Squarespace vs WordPress: the epic battle

Squarespace vs WordPress
Preparing for war! Only one website platform shall survive.

Squarespace vs WordPress … it’s an epic battle, I tell you. One between a younger, charming dilettante with a B.A. and a wise gal with a PhD (and I love nerds, so you can guess which one I prefer).

To weigh the various pros and cons and avoid information overload, I’ll give an overview of the following:

  • Design
  • Robustness + Flexibility
  • Customer support
  • User Interface (a.k.a. Dashboard) + learning curve
  • Pricing

Whichever platform you choose will be contingent on your needs, resources, and priorities. If I were president of the world, I would choose for you, because I’d be a dictator (the friendly kind! And everyone would get chocolate), but until then, you’ll have to choose for yourself.

Squarespace vs WordPress — let the battle begin:

Design – How much freedom do I have to decide whether I want it to wear Doc Martens or fancy high heels (I don’t know brands, sorry)?

WordPress

You’re in luck. You’ve got hundreds of thousands of themes to choose from, both free and paid. Some are gorgeous, some are mediocre, and some are excellent and versatile and you can dress them up however you’d like (such as Headway, my favorite). And if you can’t find what you need (a virtually impossible scenario), an experienced web designer/developer can make you whatever you wish (yup, like Website Superhero). Can’t beat that with a bat, as they say (I feel bad for the bats, though).

Squarespace

You’ve got 19 themes to choose from. Sure, they’re pretty and responsive and semi-customizable, but that’s all you get. I get cranky when I have few options (my boyfriend said I’m spoiled and I’m starting to believe him). And if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s especially vital that your website convey the right message to your right peeps — which necessitates custom branding and design. Alas, you’ll have a rough time making this happen with Squarespace.

Winner:

WordPress FTW (for the win)

Robustness + Flexibility – How much can it do for me? Will it cook me a nice dinner or just order takeout?

WordPress

WordPress is open source, meaning that any web developer or programmer can create templates, themes, or plugins and sell them or make them available for free for all of us. As a result, we now have an astounding 26,000 WordPress plugins to choose from, making WordPress tremendously robust and versatile and kick-ass.

To be fair, most of these plugins aren’t great (or are straight-up crap). Even so, there are plenty of excellent ones, from Backup Buddy and WooCommerce to SEO by Yoast, which make savvy WordPress users’ lives easier and our sites more powerful and efficient.

WordPress offers everything you need, but some of it involves code (in which case you can always contact Website Superhero).

Squarespace

Squarespace isn’t open source, so only the Squarespace peeps can develop software for it. This limits it dramatically, as one might expect. At the same time, the tools they do have are supported by their authors, work like a charm, and are constantly updated.

Winner:

WordPress

Squarespace vs WordPress

Customer support – What happens if the shit hits the fan?

WordPress

Since this platform is free, there is no customer support except for online forums. There’s nobody you can call at headquarters. Fortunately, any problems can be solved in one of these ways:

  • Googling
  • Calling your host
  • Contacting the developer / accessing the support forums of your theme or plugin
  • Contacting Website Superhero (of course)

Squarespace

This service is paid, so these peeps will get back to you within a few hours if you send them an email; their support team runs 24/7 (just like that of most hosting providers!).

Winner:

Undecided. I’ve always been able to solve all my WordPress problems ever by reaching out to my host, support forums, or Google (or putting on my cape, but that’s a personal privilege).

User Interface (a.k.a. Dashboard) + learning curve – How easy is it to use?

WordPress

WordPress is more complex than Squarespace, which is to be expected given how much more robust and fabulous it is. So it will take a bit more dedication and time to learn it. It also requires that you frequently update themes and plugins as improved versions are released. I will say that it’s pretty damn intuitive, though, for most people and you will find shittons of beautiful DIY websites made on WordPress, true story. Are you a total beginner? Check out my Jump-Start Your Site (Newbie Special) to get off on the bestest foot. I also have two free tutorials here for you!

Squarespace

This platform is arguably more intuitive because it’s a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) website builder, such that you can drag shiz (images, text, slideshows, and so on) around just by clicking your mouse. This allows you to see what the site will look like (layout and design-wise) before you save it. I want to note that certain WordPress themes — like the amazing Headway — are WYSIWYG builders as well. However, Squarespace also allows you to see what your text will look like before you publish posts and pages, whereas WordPress doesn’t. Further, Squarespace themes and so on are updated automatically, so you’ll never have to deal with that.

Winner:

Squarespace, although its victory is weakened by its dearth of customization options

Pricing – How much is this gonna cost me, homes?

WordPress

It’s free. However, you must purchase your domain (e.g., website-superhero.com; $10-$15/year) and hosting (e.g., Bluehost or GoDaddy; $5-$10+/month, or $60-$120/year). Possible additional costs include a premium theme ($25-$75) and premium plugins ($5-$150); some of these costs you must pay yearly and some are one-time investments. And if you hire Website Superhero to create you a phenomenal site, the cost will of course rise further.

Squarespace

This is a paid service ($8-$30/month, or $96-$288/year). You only pay them as opposed to a hosting or domain provider. If you hire a web designer, the cost will rise higher.

Winner:

They’re even, costing about the same per year and most hosting providers and theme/plugin support forums providing 24/7 support, just like Squarespace.

Squarespace vs WordPress
Yes, who are you? And why aren’t you wearing a shirt?

Conclusion – I’m dizzy. What the hell should I pick?

As you may know, I recommend WordPress to everybody. It is more powerful and you can do whatever the deuce you want with it — it can grow with you as your business thrives and you take over the world. It also allows you (or your web designer/developer, depending) total freedom to create a design that’s completely unique to you and your brand. But it takes more work up-front and more maintenance. To me, it’s absolutely worth the effort, though, to make your website your own so you can wow your visitors and make an epic impact.

Squarespace is simpler and requires less maintenance, but is limited in functionality and design. Many Squarespace users eventually upgrade to WordPress. If you start out with WordPress, you spare yourself the hassle and can grow a beast of a website (I know you wanna go viral!) from the get-go.

What are your resources and priorities? Choose based on that and let me know below!
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11 Responses to Squarespace vs WordPress: the epic battle

  1. I have both types and even though Squarespace is just SO easy and bautiful and smart, I might still go with WordPress if I needed a new one. But meh, it’s not a 100% sure assumption. I used headway and was in love but broke up with it, but i am not a webbie. I now have themify and it’s as limited as Squarespace, but it’s got nice, fancy features.
    Lovely post structure! Smooches!

    • Ah, interesting. What made you fall out of love with Headway? It was the opposite for me: I hated it at first and now we’re planning our honeymoon. Thanks for the compliment! xo

  2. Oh my dear lord!! You are hilarious! But aside from that, thank you for this nifty little breakdown. I’ve been wondering this exact thing in the last few months as Squarespace has begun to take over the world with their advertising. One question I would love to know Natalia, is what happens if someone (a blogger in particular) starts out on Squarespace and moves over to WordPress? Would their blog content seamlessly move over (with the help of a developer such as yourself?) I know that isn’t possible with sites like Weebly.
    Thanks!

    • Haha glad you’re amused, my dear Anna! And happy to know that now you can stop wondering.

      As far as how to proceed if you want to move your site from Squarespace to WordPress, the Import / Export setting in Squarespace allows you to export your Pages, Blog Pages, and their content in a WordPress-compatible format (.xml), so you can then upload it to your WordPress site. Doesn’t seem like the media files would be included, though, unless they’re in the posts/pages. Great question!

  3. WordPress all the way, baby! (I only say that because I’ve never used anything else…).

    Thanks for giving me the details about Squarespace, though. I know several people who have it, but haven’t really looked into the actual specifics.

    P.S. As President of the world, can I request free flowing red wine all day, every day!?

    • Haha whether you’ve only ever used WP or not, happy to have you on the pro-WordPress team, Jennifer ;)

      As President of the world, everyone will get dark chocolate and free flowing red wine all day, every day. Glad you said red because asking for white is grounds for imprisonment. Hahaha <3

  4. Sounds like if you were ruler of the world, I wouldn’t mind! lol! I’ve seen a lot of hype about Squarespace lately and was wondering what the differences were – so once again, you’ve swooped in and answered my questions! Haven’t tried Headway but would love to know what you think about it too! Thanks! :-)

    • Hahaha, I do what I can ;)

      I’ve been planning to write a Headway post for several weeks now but other topics have been prioritized in my editorial calendar. Summary: it’s amazing, versatile, and flexible, and the visual editor will knock your socks off! It’s what this website is built on and what I use for all my client websites. Let me know if I can answer any more Qs. And thank you so much for reading, lovely Janet!

  5. WordPress !!

    I had to laugh the other day one of my clients her friend told her that SS is the new best thing and it is like the mac of the computer world lol. If that is the case how come you can do less with it then WP lol.

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