Squarespace and WordPress.org are two of the leading website building options for business owners and individuals. Squarespace is an all-inclusive builder that handles hosting and provides a closed ecosystem for site owners that don’t want much complexity. WordPress.org in contrast requires finding hosting through another source, is open-source, and is driven by third-party plugins and themes.
This guide covers the major differences and strengths of WordPress.org and Squarespace so you can choose the right builder for your site. WordPress.com, WordPress.org’s counterpart, which comes with hosting and costs money will not be covered in this guide. While other guides will choose a clear winner, it’s important to remember that these two options will be right for different users and you should weigh the strength of either in the categories you care about.
Jump to the section you’re curious about through our index or read through the full guide starting with the Pros and Cons section below.
Pros and Cons
Squarespace and WordPress.org are two very different website builder options with a number of major pros and cons you should know about. Here are the strengths and weaknesses to be aware of.
|Squarespace||Professional website builder with strong ecommerce features, beautiful templates, and easy setup.||Could use more plugins and themes, and more advanced blogging architecture.|
|WordPress.org||Industry standard website builder for blogging and SEO with a wealth of third-party plugins and themes available.||Requires finding a third-party hosting and domain service. The open-source nature of WordPress.org can make site management a challenge for new site owners.|
Themes: 100 site templates vs 1,000,000+
A major point of difference between WordPress.org and Squarespace is the number of themes available through both and the source of the themes. Themes are the templates that you can select to serve as the outline of your website which you fill in with content. Squarespace and WordPress.org approach themes differently with Squarespace offering just 100 carefully curated themes and WordPress.org offering 1 million plus from third-party creators.
Squarespace’s themes are highly-curated, in different categories like Local Business and Personal & CV. Through Squarespace’s themes page, you can search directly for the type of theme you’d like or you can peruse each category for the style you’d like to serve as the outline for your new site. Squarespace themes are professional and modern and you can switch between themes without losing content.
All Squarespace themes are responsive in adapting to different device screens so you won’t have to worry about visitors seeing radically different versions of your site. One additional perk of Squarespace’s themes is that you can edit the underlying HTML and CSS if you’re on the Business tier. So if you’re skilled in editing or adding code, you can further perfect your site’s look to your specifications.
Squarespace offers the least themes even among competitors like Wix and Weebly but WordPress.org blows away even these website builders with its arsenal of a million plus themes. WordPress themes are primarily created by third parties and almost 4,000 can be searched on WordPress’ themes page, some of which are free, premium, or free. Whether you’re looking to create an online store or cooking blog, you can find a template through WordPress or on the internet, which can then be uploaded to WordPress.
Key Takeaway: Squarespace offers 100 carefully curated themes that come with your plan while WordPress allows you to use over a million themes from across the internet.
Design: 2 Similar Content Blocks Editors
Once you’ve chosen a template for your new Squarespace or WordPress.org site, you’ll need to edit your homepage and other pages, and add content through the site.
Squarespace’s design editor has some learning curve but through guides like Santrel’s video Squarespace tutorial, you’ll learn how to make changes to your site in no time. With Squarespace’s editor, you’ll drag and drop elements but only to certain parts of the page. You’re limited by Squarespace’s markup and “content blocks” system.
Squarespace’s content blocks system is similar to WordPress which likewise limits where you can place elements. Once you’ve learned Squarespace’s editor, you won’t have much trouble making your site look exactly how you’d like and convey the information you need displayed.
With WordPress.org, you can similarly customize your site using content blocks like text, images, and social media share buttons. With WordPress’ Gutenberg Editor, content management is significantly smoother than it was once. Through WordPress’ bountiful apps marketplace, which is covered in the next section, you can add new elements and tools to the editor to make your website more impressive.
Key Takeaway: Both Squarespace and WordPress.org’s content blocks editors have some learning curves but help you get the job done by editing pages and adding content to your newly themed site.
Apps: 30 plugins vs 50,000+
Apps, or plugins for new functionality or other services, is an area where WordPress.org shines. WordPress.org offers 50,000+ plugins to Squarespace’s 30 extensions. Squarespace offers business extensions like Stripe and Paypal payment processors as well as marketing plugins like Noun Project and Mailchimp. Like with themes, Squarespace has a closed ecosystem to WordPress’ open source system which encourages third party creations.
WordPress’ app ecosystem is massive with tens of thousands of apps that will help improve your site and content. Whether you need some help editing your blog for SEO with Yoast SEO or want to connect your site to an ecommerce platform like Woocommerce to add new store pages. One difference with WordPress.org versus Squarespace is you’ll need to check on compatibility of WordPress plugins with your theme to ensure your site works efficiently.
Key Takeaway: Squarespace offers just 30 themes versus WordPress’ 50,000+ so if you prioritize customization, WordPress is for you.
Pricing: All-inclusive plans vs third-party hosting costs
A major difference between Squarespace and WordPress.org is the difference in pricing. Squarespace is self-hosted and all-inclusive for features for each plan so you’ll know your costs based on the plan you choose. With WordPress.org, you’ll need to find a hosting service and domain provider to bring your WordPress site live which makes your costs variable.
Squarespace offers 4 plans, one for personal sites, one for general businesses, and two for ecommerce sites. Depending on what your site offers, you’ll have an easy time selecting which plan is right for you. You can view the full list of features offered for the different plans on Squarespace’s pricing page but in general, these are the plans and the major offerings available for each that make upgrading worthwhile.
|Personal||Business||Basic Commerce||Advanced Commerce|
|Free Domain, SEO Features, Extensions||Business Gmail, Analytics, Ecommerce||Point of Sale, Checkout on Domain, Customer Accounts, Sell on Instagram||Abandoned Cart Recovery, Sell Subscriptions, Advanced Shipping and Discounts|
These prices per plan are based on annual payment plans. You will pay more if you choose a month-to-month payment plan.
WordPress.org’s content management system is free but you’ll need to pay a hosting service for hosting, another (or the same hosting) service for a domain, and plugin or theme providers if you want premium features or templates.
Domains usually cost about $14.99 a year and hosting is about $7.99 a month according to WP Beginner so you can expect to pay an average of $111 a year to use WordPress.org, excluding premium themes or apps. In contrast, you’ll pay a minimum of $144 a year with Squarespace for a personal site and more for business themes.
SiteGround is a leading hosting provider you should consider for hosting with WordPress.org. They’re relatively inexpensive, have great customer support, and fast site speeds.
For other wordpress hosts, check out our comparison chart HERE
Is WordPress cheaper than Squarespace?
Depending on the hosting service and domain provider you choose to set WordPress.org up with, WordPress.org can be cheaper than Squarespace. On average, you will save about $30 using WordPress.org over Squarespace.
Ecommerce: Selling Online with WordPress or Squarespace
For business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to create an online store, Squarespace and WordPress.org offer very different store creation experiences. Squarespace offers two ecommerce-specific plans, Basic Commerce and Advanced Commerce, both of which allow you to sell products or digital services. In contrast, WordPress.org requires you to use an ecommerce plugin from another ecommerce platform like WooCommerce or Shopify to sell products.
With Squarespace, you can select from a number of ecommerce themes and sell using either of ecommerce plans. You’ll be able to sell physical products, digital products, or subscriptions if you’ve launched a D2C brand. Other ecommerce features for Squarespace include customer accounts and logins to encourage repeat purchases, and cart abandonment recovery features to encourage customers to complete checkouts.
If you plan to create an ecommerce store using WordPress.org, you’ll need to use an ecommerce platform like WooCommerce or BigCommerce along with your WordPress site through one of their plugins. You can read through this guide on the different platforms available to make your decision. Besides having to choose another platform, WordPress.org offers thousands of great ecommerce themes and hundreds of ecommerce plugins to help upgrade your site.
Key Takeaway: Squarespace is a superior solution for ecommerce as all selling can be done through this platform and a third-party plugin isn’t needed.
Blog: Similar Blog Editors, Different Architecture
For businesses that want to earn organic visitors from search engines or individuals that want to share their story, blogging is an essential tool to publishing posts on your terms. Both Squarespace and WordPress have great blogging platforms that use the same content editors as main sites to allow the writing and publishing of content.
Squarespace offers a straightforward editor that has no learning curve if you’re familiar with editing pages on main pages. You’ll be able to add text and elements smoothly and can comfortably create posts to attract new visitors with SEO content or engage existing readers. Squarespace’s blogging platform is perfect for 40 posts or less so if blogging isn’t your main priority but still important for your site, it will get the job done.
If you plan to make blogging a primary priority for your new and want more content organization architecture, you should choose WordPress. WordPress is trusted as a blog content management system by leading companies and popular blogs because it’s been used for almost two decades because of its open-source nature and ease of use. You can use the editor to add content seamlessly and use many of WordPress’ plugins to improve your posts.
Key Takeaway: Both Squarespace and WordPress.org use content blocks editors on their blog platforms but WordPress’s blog infrastructure is superior if you plan to publish 40+ posts.
SEO: Earning More Organic Traffic
While blogging is an essential element of increasing your site’s optimization for search, overall Search Engine Optimization (SEO) friendliness of both WordPress.org and Squarespace should be considered. Squarespace has made strides to improve optimization abilities for site owners but WordPress.org is still considered a gold standard for website builder SEO in the marketing industry. Despite this lead by WordPress, you won’t be at a major detriment if you choose Squarespace.
Squarespace offers the ability to improve on-page optimization of your site and pages from editing URL slugs to organizing your site content by hierarchy to help Google understand the topics and keywords your site covers. You can edit each page to SEO standards by specifying titles and metadescription and using headers on page to organize information. Squarespace also offers SEO guides and a checklist to ensure you increase your odds of ranking for target keywords.
WordPress.org’s content management system (CMS) similarly allows you to optimize your site and pages so that search engines can crawl and understand them for indexing purposes. There are seemingly countless articles about improving your site’s SEO through WordPress and there are numerous plugins available for WordPress to help you optimize content, like Yoast SEO. With WordPress’ CMS, you’ll be able to organize all of your content with ease, connecting them with tags and inlinking.
Is WordPress better than Squarespace for SEO?
WordPress.org has a slight edge over Squarespace as you can more easily create and organize over 40 blog posts and optimize them according to search standards. Despite this edge, Squarespace provides all of the tools you’ll need to optimize specific pages and provides ample support for improving site SEO.
Additional features: Email Marketing, Security, and More
Squarespace and WordPress.org have a number of features available that aren’t easily fit into the categories above. Here are the features you should be aware of for both builders that may sway your decision.
Squarespace offers a simple G Suite integration that you can use to set up professional email accounts using your site’s domain with Google. This integration comes with an additional cost of $72 annually but will offer you the full G Suite with valuable tools like Google Sheets and Docs.
A benefit of Squarespace is that security for your site is managed by Squarespace. If you have a security issue, you can contact them and get it resolved. With WordPress, you’re largely responsible for your own site. This means you’ll need to make sure you’re using a strong password, use security site plugins if needed, and use a host that’s trusted in helping site owners resolve security issues.
With Squarespace, you can also sell directly through Instagram with an ecommerce plan and use Squarespace’s own email marketing platform to send emails to site users or customers.
Two advantageous WordPress.org features are plugins you can install to upgrade your site. WordPress.org offers. With a featured snippet plugin, you can add information to ranking content in Google search results, for example answering questions. In particular this feature will help ensure you rank for competitive keywords by providing more information to searchers.
Another must-have plugin for WordPress is the AMP plugin. This plugin will enable you to offer Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for your site so that your pages render more quickly and attractively for visitors on mobile. This feature will make visitors even more pleased with your site.
Is Squarespace easier than WordPress?
Squarespace and WordPress.org have different setup processes because Squarespace is self-hosted while WordPress.org requires finding a separate host which makes Squarespace easier to navigate than WordPress. Because of Squarespace’s closed ecosystem it is also easier to learn and use.
Final Verdict: Different Builders With Unique Value Adds
Squarespace and WordPress.org are clearly unique website builders with different strengths. Squarespace is a superior option for website owners who don’t wish to spend too much time customizing their site and want a simple website solution. With its easy to select themes and simple plans, Squarespace offers an all-inclusive experience and low learning curve.
For small businesses, personal websites, ecommerce sites, and websites for businesses which are not primarily internet businesses, Squarespace is a clear winner. Squarespace makes website creation and a management easy, and their blogging and SEO capabilities improve by the year. While more apps and themes could be useful, Squarespace’s tailored experience does make starting a website easy for those who don’t need frills.
WordPress.org is an excellent choice for site owners who plan to invest a lot of time into their website and/or wish to grow a large blog. Major sites use and value WordPress for a reason – it’s an excellent content management system and an exciting ecosystem to utilize the plugins and themes created by creatives from across the world. WordPress is highly scalable and an excellent choice if you plan to build a library of thousands of pages.