WordPress, the most popular content management system in the world, powers 30% of all websites. While WordPress takes the cake in popularity, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other great ways to create a website. Other website builders, like Squarespace, have become more popular for those wanting to easily build, design, and manage a site with little to no experience.
While WordPress and Squarespace are very different platforms, there are a lot of features and unique functionality that go into each. In this article, I’ll review both so you can decide which one is best for you.
In this article, I’ll go through:
- A broad overview
- Ease of use
- Design and templates
- Content management
- Suitability for sites
- eCommerce sites
- SEO compatibility
Note: The WordPress software (WordPress.org) is free, but in order to use it, it needs to be installed on either a live hosted site (like on Flywheel). WordPress.com on the other hand, acts more like Squarespace, in which hosting is included. For the purpose of this article, we’ll be talking about WordPress.org and comparing WordPress 5.3.1 with Squarespace 7.1.
Squarespace and WordPress are popular options when creating a site, however both have very unique features that may sway you to choose one over the other. While Squarespace and WordPress make it easy to launch a site, you’ll find that WordPress gives you more creative freedom.
With Squarespace, it’s very easy to start building a website. You don’t need to worry about signing up for hosting or purchasing a domain name. Instead, you just sign up for a Squarespace account and start building your site. Within seconds you’re choosing a template for how your site should look.
Squarespace is a solid solution for anyone looking to create and manage a simple website.
WordPress makes it incredibly easy for anyone to build and manage their own website. While it started as simple blogging software, WordPress is now a full content management system, otherwise known as a CMS, allowing you to build virtually any type of website on it, from eCommerce sites like Van Heusen to powerhouse brands like Disney. WordPress allows creatives to build fully functional sites of any category, size, and intricacy.
Arguably one of the best parts about WordPress is that it’s built on open source software. Because of this, many creatives such as developers, small eCommerce shop owners, content creators, and others are choosing WordPress as their beloved website builder.
To set up a WordPress site, there are three things you need to get started:
- A domain
- A web host
- WordPress installed on your site
A domain is the address for your site, and what people will type into the browser to access it. For example, our domain is getflywheel.com.
A web host is, or web hosting service provider, is a business that provides services needed for the website or webpage to be viewed online. WP Engine and Flywheel, managed WordPress hosts, work strictly with WordPress and are great options for hosts.
WordPress is free to download and use so anyone can create a WordPress site. However, when you work with a managed WordPres host like Flywheel, WordPress is automatically installed on your site, so you don’t even need to worry about that!
While it’s super easy to get Squarespace up and running, WordPress is a better solution for anyone looking to have full creative power over their site and wanting to understand the ins and outs of their site.
Ease of use
When comparing ease of use, you’ll find that Squarespace is a little easier to get started with compared to WordPress. WordPress on the other hand, while it takes a bit more learning, it’s much easier to build, launch, manage, and scale a site.
Squarespace uses a block editor similar to WordPress. Adding images, videos, and audio files is very easy. There are plenty of content blocks, and layout control choices in the block editor. This block editor is easy to add in the content you want so this may be a great option for single sites that won’t be updating their sites or need specific functionality. However, while the block editor is fairly intuitive to use and you can create a decent website in just a couple of hours, you’ll find there aren’t a lot of customization options.
If you’re looking for a specific fun feature to add to your site or a client’s site, you may not find that as an option on Squarespace and since it isn’t open-source software you wouldn’t be able to build the site you truly want.
WordPress is perfect for anyone wanting to start a blog, run their own website for their own business, or create custom, unique websites for clients.
While there is a slight learning curve with WordPress (it can be helpful to know HTML, some CSS, and other code-related things), the more you use it, the easier it gets!
I recommend these two tips for starting to build a WordPress site:
- Learn and love WordPress terminology
- Use the WordPress community as a resource
1. Learn and love WordPress terminology
Familiarize yourself with common WordPress terminology! If you’ve never heard words like “backup” or “caching”, don’t worry! Here’s a quick glossary to get you started.
2. Use the WordPress community as a resource
One of the coolest things about the WordPress community is how large, inclusive, and welcoming it is. From developers to designers, agencies to freelancers, and beginners to pros, the WordPress community has about every type of person you can imagine all over the world.
One reason the WordPress community has grown so big is that so many people are invested in helping it grow. Developers are constantly developing new themes and plugins, designers are creating beautiful sites, WordPress users help each other in forums, and volunteers organize local meetups to help connect members of the community.
There are several ways for you to get involved in the WordPress community and you can find more opportunities here. Squarespace on the other hand, has something called a Squarespace Forum, however it does not compare to the reach of the WordPress community.
It may seem like there’s a lot to learn about WordPress, but in this free guide we’ll take it slow and steady to help you become a WordPress pro in no time. By the end, you’ll know what WordPress is, the basics of using it, and where to go next to learn even more!
While Squarespace may feel like the better choice when it comes to ease of use, you’ll find when you want certain functionality or features for your site, that WordPress gives you the ease of use that you’re looking for. And when you don’t have the answers, there’s an entire WordPress community that’s always happy to help!
Design and templates
Your website’s design might just be the most important thing to you because most people think of it as a first impression. If your site is hard to navigate and the design is clunky, first-time visitors may never return again. However, a well-designed, cohesive website may just lead to finding a new client. Squarespace and WordPress have design options when you’re building a site, however you’ll find both are extremely different.
Squarespace is a solid contender when it comes to design and templates. It lets you customize your site with different templates and pages using a visual editor. This is great for those who want to test out a few different looks for their website to see what looks best, without having to code or get nitty-gritty. However, because it’s a controlled environment, your options and design will be a bit limited.
This may be a problem if you’re building your website to serve as your portfolio or you’re wanting to build sites for your clients. In both of these instances, you’ll want a website builder that allows you to add whatever fun, quirky, or complex features you want.
WordPress themes control the look of your site and because there are thousands of available themes, you’re more likely to find a theme that matches your vision for your site’s design. So not only can you find a theme that fits exactly what you want, but you’ll also be able to customize it so you can get the perfect look.
In the last few years, a tool called the Gutenberg Editor was introduced to the world and it changed the WordPress experience. This came from the rise of drag-and-drop tools, and it gives users more visual control over the design of their pages and posts. This made it easier for beginners (like myself!) or less-technical users to start publishing content, without having to learn how to build a shortcode right off the bat. Like other block editors, Gutenberg is a work in progress and continues to get better each and every version.
Additionally, there are great plugins that you can download that can add functionality to your site designs, and ways to customize your site to match your specific skill level.
You know and understand what your design preferences are better than anyone. If you’re a beginner, Squarespace might feel like the better choice, however WordPress features like the Gutenberg editor, themes, and plugins can help you design the site of your dreams.
If content is one of your primary marketing tactics for your site, you may want to consider a content management system that allows you to easily edit content within your site and manage a blog. Squarespace’s content management system is average when it comes to creating content for your blog that will also live on your site, however WordPress is a content creator’s dream.
Like everything else with Squarespace, content management is relatively easy. When creating content on Squarespace, you can just go to the page, click on a bit of content to edit it and then you’ll then see your edits in context on the page, as you make them.
A unique feature for Squarespace is their Layout Pages technology. With this, you can click and drag images and text and blocks, resize them, and adjust placement as needed. You can even add block content to all page types with section. This all happens within a grid, so content and images always stay aligned.
One of the fallbacks with Squarespace’s content management system is that it does not allow you to roll back if you want to restore previous content changes to a specific page. There is no autosave feature. For those tweaking and testing items on your site, this feature may be a must-have.
According to Digital.com, “Bloggers from all around the world make approximately 6 new posts every second.” That statistic paired with WordPress being the most popular content management system in the world, it’s fair to say that WordPress is by far, the top choice for bloggers.
It allows users to have full control over the files, documents, as well as the design and display of the content. You don’t have to know a single line of code to publish content using WordPress, which is perfect for content creators like myself. The beauty of WordPress is that any user can create and manage their content without any technical knowledge.
WordPress also gives you a media library where you can store, access, and edit images and documents. It’s one of my favorite features as a content creator so I can spend more time creating content and publishing rather than re-uploading images again and again.
WordPress also allows you to use tags and categories, which is ideal for bloggers who are creating a ton of content. This can help your visitors find more content on your site easier and they’re able to filter it to find what they want.
Squarespace’s Layout Pages feature is great for editing content on your site. However, if you know your site will have a blog and other long-form content, WordPress is by far the better choice, thanks to the Gutenberg Editor.
Suitability for sites
A key feature you might not have thought about yet is the idea of website growth. When you’re choosing a website builder, it’s important to know how easy it is to grow a single site (increase in pageviews!) and how easy it is to add more more sites (when you get more clients!).
When it comes to growing a single site, Squarespace is a great option. They have features like traffic alerts that lets you know when you’re seeing a spike in traffic so you can monitor your site. However, if you want to grow your site by later adding more pages and create a “deeper hierarchy”, Squarespace may not be the best choice. It’s difficult to create multiple “levels” of a site with their shallow hierarchical options and functionality.
As for creating and managing multiple sites if you have clients, Squarespace is nothing special. Similar to WordPress, you can manage multiple sites from a single Squarespace account and each one has its own billing subscription. However, the more sites you create and have to manage, the more likely you’re going to have a client that asks for a functionality or feature that’s beyond Squarespace’s functionality. When this happens, you’re going to want to find a content management system that allows you to build both simple and complex websites so you can continue scaling your business and finding more clients.
WordPress is a great system for not only scaling single sites, but also for managing multiple sites for clients. There are so many ways to customize sites with plugins, themes, and more so you can create the exact site your client is wanting. This is where having access to the back-end of your site (something not possible on Squarespace) might be more useful if you’re creating sites for specific clients that know what they want.
With a managed WordPress host, they typically have great features that can help you scale a single site or manage multiple sites. Flywheel is no different. There’s no reason you should have to worry about whether or not your site can handle a traffic spike, a huge sale, or a massive media mention, which is why we’ve built Flywheel’s managed WordPress hosting platform from the ground up to handle it all and scale with your site’s needs.
As for multiple sites, we have perks like White Label, a sleek and modern white-labeled billing experience under your own brilliant brand, and Collaborators so you can share access to others wanting to work on the site without sharing your password.
WordPress and managed WordPress hosts know exactly how to help you scale your sites so you can focus on the present, while they focus on the future.
Thinking about the future when it comes to your website(s) is super important. You’ll want a builder that can help you scale your single site or help you manage multiple sites for your ever growing client base. In this case, WordPress is the best option for both.
While a cohesive website might be important to you, maybe a key functionality you’re searching for is a website builder with great eCommerce functionality. While Squarespace has a solid eCommerce function built in, WordPress and more specifically, WooCommerce, is typically a better (and cheaper) option.
Squarespace has an eCommerce functionality and specific plans for websites that have the sole purpose to serve as an online store. Squarespace Commerce is a set of features for selling products and managing orders online. They have templates designed specifically for online commerce so you can create eye-catching arrangements of products, promote sales, and much more. Squarespace gained notoriety because of its ease of creating and managing an eCommerce site.
While an online store is very easy to set up, there’s not as much customization which can be a big drawback for many people. Especially if you have specific needs for how you want your store to look, Squarespace may not be the eCommerce platform for you. Squarespace’s website builder usability also isn’t very user friendly. For example, it asks you after every edit if you want to save rather than auto-saving, which can be cumbersome if you’re making several large changes and updates to your store. It’s also not great for larger websites that need a more well-thought out menu hierarchy.
While WordPress itself doesn’t have a full eCommerce functionality, there is a free plugin that pairs nicely with WordPress: enter WooCommerce. WooCommerce is a plugin that transforms websites into customizable eCommerce stores and like WordPress, it’s open-source, which means anyone can add or change features on the back-end.
WooCommerce allows you to add more plugins called extensions to add specific functionality and features you want. There are more than 400 extensions you can add to WooCommerce to get specific payment options, shipping options, and more. One of the best parts about WooCommerce is that it integrates seamlessly with WordPress so it’s not much additional work or learning on your end after you set it up.
While the many features may seem scary to those who aren’t developers, WooCommerce and WordPress is still the better choice. It may take more time to set up your store in Woo initially, but you’ll save time and money in the long run. WooCommerce is great for those who want to have complete control over their eCommerce store now, and in the future. To learn more about WooCommerce,Squarespace, and other eCommerce solutions, check out this article!
SEO, otherwise known as search engine optimization, is an ever-growing popular topic, especially as it relates to websites. SEO should be top of mind when considering a website builder and Squarespace and WordPress have unique features to make your site SEO compatible.
All Squarespace templates are built for clean indexing by search engines, but the content you add to your site and how you present it plays a big role in how easily people are able to find you. Squarespace generates a sitemap.xml file, they use clean HTML markup, and are mobile-friendly, which is an added bonus.
While you can optimize a Squarespace site, it can be an intricate process and you’ll have less tools available to help you. However, they do provide resources so you can make sure your site is optimized for search engines and visitors alike.
WordPress gives you an advantage with SEO, especially in regard to on-page optimizations because they take care of many crucial elements of a website so you don’t have to worry about them, such as HTML markup, easy content creation, permalinks, and image optimization.
Precise HTML markup helps search engines understand the website’s layout and content formats more easily. Efficient content creation has become the ideal solution to present your website to search engines, and WordPress makes it easy to publish new posts or optimize existing ones. WordPress has SEO-beneficial permalinks that are best utilized when they contain keywords related to your content, and WordPress makes it super easy to customize them. For example, “https://getflywheel.com/layout/best-cms-wordpress-2020” is a lot more beneficial to users and search engines than “https://getflywheel.com/layout/?p3-1”. The built-in editor allows you to optimize images with alt tags, descriptions, captions, and further trimming. Click here to learn more about image optimization.
SEO should be an important factor when deciding a website builder. Whether you’re planning on having a lot of content on your site or not, SEO matters in how you rank on Google and how easy visitors can find your site. Make SEO easier on yourself and choose WordPress! It’s guaranteed to implement great SEO tactics for you.
Have you given some thought if certain integrations will work with your site? If you’re looking for a few easy integrations, Squarespace is definitely the answer, but if you want the option to have thousands of integrations, WordPress is the winner here.
Squarespace has an ecosystem with quite a few integrations so you can easily manage your website, connect your business email using G Suite, and more. Squarespace may feel like a “one-stop shop” because of everything they offer. From specific block integrations to blogging to forms, Squarespace has dozens of integrations to take your site to the next level. However, the more integrations you have (such as email!) to Squarespace, it does become a tad bit difficult, but it’s not impossible.
While Squarespace may have dozens of integration options, WordPress has thousands, thanks to plugins. There are plugins to improve your site performance, help build a page, add forms, help optimize for SEO, etc. A few of the most popular include Google Analytics, HubSpot, Yoast, etc.
Based on the number of integrations for Squarespace compared to WordPress, it’s easy to see why WordPress is the winner. You have thousands of integrations to choose from and a good portion of those are free.
Maintenance, in general, never sounds fun. Whether you’re talking about maintenance for your house or your site, the dread is still there. When it comes to websites, Squarespace and WordPress handle website maintenance in unique ways.
One great thing about Squarespace is that you never have to worry about site maintenance. They handle the main technical pieces for your site such as hosting, server configuration, software updates, and more. The downside of this is having to reach out to their support team every time your site is having problems because you aren’t able to control the technical aspects yourself.
With WordPress, you’re in charge of ensuring that you’re using the most recent version of WordPress, that your themes and plugins are up to date, etc. While these may not seem like huge deals, these are important to take note of as these can be an issue later on with site security.
The good news is with a managed WordPress host, site maintenance is not only manageable, it’s easy. A managed WordPress host takes care of all the nitty-gritty things behind WordPress such as backups and security; things that matter to both you and your clients. Managed WordPress hosting is ideal for anyone building a business on WordPress (such as creative agencies, freelancers, or eCommerce owners) or anyone who’s ready to free up their time by trusting in a reliable hosting partner.
Understanding how much time you’ll have to handle site maintenance is important. Decide whether you want to reach out to Squarespace’s support team every time something goes wrong with your site or just rely on a managed WordPress host like Flywheel to take care of things like backups, and still be there 24/7 to help you when you need it.
Whether you’re a beginner or an expert at building sites, sooner or later you may need support for your site, whether that’s solving a security problem or just asking a simple question about the plan you’re on. You’ll want someone to be there to answer any questions and ease your concerns. Both Squarespace and WordPress offer support, but they vary in a couple ways.
When you sign up for a Squarespace account, support is included in your plan, which includes live chat and email. There are also guides, videos, and other online resources to help you walk through your problem. Again, if you’re having a problem with the back-end of your site, you’ll have to troubleshoot it on your own or wait to hear back from support.
Some many not prefer this and may want to just have the peace of mind that there are others out there willing to help and there’s a chat team available for you 24/7.
WordPress offers support in the form of the community forums and meetups while your WordPress host will typically have their own support team. At Flywheel, our team will be there whenever you need them. You can submit a ticket if there’s a minor issue or even hop on chat to talk to a real human being, no matter the time or day.
So whether you’d rather troubleshoot the problem on your own, take to Twitter for help from the WordPress community, or just want to hop on a live chat with one of our Happiness Engineers, there are a variety of WordPress support options for you.
While it’d be nice to create a website for free, that’s not the case with Squarespace or WordPress. There are costs associated with both, so it’s up to you to decide what you’re willing to pay for and what’s important for you to have in a website.
Squarespace has a variety of plans so you can pay for exactly what you need. Their lowest plan starts at $12 a month if you pay annually, $16 if you want to pay month-to-month, and it goes up from there depending on what plan you choose. Do some research to see exactly what you’ll get with each of these plans and if they can serve your needs.
While WordPress is free, there is a cost associated with finding a WordPress host and registering a domain you want, both important pieces to the puzzle.
The very first step you’ll need to take is to choose a host for your website and purchase a plan. Oftentimes, people choose to have a managed WordPress host over shared hosting. Shared hosting is typically where most people host their first website. It’s attractive due to a lower price point, but that comes at a price. When your website is on a shared host, it’s on a server that’s shared with other websites. This means they compete for resources, and you could see performance and security issues simply because a different website on the same server sees a traffic spike or gets hacked. While shared hosting is cheaper, you can see why managed hosting is the preferred option. Luckily, Flywheel offers managed WordPress hosting, so you never have to worry about site security or problems.
Cost is always a factor when purchasing anything. For your website, it may feel overwhelming when you start to look at the specifications for plans however my advice is to choose a plan and a website builder than you can grow with. That’s the ultimate goal for having a website or for building client websites and WordPress completely satisfies that goal every time.
Which one you should choose
You should have a solid understanding of how Squarespace and WordPress can help what you’re trying to accomplish. I recommend figuring out what you need in a website, what you want in a website, and comb through the features of both that way.
While Squarespace is a fantastic, easy website builder for single websites, most if not all creatives have the goal of growing their business in one way or another, whether that’s increasing traffic to your blog, selling more items on your online store, or creating more sites for your clients. When this happens, you’ll want a content management system that can scale with you, and more importantly, a managed WordPress host that can support you every step of the way.
WordPress is the website builder you need to take your business and website to that next level.
Behind every successful website is a powerful hosting provider and as you’ve learned, WordPress sites are no exception! If you want your website to have blazing-fast performance, rock-solid security, and stop causing you and your team headaches, you need to move it to a managed WordPress host.
Learn more about the pros and cons of managed WordPress hosting, how to compare the best managed WordPress hosting providers, and how to move to a managed WordPress host here.