Do you value ease-of-use over flexibility? Would you exchange some site complexity for a quicker set-up process? If so, then you’ll prefer a website builder like Squarespace. With website builders, you’ll get website building tools and hosting in one place without having to pay for more advanced features that you don’t have time to learn or use.
But let’s say you’d happily take over more of the day-to-day management of your site in exchange for more control over its functionality and appearance. In that case, you can use a content management system like WordPress. CMS platforms provide the advanced features and customization options required to manage large and complex sites.
To help you decide which solution is right for your site, we’ll take a look at one of the most popular website builders and one of the most popular CMS platforms: Squarespace and WordPress. Let’s get started.
Squarespace vs. WordPress
Squarespace is a powerful website builder that provides everything you need to start a site. Because it has limited extensions available, it’s best suited for building portfolios and other sites with basic functionality. WordPress, on the other hand, is an open-source CMS with thousands of plugins, widgets, and themes. Users at different skill levels can leverage this ecosystem of resources to build virtually any type of site.
With any of Squarespace’s premium plans, you get hosting, SSL certification, domain registration, templates, eCommerce features, and support all in one place. You’ll also get dozens of out-of-the-box features, including gallery boxes, podcast support, newsletter signup forms, and much more This allows users with little to no technical knowledge to quickly build and launch custom sites without having to worry much about day-to-day management.
In exchange for this ease of use, you’ll have to give up some flexibility. Besides a few extensions that are primarily dedicated to ecommerce sites, you’re limited to the features Squarespace provides.
Site owners looking to build sites with more advanced functionality will prefer WordPress. With this open-source CMS, you can edit the underlying code or select from one of the largest collections of plugins and themes to customize the design and functionality of your site. There are over 50,000 plugins in the official WordPress directory and approximately 31,000 WordPress themes available in the official repository and third-party marketplaces.
That means site owners will have virtually unlimited customization options — and a much steeper learning curve and greater responsibility in managing their sites as a result.
Now that we’ve given a brief overview of the major differences between these platforms, let’s look at how Squarespace and WordPress stack up for blogging, SEO, and pricing.
Squarespace vs. WordPress for Blogging
With Squarespace or WordPress, you can easily add a blog to your site. Blogging can help you attract more quality leads, establish yourself as an authority in a particular industry, and engage your online community.
Below we’ll compare the blogging features and templates of Squarespace and WordPress so you can pick the one that best meets your needs.
Squarespace for Blogging
With Squarespace, you can easily add and manage a blog on your site. You can have landing pages for multiple blogs, create unlimited blog posts using the block editor, tag and categorize posts, create post excerpts, enable comments, share your posts on social media, and more.
Because certain templates have special blogging features, you’ll want to pick one of those for your blog homepage and individual posts. For example, the template Farro comes with thumbnail images, a related posts widget, customizable share buttons, author profiles, and infinite scroll, which makes it ideal for blog landing pages and posts.
Squarespace does lack some basic features that you’d expect, like an auto-save feature and more than three heading styles, which can frustrate content creators. To add a more complex blog to your site or build a powerful stand-alone blog, you’ll be better off with WordPress.
WordPress for Blogging
Since WordPress has its origins in blogging, it offers the standard blogging options that Squarespace offers — including a drag-and-drop block editor, native commenting system, tags, and categories — as well as more advanced options so you can publish a complex blog.
You can build a site in your language, assign user roles and permissions, make your content public or private, or secure posts and pages with a password. You can also choose from thousands of themes that are specifically designed for blogging to customize the appearance of you blog. There are almost 3,000 blog themes available in the official WordPress directory alone.
To add any additional functionality to your blog, like displaying a list of recent posts in your sidebar, then you can install a plugin or edit your source code. These advanced customization options set WordPress apart from Squarespace and other website builders.
Squarespace vs. WordPress for SEO
Once you’ve created quality content, you have to optimize it for search engines before publishing it. This will improve your chances of ranking on Google and other major search engines, which can increase your blog’s visibility and get you more organic traffic.
There are different ways to optimize your website. You can focus on the technical aspects, like load time, or on-page SEO, like keywords, meta descriptions, links, and images.
To help maximize your efforts, you want to look for a platform with built-in functionality for optimizing both these types of SEO. Let’s compare the SEO features of Squarespace and WordPress below to see which is better for your site.
Squarespace allows you to customize the title, meta description, image alt text, and URL of your posts and pages, which is essential to your on-page SEO. You can also easily create 301 redirects to avoid broken links and 404 error pages and build a responsive site by choosing from over 60 mobile-optimized templates.
You won’t have to worry about manually creating or updating a site map either — Squarespace takes care of that for you.
However, because there are no SEO plugins or add-ons available, you’re limited to the features that Squarespace provides out of the box. That means there are no tools you can install on your site to automatically suggest where to add internal links or to compress and optimize your images, for example.
For that reason, Squarespace is an excellent option for users who are already familiar with SEO best practices.
WordPress is a more versatile platform for creating an SEO-friendly site. Like Squarespace, WordPress enables you to add image alt-text, meta descriptions, headings, and custom URLs in your posts and pages and to choose from responsive themes and templates to design your site.
If you don’t have experience in web development, you can download or purchase WordPress plugins. Plugins like Yoast SEO, WP Rocket, Google XML Sitemaps, and Redirection will simplify or automate the process of optimizing your content, images, page speed, XML sitemaps, and redirects.
Downloading, purchasing, and updating these tools will require time and money, but they can vastly improve your site’s on-page and technical SEO.
Squarespace vs. WordPress Price
Budget is a key factor in deciding where to build your site. With Squarespace, you’ll pay more upfront but that doesn’t necessarily mean building a site on this platform is more expensive than building one on WordPress. WordPress is free to use but you’ll have to pay for hosting, domain registration, and premium plugins and themes.
Let’s take a closer look at the costs associated with building and managing a site on each platform below.
Unlike other website builders, Squarespace does not offer a free plan. Its first tier costs $12 per month and comes with a free custom domain for a year, unlimited bandwidth and storage, and templates for quickly building a custom site.
However, since it doesn’t support more than two contributors on your site, premium integrations, advanced website analytics, or full integration with the platform’s ecommerce features, you’ll likely need to upgrade to the business tier, which costs $18 per month.
To build and manage a fully-functional ecommerce store that directs customers to a secure checkout page and accepts different currencies, you’ll need to purchase one of the Squarespace commerce plans. These plans range from $26 to $40 per month.
It’s important to note that these rates only apply when you purchase a plan for an annual term. If you want to pay month-to-month, then rates increase to $16, $26, $30, and $46 per month.
With these price points, Squarespace is one of the most expensive website builders on the market.
The WordPress software is free to download and use. However, to launch your site, you’ll have to pay for hosting and a custom domain name. You may also need to purchase a premium theme and plugins to build a site that behaves and looks exactly as you want.
Since hosting, domain registration, themes, and plugins vary in price, the costs of building and managing a WordPress site can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars.
Average costs are relatively moderate, however. Data from Website Builder Expert shows that building a WordPress site costs around $200 and managing it costs $11 to $40 per month.
The Key Differences Between Squarespace and WordPress
Squarespace and WordPress allow non-developers to build and customize a site without touching a single line of code. Each offers unique advantages to users with different skill levels, budgets, and needs.
To help you decide which solution is right for you and your site, we’ll summarize the key differences between Squarespace and WordPress below.
Proprietary website builder
Open-source content management system
There are a handful of free and premium integrations to extend your site’s functionality and 15 extensions designed specifically for online stores. Otherwise, you’re limited to the features Squarespace provides.
Over 55,000 plugins are available in the official directory. More premium plugins are available in third-party marketplaces.
Comes with blogging templates and built-in features for adding multiple blogs to your site, but lacks some functionality you’d expect like an auto-save feature.
Offers a robust selection of themes and out-of-the-box features designed specifically for blogging, including user management and content visibility. Additional features can be added via plugins.
Out-of-the-box, you can customize page titles, meta descriptions, URLs; set up redirects; and build responsive pages using templates. However, optimizing your site in these ways will fall on your shoulders without any plugins to help you.
In addition to built-in functionality, there are hundreds of plugins are available for download to help you improve on-page and technical SEO.
Plans cost $12, $18, $26, $40 per month if purchased for an annual term. Month-to-month rates are higher.
Software is free to download, but factor in additional costs for domain registration, hosting, and premium plugins and themes.
Originally published Mar 5, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated March 11 2020