If you’ve landed on this post because you’re deciding whether to go with WordPress or Squarespace, let me make your decision easier for you: choose WordPress every time. There are some “designers” out there who will build your site while touting how Squarespace is the greatest thing since sliced bread, it’s really not. We’ve done the research for you and broken down why WordPress is the way to go for your Business Presence online.
While both provide a platform for you to build a website, they are vastly different. WordPress is used by more than 27% of all websites on the internet while Squarespace, on the other hand, powers 1.2 million websites or roughly 0.01% to 0.55% . WordPress is available both as hosted and self-hosted options (we’ll dig into that further down), while Squarespace is available only as a hosted version.
In this post, I’ll go through the 27 reasons why self-hosted WordPress is the clear winner over Squarespace every time.
Reason #1: Free to Download
The WordPress software is open source and free to download for use on the web host or server of your choosing.
On the other hand, Squarespace isn’t flexible – you’re stuck with their hosting, which is strictly on Squarespace’s servers.
Reason #2: Build Upon the Software
WordPress has a GPL 2.0 license, which means you’re free to poke around the code and make changes that suit your needs, so long as you’re willing to share your changes with others as open source.
Squarespace has no such license and even goes so far as forbidding you from trying to reverse engineer their code or platform, in general, to make any kind of derivative work in statements 5.1 of the Terms of Service and 1.5 of the Acceptable Use Policy.
Reason #3: Edit with Code as Much as You Want
As previously mentioned, you can edit WordPress core to create your own offshoot content management system (CMS) thanks to the GPL, but you can also edit WordPress plugins and themes to extend the capabilities of your website. You aren’t limited to how many changes you can make.
There are also many, many plugins you can use to add custom code to your site on the fly such as WP Add Custom CSS, Simple Custom CSS, and Simple Custom CSS and JS to name only a few. You can add as much or as little code as you want.
In short, you can edit whatever you want when it comes to WordPress. You can also create your own themes and plugins.
Squarespace isn’t as flexible. Not even close.
In sections 5.1 of the Terms of Service, Squarespace forbids you from editing the themes’ code or any other major element including any part of the offered services. If you want to dig into some code to change one of their themes or create one of your own, you can’t.
Reason #4: Extensive Features with Plugins
WordPress has a vast repository of over 49,000 plugins to extend the capabilities of the core software. You can find practically any feature you could possibly need or want for your site with plugins, including anything from contact forms and SEO to security and eCommerce.
Like their visual editor, what you see is what you get with Squarespace. If a certain feature you need isn’t available, you’re out of luck.
Reason #5: Unlimited Sites and Networks
The WordPress platform itself doesn’t have any limit to how many times it can be installed, which means you can create as many sites or networks of sites as the resources your hosting plan allows – for free.
When you sign up for a Squarespace plan, you’re limited to only one site. If you want to create another site, you need to sign up for another premium subscription.
Reason #6: Multisite
One word: Multisite. ‘Nough said, but in case you want more detail: WordPress lets you create a network of websites called a Multisite. This means you can run as many sites as you want using one installation of WordPress and access them all in one place.
This makes it the perfect solution for a wide variety of sites and purposes. For example, you could offer your own blog or site hosting, like the popular education website Edublogs, or you could host all your clients’ sites under one roof for easy management.
Squarespace has no such feature.
Reason #7: Your Copyrighted Content Can’t Be Used for Free
WordPress has no claim to publish any part of your site for free.
Squarespace, on the other hand, according to its Terms of Service, statements 2.2 and 2.3, can use any part of your site for uses such as advertising, even if the content they take is copyrighted.
By creating a site with Squarespace, you not only consent to this, but you also agree to let them use what they want for free. They don’t even have to contact you first.
No royalty cheques. Nothing.
While you can opt out, it’s not an easy, one-click option.
Reason #8: Features Aren’t Pulled without Notice
The WordPress core gets updated regularly with new features and security updates and there’s a system in place to ensure transparency with what goes in, gets fixed and what’s omitted.
Changes are suggested, reviewed and approved before they’re worked on, then later released. Any amendments or omissions are well documented and announced beforehand. In the event that a feature you need is discontinued, you have time to search for or create a plugin to cover the capabilities you want.
On the other hand, Squarespace can discontinue and remove features at any time and without notice. It’s written in statements 4.1 and 6.1 of the Terms of Service.
Reason #9: If You Have Grounds to Sue, You Aren’t Limited
In the unlikely event that you need to sue Automattic, the non-profit company behind WordPress.com, you can and you’re not limited unless as required by law.
In sections 16.1 to 16.3 and 16.9 of Squarespace’s Terms of Service, you’re limited to the amount to which you can sue. Spoiler alert: you can only sue for small sums of money.
You’re also limited to where you’re required to attend court hearings and by creating a site, you agree to mediate a lawsuit before the case goes to court. You also agree to not file any class action lawsuits.
While it’s not likely that you would need to sue Squarespace, you never know and it’s nice to not be so limited in how you can resolve a legal situation.
Reason #10: No eCommerce Transaction Fees
You can turn your WordPress site into an eCommerce store with a plugin. Fortunately, there are options out there like MarketPress that don’t have any transaction fees. WordPress also doesn’t take a cut of your sales.
On the other hand, Squarespace charges a transaction fee for each sale you make, unless you decide to upgrade your plan. You can check out the Squarespace pricing page for details.
Reason #11: Your Server Resources Aren’t Limited
As mentioned earlier, you can choose where to host your WordPress site, unlike Squarespace, which requires you to host your site on their servers. This means you can’t scale your site later if it becomes popular.
Squarespace advertises all plans as having unlimited bandwidth, but the fine print on their pricing page makes it clear that the service is limited to normal usage.
This means your site can get shut down if Squarespace decides you’re getting more than average amounts of traffic – whatever that means – since there isn’t a clear definition (or any at all) 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.
Reason #12: Online Stores Aren’t Limited to Certain Currencies
When you use an eCommerce plugin such as MarketPress, for example, you aren’t limited to the currencies you can accept for your sales. The only limitations you could have are with the payment processors you choose to use.
With Squarespace, you’re limited to USD, AUD, CAD, CHF, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, MXN, NOK, NZD, SEK, or SGD. It’s also published on the pricing page. This can be limiting, especially for an online store that wants to accept sales from all around the world.
Reason #13: Thousands of Free Themes
In the WordPress.org theme repository, there are over 3,000 free themes available for you to download and use, which was confirmed in 2015 by WP Theming and a script that downloads all free themes to a WordPress site.
This number doesn’t even include all the premium themes that are also available. There’s certainly no shortage of theme and design options when it comes to WordPress.
Squarespace has a grand total of 59 themes to choose from. If you need an eCommerce theme, then your choices are further limited to just eight.
Reason #14: No High-Resolution Images? No problem!
Speaking of all those WordPress themes, it’s easier to find a layout that suits your needs and content. You also have the option to adjust the theme to better fit your images, videos, posts and other content.
You’re by no means bound to use a limited number of themes that call for huge, high-resolution images. Unfortunately, this is exactly the case with Squarespace.
Most of the 59 themes available require these kinds of images and if you don’t have them, your site won’t look great.
Reason #15: Top Companies Trust WordPress
There are many popular, high-profile companies that trust WordPress to power their sites including The New York Times, CNN, PlayStation, LinkedIn, Flickr, Walt Disney, NGINX, Time Inc, cPanel and hundreds more.
Many celebrities also have their sites built on WordPress including Beyoncé, Snoop Dogg, Katy Perry, Jane Fonda, Kim Kardashian, The Rolling Stones, Sylvester Stallone, and William Shatner.
You can check out the WordPress Showcase for details and more examples.
When you visit the main page for Squarespace and scroll down, logos are displayed of the companies that use Squarespace. Most of them are small businesses that aren’t nearly as high-profile as those that are built on WordPress.
Reason #16: Full Control Over SSL and HTTPS
Installing an SSL certificate places the https prefix for your domain in a browser’s address bar. They also help secure your site by encrypting the connection between your site and your visitor’s browser. The encryption prevents hackers from being able to do kinds of hacking like hijacking a visitor’s connection to bypass the login form.
When you install a WordPress site or network, you can choose a Certificate Authority and the type of SSL certificate you want to use. You can pick one that offers a warranty in case you get hacked and experience data loss as well as choose a certificate that’s trusted by more people.
You also have options for forcing the use of an SSL certificate for your site. For example, if you install a certificate for your domain, then use Softaculous to install WordPress, you can choose to automatically setup your domain with HTTPS automatically.
Squarespace automatically issues an SSL certificate for your domain and site, but you don’t get a choice on the type of certificate and the Certificate Authority that issues it. The SSL certificate also can’t be forced automatically. You need to turn on this option in the settings.
If you want your SSL certificate to come with certain features and a warranty, it’s not possible if you create your site with Squarespace. For details, you can check out Squarespace and SSL.
Reason #17: Choose Your Domain Registrar and Price
Both WordPress and Squarespace let you choose which Registrar you use to get your domain for your site, but WordPress doesn’t force you to choose a specific Registrar at any point.
If you create a site with Squarespace and sign up for annual billing for any one of their plans to get a discount, you get a free domain, but you’re forced to get that domain from Squarespace.
While the first year is free, every year thereafter is priced higher than most other Registrars and starts at $20 for a .com domain. Most other Registrars offer a .com domain for about $10-$15 and sometimes less.
Reason #18: You Can Own Your Domain
Some Domain Registrars state in their Terms of Service that the main contact listed in the WHOIS database for a domain is the owner, which means if you opt-in for domain privacy, your Registrar is listed as the main contact and, therefore, owns the domain you purchased.
You have the option to choose the Registrar where you get your domain for your WordPress site. This means you can shop around for one that offers WHOIS privacy and also lets you own your domain simultaneously.
While it’s possible to buy your domain elsewhere, the free domain you get from Squarespace, as mentioned above, automatically includes WHOIS privacy. In the Terms of Service, it’s started in section 11.1 that Squarespace domains are registered using Tucows Inc. and their Terms of Service applies for all domains registered there.
In Tucows Inc.’s Terms of Service, section 21 states that the main contact for a registered domain is the owner of it. Since Squarespace automatically applies WHOIS privacy to all domains registered there and they become the main contact, they legally own your domain.
While you’re technically able to change ownership of a registered domain, it’s not a typical or easy undertaking. Tucows Inc. must be notified by the owner in writing, which is defined in section 26 as a direct email or regular mail sent to Tucows Inc.
This means you would need to contact Squarespace and convince them to email Tucows Inc. to transfer ownership of the domain you purchased. Otherwise, it remains the legal property of Squarespace.
Reason #19: Accessibility Is an Option
As mentioned earlier, with the many themes available for WordPress sites, you can create a site that’s accessible to your visitors who are partially sighted and use screen readers to consume the content on your site.
Most WordPress sites pass the most basic requirements for accessibility since links and the main site content can be consumed by screen readers. While there are sites out there that differ and range between fully accessible and not at all, full accessibility is a goal that can be reached.
Squarespace’s site and most sites that are created on the platform can’t be considered fully accessible. Most Squarespace sites including the main site can barely pass as accessible since screen readers can typically read links only and not always all of them to boot.
Since you cannot modify or build upon the Squarespace platform, as aforementioned, you aren’t able to work on the accessibility of a Squarespace site.
Reason #20: Unlimited Pages and Contributors
With WordPress, you can set up as many pages and contributors as you want. WordPress doesn’t limit how many you can have in either case. Your only limitation is what you can manage to fit into your current hosting plan.
Squarespace offers up to 20 pages and two contributors on their Personal plan and you need to upgrade to add more.
Reason #21: More User Role Flexibility
When you use WordPress and plugins like Membership 2 Pro or User Role Editor, you can customize the default user roles to create what you need for your users.
For example, with Membership 2 Pro, you can enable the Member Capabilities add-on and its Advanced Capability Protection option to turn user roles and capabilities on its head.
You could create free or paid memberships to your site and assign user roles to memberships manually or automatically when a user signs up. You could also customize your memberships further by mixing and matching capabilities, and choose specific capabilities a membership can have assigned to it with the Advanced Capability Protection option.
WordPress itself gives you ultimate flexibility because you can create your own plugin to adjust the user roles as you see fit.
Squarespace has set types of user roles they call Contributors and you can’t customize them. You’re stuck with the user roles already available.
Reason #22: Choose How to Edit Your Site
There are so many themes to choose from for WordPress that you can edit with code and adding content to your site is pretty easy, but you have other options when it comes to editing your theme, design, layout and content such as starter themes, page builders and theme frameworks like Upfront.
With Upfront, you can easily and intuitively drag and drop page parts and content to create an unlimited number of completely different layouts and designs. You can also use Builder in tandem to drag and drop your way to creating an unlimited number of new themes. While it’s only optional, you can also add your own custom code.
Squarespace has its own platform and interface for creating sites. You can click through sections of the menu or page to add page parts and you can arrange them where you want. While you can drag and drop some elements of the page, not everything is that flexible.
While you can drag and drop some elements of the page, not everything is that flexible. There’s a labyrinth of options in the menu that can be difficult and time-consuming to find.
Reason #23: A Choice in Page Builders
While we’re on the subject, it’s worth mentioning that you have multiple choices in page builders, starter themes and theme frameworks with WordPress, unlike Squarespace, which only has one editor and no alternative.
Reason #24: The Theme Customizer is Better
If you decide to use a free WordPress theme for your site, many support the Customizer, which you can use to make quick design changes. It’s a lot easier and more intuitive to use than Squarespace’s site editor.
Reason #25: A Vast Community
WordPress has a unique community that’s also humongous. There are volunteers that help contribute to the WordPress core and also many that answer questions posted by other users in the WordPress Support Forum.
While Squarespace has a community, it’s not nearly as vast as with WordPress. There also aren’t Squarespace conferences like there is with WordPress. WordCamps happen all over the world every year and are attended by hundreds and thousands of people.
Reason #26: WordPress Can Be Used by Anyone
Anyone can create a WordPress site as long as they have access to hosting. Squarespace is limited to people aged 13 or older and more specifically, Squarespace’s target audience is people wanting to publish media and photographers.
Reason #27: Better Analytics
There are many WordPress plugins out there that can add analytics straight into your site’s back end. Often times, you can get incredibly comprehensive analytics.
For example, you could sign up for Google Analytics and use the Google Analytics + plugin to add all the stats to your WordPress dashboard.
Squarespace includes an analytics feature, but it only has basic information that isn’t nearly as detailed as Google Analytics and you aren’t able to connect the two together in the admin area.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to comparing WordPress and Squarespace, there’s no contest. Yes, they are different – WordPress.org is a self-hosted option while Squarespace is not, and both options have different target audiences. The purpose of this post is simply to point out the obvious (and maybe not-so-obvious) reasons why WordPress is a clear winner if you want greater control of your website.
Yes, you can create a great-looking site using Squarespace, but the platform is severely limited when compared to WordPress, which you can use to do practically anything you want.
I hope you’ve found this post convincing and enlightening! And don’t forget, if you need help getting set up, our support team is available to help you with any WordPress question.