You’ve probably been asked, “Which is better: WordPress or Squarespace?”
Seeing as we are part of the WordPress community, you and I are obviously biased towards WordPress. Many times we will instinctively say WordPress is better without having an exact reason.
Luckily, there really is no real answer to this question. Instead, the question needs to be rephrased as, “Which is better for the user and the project?”
Let’s examine this.
Who Should Use Squarespace?
Even as a WordPress developer, I won’t hesitate to say that Squarespace is one amazing platform. There are many projects for which Squarespace is the right choice… even if you are an experienced WordPress developer.
Because Squarespace uses a drag and drop, WYSIWYG interface, building the site requires no technical knowledge at all. A user can get a website up and running themselves in just a few hours. They would have no problem building out a brochure website, basic blog, or simple eCommerce site.
Squarespace even offers a developer platform to make advanced customization easy.
And, for the user, there is 24/7 support. So any time there is a problem, or the user has a question, they can get help fast at no additional cost.
Now, Squarespace is not free; but it is incredibly affordable. It starts at just $8 a month for their basic plan. And the fully loaded plan is $24 a month paid annually, or $30 if paid month to month.
Everything is included in that one monthly cost. There are no additional fees for the domain, hosting, support, or maintenance.
Now, all of that being said, there are some disadvantages to Squarespace.
The Downside of Squarespace
The big negative at the heart of Squarespace is limitation.
In order to make any platform easier to use, any complexities need to be removed. This includes removing much functionality and customization options.
In a nutshell, while Squarespace is easier to use, you won’t have nearly the same flexibility or extensibility as you’ll find in WordPress. While this may be fine for a beginning user, for many developers, they will find this frustrating and limiting.
For instance, at the time of writing this article, there are only about 30 templates to choose from. Also, the blogging and eCommerce functionalities are limited to their most basic form.
Furthermore, Squarespace places content limits on its plans. On the lowest cost plan, you are limited to 20 pages total on your site with one product. The mid-tier plan gives you unlimited pages, but limits you to 20 products. It is only the highest tier plan that provides you with unlimited pages AND products.
Now that we’ve examined Squarespace, let’s take a look at the platform I’m positive you are already familiar with.
Who Should Use WordPress?
WordPress has excelled for two reasons: its flexibility and its extensibility. It can be used on anything from a simple, one page website, to powering huge blogs and eCommerce stores.
Developers love it. If you can think it up, you can probably build it with WordPress. And thanks to a large, vibrant community, there are a seemingly endless number of themes and plugins to choose from, with more being built every day.
When you compare Squarespace and WordPress, there are things WordPress does that Squarespace either can’t handle or doesn’t support. Just two popular examples: a membership portal or real estate listings.
While WordPress may not have a 24/7 support channel, the huge community is eager and willing to help. There’s the free support forums on WordPress.org, as well as countless WordPress freelancers around the world.
But, just like Squarespace, WordPress is not without its own flaws.
The Downside of WordPress
The largest flaw for WordPress is that it can difficult to use for new users.
The majority of WordPress users don’t come from technical backgrounds, which means they’ll either need to make a time or financial commitment to build their site, which they may not be able to afford.
Think back to when you started with WordPress. It definitely has a learning curve. Whereas Squarespace makes it easy for non-technical people to begin using its platform right out of the box, many first-time users are overwhelmed by the complexity of WordPress. Just think about how many users have issues with installation.
Obviously, they can overcome this learning curve by spending time learning WordPress, but that is a huge investment of time that many business owners may not have available.
Luckily, there is a second option: hire a WordPress professional. However, this requires a financial investment. Hiring someone who with decent WordPress skills is not cheap.
On top of this, we need to remember that while the WordPress software itself is free, it still requires hosting, which costs a minimum of $4 a month. Not to mention, themes can cost $30 or more, and specific functionality is needed, paid plugins may need to be purchased.
For someone with a technical background who deals with WordPress all day, building a site may seem incredibly easy.
But for non-technical people, they may not have the time or financial investment required to get started with WordPress. It may be cheaper and better in the long-run to go with Squarespace instead.
I want to reiterate something real quick: both Squarespace and WordPress are amazing.
In my own work, I use both. Many sites I’ve built have required custom designs or custom functionality and have needed to be built in WordPress. But my dad’s website, which is a simple construction website, was built in Squarespace.
Remember, when determining which software to use, it is not about finding the one that is better than the other. It is about finding the one that is right for the project and the user.
Does your project require the flexibility and extensibility of WordPress? If so, make sure either have the technical knowledge or can invest the time/financial capital required.
Or would you be better off with Squarespace’s easy to use interface, understanding that you will be limited in many ways.
What Do You Think?
Have you used Squarespace? How does it compare to WordPress?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!