WordPress VS SquareSpace: Which one is right for you?

WordPress VS SquareSpace

When it comes to building a website, there are a myriad of providers to choose from out there! We understand that it can be challenging (and time-consuming!) to compare all the different pros and cons of every website builder available, which is why we try to make it easy for you. In the past, we’ve compared WordPress and Wix. Today, we’d like to do a comparison between WordPress and another popular website builder – SquareSpace!

Strictly speaking, all website builders are generally the same. They’re a tool you can use to create your website and publish it onto the World Wide Web. However, there are many key differences between WordPress and SquareSpace that set them apart from each other.

Now, before we get started, we have to mention this: there’s no such thing as the ‘best’ website builder. All website builders have different features, and those features are more useful for some people compared to others. So it’s important to keep your specific needs in mind when comparing website builders.

With that out of the way, are you ready to compare WordPress VS SquareSpace? Let’s get started!

Customising your website

WordPress.org (not to be confused with WordPress.com) is known to be highly customisable. Some of the biggest brands in the world use WordPress for their websites, because you can customise just about everything to suit your branding. 

Our client Jamie White at Pod Legal has said, “(We) chose to opt for WordPress for more flexibility and control over our site’s functionality and features…we found WordPress to be more customisable and able to support the business through growth and expansion. We’re able to make our user experience far more unique and personalised, rather than following the pack.”

On the other hand, SquareSpace is popular because of it’s simple ‘drag and drop’ interface that allows you to create websites in very little time.

Our client Ann-Marie from Move Culture made a good point when she said, “I would compare these 2 platforms to Apple and Samsung – Squarespace being Apple and Samsung being WordPress.” There are definitely some parallels in that comparison!

While both website builders can create wonderful websites, there are clearly some key differences between the two which we will explore further.

How user-friendly are they?

Unfortunately, the highly customisable nature of WordPress also translates to it being rather tricky to learn to use. There are a lot of different features, concepts, and lingo that you need to figure out in order to create your website. 

The technical nature of the default WordPress content editor can be a little overwhelming to a beginner, but there is a way around it if you would rather have a drag and drop approach to building your website. Website building plug-ins like Elementor and Divi allow you to quickly and easily add elements to your websites. They even include templates, so you don’t have to meddle about with the layout!

As mentioned before, SquareSpace is popular because of how easy it is to use with its drag and drop content editor. If you don’t want to deal with the layout of your website, there are numerous aesthetically-pleasing templates to choose from as well. That being said, there’s not a lot of options to customise your website. The visual content editor can be used to customise certain elements, but not even close to the extent that WordPress allows.

If you’re after a simple website or blog that only has a few pages, SquareSpace may be enough to suit your needs. But if you’re planning to create a lot of content and want your website to be unique to your brand, WordPress might offer more room for your website to grow with your business. If designing your WordPress website seems a little daunting, you can always engage a web designer to help you out with that.

Create more functionality with plugins

Plugins are an important part of website building, as they allow you to add so many different functions to your website to make it more useful to your audience. There’s a plugin for just about anything, including contact forms, search engine optimisation (SEO) tools, and website security. 

WordPress has over 50,000 free plugins available on their plugin library, and since WordPress is incredibly popular, a lot of third-party developers sell plugins that are WordPress-friendly as well. This plugin library is a huge part of WordPress’ customisable nature – you can pick and choose the plugins that work specifically for you, allowing your website to perform in exactly the way you want.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of SquareSpace. Without the massive plugin ecosystem and developer community that WordPress has, this platform is lacking in terms of integrating third-party plugins. 

That being said, because there are a lot more options on WordPress, some plugins are better than others. Some of the not-so-great plugins may not play nice with your website and other plugins, and this can lead to problems including performance issues and even website crashes. SquareSpace monitors and tests the few plugins that they offer, which means it is a lot less likely for you to run into similar problems as WordPress.

When it comes to availability of plugins, WordPress definitely offers more than SquareSpace does. If you plan on featuring different functions and tools on your website beyond what a generic content editor can offer, plugins are a necessity, and simply something you cannot go without. However, you have to be savvy about the plugins you use, and make sure you only use plugins from trusted developers.

Platform updates and maintenance

We’ve talked a lot about plugins, and here’s something very much related to that: all website building platforms require updates to their plug-ins and extensions to make sure your website remains secure and also functions properly. Whenever a developer releases new versions, upgrades, or patches for a plugin, you have to update it.

Now, the immediate result of this is that in the event that you have a lot of plugins for your website, you might have to do a great deal of updating to make sure everything keeps working! 

Since WordPress features a lot more plugins than SquareSpace does, it is likely to require a lot more maintenance work to keep a website updated and secure at all times. 

On the other hand, whenever the SquareSpace platform itself requires an update, SquareSpace handles it, so you don’t have to do a thing. This means that there’s a lot less maintenance required to keep your website up and running.

While updates and maintenance are an unavoidable part of website development, you really need to be realistic about how much time and labour may be required when you decide on different features on your website. If you’re a team of one (and a lot of business owners start off that way!), then consider taking it easy with plugins and extensions so you won’t be constantly focused on maintaining your website instead of optimising it!

We understand that all this maintenance can become a lot of additional work for business owners, which is why all our clients can relax in the knowledge that we update all our clients’ WordPress plugins for them with our managed WordPress plans. Our 24/7 tech team is also always on hand to help out if any issues crop up with plugins.

e-Commerce functionality

You can’t run a business without a website, but not all websites are equipped to help run your business! When it comes to running an online store, it’s vital that business owners ensure their website doesn’t just perform well, but it also needs to be able to handle the unique challenges of e-commerce. 

WordPress actually allows for users to integrate many payment processors or platforms, and there are numerous WordPress plugins like WooCommerce that easily allow you to accept online payments. Whether it’s PayPal, Google Checkout, 2Checkout, Payoneer, or Stripe, your customers can make payments on your online store. WooCommerce itself is a powerful plugin to use for online stores, with plenty of add-ons, themes, and templates to choose from.

WordPress does not set a limit on how many products can be displayed on your website, and you also have complete freedom when it comes to how you display them. As mentioned before, customising your WordPress site is a great way to make your online store different from the rest!

Unfortunately, SquareSpace lacks a lot in this aspect. When it comes to e-Commerce, you can only use PayPal or Stripe to process payments. Even then, those options are only available in select countries. Obviously, this isn’t great if you want to reach a global customer base! It should also be mentioned that you can only sell products on SquareSpace if you have Business or Commerce Plans.

If you want to create an online course or membership experience, subscription based plugins and options are greater in choice with WordPress. Squarespace has limited options to do this with its paid plans.  

It’s pretty clear that when it comes to e-Commerce, WordPress has the upper hand. 

The costs

The cost of creating and running a website is an important part of any business development plan, and is something that should be researched before making a commitment to a website builder. 

We’ll start off by saying this: WordPress itself is free to use. It’s an open source software, which gives users the freedom to build their website to their liking at no cost. 

However, before you can start building your website with WordPress, you need to set up a domain name and secure website hosting! The cost of this depends on a lot of factors, including bandwidth, disk space, and email set-up. 

For example, we offer different Green Web Hosting Plans starting from just $20 AUD a month, and each one has different features. The trick is outlining what’s important to you and then finding a website hosting plan that lines up with your objectives.

For comparison, the personal plan for SquareSpace starts from $16 AUD month to month. Unfortunately, this personal plan comes with extremely limited features – you can only add two contributors to your site, and you cannot sell products.

Need more than what the personal plan offers? The SquareSpace business plan starts from $25 month to month and includes e-Commerce support. However, although the business plan does come with unlimited contributors, pages, and additional advanced features, SquareSpace charges a 3% transaction fee on your sales. Note, pricing may have changed since we posted this article, so see the SquareSpace pricing page for updated details.

If you’re thinking of setting up an online store, SquareSpace also has plans specifically for online stores that start from $34 AUD per month, with no additional transaction fee.

Again, when you set up a website, please make sure to research the associated costs thoroughly! It’s vital that you calculate all the small costs that can add up over the course of a few months and years.

So between WordPress and SquareSpace, which one’s the best?

Like we said at the beginning, there’s no one ‘Best’ website builder! It really just depends on what you need. So have a think about how much you’re willing to spend on setting up your website, what you need it to look like, how it can help fulfill your business goals, and how much time you want to commit to running it.

And if you have any more questions, make sure to get in touch with us! Our team is always happy to help you understand the art (and science!) of building a website.


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