Both platforms allow you to build your website, however, they are incredibly different. More than 27% of websites on the internet are WordPress, whereas on 1.2 million are Squarespace websites. WordPress provides hosted and self-hosted options, whereas, Squarespace only offers a hosted version.
It’s absolutely free to download
Add to the software
You can make any changes to the code as WordPress uses a GPL 2.0 License, you just have to be prepared to share it as an open-source with members of the WordPress community. Squarespace does not allow you to reverse engineer any of the coding on their platform at all.
Complete with a myriad of plugins you can use to add customised code to your website as you please, plugins like WP Add Custom CSS, Simple Custom CSS and Simple Custom CSS and JS.
Section 5.1 of the 5.1 of the Terms of Service, Squarespace totally prohibits you from editing any of the themes’ code or other major elements that includes any part of the services offered. Should you want to get creative and dive into some coding to create your own themes or make any changes to theirs, you simply can’t.
With a register of over 49,000 plugins to enhance the capabilities of the core software. WordPress has pretty much any feature you could possibly want for your website with plugins, including things like eCommerce, security, SEO and contact forms. As with the visual editor, Squarespace is what you see is what you get. If there is a particular feature you want that isn’t available…sorry, but you’re out of luck.
Unlimited sites and networks
Multisite. Need I say more? If you want more details: WordPress allows you to create a network of websites called a Multisite. That means you may run as many websites as you like using only one installation of WordPress and then have access to all of them in the one place. This is an ideal solution for a wide variety of websites and purposes. For eg, you can offer your own blog or website hosting, just as Edublogs the popular education website does, or host all your clients’ sites under one roof to manage them all easily. Squarespace does not offer this feature.
Copyrighted content protected
WordPress will not publish any part of your site for free. Squarespace, however, advises in its Terms & Conditions, statements 2.2 and 2.3 that they can use any part of your site for uses such as advertising, even if the content they take is copyrighted. If you decide to create a website with Squarespace, you are not only consenting to this, but you are also agreeing to allow them to use whatever they want for free. They do not even have to contact you for permission first. No royalty cheques. Nothing. You can opt-out of it, but it’s not just simply a ‘one-click’ option.
Notice is given if features are removed
The WordPress core receives regular updates that contain new features and security updates. WordPress has a system set in place that ensures transparency about what goes in, gets fixed and also what has been omitted.
They keep you in the loop with everything, changes are first suggested, reviewed and approved before they get worked on, and later released. They will document and announce well ahead of time for any amendments or omissions that will occur. If by some chance a feature you require has been discontinued, you will definitely be given notice in advance to search for or create a plugin that covers the capabilities you need.
Alternatively, Squarespace can discontinue and remove features at their leisure without giving any notice at all. It’s all written in statements 4.1 and 6.1 of the Terms & Conditions.
No Limit if you sue
No eCommerce transaction fees
You can make your WordPress site into an eCommerce store using a plugin. Fortunately, there are options available out there such as MarketPress that do not issue any transaction fees. WordPress also won’t take a cut of your sales.
On the other hand, Squarespace will charge you a transaction fee for every sale you make, unless you upgrade your plan with them. Take a look at the Squarespace pricing page for more details.
No limit on server resources
As previously mentioned, you have the ability to choose who you would like to host your WordPress website, unlike Squarespace, where you can only host your website on their servers. Meaning you can’t scale your website later on if it becomes popular.
Squarespace advertises all their packages as having ‘unlimited’ bandwidth, however, the fine print on their pricing page clearly states that each service is limited to normal usage. That means your website can possibly get shut down if Squarespace decides you’re getting more than average amounts of traffic – whatever that means –there’s no clear definition for “normal usage.” Conversely, WordPress gives you the freedom to choose your own hosting so you can find one that’s scalable and works for you.
eCommerce currency limitations
Again it’s different with Squarespace, you are limited to AUD, CAD, USD, EUR, GBP, CHF, DKK, NZD, MXN, NOK, HKD, SGD, or SEK. You’ll find it on the pricing page. This can definitely be an issue, especially if you want an online store that has the ability to accept sales globally
Multitudes of free themes
The WordPress.org theme repository, there are over 3,000 free themes to choose from and available for you to download and use, which was confirmed in 2015 by WP Theming and a script that will download the free themes to a WordPress site. This amount isn’t even including the many premium themes that are available. There is definitely no shortage of design and theme options where WordPress is concerned.
Squarespace has a whopping 59 themes to choose from. If you need an eCommerce theme, then your choices are further limited to just eight.
No high-resolution images? No problem!
You are not bound to use only a limited number of themes that call for huge, high-resolution images. Unfortunately, though that is exactly the case with Squarespace. The majority of the 59 themes available will require these kinds of images and if you don’t have them, your website isn’t going to look that great.
Big companies who trust WordPress
A lot of celebrities have also built their websites on WordPress including Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg, Beyonce, Jane Fonda, Kim Kardashian, Mick Jagger & the Rolling Stones, William Shatner, and Sylvester Stallone.
Check out the WordPress Showcase for more details and other examples.
If you visit the main page for Squarespace, scroll down, displayed are some logos of those companies using Squarespace. Most are small businesses and not as high-profile as those that are built on WordPress.
There’s a good reason why these companies have chosen WordPress over other platforms and most of those reasons are listed here.
Control over SSL and HTTPS
SSL certificate places the https prefix for your domain in a browser’s address bar. They secure your website by encrypting the connection between your site and your visitor’s browser. This encryption prevents hackers from doing all kinds of hacking like hijacking a visitor’s connection to bypass the login form. For more information, you can go to How to Use SSL and HTTPS with WordPress.
When installing a WordPress website or network, you will be able to choose a Certificate Authority and the kind of SSL certificate you’d like to use. You can choose one that gives you a warranty so that if in the unlikely event you do get hacked and experience data loss along with choosing a certificate that’s trusted by more people.
You will also have an option to force the use of an SSL certificate on your site. For eg. If you install a certificate for your domain, then use Softaculous to install WordPress, then choose to automatically set your domain up with HTTPS automatically.
Squarespace will automatically issue an SSL certificate for your domain and site, however, you will not get a choice on what kind of certificate or the Certificate Authority that issues it. The SSL certificate also won’t be automatically forced. You’ll need to turn this option on yourself in the settings.
Should you need your SSL certificate to include particular features and a warranty, that won’t be possible with Squarespace. For details, check out Squarespace and SSL.
Choosing domain registrar and price
If you choose to build a website with Squarespace and sign up for an annual billing option for any of their packages to get a discount, you will get a free domain name, but you’re required to obtain the domain from Squarespace.
The first year will be free, but every year afterward is priced higher than other Registrars, starting at $20 for a .com domain. Most Registrars offer a .com domain for about $10-$15 and sometimes less.
Own your domain
You get the option to decide the Registrar that you get your domain from for your WordPress site.
While it is possible to purchase your domain somewhere else, the free domain you’ll get from Squarespace, as previously mentioned, will automatically include WHOIS privacy. In the Terms & Conditions, it states in section 11.1 that Squarespace domains are registered with Tucows Inc. and their Terms of Service will apply for all the domains registered there.
In Tucows Inc.’s Terms & Conditions, section 21 states that the main contact for a registered domain is the owner of it. Squarespace automatically applies the WHOIS privacy to all domains registered with them and they become the main contact, so they will legally own your domain.
Technically you can change ownership of a registered domain, typically it is not a fast or simple undertaking. Tucows Inc. requires notification by the owner in writing, this is outlined in section 26 via either a direct email or regular mail sent to Tucows Inc.
That means you will have to get in contact with Squarespace to convince them to email Tucows Inc. in order to transfer the ownership of the domain you bought. Otherwise, it will remain the legal property of Squarespace.
Accessibility and options
The majority of WordPress sites always pass these most basic requirements for such accessibility as links and the main site content is able to be consumed by screen readers. There are websites out there that differ and range between being fully accessible to not at all, full accessibility is a goal that can definitely be reached.
Squarespace’s websites, however, and most of the sites created on their platform cannot be considered fully accessible. In fact, most Squarespace websites including the main site can barely be considered accessible. So, as you can’t modify or build upon the Squarespace platform, as mentioned earlier, you won’t be able to work on any accessibility on a Squarespace website.
Unlimited contributors and pages
On Squarespace’s personal plan they offer you only up to 20 pages with two contributors. If you require any more than that will need to upgrade.
Advanced user role flexibility
For eg.if you use Membership 2 Pro, you can enable the Member Capabilities add-on along with its Advanced Capability Protection an option that ultimately turns the user roles and capabilities on its head.
You have the option to create free or paid memberships to your website, assigning the user roles to memberships automatically or manually when the user signs up. You can also customize your memberships even more by mixing and matching its capabilities, along with choosing specific capabilities that a membership can have assigned to it using the Advanced Capability Protection option.
You have so much flexibility with WordPress because you are able to create your very own plugins to adjust the user roles as you see fit.
Squarespace only has set types of user roles that are called Contributors and you are not able to customize any of them. Basically, you are just stuck with the user roles already available.
Edit your website
Using page builders such as Divi, Elementor, and Beaver Builder, you are able to effortlessly and intuitively customize different designs and layouts without needing to edit any code.
Squarespace uses its own platform and interfaces for creating websites. You are able to click through each section of the menu or page and add page parts and arrange them as you wish. Whilst you can also drag and drop some of the elements on the page, not everything has that flexibility. There’s a labyrinth of options available in the menu, however, they can just be difficult and time-consuming to find.
Customising themes easily
If you choose to use a free WordPress theme for your website, many of them will support the Customiser, these allow you to make swift and simple design changes. It’s a whole lot less complicated and much more intuitive to use as opposed to Squarespace’s site editor.
WordPress boasts a unique community that’s also humongous. It consists of volunteers that help contribute to the WordPress core along with a multitude who are ready and equipped to answer questions submitted by other users in the WordPress Support Forum.
Squarespace does have a community, however, it is nowhere as huge as WordPress. Squarespace conferences like there is with WordPress are non-existent. WordCamps occur globally each year and hundreds and thousands of people attend them.
WordPress is for everyone
For eg. You can sign up for Google Analytics and take advantage of the Google Analytics + plugin adding all the stats to your WordPress dashboard.
Squarespace includes its own analytics feature, but it only comes with extremely limited information that isn’t even close to being as detailed as Google Analytics is, and you can’t connect both together in the admin area.
In summing up, comparing WordPress and Squarespace, leaves us with no contest. Both are different – WordPress.org is a self-hosted option while Squarespace is not, also both have very different target audiences. The purpose of this blog post is to clearly point out the obvious (along with perhaps the not-so-obvious) and to define why WordPress is the clear winner when you require more control of your website.
While you can still create a good-looking website with Squarespace, the platform is extremely limited when you compare it to WordPress, which allows you to do pretty much anything you want to.
I hope you’ve found this article helpful! And don’t forget, if you need help getting your website set up, we can provide your hosting, if you need a website designer or you just need help with a WordPress question, get in touch on 1300 633 100 or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org