WordPress vs SquareSpace

Short Answer (quick read).

The question “WordPress vs SquareSpace” can be answered by taking a quick look at both systems. So, here we go:

In this article I will explain what’s the difference between WordPress and SquareSpace website builders. Both builders have advantages and disadvantages and, depending on your personal needs, either one can be the better choice for your personal situation.

My advice is to go for WordPress (WP) if you don’t mind a bit of study first. If you don’t know anything about WP and you aren’t able or willing to learn the system then I recommend SquareSpace because the latter is very easy to understand and learn.

Personally I use WordPress for the following reasons:

  • Since WP offers much more than Square Space in terms of SEO (search engine optimization) your chance of high rankings in Google are much higher when you opt for WP. You can for example use a SEO, a cache and an AMP plugin in WP. The SEO plugin is for higher rankings in the search engines. The 2 latter plugins are for better website loading speeds which is also a ranking factor in Google.
  • WP is much cheaper than Square Space. While the latter charges at least $16 a month ($192 paid annually) WordPress is free because it’s an Open Source System. However you can only get a WP site online if you purchase hosting. And web hosting fees (including free WordPress) are from about $2.50 a month ($30 paid annually). So, if we take these two pricing examples as basis then SquareSpace is 6.4 times more expensive compared to the WP option.
  • WordPress offers many more free apps and plugins compared to SquareSpace. This means that with WP it’s much easier to adapt your website to your personal wishes.
  • WP is much more flexible since the system allows you to edit it’s Open Source coding.
  • SquareSpace doesn’t offer free website migration if you already have an existing web site. This is in sharp contrast to the many WP hosting providers who are able and willing to transfer your existing site to them.

Does this wonderful Cloud hosting provider offer WordPress or SquareSpace?

For those who don’t like SquareSpace or WordPress the company offers an easy drag and drop website builder which is faster, easier and better than SquareSpace.

However, the WordPress SquareSpace comparison by the web host we are talking about here was in favor of WP so the company also offers WordPress hosting plans. It is all Cloud hosting so your sites will be faster without downtime. And, it’s the only web host in the world with a strict No Overselling Policy.

30 Day Free Trial

PS. By the way, I use this Cloud Hosting Service myself on a daily basis and I love it!

Hopefully this summary was good enough to explain SquareSpace vs WordPress. However, we invite you to read on to learn everything about the details.

Long Version.

SquareSpace vs WordPress

WordPress or SquareSpace – which website building system is better? In the long version of this article, I’ll talk more in detail about two different technical systems that you can use to build your website.

In other words I am talking about two different website creation tools. Both are basically suitable for creating a good website. Because, and this is my basic conviction, it is not the technology that makes the website “good”, but the quality of the content, a simple navigation and the willingness to show your expertise.

Introduction. How do I choose the right technique?

From my point of view, the technology used is particularly important in two respects:

How much do you really like using this system? How smoothly can new content be entered, how well do you get along with the editing interface, how little goes wrong in editing?

And: How independent are you with this system? Do you have to call your web designer? Do you need the neighbor’s son to install an update? Who will help you if everything goes wrong?

Time is money.

Of course, there is always the cost factor – and here it is immensely important to factor in time and money. Because if it takes you half a day to install a free plugin it means that you’re not familiar enough with the chosen system. Thus you should consider switching to something easier.

And the last point of my introduction: I speak here for the people whose needs I know best, namely my customers. For the most part, these are self-employed people with a great deal of specialist knowledge in their own fields and little desire to develop in-depth new specialist knowledge in the area of website creation and maintenance. They want to be able to edit their pages themselves quickly and easily without any trouble.

For other people and situations, my recommendations are probably not quite as decisive.

So, with all that out of the way, let’s jump straight into the intriguing question:

Which system is better – SquareSpace or WordPress (WP)?

To understand this, we first need to understand the fundamental difference between the two systems: Square Space is a modular system while WordPress.org is an editorial system.

This means (slightly simplified): Square Space provides you with all the elements you need for a finished website and you can enter the first text and images seconds after registering.

WordPress, on the other hand, is a complex system that must first be installed in a web hosting account while a database should be created as well. A WP database is where all the necessary data is stored. Examples of these data are user names, passwords, posts, pages, comments, themes and all the settings. This actually is the easy part since it can be dome with the click of a button. So installing WP and creating a database is super easy and any beginner can do this in a web hosting account within seconds. The latter is also valid for the theme or template installation. A theme is the design of your site and it can be installed at the click of a button as well. However, and now it becomes complicated, after this there is a lot of configuration which means you’ll have to check all the settings one by one and change them if necessary. There is no settings help section in WP. This means that, if you don’t understand a setting you’ll have to search for a solution on Google or ask your web host and that can take time. Last but not least you’ll have to install the necessary plugins. WP plugins are an extension of WP’s basic functionalities. I am using WP myself and I haven’t installed too many plugins in order to keep my website speed as high as possible since it’s a ranking factor in Google. My advice is to install the following basic plugins which are all free:

  • Yoast SEO (search engine optimization) for higher rankings in Google.
  • AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) by AMP Project Contributors for higher website speeds.
  • Disable Gutenberg. Gutenberg is the current editor in WP and it’s difficult to understand. By installing this plugin you will be reverted back to the easy standard editor.
  • Really Simple SSL to make https work good on your site.
  • ShortPixel Image Optimizer so your site can be faster.
  • W3 Total Cache which is also for website speed. It works like the page cache in your browser.
  • Additional plugins that may be needed specifically for your site.

Before installing any plugin check its ratings and if it’s regularly updated.

As you can see already WP is much more complicated than SquareSpace. On the other hand, above introduction results in two major advantages of the respective systems: SquareSpace is easy and quick to use, WordPress is endlessly flexible and can be configured exactly as you need it.

And as so often in life, when you think about it, there are immediately the associated disadvantages: SquareSpace is more limited in use – you have to get along with the functions and design elements that you find there and no more than that. WordPress is clearly more complex and time-consuming, both in the initial set-up and in the long-term maintenance of your site.

Let’s now go through the most important factors individually and in detail for both systems:

Working with the system factor: How much do you like using the system in the long term?

Ultimately, this can only be found out individually by trying out both systems, but the tendency here is very clear: Squarespace is easy and intuitive to use even as a beginner – which is not the case with WP.

A look at the user interfaces of the two systems makes this clear:

The SquareSpace user interface.

Here you can see that in Squarespace in edit mode on the right side you have your website in front of you exactly as the visitor will see it later. So you don’t have to guess where the spot you want to adjust is or what will happen if you do this or that. On the left side you can see your “page tree” in this view, i.e. the schematic structure of your page.

You insert content elements such as images, text blocks or videos using drag & drop, i.e. you pick them up with the mouse from a kind of content drawer and drop them at the point where they should appear later.

With Square Space, you can even create a magazine-style layout quickly and easily, regardless of the template you’ve chosen.

WordPress user interface.

Here at WP, you immediately sense the many possibilities that WP can offer you – but unfortunately you quickly become aware of the complexity of the editing mode… Sometimes it’s difficult to even find the right sub page or spot that you want to adjust.

WP doesn’t work with drag and drop, so if you want to use content elements that you don’t specify in your template, you’ll need to adjust that in your template’s code (or have someone code it for you).

Even more crucial for me with this factor is the handling in the long run, and SquareSpace scores with simplicity there too. Basically, you don’t have to do anything. The site just runs and the Square Space team takes care of security and technical updates of the site.

With WordPress, on the other hand, you have to keep a close eye on the health of your website: Are all the latest updates (and there are many of them!) installed? Do the individual plug-ins work well together or do they interfere with each other’s functions? Have the most important security and backup measures been taken?

This last point in particular plays an important role with WP, because the popularity of the system also makes it very popular with hackers and attackers – and a WordPress installation that is not carefully maintained is an easy target.

Freedom and flexibility factor: How independent are you with this system?

This point cannot be clarified quite so quickly and unequivocally – we have to take a closer look.

Basically, you are more free and flexible with WordPress because you can achieve much more with the system. But that’s only helpful if you need “much more” than SquareSpace, for example, offers. This “much more” could be a large shop installation that has to be linked to a very specific merchandise management system, or complex multilingualism.

The main reason for the flexibility of WP: Plugins

WordPress is an open source platform – this means that the source code is openly available. As a developer, you can intervene directly in the programming code and make any adjustments you want.

This also means that there are large amounts of ready-made extensions (so-called plugins) that you can add to your WP site. However, you install these plugins at your own risk: they are not checked, and unfortunately some are programmed so clumsily that they rob you of resources, cause conflicts with other plugins or even make your site less secure. As said above, you can avoid this risk by only installing a plugin with high ratings and recent updates.

If plugin problems arise, the developer of the plugin may be able to help you. With premium plugins support is often much better and faster – but of course these developers cannot examine the entire system of your WordPress site if, for example, another plugin is the actual source of the error.

So plugins are handy because they give you almost unlimited possibilities, you just have to be careful to install trustworthy plugins and test them properly beforehand. Exactly the same also applies to WordPress themes, i.e. templates!

And that brings us to the crux of the matter: In reality, for non-technical freelancers, this means that they may have to find someone who will maintain and expand their WordPress site for them.

The reason Square Space is so easy: No plugins

Square Space, on the other hand, doesn’t offer an endless selection of extension possibilities, but rather a large, carefully selected and tested but limited set of features, content elements, and templates. All of the features Squarespace uses are developed and maintained by the Squarespace team and support knows their stuff, so they can usually help you quickly and efficiently.

Also, as mentioned above, Squarespace takes care of backing up and updating your website.

So if freedom for you means above all being free to write your text and insert images and write new articles and use your website – then Squarespace is right for you.

If freedom means complete control down to the last detail and you don’t shy away from the responsibility that comes with it, then WordPress is a better fit for you.

Factor design: How beautiful will the website be?

Square Space templates have two major advantages: they’re all designed by professional designers (who often place a premium on good typography and airy, modern pages), and they’re consistently optimized for mobile devices. That means all Square Space pages look equally good on tablets, smartphones, netbooks, and large computers.

If you click on a Square Space template, you will often see examples of websites that have been created with it – and thus recognize the many possibilities that such a template offers you:

With WordPress you can choose from a huge number of themes, i.e. templates. Again, many are free and some are paid.

You usually pay between $30 and $75 for a well-designed WordPress theme that contains the most important functions, is meaningfully customizable and optimized for mobile devices.

Price factor: How much does the website system cost at the beginning – and are there running costs?

At first glance, the question seems simple: Squarespace costs at least $16 a month (paid annually) or $23 paid monthly while WordPress can be installed for free. You only pay for hosting which is from $2.50 a month (paid annually). As you can see WP is much cheaper and, compared within the context of this example, SquareSpace is approximately six times more expensive than WP. Compared to WP the extra features you get with Square Space are easy site creation and maintenance and free support which are lacking in WP.

However, considering the above I must add that there may be situations where WP is much more expensive. For example, consider hiring a web developer if you can’t handle it yourself. Another example is that you are setting up a very large web site such as a shopping mall or auction site. That may mean that you need paid themes or plugins because the free offers are not suitable for your purpose.

If you want to learn how to use WP yourself, for example coding or to take care of maintenance of the site, backups, updates and the installation of new plugins, you must of course take into account the costs that you incur through this learning process: namely your time spent. Many starters treat their own time as if it’s not a valuable resource — but every hour you spend understanding WP is an hour during which you’re unable to do other important things. Of course this can be the right decision for you and your company in the long term, the only important thing is that you make this decision consciously.

Factor Support: How much support do you get from the provider?

Square Space has its own support team that responds to queries 24 hours a day. There is also live support chat on their website, in-depth guides and videos, and an active forum. With that, Square Space has woven a very dense and helpful web of support.

WP does not have its own support staff, but it does have a massively huge forum with millions of questions and answers. There is also a vibrant WP community. Here you will often find an answer to your questions – but sometimes not. All who give answers in the WordPress forums are volunteers who give you their own time. And that can sometimes take a few days. On the other hand I have often find an instant solution to a WP problem in Google.

Conclusion: Which is better WordPress or SquareSpace?

When we compare WordPress and SquareSpace there is no one system that meets all requirements.

This is why WP, despite its immense flexibility, cannot accommodate all projects and personalities and why Square Space, despite its incredible simplicity, cannot accommodate all projects and personalities.

WordPress is – in itself – the better solution because you are in full control. The problem with this complete control is complete responsibility, and a significantly greater effort in learning and running the site.

And that’s why Square Space is actually the better solution for most of my customers. Because: Less frustration and more time for your real work.

You can think of it a bit like a house that you build yourself as opposed to a rented apartment that you furnish yourself (and where you can call the landlady if something breaks!). Of course it is “better” to own the house. But it’s not practical or feasible in every moment, or the most appropriate use of time and money.

That’s why SquareSpace remains my clear recommendation for freelancers who want a website that just works without much effort. Although, and this is important: Large companies and very advanced users also use Square Space for their websites – so that doesn’t mean that you have to switch at some point as your independence grows.

On the other hand, if you’re either WP tech-savvy or you have the time, the ability and willingness to learn WP, or you know a knowledgeable person willing to help you in the long-term – then WordPress is the better solution.