After writing my Squarespace review a few weeks ago, I find some people asking whether they should use Squarespace or just go for WordPress to create a new blog.
Fair question! I’ve been there too.
But this one is easy to explain. It all depends on your style and needs.
So let me explain the advantages and disadvantages of each CMS platform and help you select the best for YOUR NEEDS. Here’s my Squarespace vs WordPress comparison:
Squarespace vs WordPress – User interface (A.K.A. Dashboard)
Squarespace tells us their interface and design is easy to use, and it actually is. However, WordPress is easy to use too. The main difference relies on the capabilities and quantity of options and features on each CMS.
Squarespace gives you everything you need to start your blog, add pages, format posts, add photos etc, everything in a friendly and elegant interface. Even the typography and spacing is great, and it looks great no matter where you’re reading it. That’s why I called it “The Apple” of the CMS.
WordPress in the other hand, has a pretty decent interface, but non as pretty and elegant as Squarespace. WordPress gives you the ability to install and modify everything you want for your blog. This means you can go deep into your CSS or functions.php file and modify a line in the code. But this also means you can screw it and lose access to your blog (other than FTP).
I’d say it really depends on how deep you want to go on your design and functionality. WordPress is the biggest CMS contender nowadays, and offers everything you need no matter if you know how to use it or not.
Squarespace on the other hand, is prepared with powerful options and elegant designs. You’ll lose some capabilities but maybe they’re not important for your. All the basic stuff is there.
Squarespace vs WordPress – Design and Templates
When you signup to Squarespace, you’re loaded with a full set of BEAUTIFUL templates to start a blog. Squarespace has different categories including: Portfolios, Blogs, Photography and Business. But that’s basically it.
I admit I can do a lot of things with the templates on Squarespace, but it could different for you. In fact, some of the things I wouldn’t ever to on Squarespace are: Magazine Style (News) websites.
Update (February 2013): Squarespace now supports E-commerce. This is great news and one of the features it was lacking off. Read here for more information: Squarespace E-Commerce.
On the other corner, with WordPress you have bazillions (really!) of free WordPress Themes for your blog.
Most of them are almost junk and pretty simple, but they work. I’d say 90% of the free themes aren’t worth it. But when you decide to go pro and grab a Premium (or even a Framework) Theme, you get the best of the best, including SEO, Layout, Plugins, Support and more. This can cost from $10 and up to $100 or more, depending on the package or enterprise you’re looking into.
I’d call a draw here. Why?
Well, with Squarespace you’ve got a relatively small quantity of options, but almost all of them are great. So you have a hard time deciding which one to use.
With WordPress, you have A LOT more options, to decide, but plenty of them are crap. Except of course, when you’re trying to create a website that differs a lot from photography, portfolios, business or blogs.
Squarespace vs WordPress – Pricing
Oh yes. Pricing is one important factor to consider when building a blog/website.
Especially if you’re just starting your business or blog, you want to invest a small amount that you can later recover with a good ROI.
Squarespace offers 2 different plans for your needs.
You can either pay $10 or $20 per month, but you get a 20% discount (on both plans) if you pay a year in advance. If you’re just starting or you don’t need more than 1-2 blogs, this standard plan is for you. You get an additional discount if you use the following coupon for 10%: GIMME10. But I’m not adding it to this analysis.
If you’ve got big plans for a business or you’re looking forward to create 3 or more blogs, then you should better go with the unlimited plan.
Mainly because the unlimited plan has unlimited pages, galleries and blogs, and you can link your service with an email account and more. But again, if you’re just starting, the standard plan is more than enough.
So, that gives a sum of: $10 x 12 = $120 per year. Or $8 x 12 = $96 in advance.
Double that for the unlimited plan.
To create a WordPress blog (initially) you need:
- Domain Name: $10 per year
- Host Service: $5-10 per month. Hostgator and Bluehost both cost around $7 per month with the “unlimited” plan. So $7 x 12 = $84
- WordPress Theme: If you want to compete with a Squarespace Template, you’ll pay at least $30. Probably more if you go for a Framework and a child Theme. But this is normally a one time payment. Let’s use Elegant Themes as an example because you pay $39 on a yearly basis subscription.
- Additional Plugins: (not necessary, but useful and recommended): $30 (one time payment or subscription)
- Total: $10 (domain) + $84 (Hosting) + $39 (Themes) + $30 (Plugins) = $163
Now we’re talking…
It seems that the WordPress blog can cost you at least 50% more if you want to match something like Squarespace in terms of design and functionality.
However, you can make it definitely less expensive. If you use free plugins or even a free WordPress Theme, you can cut the final amount to $94 or so. That’s the beauty of WordPress!
In fact, you could get a free hosting service or get a very cheap domain (totally not recommended) and cut your costs to $20 a year. Again, doable but not recommended.
So to wrap things up, I think this one is really a draw. The price won’t change a lot between one or another. It all depends on how premium you want to start, but to put them on the same level, you need to pay around the same or even a little more on WordPress. So, which one do you prefer?
Oh, and I forgot to tell you that with Squarespace everything is integrated. That means you pay everything with the same account (Squarespace). They take care of everything including host, domain name and themes. So if you’re struggling to start because you don’t want to know about so many different services and remembering different passwords, Squarespace could be the winner here. It all depends on you.
Squarespace vs WordPress – Traffic Statistics
With WordPress you can add all the traffic statistics codes you want (i.e. Google Analytics, Quantcast, Alexa, etc.). Just add the code on the template or add a plugin to manage all of your codes and you’re done.
On the top of that you also have Jetpack which comes integrated with a WordPress.com account which displays decent results.
I like it, but analytics can drive some people (including me sometimes) crazy!
With Squarespace you’ve got your own Traffic dashboard (simple but elegant) similar to jetpack. But you can also add your Google Analytics code to have detailed information.
Do you really need more? I’m OK with that.
So, unless you want to add massive traffic analytics to your blog, Squarespace should be OK. Still, WordPress wins this round.
Squarespace vs WordPress – Plugins and functionality
As explained before, you have tons of plugins (free and premium) to add with WordPress. You can basically search for anything you want and find a plugin on the WordPress repository.
Plugins are very important, especially if you’re looking forward to customize your website and add functionality (aside from the basics).
With Squarespace you’ll miss plugins.
Want to add related Posts? Nope
Want to inject a code or add a plugin for affiliate links? Haha, nope.
So consider this before going for Squarespace. There might be some workarounds to different features, and I know Squarespace is already working on many plugin solutions, but until now, stay away from SQS if you want to use specific or premium plugins.
WordPress wins this round without a doubt.
Squarespace vs WordPress – Advertisement and Banners
Monetizing your blogs can be very important. I know in fact most of you are here to know how to improve your earnings and traffic, so I can’t leave this behind.
With WordPress, you can add as many banners as you want. You can also add Google Adsense code (no more than 3 banners per page) and basically post a banner or any advertising script whenever you want.
Please don’t confuse this with WordPress.com (free). You can’t have Adsense Banners there.
With Squarespace I was a little worried about this, but after digging up in the forums and their support team, you can easily add banners and even Adsense Code to your blog via 3 options:
- Sidebar Widget (pretty much the same as WordPress)
- Content (using an Squarespace form)
- Design (you literally modify your website’s design to add a banner
So, it’s pretty much another draw here. Both of them allow you to monetize your blog without problems. It all depends on your website’s design/template.
Squarespace vs WordPress – Mobility and Apps
When I talk about mobility, I’m talking about mobile responsive Themes. This is a “new” factor you can’t miss if you want to stay in the game. With the increasing sales of Tablets and Smartphones there’s a big probability that your site will be visited using a mobile device. And when that happens, you want to be ready.
What do you need? Either a Mobile version of your site (typically used in the past), or a mobile responsive theme.
With a mobile responsive Theme your visitors can ready your website from any device and it will automatically fit their screens dynamically changing the layout.
With WordPress, you need to buy a mobile responsive them, and there aren’t a lot of them right now.
Squarespace has you covered already. So hands down with Squarespace.
Additionally, if you’re looking forward to craft and publish – or at least, moderate comments and check statistics – posts on the go, both WordPress and Squarespace have their own iOS/Android Apps. Squarespace even has a Note App so that you can write down your best ideas and read them later on your account. Nothing you can’t do with a 3rd party app, but it’s nice to have.
Summary and Conclusions
Let me start this with the Summary and the Winners:
- Traffic Statistics = WordPress
- Mobile Responsiveness = Squarespace
- Mobile App = Draw
- Design and Themes = WordPress, but almost a draw
- User Interface = Squarespace
- Price = Draw – Subjective
- Advertising and Banners = Draw
As you can see, both contenders did pretty well on this comparison. Both WordPress and Squarespace offer you a great CMS (Content Management System) to start a website/blog.
So, which one should you choose?
Choose WordPress if…
You want a powerful robust platform that allows you to modify everything you want. Expect to mess up with code sometimes, install and test tons of plugins and themes. At the end it will be a 100% unique site, and you’ll be satisfied, but the learning curve could take days, weeks and even months depending on how tech savvy you are. Also, expect to pay and manage all of your services separately.
I’m a proud WordPress user, and I wouldn’t go back to Joomla or any other nowadays.
Choose Squarespace if…
You want a stunning design and an easy user interface. Think of it as the iPhone. You get functionality, great support, a great product and performance. Everything you probably need is there, at a touch of your hands. You won’t mess up with anything difficult and don’t expect to test tons of plugins and themes. However, you’ll be able to integrate everything in one platform, including payments, statistics and notes.
After testing Squarespace I can clearly see that the idea here is to focus con content, and content is King. Instead of losing hours/days on themes, plugins, statistics and more, I just focus on content and it works.
Am I moving everything to Squarespace? I don’t think so. But I’ll start some projects there and see how it goes. I’m tech savvy, and sometimes I want the ability to modify (and screw) everything with a click of my mouse
I hope I was able to make things clear for you. If you’re looking for more information please let me know and I’ll be back to you as soon as possible.
Greetings and let me know which one you decided to go for! Cya