WordPress or Squarespace?
When you’re looking to create your own website, there are many decisions you’ll need to make upfront. One of those decisions – and arguably the most important – is which Content Management System (CMS) you’ll use.
CMS platforms such as WordPress and Squarespace provide you with a variety of features to help you build a fully-functional website. By choosing the right one for your needs, you can ensure the best experience possible for both you and your site’s visitors.
What Is WordPress?
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) that enables users to create, manage, and digitally distribute content across the web. There are two different versions of this popular platform, which are:
The first version will host your website for you, but is more limited in what you can do with your site. Most users will prefer the second version, which offers more flexibility and enables you to choose your own hosting plan.
What Is Squarespace?
Squarespace is similar to the ‘hosted WordPress’ version mentioned above, in that it’s an SaaS tool where you pay a monthly fee. In return, you receive access to the back end of your website and all the tools you’ll need – templates, hosting, a domain, etc.
There are also two versions of Squarespace. There’s the standard version, which is for anyone looking to get a site off the ground quickly. The developer version, on the other hand, is for more experienced users who want access to the source code.
WordPress vs Squarespace
There are many factors to consider when choosing the right platform for your needs. Let’s take a look at a few of the most important.
Squarespace offers a price that includes both hosting and support. The plans are as low as $12 per month if you pay annually, although pricier plans (including $18, $26, and $40 per month) also exist.
As a CMS, WordPress is free to use. However, if you choose the self-hosted option (which is recommended), you’ll need to pay for your own hosting plan. You’ll want to look for a host that’s familiar with all the ins and outs of the platform. Here at WP Engine, for example, we offer plans starting at $30 per month.
Ease of Use
Squarespace prides itself on being one of the most intuitive website builders that’s currently available. Its drag-and-drop interface, as well as its on-page editing features, makes it easy to implement changes on the front end.
WordPress is easy to use, too. However, its interface isn’t quite as intuitive as Squarespace’s. Editing your pages and posts within WordPress requires you to go to the back end, and then return to the front end to see your changes. This can take a little practice to get used to.
There’s no denying that Squarespace offers many features out-of-the-box, as well as some useful add-on integrations. However, there’s a clear limit to what you can do to customize your Squarespace site. This is where WordPress differs considerably, as it has thousands of plugins that users can install to add and expand functionality on their sites.
Squarespace and WordPress both offer customization options for layout and appearance. These are called templates in Squarespace and themes in WordPress, and they enable users to add customized layouts to their websites with no coding knowledge required.
However, Squarespace has quite a small number of templates (about 70). As with plugins, this pales in comparison to the thousands offered via the WordPress Theme Directory and third-party websites.
The rapid increase in mobile device usage has made your website’s mobile compatibility a must. This is why both Squarespace and WordPress offer mobile-first templates, themes, and settings.
Every template offered by Squarespace is responsive, and the vast majority of WordPress themes are as well. Even better, both platforms permit the use of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) format. You can enable this feature in Squarespace with the click of a button, and its implementation in WordPress is also easy.
Squarespace extends its drag-and-drop interface to its content management screen. This makes it easy to add and move content around each page or post. However, WordPress offers a wider array of advanced features.
Foremost, WordPress includes content versioning and the ability to switch between HTML and What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) tabs. These mean you can more easily recover older content in the event of accidental deletion. The media library is also a useful addition, and is easy to use on every page and post.
As a hosted website, Squarespace security is largely handled by the company itself. As the end user, you won’t have to put much effort into securing your website. However, this also means that you don’t get much control over various security features.
On the other hand, WordPress security is the responsibility of the end user. Of course, WordPress does offer many of its own default security features, but you’ll be responsible for installing your own security plugin and configuring its settings to your liking. This provides you with greater flexibility, and enables you to lock down your website as tightly as you see fit.
Squarespace offers a built-in eCommerce platform which, out of the box, appears to have everything you’d need to run a successful online shop. However, there are a few limitations to keep in mind. For example, Squarespace only enables two payment gateways – Stripe and PayPal.
While WordPress doesn’t offer a built-in eCommerce platform, you can easily ‘build’ your own using plugins and third-party integrations. You can choose your favorite tool – such as WooCommerce or Shopp – and even implement a variety of payment gateways on your website.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Last but not least, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial to getting your content ranked highly in search engines like Google. Squarespace is not very feature-heavy when it comes to SEO, unfortunately, and you can’t add anything to its basic features.
WordPress, on the other hand, offers an array of SEO features – including alt tags, meta data, and rich snippets. It’s also easy to improve your SEO even further, through the use of extensive SEO plugins including Yoast.
Conclusion: Squarespace or WordPress?
It’s important to keep in mind that every site has different needs. As such, there’s no one platform that’s perfect for all users.
However, we highly recommend WordPress in most cases, due to its extreme flexibility and seemingly endless customizability. This is especially true if you are considering building an eCommerce storefront, or if ranking highly in search engines is important to you.
Even WordPress’ few cons, including price and ease of use, aren’t hard-and-fast negatives. While Squarespace may be slightly more affordable, there are plenty of WordPress hosting plans with varying price points. Ease of use also isn’t an issue once you’ve become accustomed to the platform’s back end, which for most users is a surprisingly quick process.
Another Reason to Choose WordPress
WP Engine is a WordPress-specific web host that offers excellent service and reliability, as well as one of the most comprehensive WordPress resource centers available. If you’re interested in WordPress, be sure to check out WP Engine’s plans page to find hosting that’s right for you!