Squarespace and WordPress are two of the most popular Content Management Systems. Each has its own share of merits and demerits, and each serves different usages. While Squarespace is an entirely hosted and managed platform, WordPress is a self-hosted software that you can run and manage yourself (apart from the hosted and managed WP.com offering).
So, how do these two CMSs fare against each other? In this article, I shall try to compare both Squarespace and WordPress.
User Interface and Performance
No matter what software one is talking about, when it comes to user interface, there cannot be an absolute verdict. For instance, I am a Linux user, and I am really comfortable with my operating system. Yet, a Windows user will surely feel lost if he or she tries Linux for the first time (and vice-versa). Thus, usability and user-friendliness of a software are more of a subjective term.
Still, if we were to compare the user interface of WordPress and Squarespace, we will not find much of a stark contrast. The goal of WordPress is to enable the users to run a website in the manner that they deem fit, whereas Squarespace aims to help its users run websites without having to worry about things that lie “under the hood”. Naturally, the interface of both the CMSs is bound to reflect such goals.
Considering the fact that majority of readers on WP Mayor are WordPress users (Captain Obvious!), Squarespace and its user interface surely deserve an explanation. Take for example, the creation of a gallery. In WordPress, you can do so via the Media Manager, and the settings are rather straightforward, unless you wish to opt for detailed customization (in which case you will probably opt for a plugin).
Squarespace, on the other hand, may seem slightly more complicated at first, but the steps involved are self-explanatory and there is little to no room for a blunder. You can specify advanced settings and tweaks without resorting to an additional plugin.
Very clearly, Squarespace does take some getting-used-to, because so many settings are not everyone’s game. But at the end of the day, once you have used the CMS for some time, you will find yourself as comfortable with it as you would be with WordPress.
Let us first take a look at the pricing model of Squarespace, because it is a hosted solution and has clearly-defined pricing plans.
There is a free trial for 14-days, but the cheapest plan begins at $10 per month ($8 per month if you pay annually). You will get a bandwidth of 500 GB and 2 GB storage, which is definitely more than sufficient for a medium-sized website. However, the number of pages, galleries and blogs that you can have is limited to 20, which I do not think is sufficient.
The next plan is $20 per month ($16 per month if paid annually), which offers you unlimited bandwidth and storage and lets you create an unlimited number of blogs, galleries and pages. Plus, you will also get Mailchimp and Google Apps integration — if I were buying a Squarespace plan, I will go for this one. The next plan is for eCommerce websites and costs $30 per month (or $24 per month if billed annually).
Oh, also, all plans have free custom domain mapping and priority support.
Now, let us take a look at WordPress. The software itself is free, but you will surely need a decent web host to run your website. Assuming that your website is not getting 5 million hits per day and you do not need a VPS, let us go with shared hosting. A decent plan will cost $5 per month (say, $60 per year, domain excluded), which is cheaper than Squarespace pricing.
However, unless you decide to go for a free one, you will need a premium theme. Adding another $75 as a one-time fee for a premium theme, plus an additional $25 for any premium plugins that you may require, and you have a startup price of $160, with $60 recurring web hosting charges. Also, if you need additional goodies such as email hosting, website security, SSH and SSL, you will have to pay much more than $60 per year.
Naturally, both WP and SS seem to have a more or less identical cost, but if you were to replace shared hosting with even a simple reseller package or cloud hosting, Squarespace will prove to be the cheaper option.
Customizability and Addons
This is one section where WordPress scores really high. You have free themes, premium themes, free plugins, and premium plugins. Even though WP began as a blogging tool, you can now use it to create virtually any type of website: news site, magazine site, portfolio, eCommerce site, and so on. Furthermore, since WP is a self-hosted software, you can also play around with code, create child themes, and what not!
However, I must add, that customizability is not actually the purpose of a hosted and managed solution such as Squarespace. If a user wants customization abilities, he or she will go for a self-hosted CMS, not a managed one.
Users of managed CMSs look for ease of use and a headache-free experience — they wish to focus on their website, and have little to no intentions of extending it to create advanced specimens. Naturally, even though Squarespace fares low in this segment, it does so because its users probably do not look for high-level customization anyway.
Help and Support
As mentioned above, all Squarespace plans come with 24/7 support. Furthermore, you have access to workshops, knowledgebase articles, video tutorials and even live chat. All in all, if you are looking for help with Squarespace, you will not have to worry at all.
WordPress, on the other hand, has its own active community of users, forum members and documentation. Plus, since it is the world’s most popular CMS, it is further backed by numerous third-party blogs and websites that publish WP-related content on a regular basis (such as WP Mayor, for example).
Among other things, Squarespace also offers apps for mobile devices and has a wide plethora of other addons. WordPress too, has apps for WP sites, and its own commercial vertical in the form of WP.com.
So, which one should you use?
Basically, it all boils down to your needs. Both Squarespace and WordPress serve a specific user base and target audience, so you need to first be sure regarding your needs.
You should consider Squarespace if:
- You do not wish to worry about hosting, management of addons, etc.
- You need to create an eCommerce site, portfolio or blog but do not want to worry about backstage hassles such as FTP and themes.
- You do not wish to indulge into coding, or you are not a coder.
Alternatively, WordPress is a worthy pick if:
- You need absolute control over your host, custom plugins and themes, etc.
- You are wanting to create an advanced site (such as a big news magazine or theme shop).
- You can invest the time and efforts required in maintenance of your website.
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