WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com vs. Squarespace – What is the difference?

If you’re playing with the thought of starting a website in 2019 you’ll most certainly come across the names WordPress.org, WordPress.com and Squarespace.com. But what is the difference between the three of them?

If these names doesn’t ring a bell for you you’re not alone with your confusion, even people who have been blogging for quite some time have a misconception about them or mismatch them at times and some even go so far to think WordPress and Squarespace are the same. Time to bust the myths!

In this following article we’re finally going to clear out the confusion about these three platforms and outline the differences between WordPress.org, WordPress.com and Squarespace.com with easy & memorable explanations.

This article will give you an overview for each platform including a detailed cost summary, so you know exactly which of these platforms will serve you best for your website or blog project – without killing your budget.

WordPress.org

Let’s start right off with a widely spread misconception – WordPress.org & WordPress.com are NOT the same! The easiest way to differentiate WordPress.org is that it’s open source and self-hosted which means in addition to use it you need to buy hosting space and a domain from a third party.

The rule of thumb goes like this: If you’re paying someone like Bluehost, Siteground or Godaddy for your webspace you know you’re blogging on WordPress.org.

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WordPress.com

Now, there is another WordPress, but with a .com ending. unlike the .org version WordPress.com functions not only as software but also as a provider for your hosting and domain. This means you buy or better rent your website or blog directly from WordPress.com. This means that WordPress.com owns your site and rents it to you unlike with WordPress.org where you own your website yourself.

With WordPress.com you can sign up for one of their five plans. You don’t get the freedom to decide everything yourself unless you’re willing to pay for their highest tier plan. If you choose one of the lower plans you can’t use any of the million Premium or free WordPress themes, but only the ones WordPress.com has choosen for you. The same goes for WordPress plugins.

In summary WordPress.com is perfect for someone who is not overly dedicated to his or her website and sees this more as a sporadic hobby. Definitely not what a business website should look like!

Squarespace.com

Now that we have talked about both WordPress versions let’s dive into Squarespace and get the biggest misconceptions about it out of the world. Squarespace is not WordPress! Squarespace.com is a platform which operates with it’s own software that is totally different from WordPress. Squarespace offers to host your website, design it with their unique software and usually you also buy a domain name directly from them. This means you have a all in one platform.

Another big difference between Squarespace and WordPress is its price tag. It’s at a much higher price segment starting. Here as well you don’t own your website but rather rent it from Squarespace.com.

Which Platform should I choose to start a Business Website?

WordPress.org!

You might think that I’m a bit biased because I’m selling themes for WordPress.org? First of all, there is a reason why I choose making themes for this platform – because I simply think that it’s the best out there for every business owner who wants to start a website or an entire online business. Having seen and worked with websites on both the other platforms, WordPress.com and Squarespace, – in my opinion the best choice for almost every business case is WordPress.org. It will help you grow and scale your business without hassle and without killing your small-business budget every month.

Get an easy to install Theme for your first WordPress site

What if after two years in business, you decide to add an online shop to sell your own products? No problem with WordPress.org – it’s there within a few clicks (and for free!). The same goes for a lot of other functionality such as booking, CRM or newsletter systems. As WordPress.org powers almost a third of all websites available around the world, there are tons of integrations for every use case you can imagine.

That sounds too good to be true? Okay, here is the deal: You have to figure out stuff yourself. The reason why platforms like Squarespace cost a lot of money is because they take care for most things for you. Host your site, offer a predefined suite of plugins and designs, help you when errors come up. With WordPress.org you have the freedom to do whatever you want to – and to do that a bit of DIY is required.

Recommended Article: How to start your own WordPress Website from Scratch in 45 minutes – without any tech or coding skills!

The other option is to hire a WordPress professional if it’s on your budget. Luckily, as WordPress is so popular you can choose from thousands of experts at many different price levels.

And if we are already talking about the money… I have put together the following overview, so you can see exactly which system is the right one for you and how much it will cost you to start a business website on either of the three platforms:

The big Comparison: WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com vs. Squarespace

WordPress.orgWordPress.comSquarespace
HostingYou need to buy hosting and a domain from an external provider (like Bluehost, Siteground etc.)WordPress.comSquarespace.com
What do you need?Hosting, a Domain and a WordPress ThemeOne of their five plansOne of their four plans for websites or online shops
Use own Themes/
Plugins?
Yes. Both Free and Premium Themes and unlimited Plugins.Only from the business plan upwardsUse custom Squarespace kits but no plugins.
Price per month4-10$ (on Bluehost hosting plus one-time cost for a theme)3-8$ for blogs, 25$ for businesses and 45$ for online shops15-24$ for businesses, 28-42$ for online shops (plus transaction fees in some plans and one-time cost for a design kit)
It’s best for…Small and bigger businesses, bloggers and shop ownersHobby bloggers and everybody who is fine with using a limited range of design and functionalityEverybody who has a bigger monthly budget and wants an all in one solution

I hope this article shed a light on the differences between the three platforms and helps you decide which one is the right one for you and your business!
Let me know in the comments where your website lives and if you have any questions regarding WordPress, WordPress and Squarespace.

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