When you decide you want a website, you have to make a choice. What kind of platform are you going to choose? WordPress is by far the most popular platform worldwide with an amazing community. Also in Europe, also in the Netherlands, where I live. It has 66,3%* market share worldwide. Joomla is the second biggest platform in the world with 4,6%*. That is a big gap. I wouldn’t recommend Joomla at all. It’s old, not futureproof, user-unfriendly. Trust me, you don’t want it. I don’t want it.
There has been another kid on the block that grows in popularity, Squarespace with 2,7%* market share. Especially in the United States. Not so much in the Netherlands, yet. I’ll tell you why this too can be an interesting option for you or not.
Sidenote: I have built over seventy websites in WordPress and one in Squarespace. I am interested in creating more Squarespace websites and use both platforms.
Let’s put them to the test: WordPress vs. Squarespace
I will compare WordPress vs. Squarepress for you, so you can decide which platform will work best for you. Because it is not as simple that one or the other is the general best solution. It depends on your needs.
Let’s get into it. Or skip the details and go to the summary.
Privacy and data
WordPress is an open-source system, which means you can use this system on a domain you own and host somewhere. Most importantly, you own your own data. It is accessible only to you. People who are into privacy find this really important.
On the other hand, Squarespace is a closed source system. Which means your website is hosted and owned by them. Your data is owned by them. Also, if they get hacked or go bankrupt, they take your site with them.
How long have they been around?
WordPress has been around since 2003 and will not die anytime soon. Squarespace was founded in 2004. I see Squarespace slowly spreading in Europe in the last years and I think it will become more popular. If you choose it now you will be an early adopter for something that is going to become bigger in the next years if you ask me.
Because WordPress is an open-source system, anyone can build something amazing for it, but anyone can also build something bad for it. Your website in WordPress could get hacked or infected by viruses or malware. That’s why it is important to have a good security system in place and update everything constantly so your websites does not have any weak leaks.
Because Squarespace is a closed source system, there is no chance to get hacked. No one can enter it. Except Squarespace. Or someone that hacks Squarespace.
To have a secure website in WordPress you have to update your core system, plugins and theme in WordPress daily. That takes a bit of work. Certain plugins can also cause conflict or can be outdated. Sometimes after an update bugs can occur and they have to be fixed. You will need a WordPress developer for this, or become one yourself. Although, it can also go well and nothing will happen. However, normally it’s a matter of time for something to happen if you do not update.
Again, because Squarespace its closed source system there is no maintenance necessary. No updates, no bugs, no hacking, no viruses, no malware.
WordPress has many more functions than Squarespace. You name it and someone somewhere probably build it. If not, you can ask someone to build it for you. Because it is open source. This gives a lot of choice and freedom. Now and for the future. This is one of the main reasons why people prefer WordPress. Examples are multi-lingual, filters, searchable databases of blogs, extensive options with selling stuff and memberships.
If you know what your needs are from a website and Squarespace can do that, this is a simpler choice. Squarespace still has a lot to offer, but less than WordPress.
One important function they differ from each other is a learning environment. If you want to create your own courses inside your website, WordPress can do that, Squarespace can not. But you can use another system like Teachable or Thinifice. Apart from your Squarespace website.
WordPress can be optimized for speed, but takes a bit of work. It can be lightning fast. Normally your web developer will do that for you. Squarespace will be a bit slower.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
WordPress easily wins here. There are way more options with WordPress if you get into it. You can get far better results with WordPress. Although if you just want basic and simple, Squarespace is fine too.
Just out of the box, Squarespace will win, hands down. It offers beautiful, clean and simple templates that I like. But WordPress can be made into something similar.
So if you do it yourself, Squarespace will be easier to have a beautiful design. If you hire someone, it doesn’t matter, it depends on the skills of the designer.
Dependance and support
Both you can build yourself. But I do recommend Squarespace for people who want to build their own website. Because of its simplicity.
If you hire someone, after building your website, you will need someone to do maintenance on your WordPress website or become a WordPress master yourself. With Squarespace that is not the case.
If you need help with your website, you will find so many WordPress specialists everywhere. WordPress has a huge community. With Squarespace, you have less choice, especially in the Netherlands. So switching and finding someone else is more difficult. Also, there is less knowledge available in the Netherlands.
Squarespace does have a very good support service you can chat with and ask all your questions to. WordPress self does not have that.
Selling and paying on your website
This is the biggest dealbreaker for people in Europe. Squarespace is not (yet) ready to make payments possible in the Netherlands with iDeal. You have to use Stripe, PayPal or Apple Pay.
So if you want to sell something through your website and live in the Netherlands, WordPress is your obvious choice. It is also good to think about this if you want the option to sell something in the future.
People say that Squarespace is more user-friendly than WordPress. If you want to build your own website, I agree. If someone else makes it for you and uses a good builder like Divi, which I do, I do not agree. I would say its the same. And for me, WordPress is easier because I have been using it for over 10 years.
There are also a lot of people who have used a WordPress website before and know a little about how to handle it. Squarespace is usually a new system that you would have to learn if you do have WordPress experience already.
Bottom line. Both are fine if you ask me.
If you make and maintain your own website, WordPress is the cheapest, because WordPress is free. You only pay for your domain and hosting. That can be between 100 – 150 euros a year. You usually also have to pay for a theme, let’s say around 100 euros and premium plugins. That can add up to a few hundred euros. If you want to do it right of course. You can not use premium stuff, but I wouldn’t recommend that. If you want someone who does the maintenance for you, this will cost money too. You pay for updating your website and bug fixing. Usually, they do offer to include the costs of premium themes and plugins in their services because they pay for multiple sites at once. This maintenance can generally be between 300 – 1000 euros a year.
Squarespace is a subscription-based service that you pay yearly or monthly. For a normal simple business website, you pay 204 dollars a year. For a webshop, you pay 288 dollars.
Which one is the best for your situation?
I assume when you are reading this you are living in the Netherlands. If so, here is my advice.
When to choose WordPress:
- If you want a powerful and flexible platform that is most popular worldwide with 66.3%* market share
- If you easily want to switch people, so you’re not dependent
- If you want to choose from a lot of experts that can help you
- If you want to sell (digital) products or tickets or want to have the option in the future
- If you want the freedom of having a lot of different functions and integrations
- If you want an online learning environment to create an online course or want to have the option
- If you want to own your own data and choose your own hosting
- If you want the best SEO option
- If you want to use multiple languages
When to choose Squarespace:
- If you want to build your own website and do not have a lot of needs
- If you want a simple system
- If you want a good and cheap solution
- If you want a clean design right out of the box
- If you are ok with choosing something not a lot of people use in the Netherlands with 2.7%* market share
- If you want no maintenance or do not need a maintenance person to ask for support
- If you are ok with chatting with the support service of Squarespace
- If you just want some basic SEO
I hope this was helpful. Of course there are a lot of opinions about this topic. This is what I find important and is relevant for the way I work and the needs of my clients.
Please add your thoughts in the comments and let me know what you chose and why.
*Percentages based on findings on W3techs, January 2020.