Squarespace vs WordPress – A Head-to-Head Comparison

Feb 11, 2020

Posted by Andrea

Have you seen Squarespace TV commercials featuring Idris Elba, Keanu Reeves or John Malkovich in main roles? Well, we confess to you that those ads have gripped our attention too. They increased the awareness of the Squarespace platform and company. However, a lot of people ask us at Mane Digital if this platform can be a replacement for WordPress.

That’s why we decided to compare them, Squarespace vs WordPress, and present you with the pros and cons of each. If you’re thinking about which web platform to choose for your business, but you are still not sure, we believe you will be able to make an informed decision after reading this post. We adjusted our analysis for small businesses and entrepreneurs as Squarespace targets photographers, artists, restaurants, and couples that plan their weddings as potential clients. So here are the features we included:

  1. Pricing and costs
  2. Ease of use
  3. SEO & load time
  4. eCommerce features
  5. Design

Pricing and costs

Squarespace Pricing

PROS

Squarespace is not free or open-source. It’s a subscription-based solution. They offer four plans, so if you choose an annual deal, it will cost you from $12 to $40 per month, depending on the features you select. Thankfully, there won’t be unpredictable expenses.

  • Personal plan: $12 monthly ($224 annually) – this is the price for a Squarespace basic version, which can cover your needs if you want to have your blog or a website with a limited number of pages and features. Also, in the scope of this plan, there can be only 2 contributors.
  • Business plan: $18 per month ($216 annually) – a business plan starts from this price. Unlike a personal plan, the business plan includes unlimited contributors, pages, and advanced features. It also includes 24/7 customer support as well as fully integrated eCommerce. However, Squarespace charges a 3% transaction fee in case you want to build a store based on this plan.
  • eCommerce plan: $26 per month ($312 annually) – This one and the next plan cover options for creating eCommerce websites. In the scope of this plan, you will be able to set up a website based on the Business plan enhanced with advanced eCommerce tools.
  • Advanced eCommerce plan: $40 per month ($480 annually) – This plan has been created for businesses that need additional features for e-commerce storefronts, like shipping and discounts, APIs for inventory, etc.

CONS

Although Squarespace pricing and plans are determined in advance, they can be a burden for start-ups which have a lot of other expenses, especially in an early phase. We in Mane Digital, we recommend you to try to predict as many expenses as possible, whichever platform you choose.

WordPress pricing

PROS

Unlike Squarespace, WordPress doesn’t have any kind of subscription or plan. It’s an open-source solution. This CMS (Content Management System) provides a framework upon which you can build your website and pay for only the things you need. We divided mandatory and optional costs so you can easily predict which expenses you may have if you choose this platform.

Mandatory WordPress costs:
  1. Hosting – We’re sure you’re away that your website has to “live” somewhere. That’s called “hosting.” There are different options, depending on how site size, scope, and traffic. For an average website, estimated hosting fees are $12 per month.
  2. A domain name – Aka, the name of your site. This asset has to be bought too. If you buy a domain and hosting together, you will probably get a combo discount.
  3. SSL certificate – In case it is not included in your hosting, having this kind of security is important, particularly if you collect data or conduct e-commerce. So you will need to plan for this expense too.
  4. The developer – Even if you have the initiative to create a website on your own, despite having technical skills, our recommendation is to have at least one quality developer engaged. If something goes wrong, he or she could be of great help. Or, in case you don’t have the time and ambition to engage yourself in this endeavor, a developer will be mandatory. And the prices of their working hours are variable, depending on a lot of factors.
Optional elements which you can choose whether you will pay for:
  • Theme – There are a lot of free themes created for almost all industries, topics, etc. If you decide to pay for a theme (approximately $59), there are benefits provided, for instance, you can count on their 24/7 support.
  • Plugins – There are plenty of plugins for just about any feature you have in mind. The difference between paid and free plugins is in the “help” i.e. support you will get in case something goes wrong.

CONS

Depending on the kind of business you do, you may need different features that will expand the cost of your WordPress site build. Although WordPress is free, you should think about and then search for all possible requests you and your website’s visitors may have. In case you need really specific features, you will have to pay for a plugin or an extension to provide it. Because of that, as we already mentioned, good project planning at the beginning of web site development is essential.

In the Squarespace vs WordPress pricing “competition”: WordPress wins.

Ease of Use

If you have doubts about how to use Squarespace and WordPress and what skills you need to set up and maintain your website successfully, here’s the deal.

Squarespace Ease of Use

PROS

You can set up a site using the Squarespace website builder easily, without any prior technical knowledge or experience. This platform has been used mostly by entrepreneurs and small businesses’ owners who need time for other segments of business development while the website is only a side element. Squarespace is a page builder, which means that it gives you the option to drag and drop elements and create a site using text boxes, images, videos, buttons, etc.

As a page builder, this platform works based on “What You See is What You Get” methodology (abbreviated WYSIWYG). It means that you can see and control all changes you make, in real-time before they are published on the website.

CONS

Although it’s a simplified tool created for everyone, this platform doesn’t allow you to change the design and pre-defined elements available in the customizer.

WordPress Ease of Use

Well, let’s be clear. If we make a comparison to web development using programming languages e.g. JavaScript and PHP, WordPress is a way easier platform that enables site creation to those who have at least basic technical knowledge of coding.

PROS

WordPress gives a range of options depending on the level of technical expertise the creator of the site has. By using its plugins that enable building custom websites with drag and drop (e.g. Elementor, Divi Builder, etc), it becomes accessible to business owners who don’t have any coding knowledge. On the other hand, for those who are comfortable with WP and front-end development, it can be easy to use and preferable as it provides a lot more room for customization.

CONS

In comparison with Squarespace, overall, we have to say that WordPress is more demanding in needed skills.

Also, WordPress is not WYSIWYG. So even if you make changes on your web page in the backend, they will not be seen on the site until they have been published.

In the Squarespace vs WordPress ease of use “competition”: Squarespace wins.

SEO & load time

Although not completely a technical aspect, Search Engine Optimization (i.e. SEO) is important for the online presence of any business which intends to be noticed by their target audience. Also, while creating a website, paying attention to SEO rules makes life and business easier in later stages.

Squarespace SEO features

PROS

Squarespace comes with SEO elements already integrated. If you choose this platform, your site will have indexed pages, automatic tags, canonical tags, optimized URLs, implemented robots.txt and Google Sitemaps.

CONS

Sites created by Squarespace can be very slow, due to images’ size. This platform enables its customers to have visually stunning websites, with a lot of images. Despite that, high-quality pictures make a website heavy and difficult for a load. This issue has two different downsides: one is related to the fact that nowadays visitors have little patience to wait for a slow site to open, especially on mobile devices. On the other side, in terms of Squarespace SEO, Google doesn’t reward slow sites.

WordPress SEO features

PROS

In comparing WordPress vs Squarespace, the first gives more options for customization of the whole site, including images, videos published, etc. Even if you upload pictures of higher resolution, they can be resized by a plugin. It means that you control the size and speed of a site created in WordPress. And in case your site is slow because of large resources being used, it can be more easily optimized.

CONS

If you choose WordPress as a platform, you will have to do SEO alone. Plugins will help you in reminding you of the elements you should include when creating an SEO friendly website. However, it will be your task to implement all necessary elements. Or engage SEO consultants.

In the Squarespace vs WordPress SEO and load time “competition”: WordPress wins.

eCommerce features

If you plan to open an e-commerce storefront, this probably means that it will be an important part of your business which you will expect revenue from (and that you plan to invest your resources in).

Squarespace eCommerce

PROS

If Squarespace is your choice, you can set up your shop in the scope of three plans, Business, eCommerce or Advanced eCommerce plan, depending on the requests you may have. You will not be charged additionally, and your site will have all the described features from the package you choose.

CONS

We recommend you check if Squarespace eCommerce can provide all of the options you may need. As it doesn’t have all payment and shipping possibilities, you should pay additional attention and to check if Squarespace can offer all features your eCommerce website should have. For instance, Squarespace gives a choice only between Stripe and PayPal as two payment methods, which can be a serious disadvantage if you intend to sell products outside of countries that support those methods.
Speaking about fees that Squarespace charges, if you base your small eCommerce store on the Business plan, 3% will be the amount this platform will keep. However, if your needs are greater than that, for instance, you want to use inventory, orders, tax, and coupons as well as an option of abandoned cart recovery, you can upgrade to eCommerce or Advanced eCommerce plans. In that case, there won’t be a fee charged.

WordPress eCommerce

PROS

We bet that you have already heard about WooCommerce. It is the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin. As WordPress itself, Woo enables a website owner to customize it as much as he or she wishes. Also, WooCommerce has features specifically created for eCommerce businesses. More precisely, if you choose WordPress and Woo for e-commerce development, you will have plenty of free WooCommerce themes at your disposal. There are also extensions for shipping, credit card payments, accounting, etc.

CONS

In the website planning phase, we recommend making a list of all extensions you may need for your eCommerce store. On the contrary, you may have unpredictable expenses, as those extensions are usually charged annually and their prices vary between $29 and $79.

We mentioned at the beginning of this post that we will discuss the two platform’s features, having in mind entrepreneurs and small businesses. Taking this fact into account, we can say that although Squarespace is easier for setup and further handling, WooCommerce as a WordPress plugin gives more options for small to mid-sized companies.

In the Squarespace vs WordPress eCommerce features “competition”: WordPress wins.

Also, as there are a lot of eCommerce platforms on the market if you seriously think about how you set up shop. We recommend you to take a gander at our blog post Shopify vs WordPress in which we have already analyzed features of the two most popular eCommerce platforms.

Design

Web design is like the fashion industry, it has trends that change every once in a while. You can follow them or you can go your own way, and risk not appealing to your target audience. Applying this comparison to our protagonists, we could say that Squarespace is the fashionista and that WordPress is an original, creative guy.

Squarespace website design

PROS

An amazing design is one of the most important Squarespace features. It has been created according to the latest UI design trends. Their customers, in the front row visual businesses (photographers, artists, restaurants, etc.) can easily add their photos and images.
Also, no matter which template you choose, you can switch to any other at any moment.

CONS

Although you can customize the chosen template, it is limited only to basic fonts, colors, and website logo. Also, Squarespace offers 60 templates among which you can pick the most suitable for your website. However, this number is pretty small compared to the number of WordPress themes.

WordPress web design

PROS

Our original creative guy, “he” has several thousand themes at your disposal, more or less trendy. Not only that, in WP, whichever theme you choose, you will be able to customize its design completely according to your preferences. You can change your site outfit by coding, as well as implementing plugins. You can choose between several thousands of plugins in the WordPress database. As an open-source solution, WordPress gets more and more plugins every day that can provide added value.

CONS

Sometimes it will not be so easy to customize themes’ design according to your needs, especially if you try to set up a website by yourself.

Also, not all themes work perfectly. We recommend you to check if those you like are compatible with the latest upgrade of WordPress as well as the number of downloads and the date of the last theme update.

In the Squarespace vs WordPress the UI/UX design of websites “competition”: Squarespace wins.

Overall, if we want to sum up all the features we analyzed, we can say that WordPress is a better solution for those who plan to launch a website, regardless if they are experienced in coding or not. From our agency experience, WordPress offers more options in every aspect of web development and is the most sustainable, scalable platform.