Recently I’ve had several people ask me if there are advantages to using Squarespace over WordPress for their small business websites. With a selection of appealing templates and features like built-in e-commerce, Squarespace can make an appealing option for many entrepreneurs. However, there are a few downsides to consider before you go all-in to the Squarespace ecosystem.
The TLDR summary: WordPress and Squarespace are BOTH good options, depending on what you want to achieve with your website. Squarespace is a great all-in-one solution if you need a basic website and you want to do it yourself. WordPress is a better choice if you want complete control over your site design and branding or want to hook your site to third-party applications to extend its functionality. WordPress tends to have a slightly higher learning curve and may require you to hire help to achieve the level of customization you want, but you’ll have more flexibility and room for growth than you will on the Squarespace platform.
Please note: Throughout this article, whenever I refer to WordPress, I’m specifically talking about the self-hosted WordPress platform (from WordPress.org), not WordPress.com which is a hosted solution and a slightly different critter.
Ease of Use for Novices
I think this is one area that Squarespace has a leg up. If you need to DIY your website and you’re not a technical person, Squarespace makes it SUPER easy to get your business online. Pick a template, add your content, and publish. Because it’s an all-in-one solution (you can even buy your domain name through Squarespace), you don’t have to worry about how to hook up several different sites and services to make it work.
WordPress is a bit more complicated: you need to purchase a domain and web hosting, and then install and configure WordPress. Once you’ve done that you have to find a theme and start customizing it, which can vary greatly in difficulty, depending on the theme you pick and the level of customization you want to do. If you’re not a technical sort of person, you may want to hire someone to assist with your WordPress site setup.
Winner: It depends
If you’re not a technical person and don’t want to hire someone to design and code your website, Squarespace might be a better option. They have a good selection of modern templates to choose from, and their admin interface allows you to easily drop in your logo, copy, and imagery to customize.
If you want something truly custom that screams YOUR BRAND, you may find Squarespace a bit limiting.
WordPress is truly endless when it comes to design options. There are thousands and thousands of pre-made themes available, as well as tons of designers and developers (me!) you can hire to either customize an existing theme or create something totally custom. Squarespace can’t come close to competing on the same level when it comes to design options.
Winner: It depends
Much like design customizability, it really comes down to how much control you want. If you have a simple product you want to sell online, and you want to DIY your website shop, then Squarespace is the clear winner. You can get your shop up and running super quick with their e-commerce options.
WordPress can easily become an e-commerce platform using plugins like WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads. Many WordPress themes already have templates specifically built-in for these popular plugins, too. It takes a bit more work to initially set up these plugins, but they do give you more control to sell a wide variety of products beyond simple physical or digital goods – think: subscription services, membership sites, or e-courses to name a few.
Plugins and Third-Party Integrations
This is absolutely one area that WordPress shines far above Squarespace. The WordPress plugin repository has nearly 60,000 plugins and counting. That means you can connect to third party apps and extend the functionality of WordPress to do almost anything. AND if there’s not a plugin out there already for what you want to do, there’s a vast number of WordPress plugin developers that you can hire to build exactly what you want!
Squarespace is a closed ecosystem and while that’s good for a lot of reasons, it means that there are only a certain number of integrations available, and no options to extend that through custom development.
Cost for Value
WordPress itself is a FREE, open-source platform. Of course, to use it you’ll need a domain name and web hosting, but unlike Squarespace which is an all-in-one sort of solution, you can shop around for the best price and features for hosting.
Security and updates are all just part of Squarespace’s all-in-one platform, so you don’t have to think about it.
WordPress, on the other hand, needs regular maintenance – backups, updates installed, malware scans, etc. You can DIY it or hire someone to manage WordPress maintenance for you.
So which should you choose? WordPress or Squarespace?
There isn’t a simple, one-size-fits-all answer.
Choose Squarespace if…
- You are DIYing your website and you’re not a technical person.
- You need to get your website online quickly.
- You just want your website to look nice but don’t care if the design customization has limits.
- You don’t plan to expand the design or functionality of your website. (Meaning, you just need a simple brochure site. For example: a bar or restaurant that just wants to show their menu and hours of operation.)
Choose WordPress if…
- You want to have complete control over the design and branding of your website (which may require hiring a designer/developer).
- You want to be able to grow your website – more content, more functionality.
- You want your website to be more than a simple brochure or basic shop – e.g. sell online courses, have a membership site, have complex sales funnels, etc.
- You want to be able to integrate with lots of third-party services via plugins.