Are you confused about which platform to use for your new website or don’t understand the differences between WordPress and Squarespace? Then this is the perfect place to start learning! Read on to learn the basics of what both the WordPress and Squarespace platforms are and how each one handles your website and content. Let’s get started!
In 2019, 35% of all websites were running on WordPress while 1.9% were on Squarespace.
WordPress is an open-source CMS (Content Management System), which is software that is used to create and publish content online. In 2019, 35% of all websites were running on the WordPress platform. WordPress is free to download and use to build a website or blog with your choice of domain registrar and hosting company. After installing WordPress, you can choose from thousands of free or paid themes and customize it any way you choose. WordPress also offers thousands of free or paid plugins to further customize your site and add additional functionality. This allows for virtually endless customization and functionality for your website.
Ease of Use
You may have heard that WordPress is difficult to use for a beginner. Although it does take a bit more effort to get going with a WordPress site, the small amount of additional effort is well worth it. With a little preparation and knowing the steps you need to take before you get started, it’s easy to install WordPress. If you’re interested in starting a blog, WordPress makes it very easy to type your post directly in the editor as shown in the screenshot above.
Domain and Hosting
You can choose whatever registrar you want for your domain. Many hosting companies, like InMotion Hosting* (we use InMotion for all our websites), are also domain registrars and can register your domain and host your website for you in one place. This usually costs a bit more than using a separate hosting company and domain registrar (such as Google Domains) but makes things a bit easier for you.
The host’s server bandwidth is limited only by the plan you choose. If your website becomes popular and your server’s resource limits can’t keep up, you can simply upgrade your hosting plan to cover your increased visitors. When you choose WordPress, your business website can grow without being limited.
Many hosting companies (including InMotion*) provide unlimited free email addresses with their business plans. You’re not required to use G-Suite or another third-party email service unless you prefer to do so.
To sell products, you need to add a plugin such as WooCommerce to your website. There is no charge for the WooCommerce plugin and no separate WooCommerce transaction fees. You can add more functionality to WooCommerce by adding additional paid extensions or themes, but they’re not necessary. The only fees you pay are the transaction fees associated with your payment processor.
By adding a page builder plugin such as Beaver Builder*, WordPress can be turned into a drag-and-drop website builder with many more customization options than Squarespace offers.
Who Owns Your Content?
With WordPress, you always own ALL your content, and are free to change, download, or move any of it away from the WordPress platform at any time you choose.
Squarespace is a drag-and-drop website builder that uses templates. In 2019, 1.9% of all websites were using the Squarespace platform. After signing up for Squarespace, you choose the template you would like to use for your website and can make limited customizations to it.
Ease of Use
Squarespace is an easy choice for beginners and the templates are beautiful. At first glance, Squarespace may seem easier to use than WordPress. But if you want to make a lot of changes to the template you’ve chosen, you will likely be limited in what you can do. If you don’t intend to customize your website beyond the basics and don’t want to take any time to learn the basics of WordPress, then Squarespace may be the right choice for you. Squarespace also makes it easy to start a blog by simply choosing to add one from the editor as shown to the left in the screenshot above.
Domain and Hosting
Since Squarespace is an all-in-one platform, your hosting is done through them (you can find the cost on their pricing page). Although you can use a domain registrar other than Squarespace, it can be difficult for a beginner to set up and Squarespace encourages you to transfer your domain to them instead (see this support article). Since you are required to host your website on Squarespace’s servers, your site’s server resources are potentially limited. Squarespace says you have unlimited bandwidth, but the amount of traffic is restricted to “normal usage.” This means that your site could get shut down if it becomes quite popular and the number of visitors is deemed beyond “normal usage” by Squarespace.
Squarespace website hosting doesn’t include an email address ( firstname.lastname@example.org), you have to use a third-party email service provider. Squarespace does integrate with G-Suite by Google, so you can add email at an additional cost of $72 per year (free for the first year with a Business or Commerce plan).
If you are selling products on your Squarespace site, you must upgrade to at least a Business account to do so, and you will be charged a Squarespace transaction fee for each sale you make. This is in addition to the transaction fee charged by the payment processor (PayPal, Stripe, etc.) You have to upgrade to a more expensive Commerce account to avoid the separate Squarespace transaction fees.
Who Owns Your Content?
In the Squarespace Terms of Service, they state that you own your content and that you can opt-out of allowing them to use your content for promotional purposes. But they also state the following, which I’m not so sure I’d want to agree to:
“When you provide User Content via the Services, you grant Squarespace (including our third-party hosting providers acting on our behalf) a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, sublicensable, transferable right and license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works of (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that User Content works better with the Services), communicate, publish, publicly display, publicly perform and distribute User Content for the limited purposes of allowing us to provide, improve, promote and protect the Services.”
Although you own your website’s domain on Squarespace, the theme you use is owned by Squarespace and can’t be moved with your website content. So if you decide later that Squarespace isn’t the right platform for your business, you can export only some of your data in an .xml file. According to Squarespace, this is the content you can export:
- Layout Pages
- Gallery Pages
- Project Pages
- One Blog Page and all of its posts
- Text Blocks
- Image Blocks
- Text from other blocks like the Embed Block, Twitter Block, and Instagram Block will export with minimum structure
And this is the content that won’t export:
- Product Pages
- Index Pages
- Event Pages
- Album Pages
- Cover Pages
- Video Blocks
- Product Blocks
- Style changes
- Custom CSS
Your images won’t import directly into WordPress if you’re using the WordPress Importer. You should separately download all your Squarespace images, then upload them to your WordPress website. As mentioned above, you can’t export your Squarespace theme since it is owned by Squarespace.
Final Thoughts on WordPress vs. Squarespace
For a small business just starting out, Squarespace can initially be quite appealing with their attractive templates and simple interface. However, you should keep in mind that your business growth and creativity may be limited by the platform as customizations to the templates are severely limited. Squarespace is also not great for scaling from a small- to medium-sized business, and moving your website away from Squarespace later could be difficult. Squarespace can get also get pricey if you intend to have an e-commerce store.
With WordPress and a bit of preparation and knowledge, you can get started with installing a theme and adding your content. By adding a page builder plugin like Beaver Builder* to WordPress, you can use it in a similar way to Squarespace’s drag-and-drop interface. Whatever functionality your website needs can be added with a plugin. You can easily scale your business by adding additional server resources with your hosting company. And you are free to move your website and all of your content away from WordPress at any time. Depending on what hosting and plugins you choose, WordPress will most likely cost you less than Squarespace.
*Denotes an affiliate link where I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote tools that I love and use in my own business.
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