Squarespace vs. WordPress: Which Is Right for You?

Squarespace vs. WordPress: Which Is Right for You?

Squarespace and WordPress are two very popular website platforms that support varying levels of do-it-yourself and custom design. Chances are, if you’re conducting in-depth research about website building tools, these are two of the top names you’ve encountered during your search.

Let’s look more closely at these two platforms and see which one might be the best fit for your needs.

Table of contents:

Who are Squarespace and WordPress for?

Squarespace and WordPress are both versatile platforms that can be used by entrepreneurs, freelancers, bloggers, small business owners, nonprofits, agencies, and even large global companies.

You can use either tool to make:

  • Informational websites
  • Sales landing pages
  • Membership portals
  • Professional portfolios
  • Blogs
  • Online stores

That said, each platform has its own set of benefits and features that make the product particularly suited for certain uses.

Squarespace has features that make it easy for solo business owners to DIY their own website and marketing content quickly. It has a complete drag-and-drop editor for a variety of uses.

Squarespace

WordPress is a little more complicated to set up but offers a more flexible solution for businesses that plan to scale quickly. While it can be used as a website builder, WordPress is also often used strictly as a content management system (CMS) to manage multimedia content and e-commerce products across various channels.

WordPress

There are a number of other reasons why one program might be preferable to the other for your business—so let’s dig in and discuss each one in more detail.

Squarespace overview

Over 3.7 million people use Squarespace, so it’s definitely a tried and tested platform that works for many businesses. The platform is known for its ease of use and has features for bloggers, e-commerce entrepreneurs, photographers, community managers, and podcasters.

All Squarespace users get access to a fully managed website solution. This means that every site comes with:

  • Automatic web hosting (you don’t have to set it up yourself—it just works)
  • Beginner-friendly features for blogging, e-commerce, portfolios, and podcasts
  • An SSL certificate, which is important for web security
  • Continual security monitoring
  • Over 140 drag-and-drop templates
  • A domain name

Depending on the plan or add-ons you select, you can also manage other aspects of your business marketing through the Squarespace dashboard and associated Squarespace tools.

Squarespace pricing

Squarespace offers four standard pricing plans. You can opt to pay monthly or save up to 30% by choosing annual billing.

  • Personal plans cost $16 per month when billed annually. This plan is suitable for blogging and creating landing pages or portfolios.
  • Business plans cost $23 per month when billed annually. This is the minimum plan tier you need in order to run an e-commerce storefront.
  • Basic Commerce plans cost $27 per month when billed annually. Users on this plan benefit from a more customized checkout experience and waived Squarespace transaction fees.
  • Advanced Commerce plans cost $49 per month and let you generate income by selling subscription products as well as by monetizing content and making regular e-commerce sales.

Large companies and agencies can also get a customized quote for Squarespace Enterprise services.

You can try out a Squarespace website with a two-week free trial. No credit card is required to start the trial, so it’s a truly no-obligation experience.

What is Squarespace best suited for?

Squarespace is a particularly good choice if you want to:

  • Showcase your work on a portfolio site. The platform’s templates are very image-heavy, which makes showcasing your photos, fine art, or graphic design attractively easy.
  • Build a service business. Squarespace’s templates are clean and simple, meaning the focus can be on your words, services, and offerings.
  • Launch a small e-commerce business, particularly when you’re personally sourcing or creating the products you sell. Squarespace offers integration with Square retail point of sale (POS) systems, but it doesn’t offer a lot of support for building a business that relies on drop-shipping.
  • Monetize your content. With Squarespace, you can use affiliate links on a blog, build a members-only area, or create a subscription newsletter.

Squarespace and SEO

Because Squarespace is a managed system, you can simply sign up and begin building a website. The Squarespace platform will automatically generate or walk you through adding essential information for search engine optimization (SEO), including:

  • Using a robots.txt file that helps search engines know how to move about your site
  • Setting header styles that break up your text
  • Adding meta titles and descriptions to your pages (this is what shows up in the list of results when you do a Google search)
  • Customizing the URLs of every page on your site
  • Adding your physical location, if you have one

Of course, you’ll still need to work on writing quality SEO content and continuing to improve your site’s SEO over time—but Squarespace makes it easy to get started on the right path.

Note, however, that Squarespace does not support integration with SEO website plug-ins like Yoast. If you aren’t comfortable with or interested in learning how to optimize your site further on your own, you may want to work with an SEO expert.

Running an e-commerce store with Squarespace

You can run an e-commerce store on Squarespace if you’re on one of the platform’s three highest plan tiers.

The Squarespace platform is generally well suited for small to medium-sized e-commerce operations where the business owners are either making or sourcing the products for sale. You can integrate a few drop-shipping and print-on-demand services into your site via Squarespace Extensions, but the options are limited when compared to other e-commerce website builders.

A few unique features do make Squarespace sites a great choice for e-commerce, though:

  • If you’re on a Commerce plan, Squarespace won’t charge you a transaction fee on e-commerce sales. (You may still have to pay fees levied by third-party payment processors like Square.)
  • You connect your e-commerce sales to in-person retail transactions if you use a Square POS.
  • You can create subscription product pages if you’re signed up for an Advanced Commerce plan.

Squarespace design flexibility

Squarespace has more than 140 Squarespace themes available to users on all plan tiers. You can tweak and customize each theme through:

  • Rearranging page elements using easy drag-and-drop actions
  • Changing color palettes
  • Selecting new typefaces for each header, button, and body text style
  • Adding custom or stock images

You can also work with a Squarespace developer to get a custom theme for your website.

Editing on Squarespace is all done via a front-end view, meaning that when you make changes to your page, you’re seeing the same view that your visitors do. You don’t have to continually toggle back and forth between your back-end website editor and a preview of your changes.

Blogging with Squarespace

Blogging on Squarespace is also done in such a way that you can see what the updates look like on your site as you make them.

This may be a surprising change for people used to working in classic what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) text editors where you type in a box and then preview content on your site’s front end.

Aside from this, setting up a blog on Squarespace is very similar to other website builders. You can categorize and tag your posts, add images, and edit the URLs.

Unique Squarespace features

One of the best Squarespace features is unlimited bandwidth on every plan. This means there’s no limit to how many people can come to your site. If a product on your e-commerce site goes viral and you get 200,000 visitors from TikTok in one month, it’s OK—the monthly or annual fee you pay to Squarespace won’t change.

The Squarespace ecosystem is also home to additional tools that your business may find useful, including:

  • An email marketing tool
  • The Unfold social media toolkit
  • A native membership portal
  • Acuity Scheduling for booking services
  • The Tock restaurant reservation app

Together, these tools can make creating and monetizing your business simple—though you may have to pay additional fees to access every feature.

How user-friendly is Squarespace?

Squarespace is one of the more user-friendly website builders we’ve tried. Right out of the box, its back end is relatively clean and uncluttered, with clearly labeled menus that make navigating your new site a comfortable experience.

This is unsurprising, as Squarespace is very targeted toward small business owners and freelancers who may be interested in DIY-ing their own website. However, you can go beyond the standard drag-and-drop experience by working with a developer or purchasing a custom Squarespace theme for your site.

You can also get help directly from Squarespace’s customer support team—all Squarespace plans include 24/7 customer support.

WordPress overview

Talking about WordPress websites can feel complicated at first because the platform is available in two versions:

  • Wordpress.com, a managed website builder that charges its users a monthly fee for a website, themes, and hosting
  • Wordpress.org, an open-source platform that is completely customizable and free to download—but users have to arrange their own web hosting

When in use, both versions of WordPress feel very similar—if you’ve used and are familiar with updating content on one, you’ll be able to find your way around the other with no problem.

WordPress pricing

WordPress.org is free to download, but does not include a hosting service or a domain name. These costs can vary, but often start around $12 per year for a domain and $10 per month for a WordPress hosting provider like DreamHost.

WordPress.com users have several managed, hosted plans they can choose from:

  • Free, which includes limited access to themes, requires the use of a wordpress.com subdomain, and includes WordPress branding and ads on every site. There is no cost for this plan.
  • Starter, which includes a domain name, hosting, email support, basic themes, and the removal of ads. This plan costs $4 per month when billed annually.
  • Explorer, which includes a domain name, email and chat support, and access to more themes and customizations. This plan costs $8 per month when billed annually.
  • Creator, which includes everything in Explorer, the ability to install plug-ins, and automated website backups. This plan costs $25 per month when billed annually.
  • Entrepreneur, which adds WooCommerce functionality on top of a Creator plan. This plan costs $45 per month when billed annually.

WordPress VIP is an additional enterprise-level option for large companies that have complex security needs or very high traffic volumes. It offers an alternative to a fully self-hosted solution. This option is priced per company; you’ll need to contact WordPress VIP for a quote.

What is WordPress best suited for?

WordPress is extremely versatile and is well suited for:

  • Creating a blog, complete with multimedia elements
  • Building a portfolio to showcase written, video, or audio work
  • Launching a business website for large or small companies—including freelancers
  • Running a large e-commerce site and pushing products for sale across multiple channels
  • Creating and monetizing content through memberships, affiliate links, ads, and more

WordPress and SEO

WordPress is considered to be one of, if not the, best website builders available when it comes to SEO. This is due to the platform’s extensive customization options as well as the ability to integrate SEO tools directly with your back end.

These tools can give you feedback about whether or not your site’s content, design, and linking structure is beneficial for SEO. You can also view useful SEO analytics directly from your WordPress dashboard.

Popular SEO plug-ins for WordPress include Yoast, All in One SEO, and Google Site Kit. If you already use and like a different SEO tool, check to see if there’s a WordPress plug-in that goes along with it! You can also find third-party plug-ins that incorporate features from SEO tools like Ahrefs, Clearscope, and the Semrush SEO Writing Assistant.

Running an e-commerce store with WordPress

WordPress is a powerful e-commerce solution—especially when using the open-source version.

WooCommerce is the default WordPress shopping cart plug-in (both products are made by the same company, Automattic). When you first set up the WooCommerce plug-in, you’ll add a customizable storefront to your website. From there, you can continue to build out your site’s e-commerce features with additional plug-ins like:

  • WooCommerce Shipping and Shipment Tracking
  • Woo Subscriptions
  • AutomateWoo marketing automations
  • WooCommerce Bookings
  • WooPayments

Some of these plugins will incur additional fees separate from what you pay for website hosting or a WordPress.com plan.

And if you’d prefer not to use WooCommerce, you can opt to connect another e-commerce plug-in like BigCommerce to a site built with WordPress.org.

This flexibility is useful if you need to manage a headless e-commerce store, where your inventory management isn’t directly tied to one, and only one, website. Instead, you can manage your products through an e-commerce portal and sell across different channels like a WordPress storefront, online marketplaces, and apps.

WordPress design flexibility

Web developers and non-technical users alike can use WordPress. You can opt to customize your WordPress site by editing its HTML and CSS, or by adding and altering theme elements. And if you opt to customize a WordPress theme, you can conduct a number of edits on the front end of your website—just like Squarespace. This includes:

  • Adding new template sections
  • Updating colors and fonts
  • Changing your site’s color palette

There are still ways to customize and edit your site on the back end, though, especially if you’re using custom code during the process.

The amount of customization you can do is based on the type of WordPress you use, as well as your plan tier. For example:

  • WordPress.org users have little restriction on what they can customize. They can even manipulate the source code of the platform, if they so choose. If a WordPress.org user doesn’t know how to code, they can work with a developer or purchase a custom theme to upload.
  • WordPress.com free plan users have the least design flexibility. They can choose from a selection of free themes, but may not be able to customize colors or fonts on their site.
  • WordPress.com Creator and Entrepreneur plan users can access premium themes and make the most customizations out of any hosted plan. This gives them the closest experience to that of a WordPress.org user.
WordPress design flexibility

Blogging with WordPress

Traditionally, blogging on a WordPress site meant you entered your content into a word processor-style window in the back end and then generated a preview to see what it would look like to site visitors. With the most recent updates to the WordPress editor, called Gutenberg, you can now preview your blog post as you work.

Here’s an example of what I see when I edit a post on one of my WordPress.com sites:

WordPress blog editor

You can even opt to enter a distraction-free mode that gets rid of the top menu bar and side panel, creating an immersive front-end editing experience.

Other features of the WordPress content editor include:

  • A block inspector, which helps you edit and change different parts of a page
  • Native integration with Openverse for access to free stock content
  • Drag-and-drop media insertion to quickly add your own photos and videos
  • Reusable template parts to keep your page updates consistent

If you don’t like the default WordPress content editor interface, though, you can opt to use a third-party WordPress page builder like Elementor or Divi. Both of these platforms allow you to edit your site using different variations on drag-and-drop tools, and Divi also includes some additional themes.

Divi builder

Note, however, that you’ll need to be subscribed to the WordPress.com business plan or using WordPress.org in order to change your page builder.

WordPress plug-ins

WordPress is unique in that it offers both a managed, hosted version as well as an open-source version that you can use as desired. However, it’s the very extensive library of WordPress plug-ins available to users that has made this platform stand apart from others on the market. No matter what you need to do, or what tools you like to use, there’s probably a solution among the more than 59,000 plug-ins available for WordPress.

How user-friendly is WordPress?

While WordPress is the first choice for many web designers, the platform can be confusing for the DIY website builder who is new to drag-and-drop design. The sheer number of WordPress options—and the dashboard that’s loaded with menus—has a definite learning curve.

WordPress.com’s hosted plans are a little more user-friendly, as you don’t have to figure out how to purchase and start a web hosting plan. Everything is already set up for you—you just have to customize it.

While setting up WordPress.org does take more technical skill, you’ll find no shortage of tutorials and resources from other WordPress users online. This community is one of the many benefits of using such a popular website builder. And, because WordPress powers over 43% of all sites online today (that’s over 62 million websites), you can easily find a qualified WordPress developer to help identify a hosting provider or set up and manage a site.

Squarespace vs. WordPress

Choosing between WordPress vs. Squarespace ultimately comes down to your budget and needs. Remember that while WordPress.org is free to download, hosting and plug-ins can come with additional fees. And though Squarespace comes with everything you need to manage your site, the platform offers a more limited selection of plug-ins than WordPress.

Best website builder for bloggers

If you want to run a blog, WordPress.org is the top choice. This is because you have control over where your content is hosted, and you can always export it and post it somewhere else.

That said, WordPress.com plans are a great choice for anyone who prefers to use a hosted option. You get the same robust CMS experience and page builder options as WordPress.org, with a quick and easy setup process.

Best website builder for e-commerce

Anyone who runs a small e-commerce store will likely find that Squarespace meets their needs nicely. It’s also a good choice for growing retail businesses that already use a Square POS for in-person transactions.

However, if you run a large e-commerce company or sell across many different channels, WordPress is the way to go. WooCommerce is a very moldable, customizable platform that can scale along with your company.

Best website builder for portfolios

WordPress and Squarespace are both good for creating a professional portfolio. Each platform offers beautiful image- and text-centric themes that are perfect for photographers, visual artists, graphic designers, and writers. You can also upload photos and videos to both platforms.

If you need a portfolio, it’s best to think about how you might like to expand your site in the future and make a choice based on those needs. For instance, if you want to have a blog with your portfolio, you might want to try WordPress. If you’d like to sell prints of your artwork, then Squarespace could be a nice choice.

Which is best for you: Squarespace or WordPress?

If you’re still debating between Squarespace and WordPress, check out the flowchart below to help figure out a good option for your needs.

Squarespace vs Wordpress

Get help from Squarespace and WordPress experts

Regardless of the platform you choose, you can get help from Squarespace and WordPress developers right here on Upwork. From one-time consultations to help you choose a platform to ongoing support as you build your online business, website experts on Upwork can get your business where it needs to be. Create or log in to your Upwork account to post a job and connect with Squarespace developers and WordPress experts.

And, if you’re an independent professional who builds Squarespace websites, designs WordPress themes, or maintains e-commerce stores, you can connect with new clients who need your services. Just create or log in to your Upwork account today to get started.

Upwork does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this article. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.

Prices are current at the time of writing and may change over time based on each service’s offerings.

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Author Spotlight

Squarespace vs. WordPress: Which Is Right for You?
Emily Gertenbach
B2B SEO Content Writer & Consultant

Emily Gertenbach is a B2B writer who creates SEO content for humans, not just algorithms. As a former news correspondent, she loves digging into research and breaking down technical topics. She specializes in helping independent marketing professionals and martech SaaS companies connect with their ideal business clients through organic search.

Squarespace vs. WordPress: Which Is Right for You?
B2B SEO Content Writer & Consultant

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