The fine folks at WPMU have put together an exhaustive list comprising 27 Reasons Why WordPress Crushes SquareSpace Every Time. Now, we may be a little biased because we develop for WordPress, and list is geared toward developers, but site owners and content publishers should read this as well.
We are not afraid to admit this: if SquareSpace fits a client’s needs then it’s the best choice. There, we said it. There’s even a great (and long) blog post at WPShout about a WordPress developer who built a quick site (in 3 hours) on SquareSpace. We suggest and encourage reading it.
We have broken down a few of the reasons and added who should care about them and why. You really should read the entire list here. (Heads up: #7 is scary).
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.
Who should care: Both. A better analogy would be that Squarespace is a product, WordPress is a tool. Squarespace is an apartment: your options for modify altering it are limited. WordPress is like a hammer: you can build a house with it.
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.
Who should care: Developers, mostly. This is what makes the open source community thrive: developer contributions to software.
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.
Who should care: Again, both. Developer’s hands are tied as well as content owners/publishers. You use what you are offered and you will like it.
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.
Who should care: Both. We should caution that out of those 49,000 plugins some are complete garbage and others have been abandoned. However, as mentioned above, with Squarespace you will use what is offered and you will like it.
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.
Who should care: Again, both.
With Sononaco you pay for an entire server. You can have as many sites on it as the hardware will handle (where we boost your specs if you need more). We do not charge per-site nor do we charge you for the number of hits/visits to your site.
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.
Who should care: Again, both.
Properly managing WordPress multisite installations is not for novices but when done right a multisite installation can be a powerful tool. Our clients have found that having a single interface to manage multiple sites very valuable.
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.
Who should care: You. With WordPress you own your content and your photos. With SquareSpace you are literally handing everything over to them.
There are several other reasons outlined in the article and we encourage you to read them all. Here are few of the more concerning ones that stand out:
Reason #8: Features Aren’t Pulled without Notice
Reason #9: If You Have Grounds to Sue, You Aren’t Limited
Reason #11: Your Server Resources Aren’t Limited
Reason #15: Top Companies Trust WordPress
Reason #16: Full Control Over SSL and HTTPS (in other words, you’re at SquareSpace’s mercy. With WordPress you can choose the SSL that fits you)
Reason #18: You Can Own Your Domain
Now this is pretty scary:
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.
Who should care: YOU SHOULD REALLY CARE.
Reason #27: Better Analytics
Yes, SquareSpace provides basic analytics and you can add Google Analytics as well but advanced metrics and reporting tools such as Piwik are not available. You have to use what they give you.
This list brings up some good points and should be required reading for those trying to decide between WordPress and SquareSpace. If you missed the link, check out the full article here.