 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.
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 pages||protect individual pages|
|N/A||advanced membership sites|
|N/A||job boards including integrations with outside boards|
|N/A||marketplaces and more|
|different levels of access and multiple contributors||unlimited contributors, almost infinite access levels|
|audio blocks||audio blocks and playlists included, more options with plugins|
|video blocks||video blocks, more options with plugins|
|custom CSS||custom anything you’d like|
|very limited 3rd party integrations||almost unlimited 3rd part integrations|
|N/A||customize database with additional information & custom queries|
|N/A||add 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.
|Squarespace||WordPress with Yoast SEO|
|Squarespace Analytics + Google Analytics||Google Analytics + any other you want|
|Squarespace Analytics + Google Analytics||Google Analytics + any other you want|
|standard SEO tools||standard SEO tools, many SEO extensions, and custom controls, generally the platform of choice for SEO & marketing agencies|
|Some additional scripts can be added||Easy to add scripts for call tracking, online chat, and more|
|Clean URLs||Customizable Clean URLs|
|blogging available||built for blogging|
|built in spam prevention on comments||very easy to add spam prevention on comments|
|301 & 302 redirects||any type of redirect you’d like with plugins|
|contact forms||contact forms with tons of options with plugins|
|newsletter signups with MailChimp||newsletter signups with any provider, and plugins to connect contact forms to newsletter providers|
|duplicate pages||duplicate pages with plugins|
|N/A||no-index pages or sections of site, A/B testing with plugins|
|social sharing||many social sharing options & integrations with plugins|
|auto-post content to Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr||auto-post content to almost any social network with plugins|
|CDN included||CDN included depends on hosting|
|Speed optimization handled by platform, you may need to tweak||Speed 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).
|Squarespace||WordPress with WooCommerce|
|Stripe & PayPal payment processing||Almost any payment processing you want (including integration with SquareSpace)|
|Unlimited products||Unlimited products|
|Variable products||Variable products|
|product quick view on limited templates||product quick view on many themes, and plugins available|
|digital and physical products||digital, physical, virtual, and many other types of products|
|custom forms on products||custom forms on products with plugins or custom code|
|product embed where LayoutEngine is supported||product embed anywhere with many options|
|customize checkout||customize checkout with plugins|
|coupon codes||coupon codes|
|inventory management||inventory management with plugins for 3rd party inventory system integration|
|shipping options & automatic calculations||shipping options included & automatic calculations through plugins|
|SSL included||SSL 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.