Squarespace vs. Wordpress: What’s the best option for your website?

Squarespace vs. WordPress: What’s the Best Option for Your Website?

Squarespace and Wordpress are two of the world's leading web design platforms. More often than not, the question of which is “best” arises. To answer this common inquiry we dig deep to learn what differentiates Squarespace and WordPress; features, pricing, support and more. And we’ll explain how we determined a winner.

By the end of the article, you should have a much better sense of what platform is best suited to your web design project needs. Before we begin the Squarespace vs. WordPress comparison, let’s have an overview of both platforms.

What is Squarespace?

Squarespace is a paid SaaS (software as a service) website builder that offers everything required to build and maintain a site. Squarespace includes a plethora of templates, hosting, a proprietary CMS (content management system), e-commerce and domain support.

Squarespace offers two versions: Standard and Developer. While the standard version is targeted to those with little to no web development skills, the developer tier allows manipulation of source code (for the tech-savvy users). Most Squarespace customers use the standard version.

What is WordPress?

Like Squarespace, Wordpress has two key offerings: Hosted and Self-hosted. Let's look at each.

Hosted Wordpress, available at wordpress.com, provides access to amazing site creation and maintenance features for a monthly fee. It is less of an ‘all in one’ solution when compared to Squarespace, wherein users have integrated access to tools for ecommerce and more. Not to mention, the best Wordpress themes cost an additional fee.

However, some, find Wordpress more appealing because of its ability to integrate with more third-party developers than Squarespace.

Self-hosted Wordpress

While Hosted Wordpress is a SaaS tool, the self-hosted version is installed on your web server. It is an open-source tool, meaning that as a user, you have access to modify the source code. In the hands of the right developer, or by installing suitable plugins, Self-hosted Wordpress can be modified to meet the needs of just about every website design project, thus making it an extremely flexible tool.

Unlike Squarespace, domain registration charges and hosting costs are incurred by the user. As well certain plugins and additional development may be desired.

We will compare the standard version of Squarespace, to the self-hosted version of Wordpress across several factors.

Let’s get right into it!


Popularity

Depending on where you get your information, Wordpress boasts of some 60 million to 75 million websites built using the self-hosted version. Squarespace, on the other hand, is a little vague on their numbers, but on their website states 'millions' of paying customers.

It would appear Wordpress is generally a more popular choice amongst users.

Target Audience

For whom is Squarespace and Wordpress designed?

Squarespace – the website newbie. The primary idea is that anyone can use Squarespace to their own website – and they don’t have to write a single line of code. 

Like Squarespace, Wordpress also caters for users who have zero web development skills. And while it is possible to create and maintain a Wordpress site without coding, in many cases, a technical configuration is necessary before you can get going with day-to-day publishing. As such, there is a steeper learning curve to setting up a Wordpress website.

Pricing Plans

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How much does it cost to use Squarespace and Wordpress?

Cost to use Squarespace

Squarespace offers its users four different monthly plans(2017 Price-Points):

  • Websites Personal costs $14 monthly ($10 per month for annual payment)
  • Websites Business costs $26 monthly ($18 per month for annual payment)
  • Commerce Basic costs $30 monthly ($26 per month for annual payment)
  • Commerce Advanced costs $46 monthly ($40 per month for annual payment)

The difference between each of the four plans is the varying number of pages a user can create; integration with Xero; transaction fees; as well as e-commerce features.

The pricier Squarespace plans have lots of features, especially when it comes to e-commerce. The 'Personal' plan, on the other hand, is restrictive and will likely not be suitable for business applications.

Paying annually for Squarespace is discounted and includes a custom domain.

Cost of using Wordpress

While Wordpress is generally thought to be a “free platform”, however, that’s incorrect. To get started using Wordpress, you typically pay for:

  • Hosting
  • Good Themes
  • E-commerce integration
  • Plugins
  • And a developer (if you need one!)

It may go without saying that hosting is necessary. You cannot install Wordpress without a hosting platform. Thankfully, there are several options available. Depending on your needs, there is a  shared hosting platform (less expensive and slower) or a provider like WP Engine which is considered ideal, – faster, more secure and, yup more expensive.

The cost of hosting when using Wordpress can vary between $30 monthly (managed WP hosting) and $4 monthly (shared hosting). You can use the free template, plugins and e-commerce integration, but if you are looking for quality you must invest in your Wordpress site.

If you can build your Wordpress site on your own without a developer, your key costs are:

  • Annual hosting on a managed Wordpress hosting platform such as WP Engine for $348 (recurring cost)
  • Premium Wordpress theme: $175
  • Annual costs for e-commerce integration: This could be $180 if, for instance, you use a platform like Ecwid
  • About 4 paid-for quality plugins; a total of about $100

If you have no knowledge of developing for Wordpress, then you may want to hire someone to configure, build and maintain your site. While this costs, the results can be much better than doing it yourself.

Cost of using Squarespace

Depending on the plan you choose, the total cost of hosting a quality Squarespace website can vary between $120 and $480 annually. Compared to the “free” Wordpress, Squarespace is a cheaper option.

Now that we have debunked that misconception, it is important to note that pricing is not all that matters in building a website. We’ll also look at some other feature comparisons. It might interest you to know that worldcanvas.net offers cost-effective Squarespace web development services, including custom coding, that can significantly improve the aesthetic appeal, reliability, and functionality of your website.

User Experience and Interface

Squarespace offers a drag and drop interface. Although sometimes buggy, it is extremely intuitive nonetheless. An integrated style editor makes design pretty straightforward. Simply point at the basic template elements such as font colors, heading sizes, and others you want to select, then click to change them.

Wordpress is also easy to use and maintain. Depending on the hosting provider you choose, your website’s set-up and configuration can get a bit fiddly, but if you get it up and running, you will find the Wordpress CMS quite responsive and easy-to-use.

Squarespace, however, beats Wordpress with its CMS approach because of an ability to execute on-page editing. To edit content with Squarespace, you simply go to the desired page and select and change the content as desired.

Wordpress users, on the other hand, have to visit the backend to edit contents before previewing and publishing again.

Most website editing newbies will find the Squarespace platform more welcoming!


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Templates

Quantity or Quality?

Squarespace and Wordpress both have wonderful templates. With about 84 undeniably pretty templates, Squarespace emphasizes on quality over quantity. You can be sure that whichever template you use is nothing short of amazing!

However, if you need is a plethora of options, Wordpress blows Squarespace right out of the water. The problem, however, is that since most of the templates available on WordPress are from third-party sources; thus, they can have malicious codes and compromise the security of your website.

With Squarespace, you are guaranteed top-notch templates and security.

Flexibility

While Squarespace has many features, it is not highly customizable. Wordpress on the other hand, as mentioned earlier, is open source. There is almost no limit to what you can do – particularly if working with a professional developer!

There are two ways to most effectively capitalize on Wordpress:

  • Installing plugins to your site
  • Hiring the services of a Wordpress developer

Wordpress offers thousands of plugins that make it easy to add new functionalities to your website. Squarespace, on the other hand, doesn’t exactly have plugins, but built-in integrations are extremely helpful. Consequently, you can hire a Squarespace developer to add code blocks that extend your Squarespace functionality.

Site maintenance

Unlike Wordpress users, Squarespace users don’t have to worry about their site maintenance. Squarespace handles technicalities including software updates, server configuration, hosting and so on. With Wordpress, you are responsible for maintaining your site. This includes theme, plugin and backend updates,  and server configuration. Wordpress does nothing – you do everything (although some things can be automated)!

Be careful, as an outdated version of any Wordpress tool can leave your website vulnerable to hackers.

Which brings us to…

Security

Squarespace is a hosted platform, responsible for ensuring that your site and the contents therein are secure.

While a Wordpress user might suggest their site less vulnerable to these attacks, this is dependent on the hosting organization. And the larger hosting companies have also been subject to DoS attacks recently.

Wordpress does not offer security from their end. It is your responsibility to ensure your Wordpress version, plugins, themes and more, are updated. Ignoring this leaves you vulnerable to hackers.

Simply put, you could lose everything in one fell swoop!

Ultimately, Squarespace sites are less vulnerable than their Wordpress counterparts.

Why we pick Squarespace over Wordpress

While Wordpress is a very powerful and flexible tool, and although some may believe, it is not the right choice for everyone. Squarespace is more likely to meet the needs of small businesses and individuals because · Squarespace sites are easier to set up than Wordpress sites.

Squarespace offers site maintenance and security, Wordpress doesn’t. Furthermore, Squarespace is a super cool solution for professionals like photographers, music bands, and even small business owners, who want to create a quick, simple website with minimum fuss. And the best part is that hiring a Squarespace developer can help you enhance your website functionalities with custom coding.

If you have a tight budget, you should consider building your Squarespace site yourself.

Either way, if you have limited time and technical skills, choose Squarespace.