Squarespace vs. Wordpress

 
squarespace vs. wordpress www.lotusmediadesigns.com
 

As a web designer I work with both Squarespace and Wordpress to create websites for my clients. I’ve spent a lot of time working with these two platforms and thoroughly enjoy them both for many different reasons, but it’s important to understand what each has to offer before you make the decision to go with one or the other.

The website platform you choose to start creating your website (or your client’s website) is going to depend on several different factors:

  • What you need your website for (blogging, e-commerce, displaying services/portfolio, etc.)

  • The amount of time you can spend on building and designing

  • The features and functionalities that are non-negotiables

  • Whether you plan to sell anything on your site in the future (physical/digital products and/or services)

  • How much flexibility or control you want to have in your design

  • How comfortable you are working with technology and your experience level creating websites

  • Your budget

If you want to find out which platform is best for you and your brand, you can take this free quiz that I created for you. You’ll answer a series of questions and it will generate a result based on your responses. You can take the quiz as many times as you’d like or read more about selecting a platform here.

Now let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Squarespace vs. Wordpress so you can make an educated decision on which one is going to be best for you.

If you want to skip to a specific part of the post you can do that here:


Squarespace

PRO: Meets a Variety of Needs, Easy and Quick

Squarespace is a fantastic platform that will suit a variety of needs. Whether you’re focusing on blogging, running an e-commerce store, promoting your brick and mortar business or displaying services and past work, you’ll be able to use Squarespace to create a beautiful, professional site in a relatively short amount of time.

Squarespace is pretty easy to get the hang of regardless of your experience level. When I on-board a new client who expresses they aren’t super “techy” and don’t want anything too complicated to maintain or navigate, I always recommend Squarespace over Wordpress.

PRO: Template Selection + Drag and Drop

When you create your website with Squarespace you’re able to choose from a large library of free templates. Just like choosing a website platform, the template you choose will depend on your needs. Different templates have different customization features and functionalities, so it’s important to be aware of the fact that what might be available in one template family, might not be available for another.

For those reasons I always, always, ALWAYS recommend one of the templates in the Brine family. The Brine family templates give you the most flexibility and customization options compared to other template families, regardless of the purpose of your website.

After you choose your template you’ll then use the drag and drop content blocks to customize your site and build your layout. There is a major misconception that you are significantly limited with customizations on Squarespace — HOWEVER — if you select a Brine family template and take some time to explore the different options within the content blocks you can actually customize quite a bit without coding.

PRO: Organized, Easy to Navigate

The navigation on the backend is fairly self-explanatory and as someone who thrives on organization, Squarespace is a dream. It doesn’t take long to acclimate to the essential areas of Squarespace, although you might need to take some extra time to explore all the features/functionalities of the content blocks and site styles in order to learn how you can get the most out of those areas.

PRO: Blog/E-commerce Store Setup and Management

Along the same lines of organization and ease of navigation, setting up and running your blog or online store is not as daunting as it may seem. Although I do wish there was an option to bulk upload inventory, you can easily duplicate posts or products to keep things consistent, and just swap out the content.

You can also draft and schedule inventory or blog content at any time, which is great if you are someone who likes to batch your work, or make certain products available at a later date. Regardless, everything is easy to find and manage.

PRO: Exceptional Customer Service

You can reach out to Squarespace Support via email 24/7 should you need assistance with anything related to your website, but I absolutely love their live chat service (which is available during normal business hours). When I first started working with Squarespace I used their support quite a bit and they were always incredibly helpful! If you’re working with Wordpress, you’ll likely have to dig through tutorials and other online resources to troubleshoot any issues that arise.

CON: Responsive Sites

With so many people accessing the Internet on mobile and tablet devices, it’s imperative your website is properly optimized for smaller screen sizes. Squarespace makes it pretty easy to make sure your site is fully responsive by doing just about all the heavy lifting for you automatically. However, significant customizations can sometimes make things a bit tricky when trying to get things to look just right for mobile view.

If you’re familiar with coding and use it to further customize your site beyond the options on Squarespace, you’ll also have to use coding to make sure everything looks good on smaller screens. This can sometimes be a rather difficult task, but if you are comfortable using media queries and CSS you’ll be able to work around it.

CON: Limited Integrations

Although Squarespace does provide some third-party integrations, there are limitations. For example, they integrate with MailChimp but not ConvertKit or other email marketing platforms. You can still use your preferred email platform on your site by embedding or linking to forms/landing pages, but there isn’t a direct integration feature for this email marketing platform. Even if you can’t integrate your preferred third-party platform through Squarespace, just know there are workarounds for most.

CON: Some Design Limitations

While there are plenty of customization options to explore within Squarespace, there are certain things that might only be achievable with code. If you are clueless when it comes to coding, the resources below will provide you with relatively simple coding solutions to help you troubleshoot any issues (or you can send me a message and I can provide you with support directly):

Final Thoughts

If you want to get your website up and running fairly quickly without having to spend a lot of time learning the ropes — Squarespace is a fantastic option. They take a lot of the hard work out of website design for you with their templates, organized navigation, and drag and drop features so you can launch a beautiful, professional website.

If you want to learn how to use Squarespace so you can create your website in as little as one week, you can check out the Build It With Squarespace Essentials course to help guide you through the process!


*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I could make a commission at no extra cost to you should you click through and make a purchase. Thank you so much for your support!


Wordpress

If you decide to use Wordpress to create your website there are two essential things you need before you begin: self-hosting and a theme.

When you self-host with Wordpress you own your site in its entirety. Whatever you do, do not sign up for the free version of Wordpress or host with them. My preferred hosting site is Siteground for its exceptional customer service and total investment.

Once you’re set up with siteground you can claim or connect your domain name and start building with Wordpress. To build with full control without entering code, you’ll want to choose a theme builder and a payment plan.

To have complete control over your design, I highly recommend using Elementor. There is a free plugin for Elementor you can access from their website or within Wordpress, but selecting one of the pro subscriptions will provide you with additional features that are essential for taking your customizations to the next level. Once the Elementor plugins are installed, you can start customizing with their drag and drop features or pre-made templates to build your site.

PRO: Unlimited Customizations and Flexibility Without Code

This is where Wordpress totally trumps Squarespace. By using a theme builder like Elementor, you can create a completely customized website without entering a single line of code. It does take some time to get acclimated to using the builder, but it’s absolutely worth spending the time finding your way around. If you choose one of the pro subscriptions, the possibilities are truly endless once you get the hang of it, and you won’t find that kind of flexibility on Squarespace without advanced code.

PRO: Fully Responsive

Now this is a major reason why I am such a huge fan of Wordpress! By using Elementor I’m able to create fully responsive sites without any coding. Since the sites I design are highly customized, it’s so important to have an easy, efficient way to make sure everything looks perfect on mobile. If you need to make adjustment to the mobile or tablet views of your website, you can easily make it happen without compromising the desktop version of your site. It’s really such a dream to work with this feature! On Squarespace, you’re much more limited in your mobile view if you aren’t familiar with CSS.

PRO: Integrations and Plugins

Wordpress certainly isn’t lacking in the integrations department! There are endless plugins you can install to integrate third-party platforms and to improve site functionality and appearance. Two of the key plugins to make sure you add to your site are Yoast SEO and Social Warfare (regardless of the purpose of your website). Yoast helps to ensure your site is more easily found through search engines. Social Warfare helps you promote your website on social media platforms and Pinterest.

If you’re using Elementor to customize your design, you’ll definitely want to make sure you add that plugin as well. Other plugins, like Woo Commerce, will depend on your website needs and preferences.

When selecting additional plugins to add to the backend, make sure you take the time to read the reviews and descriptions to learn its functionality and how it will perform on your site.

PRO: Easy Migration

If you’re self-hosting with Siteground, it’s simple to migrate an existing Wordpress site from another host. You can also easily connect an existing domain name depending on how long it’s been registered with another host. This is where Siteground’s resources and customer service are incredibly helpful. They’ll help walk you through all necessary steps should you need to migrate your site or connect an existing domain.

CON: Hidden Costs

One thing that really grinds my gears about other bloggers who talk about Wordpress is their lack of transparency regarding cost.

Many bloggers will tell you that you can have your Wordpress site up and running for just $3.95 a month with Siteground or Bluehost.

But what they’re NOT telling you is that’s the breakdown of your ANNUAL cost just to self-host and doesn’t include the additional costs for theme builders, pre-made themes and plugins. So instead of being charged $3.95 each month, you pay it all at once every year. There isn’t a monthly payment plan with self-hosting on Siteground. Even your initial annual cost has the potential to increase after the first year. There are also additional fees that could be added on to this total annual cost depending on what else you’d like to add to protect your site privacy, or which subscription plan you end up choosing.

In addition to hosting, there are also costs related to theme builders, pre-made themes and plugins. All of these costs, when totaled up, end up surpassing the cost to set up and publish your website on Squarespace which does have monthly payment plans available.

Despite the somewhat costly investment, if you truly want to build a fully customized website, Wordpress is worth it — you just need to determine your budget and potential costs before committing.

CON: Coding REQUIRED Without Elementor or Similar Theme Builder

This is why I really stress the importance of purchasing a theme builder like Elementor. Without a theme builder, you’re going to be incredibly limited in your design. You can get away with using the free Elementor plugin and a pre-made theme, but your best bet is to go with a pro subscription on Elementor.

CON: Higher Learning Curve, Potentially Challenging

If you don’t mind spending the time to learn the ropes, then Wordpress could be a great option for you. However, if you don’t feel comfortable working with technology, have never built a website before, or need something that is simple and will get your site launched sooner, Squarespace could be the better choice in this case.

CON: Navigation

As I mentioned when I discussed Squarespace above, I thrive on organization and ease of navigation. Since I know Wordpress really well, I know where to find exactly what I need to design my clients’ websites, but it does take time to acclimate yourself to the backend, even when using a website theme builder. It can sometimes be a lot of back and forth between your Wordpress dashboard and theme builder, so just keep that in mind.

CON: Manual Updates and Backups

In order to make sure your site is backed up properly and your plugins are up to date, you’ll have to go in and manually complete updates and backups. It’s important to stay on top of these updates to ensure your site and its plugins continue to run properly. Squarespace, on the other hand, takes care of all this for you.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for complete flexibility and control, Wordpress is the winner here. You’ll be able to fully customize your website by self-hosting, using a pro theme builder and installing necessary plugins for further customizations and integrations whether you’re blogging, running an e-commerce store or both. You won’t have to input any coding to create a highly customized and responsive website as long as you’re using a pro theme builder. Just be mindful of your potential investment before committing to Wordpress! Free or $3.95/month sounds great, but signing up for the free Wordpress site isn’t going to give you the customizations you’re after, and there are hidden costs to be aware of.