As a web designer, I have been asked this question thousands of times: When it comes to building a website, WordPress or Squarespace? I’ve never been able to come up with a really convincing answer. My personal preference is not convincing enough to someone who is about to put some serious cash into a new website. To me, it’s like the difference between buying something at Target or Walmart; you may pay less at Walmart for a similar item, but the shopping experience and quality of the item you buy is pretty much guaranteed to be better at Target.
That’s not to say I never shop at Walmart. If I need toilet paper or milk, it’s my go-to. But if I’m shopping for shoes, bedding, housewares, stationary… you can bet I’m going to clear an afternoon to spend at Target.
It’s the same thing with websites. Having a quick-fix website can do you more harm than good. Squarespace websites may look nice on the outside and be easier to use. But if you need a website that grows with your business and allows you to elevate beyond the norm, WordPress is the only real solution.
However, don’t just take my word for it. In the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t even used Squarespace very much. I’ve never built a full website with it. I just know, from research and experience, how powerful WordPress is and how Squarespace doesn’t compare. But, to offer a fully formed argument, I asked some friends and even some strangers in the industry to compare WordPress or Squarespace.
I conducted an interview with my friend and Squarespace user, Jill Wejman, of jillchristinestudio.com. I asked her WordPress or Squarepsace – which is better?
Me: Why would you choose Squarespace over WordPress for a project?
Jill: As a graphic designer, I quickly realized that the Internet was a growing place and I needed to learn code and web design and development fast. I spent most of my career in two design fields; weddings and websites but not together. Recently, I have transitioned to mainly weddings and I needed a website quickly. I decided to give Squarespace another try. Yes, another. I hated it the first go around so I quickly gave up and dove back into WordPress. This time was a little different. I decided to design in Squarespace using one of their templates. Of course, I wanted it to do things the template wasn’t set up to do so I added some code. There are places to inject code, which is a nice feature. I also wanted it to be mobile friendly and have a commerce feature to be added later. Squarespace seemed like an easy answer. It is easy but designing it was nothing short of easy. It may have been my knowledge of WordPress but Squarespace definitely didn’t do what I wanted it to do easily. I love my Squarespace website now that it’s live but I’m noticing the difference in SEO.
Me: What are 3 things you prefer about Squarespace that you can’t get with WordPress?
Jill: For my floral and stationery design company, I wanted a website that I didn’t have to think about maintaining every time there was a new update. Each time I updated a WordPress website, I held my breath hoping nothing broke on the user end. Oftentimes, I would have to go fix something because the new update didn’t communicate with the theme or plugin. I was also burned out from designing websites so I thought I’d give Squarespace a try. There are 30 beautiful, up-to-date Squarespace templates to utilize and countless WordPress templates; some that are great and some that are terrible. It’s nice to know you’re not spending money on templates (if you don’t build your own) and then not like it or find out it has bad code, etc. With Squarespace, you can switch at anytime and it doesn’t cost you. You can purchase a domain, email service through Google Apps, hosting, and everything you possibly need to run a website all in one place with Squarespace. With WordPress, it’s all on your own and can be overwhelming to figure out how to install it.
Me: What are 3 things you would improve about Squarespace? Anything you absolutely hate?
Jill: Oftentimes, when trying to resize or move text or a photo, it won’t go where I want it to go. It becomes incredibly frustrating. Having the ability to resize an image on the page as if it were an Adobe Illustrator art board would be a nice way to build or update a website, except I find that it is more frustrating than helpful. I don’t like that I can almost always pick out a Squarespace website. For the most part, we’re all using the same 30 templates so they get used many times over. They are beautiful as stated above but it’s important to make them your own. I wish I could take my Squarespace website and move it to a hosting company of my choice. If Squarespace decides to close their doors tomorrow, I am out a website and if I haven’t backed it up, all of my content and images are gone, too. That is a nightmare! With WordPress, if your hosting company closes their doors, you take your backup and go to the next hosting company.
Me: What are 3 things you would say are pretty much the same about both?
Jill: Squarespace utilizes a template and the WordPress uses a theme but ultimately it’s the same thing. They’re both blog and e-commerce friendly. With either choice, you’ll have a website on launch day!
Me: Which is easier to use – WordPress or Squarespace? Why?
Jill: If you’re not a designer or developer, I think Squarespace is easier to get your website up and running but WordPress is easier to use once it’s built. I prefer WordPress content management over Squarespace. I believe it’s more intuitive. Squarespace has a really good support team and frequently asked question’s section on their website. With WordPress, you’re flying solo…unless you search google and find some reliable WordPress forums or groups.
Me: Which is more powerful?
Jill: Without a doubt, WordPress is more powerful.
Me: Why do you say that?
Jill: You can ultimately do anything you want your website to do with the right amount of code, plugins, and the right choice of hosting.
Me: Which do you think is better for driving sales?
Jill: WordPress is open source, which is better for search engine optimization (SEO). Ultimately, it makes it better at driving sales. If you are creating a shop, you have to use a plugin for WordPress. Woo Commerce is a powerful choice. Its important to read the reviews on the plugins before purchasing, if required, or installing.
Me: I agree! Is WordPress or Squarespace better for blogging? Why?
Jill: WordPress. Again, the SEO is key in blogging. I also think it’s easier to add new posts using WordPress. I prefer the media library, too. You can edit your photos, add them to the library and go back to them later. It’s a nice feature and I like having all of my photos and documents that are on my website in one place.
Me: Do you have any little-known secrets or hacks for working with Squarespace you’d like to share?
Jill: If you’re trying to get your Squarespace website to do something specific, try googling for the code. You can use the inject code feature and if you have the correct code, it should work. It’s nice for making little tweaks. Create a cheat sheet for your hex codes (web colors). This will help when in the design menu.
I was still curious to know what the world thought, so I took to one of my favorite Facebook groups and asked some of the members which they liked better…
Squarespace is much easier! The way I usually describe it is Squarespace is perfect for beginners! You can create a gorgeous, professional-looking site yourself. However, there are limitations so if you have an idea that requires a lot of customization/moving parts, WordPress might work better. The learning curve is much steeper though and you will likely need to hire out. – Louise Henry
For me, square space. I had and paid for WP for almost a year and honestly couldn’t understand it. I switched to SS and had my website up in 1 day. It depends on your level of expertise, the time you have, the money you have to invest. I’m perfectly happy with my SS website. – Tyler Justine Nitz
WordPress all the way. Customization options, plugins and control. What if Squarespace shuts down one day? At least self-hosted WP is yours. But, some people really love Squarespace and say it depends on your needs. I personally don’t find it as user-friendly as everyone says. I log into it for a client’s blog and find WP easier, but maybe I’m just used to it. – Marlene Srdic
You can create whatever you want, you’re not limited, and if you’re into plugins, there are a ton of them at your beck and call. – Makeda Mutema-Newton
Depends on what your business is and what you need your site for. Squarespace is pretty & user-friendly. WordPress has great plugins & ideal for an active blog. […] I use both platforms […] and find that WordPress is a touch more intimidating initially. But with a little familiarizing, it’s not too bad! – Serena Waller
I love Squarespace but WordPress has a lot of more features/plugins/ customization capabilities! – Jas Deol
I use WordPress currently for my personal business (always have) and Squarespace for my non-profit. Squarespace is so much easier. Wordpress is great if you have someone who knows how to customize your website or you yourself are really knowledgeable on its interface. – Jaime Nicole Scott
As a designer, I love WordPress for customization. If you’re DIYing it, Squarespace. – Alyssa J. Gavinski
So this is what I learned…
- You get a uniquely designed site with the available themes. Given that there are only a few Squarespace templates, your site is recognizable as a Squarespace site.
- The SEO features and benefits are noticeably more powerful.
- Because of the SEO, WordPress is better for bloggers who rely on SEO for traffic.
- E-Commerce and selling options are more powerful.
- You can have more control over your site and your hosting since, if Squarespace goes down, your site will disappear.
- Once the site is built, the WordPress backend tools are easier to use.
- You can build more powerful and intuitive websites with plugins.
- You have access to free pre-made templates, and you can also inject code to customize further.
- You don’t have to to worry about updating and maintaining plugins and themes.
- With Squarespace, you can purchase domain, hosting, and everything else in one place. With WordPress, the process for setup is a lot more complicated.
- The customer service and support for Squarespace has your back, whereas with WordPress, you’re on your own for troubleshooting.
- There is no need to hire a developer to help you launch your site and you can DIY your site quickly.
Which one do you prefer? Leave it in the comments below!