WordPress vs. Squarespace: Who Wins the Match?

As web developers, one of the most common questions we are asked is whether WordPress or SquareSpace would be a better platform for a small business’s website. WordPress is known for powering over 30% of the Internet (Small Business Trends), while SquareSpace has gained a positive reputation for its ease of use for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

With this in mind, popular isn’t always best, nor is the simplest. And when it comes to choosing the right CMS for you, it really depends on what you and your business needs, as each platform offers its own benefits.

In the following, we’ll compare the ease of use of each platform up to their costs. That way, you can decide which platform wins the match in your book.

Ease of use - Can non-technical folks use it?

With either platform, it’s possible for even the lesser tech-savvy individual to build a website. That being said, even if you plan to have someone else build the site for you, you’ll still need to feel comfortable using the platform to add and manage your site’s content yourself.

SquareSpace likes to keep things simple. To get started, you merely have to login, select a theme, and start adding content. As a drag and drop website builder, Squarespace is fairly self-explanatory, and their SquareSpace Help page offers guides, webinars, forums, and more to offer any necessary clarification.

Unlike Squarespace, WordPress comes along with a bit of a learning curve. The WordPress dashboard, along with the variety of plugins, widgets, and themes available, may make less technical users feel a bit overwhelmed. But as a highly popular CMS, there are a wide variety of resources available, not to mention the WordPress community, to help you better understand the platform.

eCommerce - How will it affect your online store?

When it comes to building an online store, Squarespace certainly has it in the ease-of-use department. To build an ecommerce site, you simply choose between two Squarespace Commerce plans, and you gain access to their built-in ecommerce store. A downside, however, is that Squarespace will charge a fee for every transaction that occurs on your site.

Creating your ecommerce store with WordPress is a bit trickier, as you must install a plugin. But this plugin, WooCommerce, is one of the most popular ecommerce plug-ins on the Internet—among the top million ecommerce sites, 22% of them were found to be running on WooCommerce (Barn2Media). Not only will you join the ranks of other online businesses with WooCommerce, but you won’t have to worry about transaction fees.  

Flexibility - How much customization can it offer?

Depending on what services or products you have to offer, you may or may not need much flexibility on your website at the moment. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you may need flexibility in the future.

Between the two platforms, Squarespace offers the least flexibility. To keep things easy, Squarespace includes a more simplified admin dashboard, making it easy-to-use for those less familiar with building websites. Sadly, this simplicity poses several limitations, including a very limited ability to inject custom code.

While WordPress may seem a bit more complicated to some users, the CMS is much more powerful than Squarespace. WordPress is much more than a website builder: It’s an open-source content management system, which lends to its ability to offer greater flexibility in terms of customization and scalability.

Integrations - Can you use third-party tools?

Integrations allow you to take advantage of third-party services, from payment gateway integration tools like PayPal to email marketing integration tools like MailChimp. Moreover, integrations allow you to create a more highly customized and engaging site.

In terms of third-party integrations, Squarespace offers a limited number. The website builder makes it possible for users to integrate with their favorite social media platforms, along with popular platforms like Amazon or MailChimp. However, there’s no API for your developer to build upon, nor can you expand upon the built-in ecommerce store.

As an open-source platform, the WordPress community supports an ever-growing opportunity for customization. With over 55,000 plugins on WordPress alone, not to mention the thousands of plugins available from third-parties, there are more integrations available for WordPress than you’ll likely ever need.

Themes - How much can you set yourself apart?

The greatest benefits of choosing and customizing your Squarespace theme are that it’s easy to use and can be launched very quickly. But, you are limited to 59 themes, most of them being photography focused and only 7 designed for ecommerce specifically. So, if your business isn’t centered on great photography, these themes may feel limiting.

With WordPress, on the other hand, you’ll need to install WordPress before you can select a template (although some come with WordPress pre-installed). Unlike Squarespace, the WordPress theme repository certainly opens up your options with well over 3,000 themes to choose from.

It’s important to note, however, that in either case, you can hire a web developer to modify an existing Squarespace or WordPress theme. Taking this one step further, an experienced web developer can design a theme for either platform from scratch as well.

Cost - How will this platform affect your budget?

We’d like to note that it’s difficult to put a price on web development, but both of these options are much more cost-effective than most.

SquareSpace costs as low as $96 per year and escalates to around $480 per year for their most expensive plan. This includes your domain and hosting services, but excludes any potential transaction fees that could result from running an ecommerce store.

WordPress complicates this issue a bit further. As an open-source platform, you can download any of the software from WordPress for free. Nevertheless, you’ll need to pay for your hosting and domain, along with any third-party integrations and themes of interest, which can cost as much as several hundred dollars a month.

In addition to these costs, you’ll want to consider if you plan to bring a Squarespace or WordPress web developer into the picture. Most web developers charge roughly $45 to $200 per hour, which can add up quickly and should be considered when evaluating costs as well.

Which Platform Should You Choose?

The reality is, it’s not entirely fair to compare WordPress and Squarespace to one another: Squarespace is designed to be a simplistic drag and drop website builder, while WordPress is an open-source CMS that presents seemingly unlimited opportunities.

That being said, if you are on a very limited budget with a small team, Squarespace may be the platform for you. Especially if the person who will be running the site has little technical experience, Squarespace is a great place to start.

But if you have the time and the budget, it’s often worth spending the extra money to invest in a powerful CMS like WordPress. Especially if you have an online store, WordPress can offer you the flexibility, scalability, and customization your site needs to help your business continue to grow.

How Can We Help You?

At ClikGlobal, we bring together U.S. project managers and senior developers with offshore developers to offer you reasonably-priced software and web development.

Whether you need to build a WordPress or Squarespace site from scratch, or would like to add some further customizations to your existing site, we’re happy to help.

Visit our Upwork profile for more on our rates, reviews, and prior work!