Bluehost vs Squarespace: is hosting really better?
If you’ve ever wondered who would win in a battle of Bluehost vs Squarespace, you are at the right place. In this comparison, we will delve deep into comparing the pricing, ease of use, performance, customer support, and much more between these two behemoths of the digital world.
If you, like me, have been looking for a place to start your own website within the last 15 years, you have more than likely come across Bluehost and Squarespace.
But it’s like comparing… Avocados to pizza. Both tasty, but so very different.
After all, Bluehost is a hosting provider that lets you use whichever CMS you want to build your website, meaning endless possibilities. Squarespace, on the other hand, is a website builder that presents you with the easiest way to build the website of your dreams. No prior coding or website building experience to do so is needed.
Nonetheless, as different as these 2 might be, the end result must be the same – a beautiful and successful website.
So in this Squarespace vs Bluehost comparison, I tested the main things that make up a successful website. In the end, we’ll see which one is better at that, or at least which one is better for you.
Bluehost vs Squarespace: general info
Bluehost and Squarespace are both well-known names in the industry. However, Bluehost is a hosting provider, while Squarespace – a website builder. This comes with different approaches to building a site as well as significant price differences.
Here’s a quick overview of facts only. It's up to you if you'd like to read the full article or jump straight down to the conclusion. After all, 5000 words take quite a bit to read.
|Pricing:||from $3.95/mo||from $12/mo|
|Ease of use:||Native dashboard and cPanel||Intuitive website builder|
|Performance:||99.99% uptime and 361ms response time||99.99% uptime and 467ms response time|
|Security:||Free SSL and server monitoring||SSLs, server monitoring, WAF, backups|
|Support:||24/7 live chat and phone||24/7 ticket support and 5:30AM - 9:30PM PT live chat|
Bluehost, by default, is much cheaper than Squarespace. The cost of shared hosting plans on Bluehost ranges from $3.95 a month to $13.95 a month, while Squarespace plans range from $12 to $40 a month.
At the same time, the pricing difference is quite well justified – Bluehost provides you hosting and the tools to manage it yourself. Meanwhile, Squarespace is the platform, where you can easily build a website; the rest of the technical details are managed by the platform.
There aren’t many similarities between the stuff that the platforms offer. They both have 4 plans, include free domains and SSL certificates. Also, you can host 1 website with the cheapest plans. The rest is different:
- Bluehost Basic ($3.95/mo) includes 50GB SSD storage and unlimited bandwidth. Monetization options are not limited.
- Squarespace Personal ($12/mo) comes with unlimited storage and bandwidth, but eCommerce functionality is not included.
It’s also important to mention that no matter which Squarespace plan you buy, it’s meant for 1 website only. As for Bluehost, you can create an unlimited number of sites starting with the second (Plus) plan.
Also, billing options are different. With Bluehost, you get the best price by purchasing at least a 1-year subscription, yet renewals are higher. Squarespace gives a discount on yearly subscriptions and doesn’t have higher renewals. Plus, monthly pricing is not that bad either. Here’s how all this looks in numbers:
|Plan||Advertised price||Total initial price||Total renewal price||Monthly rate|
Bluehost is cheaper, although renewals bring these 2 closer together. At the same time, you can choose monthly billing with Squarespace to avoid high-pre payments. That’s something that’s not available with Bluehost.
And yet, is the cheapest plan offering the best value? I decided to check out other options to see which of the plans with both providers are the most valuable.
Bluehost’s 4 plans range from $3.95/mo to $13.99/mo. You can choose them for annual, biannual, or 3-year subscriptions, yet the monthly price remains the same.
- Basic is best for personal use, as a 1-site limit might prove to be too limiting for businesses.
- Plus is the best option, universally. Unlimited storage and bandwidth for unlimited sites comes at a friendly $5.95/mo and not too bad $11.99 on renewal.
- Choice Plus adds daily backups for a year and domain privacy for an extra $1/mo. Yet renewal is much bigger, at $16.99.
- Pro, for shared hosting, is overpriced, in my opinion. At a $13.95/mo rate, you can find a powerful cloud hosting option that’s easy to use.
Plus is the best long-term value. Choose it for 3-years to enjoy the initial discount for longer, paying $214.20 initially.Check Bluehost Pricing Now
Squarespace similarly has 4 plans ranging from $12 to $40 a month with a yearly subscription. Monthly billing is also available, raising the price to the $16-54/mo range.
- Personal is really great if you’re building a portfolio or a site to represent your business. Although monetizing it through eCommerce won’t be possible.
- Business adds eCommerce functionality, but it comes with a 3% transaction fee. So if you sell $100 worth of goods a month, a $18/mo plan will turn into a $21/mo plan. Not worth it.
- Commerce Basic removes the 3% fee and is great for smaller eCommerce stores with functionalities such as client accounts and analytics.
- For bigger businesses, Commerce Advanced opens up all the features available with Squarespace – abandoned cart recovery, advanced discounts, and even APIs for third-party integrations.
Overall, 2 options here are the most attractive – Personal for small personal and business sites and Commerce Basic for starting an eCommerce store. Choose them with either yearly or monthly subscriptions based on your budget.Check Squarespace Pricing Now
You can try out Squarespace 14-days free of charge, no credit card required. Bluehost doesn’t have a free trial, but you can cancel and get a full refund 30 days after the purchase. Keep in mind that the payment has to be made via credit card.
Bluehost is cheaper, no questions asked. It’s also more flexible than Squarespace. At the same time, it’s difficult to put a price tag on the platform and tools that Squarespace offers. Plus, its billing is much more attractive.
Ease of use
Both Bluehost and Squarespace are great as far as ease of use is concerned. While very different, they provide the user with an easy and intuitive use process. Bluehost does that with a custom dashboard, a variety of tools, and cPanel integration. Squarespace, at the same time, has a great account management dashboard and straightforward website editor.
Setting up a website
Upon signing in, both providers will greet you with a quick setup process. If you wish, Bluehost will install a WordPress site for you, while Squarespace will lay the foundation for your future website.
Before you even reach the dashboard or control panel, Bluehost takes you through a setup wizard. If you wish, you can skip it altogether. But if you choose to go through, you’ll come out with a WordPress website already on your account.
You can even pick a theme and some plugins during this process. So once you’re done, all is left to do is to actually customize the site in the WordPress admin panel.
As for Squarespace, you go through a similar setup, but the focus here is the choice of a template.
Because Squarespace has hundreds of templates, it asks you questions to better filter the choice.
Once you pick a template, you’re redirected to the website builder/editor to start customizing your website immediately.
In either case, you come out with a foundation for a website with both providers in less than 5 minutes. That’s the definition of ease of use and convenience.
Website and account management
After the website setup, you finally get to see how the inside management looks like on both products. But this is where the main difference shows up – Bluehost finally starts looking more like a hosting platform, while Squarespace reveals its website builder powers.
For account and hosting management, Bluehost has a simplistic yet very efficient dashboard.
Everything is neat and easy. You can access the most important stuff from the side panel, which includes all of your sites, marketplace, emails, and more.
I absolutely love the fact that in the middle of the page, it provides you with a to-do list for completing the creation of your website. Having a list that you can follow is incredibly useful, especially if you’re new and have no idea where to start. However, be aware that the list only applies if you intend on using WordPress.
My Sites area will probably be the main thing that you use. It lists all of your websites and has a separate management interface for each of them.
Here are the settings for speed, security, and general stuff such as site URL or automated backups and updates.
As you can see, most of the stuff you need to properly manage your website is included right there as far as WordPress is concerned. However, Bluehost has the integration of cPanel that allows you to control more advanced settings and other CMSs. You’ll reach it by clicking the Advanced button on the left-side menu.
If you’ve ever used cPanel before, you’ll be quick to realize that the whole look has been optimized specifically for Bluehost. However, the way you use it and its functionality remain pretty much the same.
This is where you can create free email accounts, reach databases, or file manager.
At the same time, the Bluehost backend is just for the management – setting up a domain, installing a CMS, getting an email account, and so on. As far as a website goes, you’ll use the content management system of your choice, such as WordPress.
Squarespace is completely different, being one of the top site builder platforms. After the setup process, you are immediately taken to the website builder, where all the settings related to the website and its functionalities can be found.
On the right side, you can see a live preview of the site, while the menu on the left features all the settings imaginable. It’s meant both for designing the website and configuring settings such as domain, SSL, SEO, and even marketing.
The menu has multiple layers, each option taking you deeper and deeper into the settings. At the same time, no page needs to re-load as everything is built-in into the same interface.
So compared to Bluehost, Squarespace might be even easier to use as you do everything in one place. From designing the site to managing account/hosting-related stuff.
Website builder comparison
The obvious winner of this section is Squarespace, yet Bluehost also has a simplistic website builder that’s good for quickly launching a site.
Website builders are usually the choice for those who don’t want to get into technicalities. You get everything in one place. Only the creative part is left to do; it’s a time and nerve-saving option.
So while the primary option to build a website with Bluehost is WordPress, it also includes its own website builder. And it’s quite a good one too.
Bluehost Builder doesn’t have a choice of templates. Rather, it asks you questions, allows you to choose colors, fonts, and images, and develops a unique layout.
Once that’s done, you can use a simplistic editor to modify the created layout. Each design block has a choice of several different looks as well as unique settings.
This kind of editing is probably the easiest way to launch a website.
But Bluehost hides a surprise in its builder.
It’s actually a WordPress plugin, and once you feel confident enough to leave the simplistic interface, you can easily take advantage of the power that this CMS offers. Pretty cool, in my opinion.
Squarespace builder is much more powerful. For starters, it comes with 100s of stunning templates. And there’s no other way to describe them; it’s obvious that the platform puts a lot of work into making the templates unique and oh so very attractive.
Not sure if there’s a need to mention this, but the templates are responsive as well. And by this, I mean that they will look good on phones, tablets, and desktops, adjusting automatically.
As for the building experience, it can be both very simple and very advanced. You can choose to simply replace the demo pictures and text with your own. Which couldn’t get more simple. Or, you can modify the layouts to make each page and design element completely unique.
No matter which approach you choose, using the editor is quite intuitive. You can drag and drop the existing stuff around as well as add new design elements such as buttons, text boxes, and images. Squarespace has global settings for fonts and colors, but you can also choose to edit this for each section individually.
What I liked is the design freedom that’s paired with some rules. You do get a lot of freedom of where and how to arrange your content, but Squarespace has prepared slots in which that content can go. This way, you won’t mess up spacing, and the site will look tidy and professional.
Overall, Squarespace is definitely the more powerful builder, and there’s no surprise why – it specializes in that. At the same time, Bluehost Builder is not too shabby either; it’s definitely usable for quick and easy site creation.
Bluehost and Squarespace both come with a bunch of custom tools for website management. Bluehost is definitely one of the most functional hosting providers compared to the competitors. Meanwhile, Squarespace offers more than a regular website builder too.
With Bluehost, you’ll get to use a bunch of extra stuff:
- Manage WordPress plugins and updates straight from the dashboard.
- Set up and manage Google Ads in a simplified interface.
- List your business on Google My Business, so you can appear on queries such as “pizza near me.”
But one tool is more helpful than the others, and that is WordPress staging. This feature creates a copy of your site that only you can see. You can use it for editing design, testing plugin updates, or introducing new functionalities. It’s like a playground. And you can make those changes appear on the actual live website with a click of a button.
Staging adds a layer of privacy and security. Plus, your services remain uninterrupted – users are guaranteed a good experience at all times when on your website.
As for Squarespace, it’s no less impressive with the tools offered:
- Integration with social media channels such as Instagram to list your products is easy and automated.
- Email marketing is built-in, and it’s easy to make your email campaigns match your brand.
- SEO settings can be configured straight from the builder interface.
- Third-party extensions are available to extend your website functionality.
At the same time, it also has one feature that requires extra attention and that’s mobile app.
Squarespace has a mobile app for your website and commerce management on the go. You can publish posts, make design changes, or edit products on the go. That is a feature that WordPress might never have due to the sheer complexity of the platform.
While you might not design the whole website on your phone, having a possibility to make changes wherever you are is definitely convenient.
I’d say that both products are impressive in what they offer as an extra value. It’s rare to see that hosting providers help you take care of marketing, while staging is rarely seen in shared hosting at all. As for Squarespace, the mobile app is definitely a superstar here, and other functionalities are helpful to launch a successful business too.
All in all, I’m surprised, how easy to use and functional Bluehost and Squarespace are. Bluehost is more than a hosting provider and is perfect for beginners. Meanwhile, Squarespace is a very well-equipped website builder that can compete with WordPress functionality.
Bluehost vs Squarespace performance
No matter the platform on which you build the site, performance is the key to ensuring a good user experience and search engine visibility. For the Bluehost vs Squarespace comparison, I tested their reliability, speed, and power. Turns out, website builders are bashed for poor performance needlessly – Squarespace can easily compete with Bluehost.
Uptime and response time
To find out how reliable the providers are, I monitored their uptime and response time for 2 months. Both showed quite similar results.
Looking at Bluehost, it stayed up for 99.99% of the time. That’s 6 outages and a total of 11 minutes of downtime. It’s as good as it gets, honestly.
As for the response time, it’s a speedy average of 361ms. In the first month, Bluehost wasn’t performing as well, but the results really improved later on.
Squarespace shows even better reliability with just one 3 minute outage. That’s still 99.99% uptime – you could not ask for anything better.
The average response time is a little higher, 467ms. Just like Bluehost, Squarespace had a rough start and improved later on. Yet still, we see more (and higher) peaks in this graph.
Altogether, both Bluehost and Squarespace are very reliable. 99.99% uptime is a result other providers can only envy.
Next up, I tested how fast a fully-built website can load. Website builders are pretty infamous for poor optimizations, so it’s really interesting to see how Squarespace holds up against Bluehost.
But to better understand the results, you first need to know at what metrics to look at:
- The Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) should be under 2.5 seconds. It shows a time when the majority of content is loaded.
- Fully Loaded Time speaks for itself. It’s best to keep it under 3 seconds.
- TTFB is the time that server takes to react when a web page is opened. 200ms is ideal, although not mandatory.
Bluehost’s Largest Contentful Paint and Fully Loaded Time are entirely the same 1.8 seconds. It is a very good result, leaving some space for error.
At the same time, the Bluehost server took a full second to react (TTFB). This delayed the page load time, and otherwise, we would have seen much more impressive results.
Squarespace is very close behind with a faster 1.3 LCP, yet with a bigger delay to Fully Loaded Time – 2.3 seconds. Yet still, very good result.
Even better, as the server was super quick to initially react, with TTFB at mere 82ms. Sadly, there was some 536ms blocking time, delaying the overall page load.
Interestingly, both Bluehost and Squarespace load websites very quickly. At the same time, both have some weak spots; Bluehost’s servers are quite slow to react, while Squarespace lacks some optimization which delays page loading.
Stress testing results
One test that brought the two contenders even closer was stress testing. I tested how much and how stably the platforms can handle traffic by sending 50 Virtual Users (bots) to the websites and decreasing the number if needed.
Bluehost handled 15 visitors. And don’t judge it just now. 15 visitors over 5 minutes could add up to 15 000 or more monthly. For shared hosting, that’s a big number.
At the same time, we have to look at the graph too. The blue line here represents server response time, while the grey one – the number of visitors. In Bluehost’s case, the blue line follows the number of visitors very closely.
This means that the response time increases as more visitors are sent to the site. For me, this shows that 15 visitors is about the maximum that Bluehost can confidently handle.
Squarespace, on the other hand, handled 10 visitors. Again, more than 10 000 visitors on a cheap plan is definitely a good and well-expected result.
In this one, the blue line doesn’t increase, so Squarespace remains very fast throughout the test. Although we have a new line – the red one, which indicates failures. In the second half of the test, Squarespace failed to deliver some requests.
Again, this shows that this is a maximum that my plan can handle.
So the results are quite similar in my opinion. Both providers can handle around the same amount of traffic, and both are having small difficulties.
All in all, both Bluehost and Squarespace are very reliable, with 99.99% uptime. At the same time, Bluehost is a little bit faster and can handle more traffic. Nonetheless, Squarespace is very close behind.
Some extra attention to your website security is needed as web threats are increasing in numbers and intensity. Thankfully, both Bluehost and Squarespace cover the essentials such as SSLs and server monitoring. At the same time, Squarespace includes more by default and does not charge extra for anything.
With both hosts, you’ll get the same things that ensure the coverage from main security threats:
- Free SSL certificates for data encryption.
- 24/7 server monitoring.
- Possibility to set up Cloudflare for DDoS protection.
At the same time, there are a couple of differences.
Bluehost charges extra for additional security:
- Daily backups are $2.99/mo.
- Web application firewall alongside malware removal is another $2.99/mo.
Squarespace has these features activated by default:
- WAF is on and managed by professionals.
- Regular backups are performed automatically. In case there’s a critical error, you can request for your site to be restored.
So while these are more advanced features, they are still important, and Squarespace has a much better policy.
Altogether, no matter which option you choose, the most common security vulnerabilities will be covered. At the same time, Squarespace includes more advanced security features for free.
When it comes to the battle of Squarespace vs Bluehost in customer service, it is obvious that the two providers opted for very different approaches. Getting to a live chat is much faster with Bluehost, while Squarespace offers a very vast knowledge base before initiating direct contact.
When creating and maintaining your own website, it is inevitable that you will have questions and issues that you will need help with. That’s why great customer support is so valuable in this field.
Let’s start with Bluehost - it has a 24/7 live chat option and phone support. What I really liked about it is the fact that you can get to a live chat with a single click of a button. Moreover, an agent joined the chat in seconds, which was quite a pleasant surprise.
I asked about the renewal prices, and the agent assured me that they will provide me with that information. But before that, the agent opted to try some sales attempts by trying to recommend me a plan. When I didn’t give up, I was provided with a simple link in which I was supposed to find my answer.
I didn’t particularly like this – my question was very simple and even had the answer suggested in it. The agent could’ve just replied yes. Meanwhile, the article to which I was redirected was a tiny bit confusing.
So while I did help immediately, it wasn’t a 100% excellent experience.
Meanwhile, Squarespace has a 24/7 email ticket and Monday to Friday; 4 AM to 8 PM EDT live chat support. In order to reach either of the options, you’ll first need to go through a couple of questions and knowledge base suggestions. But that doesn’t take long.
I opted for a chat and was connected to the agent immediately. Once again, very good experience regarding this.
I wanted to know if yearly discounts are permanent. At first, the agent didn’t understand and suggested that promotions are a one-off thing. But I specified the question and got a quick answer, complimented by a link.
I really liked that the agent answered the questions himself and included links for more information. That’s very different from Bluehost.
At the same time, getting in touch with support agents is not the only way to get help.
Both Bluehost and Squarespace have well-developed and thorough knowledge bases. Providers keep updating them to match the service updates, so you’ll find relevant help.
All in all, while Squarespace live chat is not available 24/7, my experience was better with it. Bluehost agent didn’t really focus on my question and just provided a link where it could potentially be answered. At the same time, knowledge bases are equally good.
Bluehost vs Squarespace: final recommendations
All things considered, when it comes to Bluehost vs Squarespace, both have their pros and cons. Bluehost offers significantly cheaper pricing options and a management panel with a much higher ceiling. Squarespace is an all-in-one platform with quite an attractive billing and good security and customer support.
At the end of the day, you really can’t go wrong with either one of these options, and your choice should be based solely on your needs. This is how it all looks combined:
|Pricing||Bluehost is much cheaper than Squarespace with the starting price of $3.95/mo. Meanwhile, Squarespace is more limited and prices start at $12/mo. Yearly subscriptions needed to get the best prices.|
|Interface||As a hosting provider, Bluehost is effortless to use yet more advanced when compared to a website builder such as Squarespace.|
|Performance||Both products showed good reliability with 99.99% uptime. They were also very close in terms of speed and power, yet Bluehost proved to be better in both cases.|
|Security||Bluehost and Squarespace both cover security basics, but Bluehost charges extra for more advanced stuff. Meanwhile, Squarespace includes additional features such as WAF and backups by default.|
|Support||Bluehost 24/7 live chat is more convenient than Squarespace business-hours-only live chat. At the same time, Squarespace agents were more helpful.|
Both products are great, but I'm always favoring web hosting. And that might not be as bias as it sounds – Bluehost is cheaper, more powerful, and offers more flexibility. Not to mention that it is easy to use and even includes a website builder if you need some additional help to get a website going. So my main recommendation goes here.
At the same time, Squarespace is an impressive website builder. It has everything in one place so managing a website is an easy process; and don't forget those stunning hard-to-refuse templates.
Alternatives to Bluehost and Squarespace
If neither Bluehost nor Squarespace seems like the perfect option for you, there are some different providers you definitely should look into. For example, Wix is a great website builder alternative to Squarespace, while Hostinger and HostGator are some of the most popular hosting providers out there today.
Wix presents a great alternative to Squarespace because it has a very advanced website builder and some slightly cheaper (and even free) pricing options. Don’t get fooled by their cheapest plans, however, as they have limited bandwidth and storage. Meanwhile, all Squarespace plans offer unlimited bandwidth and storage.
At the same time, it is a choice for those who want complete design freedom. While Squarespace carefully helps you design a clean website, Wix encourages you to get loose – there are no rules and no limits on how much you can customize. It’s powerful, fun to use, and has much more flexibility.
Hostinger offers an even cheaper hosting alternative to Bluehost. Hostinger’s cheapest plan starts at a ridiculous $1.39/month. The packages are on the basic side, but the provider covers all the essentials and doesn’t sacrifice quality and ease of use.
What is interesting is that Hostinger has some of the best performance across all shared hosting. For such a low price, you get a performance-driven provider with data centers in 7 different locations and some of the latest technology.
HostGator is an excellent alternative for complete beginners in the field. Not only does it offer very affordable pricing options but it is also incredibly easy to use and build your website with.
HostGator has 3 main plans - Hatchling, Baby, and Business. They are $2.75/month, $3.95/month, and $5.95/month respectively. It offers an intuitive cPanel control panel as well as its own website builder, which makes managing and building your website from scratch simple.
Bluehost vs Squarespace FAQs
What is the main difference between Bluehost and Squarespace?
The main difference between Bluehost and Squarespace is that Bluehost is a hosting provider, while Squarespace is a website builder. With Bluehost, you can freely choose what software you use to build your website.
Which is cheaper, Bluehost or Squarespace?
When it comes to price, Bluehost is a much cheaper option than Squarespace. Its prices start at $3.95/mo compared to Squarespace’s $12/mo. At the same time, renewal pricing brings Bluehost much closer to the competitor. Squarespace does not increase pricing.
Which is easier to use, Bluehost or Squarespace?
Both Bluehost and Squarespace are very easy to use and intuitive. Bluehost uses a custom management interface with a bunch of helpful tools as well as classic cPanel integration. Squarespace, on the other hand, has an intuitive website builder with all settings built into one single interface.