There are a lot of tools and services out there to help you quickly set up a new website. The websites that you are creating could be simple blogs or full-blown eCommerce businesses. You are likely to find a service that will help you create that specific type of website.
In this tutorial, I will compare two of the most popular solutions for building websites. These are Squarespace and WordPress. Lets get started.
Squarespace vs WordPress: A Brief Introduction
Squarespace started as a blog hosting service with a drag and drop website builder in 2004. Squarespace is not an open source project. It does offer a limited free trial but you have to pay for using its services when you decide to do something serious.
WordPress is an year older than Squarespace and started in 2003. It is an open-source project which means that you won’t have to pay anything to use it. However, this doesn’t mean that everything related to WordPress is absolutely free. You will learn more about it in detail later in the tutorial.
To avoid any confusion, I would like to mention that WordPress also has a hosted version which is different from WordPress.org that we will cover in this tutorial.
Squarespace vs WordPress: Ease of Use
Squarespace is a SaaS company. In other words, you can say that it provides software as a service. The primary targets of Squarespace are people with very limited or no coding/web-development experience. This means that it strives to make the website building process as simple as possible.
WordPress on the other hand, will require you to spend a significant amount of time on learning how to do different tasks. This is especially true for beginners. Things will get a lot easier with time as you gain experience. However, you will initially be overwhelmed with everything that you need to learn.
Squarespace is definitely easier to use when compared with WordPress.
Squarespace vs WordPress: Design Choices
One way to make it easier for people to create websites is to give them pre-built templates which can be customized later to suit individual needs. Squarespace offers a great selection of ready-to-use templates for you to use in a variety of projects. This includes setting up an online store, local business, a portfolio website or blog etc. among other things.
You can explore the full selection of Squarespace templates by visiting the template page. Simply choose a website type along with a topic and you would be good to go. There are a lot of available themes and website designs for you to use and they all look amazing.
Now, lets see what WordPress has to offer us in terms of design choices. You will find that there are over 5000 free themes to use with your WordPress setup. Some of them look great while others are pretty basic. You can apply feature filters to narrow down your search for the perfect theme.
One thing that you will notice is that the themes on WordPress.org are a bit lackluster in comparison to Squarespace. However, that is to be expected because the business model of Squarespace requires it to have the best and latest web design templates ready for you to use.
Remember when I told you that WordPress is an open-source project? This means that everyone is free to write their own code in order to create something that is not already available. This applies to the themes as well. There are a lot of marketplaces like ThemeForest where you can purchase a premium WordPress theme that offers a lot of design choices and customization options. A single theme that you purchase might come with multiple page templates with unique designs.
Tie: Squarespace themes are comparable to the premium themes sold on ThemeForest.
Squarespace vs WordPress: Maintenance and Security
If you know what you are doing, it is possible to create a basic and functional website in either WordPress or Squarespace within a day. However, maintaining those websites over a period of time requires serious commitment on your part.
There are a lot of things that you need to take care of when maintaining a website. This includes regular updates to any plugins or themes, database optimization, image optimization, SEO updates and more.
All this will take time, the time that you could spend doing something else to expand your business. While WordPress does offer you tools to do automatic updates, the process is much more streamlined in Squarespace.
Lets assume that you have enabled automatic updates on WordPress. You are still likely to face incompatibility issues every now and then. This is because different plugins and themes that you use on your website are usually created by independent developers and companies. On the other hand, the process of updates is centralized on Squarespace and they will do proper testing themselves before pushing them on your website automatically.
Security is another aspect where Squarespace wins over WordPress. This is not to say that WordPress isn’t secure. However, the onus of security lies with you when you use WordPress and it lies with Squarespace when you use their platform.
Winner: in terms of ease of maintenance and security, Squarespace wins over WordPress.
Squarespace vs WordPress: Features and Extensibility
As I have mentioned on many occasions in this post, Squarespace is a closed and tightly controlled system. This makes it more secure as well as easy to use and maintain. However, there are downsides to this approach. What you gain in terms of ease of use is lost in terms of features and extensibility.
Since WordPress is an open-source project, there are thousands of people working on the core product as well as themes and plugins to give you access to a wide range of features. To be fair, Squarespace does offer a great range of built-in features in comparison to WordPress core and it also has a handful of 3rd party extensions.
However, that pales when compared to the functionality that you can get with 3rd party plugins in WordPress. With around 60,000 different plugins available for you to use, you will likely have access to all the functionality that you could ever need.
Another benefit of using WordPress is that you can also code the functionality that you want in your website yourself or hire developers to do so. This makes it possible for you to use WordPress any way you want. You can also add custom code to your website with business and commerce plans of Squarespace but they are not as flexible as WordPress.
Winner: features and extensibility are easy win for WordPress.
Squarespace vs WordPress: Cost
The cost of setting up and running a website is an important factor for many people when it comes to choosing a platform. One last thing that I would like to compare is the cost of using Squarespace and WordPress.
Squarespace offers a bunch of plans with their own set of features. The cheapest plan is titled “Personal” and it will currently cost you $192 per year when paid annually. The “Advanced Commerce” plan will cost you $588 per year when paid annually. The Personal plan will not offer you any eCommerce features. The domain you get with any Squarespace plan is also free only for the first year and you will be charged $20 per year to renew it later.
The cost for using WordPress will vary greatly depending on your expertise and other preferences. For example, basic hosting to handle small amount of traffic can cost around $60 per year and you will have to spend around $15 for domain registration or renewal every year. As you can see, WordPress costs a lot less if you are not planning on using any premium themes or plugins.
The costs with both Squarespace and WordPress will likely go up depending on your project and customization needs. However, WordPress will usually still be cheaper in the long run.
Winner: Both platforms have costs associated, but WordPress will usually still be cheaper.
Should you Use WordPress or Squarespace?
Now that we have discussed the different aspects related to using WordPress and Squarespace when creating your website, it is time to give a final verdict.
|Ease of Use||Squarespace|
|Maintenance and Security||Squarespace|
|Features and Extensibility||WordPress|
From the above table, it is evident that you should consider using WordPress if there is a budget constraint and you don’t mind getting your hands dirty with website maintenance and development behind the scenes. WordPress also gives you a lot more freedom to experiment with the platform and customize it at will.
Squarespace is ideal for people who are simply looking to get up and running as quickly as possible and don’t mind paying extra for the added convenience. You will potentially save a lot of time by choosing to develop your website with Squarespace.