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:
- Robustness + Flexibility
- Customer support
- User Interface (a.k.a. Dashboard) + learning curve
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)?
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).
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.
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 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 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.
Customer support – What happens if the shit hits the fan?
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:
- Calling your host
- Contacting the developer / accessing the support forums of your theme or plugin
- Contacting Website Superhero (of course)
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!).
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 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!
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.
Squarespace, although its victory is weakened by its dearth of customization options
Pricing – How much is this gonna cost me, homes?
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.
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.
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.
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.