Today I have a battle of the platforms for you. One of the questions that I see on a regular basis from my readers looks something like this: "I'm ready to get started blogging, but don't know where to start to set up my site. What's better WordPress.org or Squarespace?".
Unfortunately, when answering the WordPress vs Squarespace question there really isn't a clear-cut answer.
So, I decided to provide you with an in-depth comparison of the two. And because they are so different, I'm going to compare them one category at a time.
I know that WordPress.org and Squarespace are not equivalent. They both help you get to the end result of having a website, but they do it in very different ways. So please don't feel that you need to leave me any comments letting me know the two can't properly be compared. I understand that because I have used both. But new bloggers are often torn between knowing which one to use. Therefore, I'm going to share the WordPress pros and cons and Squarespace pros and cons to help them decide.
I am comparing WordPress.org , NOT WordPress.com. They are two different sources.
If you don't know about plugins, they are additional features that you can upload to your website. They basically help you add a feature or function on your site.
WordPress.org - WordPress allows outside plugins and themes to be created and added to your site. That means you can use and create plugins that will help you do what you need to have done on your website. The options for WordPress plugins are pretty much limitless.
You can use them because Wordpress allows non-Wordpress employees (aka regular people just like you and me) to create things that can be used on the site.
Squarespace - Squarespace plugins don't exist. They monitor and control everything that is on their platform. That means you cannot add plugins to a site that is built on the platform. You can live without them, but it takes some work around to accomplish what plugins on WordPress can easily do.
Squarespace monitors and controls everything on the platform and they do not allow plugins to be used.
Winner of This Section - WordPress.org
Behind the scenes look...
I'll tell you about it here, but you can also head over to my YouTube channel if you want to see what it looks like on the backend of WordPress and Squarespace. Take a minute to subscribe while you're there so you can see my future videos too.
WordPress.org - Wordpress does not have a live demo while you setup your pages, posts, etc. And this is really a personal preference, but I find that Wordpress has a clunky and less attractive aesthetic behind the scenes. It does give you a ton of control over creating your pages and posts. However, if you don't know a lot about code, and aren't hiring someone to do it for you, then that control might be a bit irrelevant so why not have something that looks beautiful on the front and back end of the site.
Squarespace - I love that Squarespace includes a live demo while you're writing your pages! I can see what I'm creating as I design it. I'm not a developer and not great with code so this makes my life a lot easier.
There is also an easy-to-use drag and drop feature included in all of the themes for free. And while you can add some code to the site, it's not to the extent of WordPress.org.
Squarespace is an easy platform to use for someone that doesn't have the skills and code to make it look exactly like they want it to.
Winner of This Section - This really boils down to a personal preference and your skills in coding. If you enjoy coding, you will probably love WordPress.org. But if you don't know the first thing about it then you will probably find Squarespace much easier to use!
You know I love saving money. And, I know that you are always looking for ways to save money when you are building a blogging business. This is one category that people care a lot about.
WordPress.org - WordPress.org pricing itself is free. But before you do a happy dance know that you can't run the platform without hosting. So if you want to use WordPress you will need to choose what hosting company you want to use.
I've used the same host for years and the pricing looks something like this: $8.99/month when you pay for 12 months in advance. If you pay for more months in advance the price per month goes down.
Squarespace - Squarespace pricing is more expensive per month. When you pay for 12 months in advance it breaks down to $12/month. However, there is a month-to-month option which you don't tend to find with WordPress. This monthly payment option can be around $16/month.
Winner - WordPress tends to be cheaper depending on who your host is. However, the extra expense of Squarespace gets you a site that is far easier to control if you aren't familiar with developing and code.
I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that once your site is up and running that everything will be fine. You will need support and customer service from time to time.
WordPress.org - There is no one-to-one support for WordPress. That bothered me a lot because I needed the one-to-one help.
However, they have a large source of how-to tutorials and a WordPress forum that you can join for free. I have used the forum in the past and have been able to find answers. However, since the answers are coming from regular people and not WordPress support employees, it can be hard to get the exact answer that you need.
Squarespace - Squarespace support blows WordPress.org out of the water! They have tutorials and posts to help you out, but even the lowest plan comes with a live chat feature.
I can't tell you how many times I have used that feature to get help on my site. I simply explain the problem and what I'm trying to accomplish, and they quickly help me. And if they don't have the solution they always point me in the right direction.
Winner - Hands down, Squarespace wins this category due to their expert one-to-one support. WordPress is more of a DIY to find your answer. In my opinion, Squarespace's live chat support feature is enough to give them the winner's trophy all-around.
If you are reading this I am assuming that you want to build a profitable blogging business and not just a hobby blog. If that's true, then professional aesthetics matter for your blog.
WordPress.org - WordPress.org gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to design. If you are familiar with coding you can design the site to look any way that you want. If you don't know coding you can pay someone else to do it for you. You can also purchase predesigned themes to meet your needs.
Squarespace - Squarespace has less flexibility. You can't just design a theme or have someone else do it for you. However, they have a lot of different premade themes that you can choose from.
The following link is an affiliate link, which means I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you decide to purchase one of the design kits. You can read more here.
You can also purchase Squarespace design kits that work similarly to a theme in WordPress. These kits include graphics and other things that you can install to use on your site. It helps make your website look far more reputable and professional!
Winner - WordPress has more flexibility when it comes to creating (or having someone else create) the exact look that you want. The design kits are a workaround for Squarespace but don't offer the same amount of options as WordPress.
There will always be something you need to work on, change, or maintain on your site. The online world is constantly evolving!
WordPress.org - WordPress is great about telling you when you need to update things like your theme or plugins. They also make it easy to update with a quick click of your mouse.
However, sometimes when you update one part of your site the update is not compatible with other parts of your site. Then, your site crashes until you figure out what update it was that brought the whole thing down. Does that sound like a nightmare? IT IS!
Squarespace - Squarespace tests all new updates on their site. Since they control all of the themes and the backend side of the platform, this means they can test an update before they release it. This allows them to assure that the update will work with all the other pieces of your site. I can't begin to express how much I appreciate this!
Winner - The fact that Squarespace updates won't crash your site make this the clear winner for this category.
So, who do you choose?
Now that you know more about the ins and outs of the two it's up to you. Choosing Squarespace or WordPress.org will really be a personal preference based on what you are looking for.
The WordPress open source platform allows you to have way more control over your site. However, Squarespace is easier to use for beginners and those of us who are starting out completely unfamiliar with web development and coding.
You can create websites with either one, but they are at two different levels. (It's kind like comparing apples and oranges.) But either way, you can build that fabulous blogging business while having a very professional looking website.