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WordPress vs Squarespace: An Expert‘s In-Depth Comparison

Are you agonizing over whether to use WordPress or Squarespace for your website? You‘re in good company. In my many years as a professional web developer, this is one of the most common questions I hear from clients looking to establish a new online presence.

While both platforms have a lot to offer, they each suit different needs and skill levels. As someone who has worked extensively with both WordPress and Squarespace, I want to share an objective, comprehensive comparison to help you make an informed decision for your unique project.

Market Share and Popularity

Let‘s start with some high-level statistics to put WordPress and Squarespace‘s relative popularity in context:

  • WordPress is used by 64.2% of all websites with a known content management system (CMS). This amounts to 41.4% of all websites, period. (W3Techs)

  • Squarespace trails far behind, with only 2.5% CMS market share and 1.6% of websites overall. (W3Techs)

  • WordPress powers 14.7% of the world‘s top 100 websites, while Squarespace claims less than 1%. (BuiltWith)

  • However, Squarespace still ranks among the top 5 most popular website builders as of 2021. (Similartech)

While WordPress is clearly the dominant platform by the numbers, Squarespace has gained a dedicated following and established itself as a serious contender in the SMB and creative professional markets. Market share alone doesn‘t determine which one is the best choice.

Feature Comparison

Both WordPress and Squarespace cover the essential features needed for a modern website, but they have some key differences. Here‘s a detailed breakdown:

Feature WordPress Squarespace
Blogging Advanced native tools, can be extended further with plugins Solid built-in blogging with most key features
Ecommerce Requires plugins like WooCommerce, but very flexible Fully integrated, easier to use but less customizable
SEO Strong options with plugins like Yoast SEO Good built-in tools, but no plugins
Analytics Requires Google Analytics integration Built-in analytics on all plans
Forms Requires plugins for advanced forms Built-in, customizable forms
Email Campaigns Requires third-party tools like Mailchimp Built-in Email Campaigns tool
Member Areas Requires plugins like MemberPress Built-in Member Areas feature
Third-Party Integrations 50,000+ plugins for wide integrations Smaller App Market, focuses on key integrations

As you can see, WordPress relies heavily on its plugin ecosystem to provide advanced features and integrations. This gives it an edge in flexibility, but can create extra complexity. Squarespace has chosen to build more functionality into the core platform for a simpler all-in-one approach, but sacrifices some depth and extendability in the process.

Ease of Use

Ease of use is often the deciding factor for less technical users. Here‘s how WordPress and Squarespace perform on several key usability criteria:

  • Setup: Squarespace is easier to set up, since hosting, security and core updates are all managed for you. WordPress requires choosing your own hosting and handling more of the ongoing maintenance yourself.

  • Onboarding: Squarespace has a simple step-by-step onboarding that guides you through the key site setup tasks. WordPress greets new users with a more generic admin dashboard that some find intimidating.

  • Drag-and-Drop Design: Squarespace offers intuitive drag-and-drop editing of page layouts and content blocks. With WordPress, you‘ll either be constrained by your theme‘s customization options or need to use a page builder plugin for drag-and-drop.

  • WYSIWYG Editing: Both platforms offer visual, what-you-see-is-what-you-get editing. However, Squarespace‘s implementation is more polished and consistent across all content types.

  • Documentation and Support: Squarespace has a centralized, beginner-friendly knowledge base and 24/7 support. WordPress‘s documentation is more scattered, and support comes from different sources depending on what you need help with.

Overall, Squarespace is the clear winner on ease of use, particularly for non-technical users. But the tradeoff is less control over the underlying structure of your site compared to WordPress.

Design and Customization

Design is highly subjective, but here are some key considerations:

  • Themes and Templates: WordPress offers thousands of free and paid theme options, ranging from simple to very niche and complex. Squarespace has a smaller curated set of around 100 templates that are modern and professional-looking.

  • Customization Options: With WordPress, you can customize themes using the built-in Customizer, edit the code directly, or use page builder plugins for more visual, drag-and-drop customization. Squarespace allows drag-and-drop customization and adding custom CSS, but not full code editing.

  • Mobile-Responsiveness: All Squarespace templates are mobile-responsive out of the box. With WordPress, responsiveness depends on the specific theme, although most modern themes adapt to mobile screens.

  • Typography: Squarespace offers a range of elegant, customizable typography with each template. With WordPress, your theme determines the available fonts and options, but plugins allow you to add custom web fonts.

  • Image Editing: Squarespace has integrated image editing with filters, cropping, and resizing tools. WordPress offers basic resizing and cropping, but requires plugins for more advanced image editing.

If pixel-perfect customization is your top priority, WordPress is the winner. But for many users (especially those less comfortable with code), Squarespace‘s thoughtfully designed, mobile-optimized templates will be more than sufficient. The ability to make visual tweaks without hiring a developer is a big plus.

Performance, Security, and Maintenance

Performance and security are make-or-break concerns for any website. Here‘s what you can expect from each platform:

  • Performance: In general, Squarespace sites tend to load slightly faster than WordPress sites on average. This is because Squarespace has a more controlled environment and optimizes all images/scripts by default. However, a well-optimized WordPress site can be just as fast (or faster).

  • Uptime: Both Squarespace and reputable WordPress hosting providers offer over 99.9% average uptime. Squarespace‘s advantage is that you‘re not responsible for server downtime when it does happen.

  • Security: Squarespace handles all security aspects for you, including SSL certificates, DDoS protection, and patching known vulnerabilities. With WordPress, you‘re ultimately responsible for keeping core software and plugins updated, hardening your installation, and being aware of plugin vulnerabilities.

  • Backups and Maintenance: Squarespace automatically backs up sites and handles core software updates. With WordPress, you‘ll need to set up your own backup system (either through your host or a plugin) and stay on top of core, theme, and plugin updates yourself.

The takeaway is that Squarespace is generally more performant and secure out of the box. WordPress has the potential to match or exceed Squarespace on these aspects, but only with active maintenance and optimization.

Pricing Comparison

Pricing is an important practical consideration. Here‘s the breakdown:

  • WordPress: The software itself is free, but you‘ll pay for hosting ($5+/month for shared plans), your domain name ($10-15/year), and potentially premium themes ($30-100 one-time) and plugins ($10-200+/year). At the high end, advanced WordPress sites can cost hundreds to thousands per year in hosting and premium extensions.

  • Squarespace: Plans start at $12/month (billed annually) and go up to $40/month. You get a free domain for the first year, and all key features like templates and basic commerce are included. However, the cheapest plan has limited features and doesn‘t include ecommerce.

Squarespace‘s all-in-one pricing is simpler and more predictable, especially for basic sites. But as your site grows, the costs can add up. With WordPress, you have more control over how costs scale and can choose cheaper solutions for individual components. Just be aware of potential hidden costs like developer time for custom work.

Ideal Customer Profile

Based on the above factors, here‘s my assessment of the ideal customer profile for each platform:

WordPress is best for:

  • Bloggers and content creators who want maximum control over their site
  • Businesses with custom feature/integration requirements
  • Web designers and developers who value flexibility and extensibility
  • Advanced users willing to trade off some simplicity for power
  • Large, complex sites that will scale over time

Squarespace is best for:

  • Solopreneurs and small-to-medium businesses
  • Creatives and portfolio sites (photographers, artists, etc.)
  • Ecommerce stores that want an integrated solution
  • Bloggers who value design and simplicity over advanced features
  • Users with limited technical skills or time to maintain a site
  • Sites that have all the functionality needed out of the box

The Future Outlook

Finally, it‘s worth considering the long-term outlook and viability of both platforms. While nothing is certain, WordPress and Squarespace are both on solid footing.

WordPress‘s dominance, open-source community, and rich ecosystem suggest it will remain a leading CMS for the foreseeable future. However, some worry about the increasing complexity and potential bloat as it tries to serve more use cases. Automattic‘s leadership and resources should help keep WordPress thriving though.

Squarespace is poised for continued growth, especially as the demand for simplified site creation increases. It will likely keep focusing on the core creative professional and small business markets where it excels. The main risk is increasing competition from other all-in-one site builders like Wix, Shopify, and Webflow.

Examples in the Wild

To close out, here are some well-known websites using each platform to give you a sense of what‘s possible:


  • TechCrunch
  • The official Star Wars blog
  • BBC America
  • Sony Music
  • Mercedes-Benz


  • Keanu Reeves‘ motorcycle company Arch Motorcycle
  • Social media scheduling tool Buffer
  • Designer Sacha Greif
  • Musician John Mayer
  • Video hosting platform Wistia

Whether you opt for WordPress‘s power and flexibility or Squarespace‘s simplicity and elegance, you‘ll be in good company. The most important thing is to just get started! Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions.