This article is part of a larger series on Small Business Websites.
Choosing between Squarespace vs WordPress for your small business website comes down to factors like cost, ease of use, and the capabilities your site needs. Squarespace’s ease of use, modern templates, pre-made content sections, and 24/7 customer support make it best for beginners and fast site design, while WordPress comes out on top for SEO and customization. Let’s take a closer look at WordPress vs Squarespace to see how each provider stacks up.
Who should use Squarespace vs WordPress.org:
- Squarespace: Best for most small businesses, including small ecommerce sites, by far the most beginner-friendly, and the best way to quickly get a website online that is highly reliable and headache-free.
- WordPress.org: Best content management system (CMS) for small business websites relying on SEO for lead generation, those planning to publish content frequently, large ecommerce sellers, and websites needing advanced or niche capabilities.
Squarespace vs WordPress.org at a Glance
Starting price per month
110 templates, all free with any plan
31,000+ themes; most cost extra
Ecommerce plans start at $27 per month
Available via ecommerce plugins; may cost extra
Search engine optimization (SEO) and website analytics
Requires use of plugins; may cost extra or require code embedding
Site reliability and maintenance
CMS managed by Squarespace and hundreds of official apps, integrations, extensions and plugins that are fully compatible and fairly fool-proof
55,000+ plugins from developers worldwide; compatibility varies and requires constant maintenance and updates, as does WordPress and your theme
Capabilities like meeting and event scheduling, online ordering, reservations, and member-gated content are available but may cost extra or require an extension/plugin
Virtually unlimited capabilities through code and plugins, but may cost extra
Top-rated with 24/7 support via live chat and phone
None, forum support only
In the WordPress vs Squarespace debate, keep in mind that while both are content management systems, they are fundamentally different. Squarespace is an easy-to-use all-in-one website builder that comes with hosting, a free domain and SSL certificate, and hundreds of premade templates.
WordPress requires web hosting and separate purchase of a domain, SSL certificate, from a few to many plugins and (usually) a premium theme or page builder. Let’s take a closer look at whether Squarespace or WordPress is better for building a small business website.
Best for Affordability: No Clear Winner
All-in-one plans start at $14 per month and include everything you need to build a small business website and get it online.
Ecommerce requires a more expensive subscription, as does functionality such as gated content for members and appointment booking.
The WordPress CMS is free, but there are additional expenses to build a website and get it online (e.g., web hosting, a domain, an SSL certificate, a premium theme or page builder, design plugins for things like image sliders, security plugins, stock imagery, and more).
Squarespace plans start at $14 per month billed annually, or $19 month-to-month. WordPress, on the other hand, requires functionalities that vary in price. In short, there are other costs involved with WordPress. In fact, the cost of building and maintaining a WordPress site may actually cost a lot more than if you used Squarespace with its all-inclusive pricing—because WordPress (essentially) comes with nothing.
To build a WordPress website and get it online you will need to buy a domain name, SSL certificate, and get web hosting. At a minimum, you’ll end up spending from around $3 to $10 per month for a WordPress site, though the cost to build one can quickly add up with premium themes ($29 to $130) and premium plugins (from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars).
Squarespace’s all-in-one paid plans are far less complicated, including everything you need to build a small business website for as little as $14 per month. However, choosing between Squarespace vs WordPress.org when it comes to price really comes down to what you need for your site.
For example, if you want state-of-the-art themes for a small blog or a digital portfolio, Squarespace beats WordPress. But if you’re looking to build a site with basic ecommerce, online appointment booking, or member-exclusive content, all of which cost more with Squarespace, then WordPress might be the cheaper option, depending on the plugin you choose.
WordPress has thousands of plugins available, ranging from completely free to extremely expensive. Your website’s needs will determine the final price you pay, which can be as cheap (or as pricey) as your budget allows.
Winner: To build a new website, Squarespace offers more intrinsic value. To create a more complex site, WordPress sometimes wins.
Best for Ease of Use: Squarespace
With Squarespace, everything you need is in one place and you won’t need to buy web hosting, a domain, or an SSL certificate separately. Its drag-and-drop editor makes web design easy and almost foolproof, with 100+ pre-built templates and pre-made content blocks you can use to build and customize your website.
By comparison, WordPress is not particularly user-friendly; there’s a reason why businesses spend thousands—even hundreds of thousands—to have WordPress websites developed. If you don’t have web design experience or coding knowledge, expect to invest a lot of time learning how to build a website using WordPress.
While it’s not impossible to build a professional-looking WordPress site without prior experience thanks to premium themes with page builders, it still involves significantly more time and effort given its steep learning curve. To get a better idea of the complexity of using WordPress, check out this list of 30 essential WordPress tips and tricks.
Winner: Easily Squarespace. In fact, you can build a Squarespace site in just five steps.
Pro tip: Get a WordPress website without the learning curve with a site builder plan from a top web hosting service like Bluehost. WordPress site builder plans start from $2.95 per month and include hosting, a free domain, free SSL certificate, and free email addresses on your domain.
Best for Design Capabilities: Squarespace
*Per HubSpot, there are more than 9,000 free and 31,000 total WordPress themes available in 2022
The main difference between Squarespace and WordPress in terms of design is the skill level required to build the website you envision for your small business. While both providers have tons of examples of beautiful and perfectly functioning professional websites online, the most well-designed WordPress sites are largely those built by professional web developers. Whereas, nearly all the beautiful Squarespace sites online were built by individuals, not web designers.
Squarespace provides the tools to create a professional-looking business website (e.g., well-designed templates and a drag-and-drop builder). But it does so in part by limiting the design freedom that makes it easy to mess up a site’s design. Anyone can build a sleek website on Squarespace without too much fuss. Even if you’re a beginner, odds are your site will look good and people will still think you paid a pretty penny to have it professionally built.
On the other hand, sites built with WordPress by beginners often lack the style and design that only comes with experience or hiring a pro to design your site, which can cost thousands of dollars. The caveat is that since Squarespace’s design works by slightly altering existing templates (of which there are only about 110), the design of your site will not look as unique as a WordPress site.
If you want a fully unique website design-wise, WordPress is the better option. But if you want a professional-looking website for your small business, and you want to build it yourself, choose Squarespace.
Winner: Squarespace for design overall, but WordPress if you want a fully custom website design.
Best for Ecommerce: Too Close to Call
The process, costs, and security of online stores vary greatly between Squarespace and WordPress. While anyone can build a professional-looking, functional, and secure online store with Squarespace, with WordPress, it entails having the right plugins and personnel to build, manage, and protect the website.
Security is especially vital for sites that handle sensitive data, like payment processing, as they’re targets for cybercrime. While Squarespace plans include protection against hackers, WordPress does not come with built-in security features. Those new to WordPress should hire professionals to help ensure their site is secure and spend money on premium security plugins that work 24/7 to keep hackers out and data safe.
With Squarespace, you can upgrade to an ecommerce plan and use prebuilt ecommerce website templates to build a functional online store for $27 per month with unlimited products. With this plan, there are no transaction fees apart from the fees your chosen payment processor (i.e., Stripe or PayPal) charges.
With WordPress, plan to purchase a premium theme (or WordPress page builder, like Elementor) designed for ecommerce. You will need additional plugins, such as WooCommerce, as well as plugins for niche ecommerce capabilities (e.g., memberships, subscriptions, and so on) that you want for your online store.
Winner: It’s a tie. For the average small ecommerce business or startup, building a store with Squarespace is the more reliable and secure option. Whereas larger companies selling at a high volume, or which need advanced functionalities, will find WordPress is most suitable.
Best for SEO: WordPress
From site-wide to page-level SEO settings, plugins, embeddable code, and more, WordPress offers the most robust SEO features of any CMS—with a learning curve.
Site-wide and page-level SEO settings are solid, and you can embed some third-party code, but SEO features don’t come near the optimization capabilities of WordPress.
When site builders first came onto the scene, search engine optimization, or SEO, was almost completely lacking. Top site builders like Squarespace have worked hard to erase that deficit and now include built-in SEO features to help your site get found by Google and other search engines. In fact, Squarespace is one of the best site builders for SEO, and you can connect Google Analytics and Search Console to get the most accurate site metrics and traffic insights.
It’s also easy to add page titles, descriptions, and image alt-tags, and Squarespace even provides an SEO checklist with recommendations for website and content optimization. Read up on all the ways you can use Squarespace SEO to get found on Google.
However, site builders in general (and in this case, Squarespace) still can’t fully compete with WordPress when it comes to SEO. Those serious about SEO content marketing should invest in the time and effort needed to build a WordPress website.
In addition, Squarespace limits the number of pages you can have on your website (including blog posts) to just 50. If you plan to publish frequently or have a lot of landing pages on your website, WordPress is the better choice. Get started with website SEO including seven things you can do to ensure your website will rank higher in Google search results.
Winner: WordPress has the more robust features for SEO overall, better tools for SEO content marketing, and allows for unlimited pages, which is needed for businesses planning to publish content frequently.
Best for Site Reliability: Squarespace
The reliability of a WordPress website depends on the level of experience and expertise of the person building it, quality and type of plugins used, site, theme, and plugin maintenance and updates, and more. Alternatively, Squarespace sites pretty much always function how you want them to since the CMS is built and managed by Squarespace’s professional team of developers.
In fact, Squarespace sites are created to be nearly foolproof. If, for instance, you make an error when setting up your online payment processor, it will highlight this and require you to fix it. With WordPress, sites are more fragile and easier to break, and in most cases, you won’t know if something isn’t set up or configured properly apart from testing it.
WordPress sites also require constant maintenance, such as installing WordPress updates as well as theme and plugin updates. Failing to update the CMS or its theme or plugins could be catastrophic, as hackers frequently use outdated plugins as the means to redirect or even hack into a website. And unlike Squarespace, you’re unlikely to get a warning if something isn’t set up correctly on your WordPress site, leading to negative experiences for site visitors.
With WordPress, you’ll need to have some knowledge of how certain plugins work, as not all plugins are compatible with each other. Squarespace will never give you this problem, and will even walk you through which features you’ll need for what. If you’re a beginner or even an intermediate site builder, Squarespace is much better suited for your needs.
All Squarespace sites are responsive, meaning your site will scale (and properly function) between mobile and desktop devices. This is an extra step to think about when building on WordPress, and you’ll have to pick mobile-responsive themes and plugins to make your site work and display properly and test your site’s pages on multiple devices and browsers.
Winner: Squarespace, it always works and your site displays reliably on every type of device.
Best for Site Capabilities: WordPress
Squarespace offers all the capabilities most small business websites need. Whether you want to sell online, generate leads, allow clients to book appointments online, take reservations, or sell properties, Squarespace has you covered.
However, as mentioned above relative to SEO, Squarespace sites are limited to 50 pages. WordPress has better blogging tools for those planning to publish blog articles on a regular basis.
Also, for niche or advanced capabilities when it comes to Squarespace vs WordPress, Squarespace may not be the best choice. WordPress has thousands of plugins you can mix and match to give your website all the functionality it needs. WordPress’s plugins also provide more advanced features than Squarespace’s tools.
You can install powerful SEO plugins, like Yoast, customer relationship management (CRM) plugins, integrate your billing, inventory, and email marketing software, or basically anything else you can think of. Though again, you have to be aware that plugins can interfere with one another and each will need to be maintained over time. Nevertheless, WordPress’s capabilities are just so much more advanced than what Squarespace can provide.
Winner: WordPress, without a doubt. With over tens of thousands of plugins available, chances are there is a third-party integration for WordPress that’s a good match for your website’s needs.
Best for Customer Support: Squarespace
There’s really no comparison between WordPress vs Squarespace as far as customer support. Squarespace offers high-quality support 24/7 via live chat, social media, and email, as well as a community forum, help center, and on-demand webinars. WordPress users will need to depend on WordPress forums for help or get support from web hosting providers, theme or page builder software providers, and individual plugin documentation and developers.
Winner: Squarespace; it even has some of the best support available for a website builder.
Best Alternatives to Squarespace or WordPress
Either Squarespace or WordPress can help you build a professional site, but they’re not the only options you have. Depending on your unique business and site needs, there may be more suitable options, so it’s worth taking the time to determine which is the best solution before you dive into building a site with one or the other.
Here are the top alternatives to WordPress and Squarespace:
- Wix: The best of both worlds—with Wix you get the ease of use of an all-in-one website builder with almost the same amount of design freedom WordPress provides.
- Weebly: Best for building online stores easily like Squarespace, but with more robust ecommerce-specific features and capabilities, even in the free version.
- GoDaddy: Best for service-based businesses looking to easily build a site like Squarespace, but with much better (and cheaper) built-in online reservations and appointment bookings tools.
- Bluehost: Not really an alternative per se; Bluehost is a drag-and-drop website builder (meaning its editing process is similar to Squarespace’s), however, it’s built specifically for WordPress. Bluehost is the best option for beginners looking to make use of WordPress but without the learning curve.
Still can’t decide between WordPress vs Squarespace? See more options, and a full breakdown, of the best Squarespace alternatives, or see which platforms made our list of the best WordPress alternatives.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I start with a Squarespace site and move to WordPress?
If you’re looking to get your business website off the ground quickly and affordably, it’s a smart move to start with Squarespace even if you later plan to build a WordPress site in the future. While you won’t be able to transfer your Squarespace web design to WordPress, you can manually save and import much of your site’s content to WordPress. Plus, you can easily outsource this job for as little as $5 with Fiverr.
Which is better for blogging: Squarespace or WordPress.org?
WordPress.org has been the gold standard in blogging, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best blogging platform. WordPress involves a steep learning curve, so it’s time-consuming to create a professional-looking blog with WordPress. While it’s very easy to create a beautiful-looking blog with Squarespace, you’re limited to 50 pages, so it’s not the best option for those planning to blog frequently.
Which is cheaper: WordPress or Squarespace?
It depends, as the price of WordPress isn’t straightforward. Though the CMS is completely free to use, you’ll have to purchase necessary add-ons like web hosting, a custom domain name, themes, and any plugins you may need. Those with no prior experience may also end up having to outsource WordPress site design, which can run into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
On the other hand, Squarespace’s all-inclusive plans cost between $14–$49 per month, but to get some functionality costs extra. Whether Squarespace or WordPress will ultimately be cheaper will depend in large part on the functionality you want for your website and how much of the work you can do yourself.
Whether it’s best to use Squarespace vs WordPress involves several considerations. WordPress is challenging but has unlimited customization. Squarespace lets you build a solid website that looks professionally made, but it won’t be as fully customizable or advanced as what you can build with WordPress. In the end, Squarespace is best for the average small business that needs a reliable site quickly.