WordPress vs Squarespace: Which CMS Should you Choose?

Christina Widner Last updated 19.04.2021
7 Min.
WordPress  vs Squarespace
Last updated 19.04.2021

If you want to create a website, blog or online store, the first thing you need is the right content management system. But how is WordPress compared to Squarespace? Let's find out which of the two systems is right for your project.

Content Management System - CMS for short - sounds like it has to be complicated. But don't worry, CMS is actually just the technical term for the software you use to build a website and manage the content. Publishers use content management systems to populate their online magazines. Bloggers use them for their blogs and even online shops are backed by such tools. The goal of these systems is to make maintaining your websites as easy as possible.

Comparison: WordPress vs. Squarespace

Probably the best-known content management system in the world is WordPress. For every 10 websites you visit, on average more than four run on WordPress. 40.8 percent of all websites in the world today were built with this software - and more are being built every day. There are also all sorts of other more or less comparable systems and website builders. Perhaps you've already heard of Wix, Jimdo or Chimpify?

WordPress vs TYPO3

Another well-known player is the content management system TYPO3. Which system is better suited in terms of scalability, security or for implementing multilingual projects? Read our article WordPress vs TYPO3 - comparison for agencies and users.

Squarespace is also one of the (paid) competitors of WordPress vying for the favor of website operators. In this article, we want to compare both systems with each other and make it easier for you to decide which one you should use for your next website. Because even if it is always somehow possible to migrate from one system to the other at a later point, it involves a lot of effort and you should try to avoid it if you can.

The obvious: Website builder vs. open system

Let's get the obvious out of the way right from the start - Squarespace is a website builder. That's not bad per se, you just have to be aware of it. In contrast, the self-hosted variant of WordPress is a largely open system that - unlike a website builder - can be expanded and adapted as desired. This is especially important if you want to expand your website in the future or add larger components like an individual online shop.

There is also WordPress.com where you don't take of the hosting yourself, but this option is less flexible. For a detailed look at the differences, check out our comparison of WordPress.org and WordPress.com. In this article, we're talking about the self-hosted WordPress, i.e. the .org variant.

When you start to feel the freedom of WordPress is when you use it, including having a choice of web host. While with WordPress you're free to choose your web hosting prover, e.g. RAIDBOXES for particularly fast and convenient managed WordPress hosting), all Squarespace websites are hosted by Squarespace itself.

WordPress  Samples and customers
Even very large and well-known websites rely on WordPress

This makes sense as long as you're satisfied with the hosting. If you want an upgrade, have individual wishes or aren't satisfied with the support, however, you're trapped. As mentioned already, a migration to another system is usually very cumbersome. And so the actually admirable simplicity of Squarespace restricts users in what they can do.

WordPress vs. Squarespace: Design and customization

In addition, a website builder is almost always more restrictive when it comes to customization. You won't be able to reach the degree of customization you can achieve at WordPress with Squarespace. On the one hand, this is thanks to the almost infinite number of WordPress themes and WordPress plugins you can use to change the design and functionality of your website. On the other hand, however, it's also due to the individual adjustments you can implement yourself with a little coding knowledge or have implemented by developers or an agency.

But aside from the advantages, this flexibility also has disadvantages. Squarespace scores again here with simplicity. With Squarespace, you don't have to know exactly what you're doing. The restrictive system always nudges you back on track. For example, by offering a smaller selection of themes that are always compatible. Something that, depending on the page type, WordPress and PHP version, memory limit, etc., is not necessarily the case with WordPress.

After all, you can also customize the look of your Squarespace site according. Even if not to the same extent as WordPress, for which you have to be able to program yourself at a certain point or spend money.

Functionality: Pros and cons of plugins

When it comes to functionality, the result is similar. With its community of developers who've programmed hundreds of thousands of plugins over the years, WordPress can offer functions that no comparable system is likely to ever match. No matter what problem you face, no matter how unique it may be, chances are high that someone has programmed a solution for it in the form of a plugin.

Squarespace website builder
Websites from a builder : Squarespace promises easy operation

This again shows the freedom WordPress offers that we mentioned above. Whatever you want to implement, there's usually a way of doing it. But this freedom also costs you something, besides any money you'd spend of premium plugins. The more plugins you use, the more you "artificially" drill into WordPress, the more complex your website becomes. And with that, it might become slower, less secure and you have to keep an eye on many more things in case of problems. For example, the compatibility of the individual plugins with each other, with WordPress and your WordPress theme.

Squarespace already comes with a bit more functionality out of the box. It also offers what, at first glance, appears to comparable solution for third-party applications via the in-house app Store. However, the selection here is very limited and can't be compared to that of WordPress. The more atypical your site becomes, the higher the chance that you'll reach your limits with Squarespace at some point.

E-commerce and online shops

When it comes to e-commerce, the systems have solutions that differ significantly. With Squarespace, you can set up a shop from the Business package (24 euros per month). If you want to use the full e-commerce functions, you need the extended e-commerce package, which costs 42 euros per month.

No surprises here but there are, of course, plugins for implementing shop systems with WordPress. With WooCommerce, you can implement your online shop easily and free of charge. You will, however, need extensions and plugins for certain functions and these may cost you money. Moreover, you must make sure your theme is also compatible with WooCommerce.

Online shop with WordPress and WooCommerce

What do you need to consider if you want to get started with WordPress and your own shop? Read our 70+ page WooCommerce e-book. It contains all the necessary information for users but also for freelancers, agencies and WP professionals.

Updates, security and (individual) responsibility

You're not going to build your website once and then leave it that way forever. A website evolves over time. Your own demands or ideas change, you need new features, you want to welcome your visitors on your site with the latest technology.

This requires regular updates. On the one hand, of course, of a visual nature, which we already talked about above under the point "Appearance and individuality". On the other hand, you also want to keep your Themes and Plugins technically up-to-date. You can do this by regularly checking WordPress for new updates (and whether they are compatible with your site ) and installing them. Alternatively, you can have them updated automatically - but this requires a lot of trust in the respective Plugin and your site .

If something goes wrong in an automatic update, you'll need a backup you can restore to bring your site back to the way it was before the change. Again, no one at WordPress will take care of this for you(except us at RAIDBOXES of course). You also have to make sure that your website is secure. Put simply: you need a fair amount of individual responsibility if you want to actively run a WordPress website.

That sounds more dramatic than it really is. Of course it takes a little time and practice. But if you regularly look at your site and question things, you will quickly reach a level of knowledge where this is no longer a problem.

You have all this already included at Squarespace: updates, a TLS certificate and your website is backed up by Squarespace. Backups are also worth considering here, for example with the "Duplicate website" function. By the way, you can also "clone" WordPress websites at RAIDBOXES and thus implement new projects very efficiently.

Cost: WordPress vs. Squarespace

As already mentioned, Squarespace is a paid service. It costs between 15 and 42 euros per month for monthly payments and between 11 and 36 euros per month for annual payments.

Smaller websites and hobby projects can get by with the "Personal" package for 11 to 15 euros, companies should upgrade to the "Business" package for 17 to 24 euros. For an online shop, depending on the complexity, you have the choice between the "Business", "E-Commerce Basic" and "E-Commerce Extended" packages, for 17 to 42 euros per month.

WordPress is basically free of charge. However, there are also costs for the domain, the hosting and possible premiumPlugins or -Themes , if you should need such.

Which WordPress package and hosting suits you?

Are you not sure which hosting plan you need for which type of website? Or what kind of traffic each plan can handle? Contact our support at any time for guidance. Alternatively, read our e-book on managed WordPress hosting - including tips on speed, security and support.

Final thoughts: Freedom or simplicity?

As I'm sure you've noticed, this topic boils down to one big question. Do you want freedom or do you want simplicity? If you want freedom, you won't be happy with website building kits. Whether it's with Squarespace or one of the others. You'll always have limits in several places that simply don't exist with WordPress.

On the other hand, you also carry more individual responsibility with WordPress. You have to take care of a lot yourself or outsource it, which in turn costs money. Only a good managed hosting service can take a large part of the work off your hands with WordPress. Systems like Squarespace take over many "annoying" tasks for you from the beginning, but also limit you.

My recommendation is to start with WordPress, learn the basics, test the system without spending much money. This way you don't take any risks - and what you've learned will also help you with a website builder like Squarespace. If, after a while, you realize you're not up for dealing with WordPress, start looking around for alternatives. One alternative is Squarespace - with many useful features and simplicity. But also with some limitations.

Your questions about WordPress vs. Squarespace

What questions do you have about WordPress and Squarespace? Which CMS do you use and why? Feel free to use the comment function. Do you want to hear about new articles on WordPress and WooCommerce? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or sign up to our newsletter.

Christina is service editor at BASIC thinking, one of the biggest tech magazines in Germany. Her topics include technology, business, and marketing. For many years she has been working with WordPress at BASIC thinking as well as on her own projects.

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