If you’re just looking to start a website, you may find yourself trying to decide between platforms. These days there are plenty to choose from, but Squarespace (affiliate link) and WordPress remain two of the most popular options. Squarespace vs. WordPress might have you stuck!
I’ve used both SquareSpace and WordPress for my own personal businesses. My websites now all run on WordPress – partially because of the way Siteground (affiliate link) plans work. Siteground, a hosting platform on which you can run WordPress sites, allows me to host three websites for the price of what hosting one Squarespace site would cost. Obviously, that’s a plus in the WordPress column, but more on that later.
While I’m now completely on WordPress, my husband and I used to run a small spice subscription company, Spicing Your Life – and we ran our little ecommerce site out of Squarespace. It worked like a charm, and I have to say Squarespace’s features keep getting better and better. If you know how to adapt templates with CSS code, then things get really good!
I now design & develop websites in both platforms, and I help some of my long-term clients run their businesses from both Squarespace and WordPress – so I’ve gotten well-versed in both.
The Pros of WordPress
The biggest benefit to WordPress? The ability to self-host membership sites and e-learning courses yourself. To me, this is the single biggest difference between Squarespace and WordPress. To me knowledge, there is still no way to run a membership site where each user has their own unique login credentials from Squarespace. *Updated 4/16/21: You can run membership sites on Squarespace but this typically involves third party plugins or platforms like Memberspace.
++Some more bells & whistles. Chances are, if there’s a feature you’d like on your website, someone has designed a plugin for it that you can use on your WordPress site. Many of them are free.
++More variation. There are more themes (these guide the look and feel of your site) available for WordPress users than there are templates available to SquareSpace users. This and other features make it a bit easier to create a custom feel to your WordPress site than it can be with a Squarespace site.
++Different front-end website builders. Not everyone feels comfortable with the sam front-end design tools. What may seem intuitive to me may not be for you. With SquareSpace, you’re stuck with one front-end design interface. With WordPress you have several options including Divi, WP Bakery and Elementor (affiliate link).
You can learn more about Divi and get a walk-though of the back end here.
The Cons of WordPress
There are two major cons in my book.
1) WordPress is an open-source platform and the plugins you inevitably need to use on your site are developed by different authors. This makes the WordPress platform much less secure than Squarespace. And I would know – all three of my sites got hacked in the course of 24 hours. There are security measures you can take, and security software you can buy – but this adds to cost and time measures.
2) You have to do more site maintenance yourself than you do with Squarespace. All of those plugins I keep talking about? You need to make sure they are updated regularly. WordPress itself goes through regular updates – and while you can automate it, you need to keep on top of it to make sure you always have the latest version. What’s more – since the plugins you use and WordPress itself are created by multiple entities, there’s no guarantee that a plugin you rely on will always be compatible with the latest version of WordPress (or even that the theme you use will remain current). And you should also be creating site backups yourself as a best practice.
The Pros of Squarespace
This is where I confuse you, because as great as WordPress is, there’s a lot to love about Squarespace.
++A much more intuitive backend than WordPress
++You don’t have to worry about website and plugin updates, or creating regular website backups.
++Easy, built-in ecommerce tools
++Much easier setup of Google Apps for Business tools like gmail with your own URL
++Squarespace’s creators regularly look at the most used features and plugins in WordPress and recreate them in Squarespace
The Cons of Squarespace
++You’re stuck with their front-end page builder, which I find to be clunkier than the ones you can use with WordPress – and its not as intuitive as you might think given Squarespace’s sole purpose is to make it easier for ‘lay people’ to create their own websites.
++It’s difficult to achieve a sophisticated feel without adapting Squarespace templates with CSS code.
++Squarespace is reasonably priced if you have one website, but you’ll quickly rack up costs if you run more than one. Depending on who your host is and what sort of plan you have, this just isn’t the case with WordPress sites.
So how do you choose Squarespace vs. WordPress?
Clearly there are pros and cons to both. Here’s what I tell my clients if they haven’t decided before working with me.
- Check out the back-end of both. If the dashboard of a WordPress website makes your brain shut down, it probably isn’t the platform for you. But if you look at it and feel curious about it, then there’s a good chance you can learn what you need to know!
- If it’s important to you to self-host a membership site or online courses (instead of using a third party platform like Teachable), then WordPress is for you. Squarepace isn’t really an option.
- If you don’t want to deal with maintenance like backups, security issues and updates, then Squarespace is for you.
- Go with what feels the best to you!
Best of luck! Xx, Kara
Ready for more?
Sign up for services mentioned in post:
SiteGround (best WordPress host) ➡️ https://www.kcocreative.com/siteground
Divi (great WordPress theme) ➡️ https://www.kcocreative.com/divi
Squarespace ➡️ https://www.kcocreative.com/squarespace
Affiliate links! I only promote services that I have used myself, regardless of whether I have an affiliate account with them, and using affiliate links when available helps me to continue to provide useful information at no cost to my viewers/readers/peeps. Thank you 🥰