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 researching 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 overview
- WordPress overview
- Squarespace vs. WordPress
- Which is best for you: Squarespace or WordPress?
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
- E-commerce stores
That said, each platform has benefits and features making 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.
WordPress is a little more complicated to set up, but it 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.
There are a number of other reasons why one program might be more preferable than the other for your business—so let’s dig in and discuss each one in more detail.
Over 3.7 million people use Squarespace, so it’s definitely a tried and tested platform that works for many businesses. The platform has features for blogging, e-commerce stores, graphics-heavy portfolios, membership areas, and podcasts.
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
- A Secure Sockets Layer (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 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 Squarespace 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 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, it looks exactly as it will to users visiting your site. 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.
Squarespace also offers an email marketing tool, a video editing app, a social media tool, and a native membership portal. Together, all of these features can make creating and monetizing content very simple. Each of these tools may have additional fees, however, depending on your plan.
How user-friendly is Squarespace?
Squarespace is one of the more user-friendly website builders we’ve tried. The 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.
Talking about WordPress can feel a little 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.
This is because they are, essentially, the same program created by a company called Automattic. The ways in which you set up, maintain, and customize the platforms are different.
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 Bluehost.
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.
- Personal, which includes a domain name, hosting, email support, basic themes, and the removal of ads. This plan costs $4 per month when billed annually.
- Premium, 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.
- Business, which includes everything in Premium, the ability to install plug-ins, and automated website backups. This plan costs $25 per month when billed annually.
- e-Commerce, which adds WooCommerce functionality on top of a Business 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 find plug-ins that incorporate features from tools like Ahrefs, Clearscope, and the SEMRush SEO Writing Assistant.
Running an e-commerce store with WordPress
WordPress can be a very 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). 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
- WooCommerce Dropshipping
- WooCommerce Subscriptions
- AutomateWoo store automations
- WooCommerce Bookings
- WooCommerce Payments
Some of these plug-ins do require an additional annual fee, and if you want to run an online store using WordPress.com you’ll need to upgrade to the $45 per month e-commerce plan.
If you’d prefer not to use WooCommerce, you can opt to connect another e-commerce plug-in like BigCommerce to a site that uses 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
WordPress websites offer near-limitless levels of design flexibility—if you understand web design and are comfortable working in HTML and CSS, that is.
If you aren’t a web developer (or working with one) you can still customize your WordPress site. The amount of customization varies 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 e-commerce 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.com themes are built around a series of columns and rows. By creating a new section—or row—on your site, you can then drag additional widgets and elements into it and arrange them next to each other.
You don’t get complete freedom to move elements anywhere on the page; some components must remain in specific sections, such as the header or footer.
Blogging with WordPress
Traditionally, blogging in WordPress 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.
WordPress is now releasing a variety of themes that support a front-end editing style experience like that on Squarespace. You’ll drag different blog components (such as headers and images) to your preferred placement on a page and then begin to edit them.
The ability to do this front-end editing varies based on theme, so you may need to try a few different themes to find one that uses your preferred blogging tools.
Regardless of how you put your blog content on the page, all WordPress blogs support creating a nice taxonomy of tags and categories. You can also opt to allow your blog visitors to comment on posts—or turn that feature off entirely.
Unique WordPress features
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.
If you’d like, you can change the way that WordPress works and looks by integrating a third-party WordPress page builder.
All fresh installations of the WordPress.org software ship with the classic WordPress page builder known as Gutenberg. This is the same page builder used to power the WordPress.com platform.
If you find that you don’t like the way you have to build WordPress pages, you can switch to another 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.
You’ll need to be subscribed to the WordPress.com business plan or using WordPress.org in order to change your page builder.
How user-friendly is WordPress?
While WordPress is the first choice of 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—can create a long 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, there’s 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 40% of all sites online today (that’s over 36 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 Squarespace and WordPress 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, while Squarespace can let you manage many aspects of your business in one dashboard, you have a more limited selection of plug-ins to choose from.
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 be scaled 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-focused themes that are perfect for photographers, visual artists, graphic designers, and writers. You can also upload photos and videos to either platform.
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 a few 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.
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 is not affiliated with and 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.