WordPress vs Squarespace – Which platform to choose for your online business?
What is the difference between these two, which one is better, WordPress vs Squarespace?
When you are thinking of starting up a website, you may be wondering what platform to use. This is potentially a big decision, so it’s only wise to mull it over for a while.
After all, you will be living with your platform for some time, and if you invest knowledge and money into one platform, you’d like to know that it’s the way to go for the near future at least.
We will focus on the main differences between these two, the pros and cons, and what you should consider before making your decision.
To start off with, I’m not planning to recommend you either platform, and I don’t really have a preference. Myself I use WordPress, but I understand that the learning curve can be a bit high for some people, and that it may not always fit the purpose.
Both platforms are great tools for building a website, and both platforms are great for blogging.
So let’s get to the differences, shall we?
Hosting differences WordPress vs Squarespace
One of the main difference with WordPress vs Squarespace is hosting (for more information on hosting you can read my earlier post “Beginners Guide to Web Hosting”).
Squarespace is a hosted website builder. This means that under a monthly fee they offer a package that includes all the services and tools you need for your web project (such as hosting, templates and plugins).
For a beginner who is not interested in learning any technical information, and who just wants a website up and running fast, this is great option. You will only have Squarespace to deal with for all things related to your website project.
WordPress is essentially free Open source CMS (Content Management System). Open source means that anyone can contribute to it, mostly in the form of building and offering various Themes and plugins (which means they have a lot of choices and options, more on that later).
WordPress does not come with hosting, so you will have to sign up with a hosting separately. The advantage of this is that you are free to choose any hosting company you’d like, whereas with Squarespace you can only host via them. Hosting comes with a fee (more on process later), but then again you are free to choose your provider and type of hosting.
Related post: Beginners guide to web hosting
Domain set-up with WordPress and Squarespace
You can reserve your domain via Squarespace as you sign up (provided it’s available). This is part of their services.
WordPress on the other hand has this step separate, and you would need to reserve the domain separately, usually this goes hand in hand with your hosting set-up.
Themes and customizing your website
When you are building a website, you usually choose a particular Theme, which comes with templates for your pages (unless you of course want to custom make your site 100%, but in that case you probably quite tech savvy already).
How your site will look like depends a lot on the Theme you choose, and how you customize it with your own text, pictures, fonts and colours. Few big differences here as well between WordPress vs Squarspace.
Squarespace comes with about 70 Themes that you can choose from, all of them high quality. The ease in working with Squarespace is that when you choose a theme, the customizing of it is quite intuitive to use.
Squarespace uses a so-called “drag and drop” method, which is a visual way of building a website, and literally means that from particular choices of content you drag what you want and drop it on the page where you want it.
No coding included, and minimum technical know-how included. This also means that the options to customize your site are more limited than with WordPress, but if you don’t require anything out of the ordinary, you’ll be fine with the options available.
With WordPress you can choose from over 10.000 Themes and 50.000 plugins (plugins are like specialized applications that focus one doing one specific functionality).
A lot of these Themes and plugins are free, and only a sky is the limit on the options that come with a fee (more on those fees later).
The paid Themes and plugins are generally better than the free ones, but I have had a clean business website for years with a free Theme, so it can easily be done. Again the strength of WordPress here is the flexibility and the choices.
At the same time, especially because of the Open Source system, not all of the Plugins for example are of good quality. It may take some trial and error to find something suitable for you, but you can customize everything, and you own everything that you do.
WordPress has some themes are intuitive to use, and are based on the drag-and-drop method (such as the Divi theme)
If you have an online store, or are planning to get one at some point, there are some differences to consider as well.
Squarespace comes with an e-commerce within its platform, but you have to have either the Business or Basic / Advance Commerce plans to get this functionality (the most expensive plans).
It is easy to set-up, but has the limitation that the only payment options you have are Stripe or Paypal. Another limiting factor is the currencies offered, which does not cover all options.
In some of the plans Squarespace also take a cut of your sales, so check this out before buying if it’s relevant for you.
With WordPress you have a choice to integrate your website with any eCommerce plugin you’d like. A widely used one is WooCommerce, which comes with a list of different themes based on your product type.
Some of them are free, other range from $39-$79. There are no cuts taken from your sales, and there are more options for payment types and currencies offered.
Costs for WordPress and Squarespace
So what about the costs differences between WordPress vs. Squarspace ?
Squarespace takes care of everything for you, and that’s why their all-inclusive plans are based on a monthly fee. You have a few choices depending on your needs, ranging from about €12-€40 / month (when billed yearly).
This is your all-in-one service that covers everything, like a personal lease car. No worries about insurances or fine print, as it’s all taken care for you. This ease may also be worth something.
WordPress is essentially free, but you do have to arrange hosting (€5-€15 / month billed yearly), and should you want, pay for a Theme (in my experience these are around €25-€70 one time fee).
But you have a lot to choose from with free themes as well. The same goes for plug-ins, you can find many of them for free, but for some specialised ones you may need to pay a small one-time-fee (I have paid anywhere between €15-€49).
Customer Service comparison
When it comes to customer service, Squarespace has 24/7 service which is hard to beat.
Because WordPress is an open source system, they don’t have customer service as such, but many things can be done via your hosting platforms customer service.
When we have run into issues, this is where we have found help for small glitches on the site that we didn’t know how to fix ourselves.
How to choose between WordPress vs Squarespace?
Choosing WordPress vs Squarespace really depends on what you would like to do with your website, and with your time. And not just today, but also in the coming few years.
Again, both platforms are great for blogging and for your standard, conventional websites.
If you need more support, easy-to-use features and don’t care that you don’t own the hosting or don’t want customizable options, Squrespace is your tool!
If on the other hand you’d like more unconventional features, more ownership into your site (coding accepted), and a long-term solid plan, your choice should be WordPress.
The honest reason why I’m using WordPress is because … I’ve always used WordPress. When I started building websites and businesses back in 2013, this was all I knew.
My Graphic designer husband helped me with hosting in the beginning, and I have had many years to get acquainted with all of the back-end stuff as well, which I have grown to love.
If I would start today, and if I didn’t have the help I had and the time to learn everything, I think I might go with Squarespace.
I do love the flexibility and security of WordPress, and the various different options it provides, which now I also need for my business. But for my first coaching website back in the day, something like Squarespace would have been enough.
Then again, I would not be where I am today if I didn’t have to learn everything from scratch, and this learning curve is something that motivates me and challenges me to grow. Would I consider switching to Squarespace now? Nope, that would feel like a step back in functionality and freedom.
Each to our own, right?
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