Creating a professional online presence is essential when launching any business venture, in any field, of any size. Whether you’re building an ecommerce enterprise or simply want an online presence for your brick-and-mortar store, your website builder is key. Squarespace vs. GoDaddy are two of the more popular business website platforms you’ll come across, and both are really reliable choices. But which of these platforms is the best choice for your business? That’s what we’re here to help you answer.
Ahead, we’ll walk you through the major features, pricing plans, and pros and cons of Squarespace vs. GoDaddy. Let’s get to it.
Put very simply, if you’re especially concerned with the aesthetics of your website, Squarespace should be the website building platform at the top of your list. As Squarespace says, they’re known best for their “award-winning web designs,” and their many, many templates allow people without the slightest design experience, or the budget to hire a developer, to build a website that looks professionally designed (because they are!).
Of course, Squarespace is more than just a pretty face: The platform is also equipped with ecommerce capabilities, blogging, scheduling, domain hosting, email marketing, analytics, and 24/7 customer service, among other features. We’ll get into more detail about those features next.
As is pretty much always the case, the features you have access to depend upon which of the four Squarespace plans you sign up for. The more expensive the plan, the more advanced those features get.
Also note that the Personal plan doesn’t enable online selling at all—not a problem if that’s not something you need to offer (if you’re using your website as an online landing page, CV, or portfolio, for instance), but it’s worth knowing if you want to expand into the ecommerce world. Note that Squarespace supports selling both physical and digital products.
With all that in mind, every Squarespace plan—including the most basic plan—includes the following:
- The ability to purchase a custom domain through Squarespace, or transfer an existing domain
- Use of your domain is free for one year, if you pay for your plan annually
- SSL security
- Unlimited bandwidth and storage
- SEO features
- Squarespace’s signature professionally designed, mobile-optimized templates
- Website analytics
- Squarespace extensions
- 24/7 email support and live chat support Monday through Friday
Higher-priced plans include a full suite of essential, integrated ecommerce tools. With a Squarespace online store, you can sell unlimited products, offer gift cards, and accept donations, at minimum. Then, some of the more useful advanced online selling features include the ability to sell your products on Instagram, abandoned cart recovery, and advanced shipping and discount tools.
Regardless of the plan you sign up for, all Squarespace users can add Squarespace’s Online Scheduling tool, an integrated appointment scheduling software for service-based businesses, to their account for an additional monthly fee. And if you want to sell items in person, you can purchase a Square mobile card reader, which integrates with your Squarespace Commerce app.
We’ve mentioned the existence of four Squarespace pricing plans, but we’ll add that Squarespace lets you choose whether you’d like to pay for your account on either an annual or a month-to-month basis—and with the annual option, you’ll pay less overall.
Now, without further ado, here’s what all those plans cost:
- Personal: $12 per month paid annually, or $16 per month paid month-to-month
- Business: $18 per month paid annually, or $26 per month paid month-to-month
- Basic Commerce: $26 per month paid annually, or $30 per month paid month-to-month
- Advanced Commerce: $40 per month paid annually, or $46 per month paid month-to-month
Squarespace Online Scheduling offers three plans:
- Emerging Entrepreneur: $14 per month paid annually, or $15 per month paid monthly
- Growing Business: $23 per month paid annually, or $25 per month paid monthly
- Powerhouse Player: $45 per month paid annually, or $50 per month paid monthly
Whether you’re selling goods online or in-person, you’ll be responsible for standard credit card processing fees, plus the price of a Square mobile reader. Also, note that Business customers also need to pay a 3% transaction fee for every product sold. It seems like a small amount, but that can add up quickly, depending on your sales volume.
Keep in mind, though, all Squarespace plans come with a 14-day free trial, so you can test out the platform risk-free before deciding if it’s right for you.
GoDaddy also has the benefit of name recognition, but for a different reason than Squarespace: Founded way back in 1997, GoDaddy is one of the first-ever domain registrar and website hosting companies. Their interface and offerings have certainly modernized over the past 20-plus years, but it’s still a much simpler platform than Squarespace. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—it’s mostly a matter of preference. GoDaddy can be a perfectly sufficient choice for freelancers or entrepreneurs seeking a simple, straightforward online landing page that’s especially quick and easy to build.
First and foremost, GoDaddy is known as a domain host. Naturally, you have the ability to create a custom domain through the platform or transfer your existing domain. Then, of course, you can build an actual website around that domain.
GoDaddy also uses templates, but these are less involved than Squarespace’s: They use ADI (artificial design intelligence), which builds a mobile-optimized website for you after answering a series of questions about what you want your website to look like. Then you can control the aesthetics of that template, like font size, color, and theme, but you don’t have nearly as much control over things as you do with Squarespace. Again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, depending on your preferences.
Like Squarespace, GoDaddy’s four subscription plans increase in additional features. Their most expensive plan (and only that plan) supports basic ecommerce through an integrated online store, where you can add and edit product listings, configure a few shipping options via USPS or UPS, and process payments through PayPal, Square, or Stripe.
Also useful to know: GoDaddy’s built-in SEO tools are only available for the three more advanced plans, and their blogging capabilities are pretty limited. You can also embed links to your social media pages on your website, though you can’t sell directly through Instagram or Facebook. All users can avail themselves of GoDaddy’s 24/7 phone support and a live chat.
Yes, GoDaddy is simpler than Squarespace—but it’s a little cheaper, too. Here’s how much their four plans cost when paid annually:
- Basic: $10 per month
- Default: $15 per month
- Premium: $20 per month
- eCommerce: $25 per month
GoDaddy offers a generous month-long free trial period for all four pricing plans.
Squarespace vs. GoDaddy: Which Should You Choose?
By this point, the pros and cons of both Squarespace and GoDaddy should be pretty clear, but to recap:
Squarespace gives you more design control over (arguably) nicer-looking design templates, the ability to sell both digital and physical tools online, and some advanced features like an appointment scheduling tool, SEO optimization, and integrated social media selling tools. But all those features may simply not be necessary for every business owner. Frankly, too, Squarespace’s infinite customization can be a little overwhelming, and the learning curve to use their editing tool can be steep and frustrating. And keep in mind that Squarespace charges a 3% transaction fee for each item sold on the Business plan, on top of standard credit card processing fees.
GoDaddy offers far less customization, but it’s easier and faster to get your website up and running—and that website will look streamlined and professional. Their features are more limited than Squarespace’s in virtually every way, however, and only their most expensive plan lets you sell things online. But GoDaddy plans are slightly cheaper than Squarespace, and there’s no transaction fee to worry about on top of your standard monthly and payment processing fees.
Here’s the good news: Both Squarespace and GoDaddy offer free trial periods. So if you’re really torn on which platform to use to build your website, go for both. Then you can make the most informed (and risk-free) decision for yourself.
Christine Aebischer is an editor at Fundera.
Prior to Fundera, Christine was an editor at the financial planning startup LearnVest and its parent company, Northwestern Mutual. There she wrote and edited on topics such as debt, budgeting, insurance, taxes, investing, and retirement. She has written for print and online on topics ranging from personal finance to luxury real estate.