While we have seen a lot of raving Squarespace reviews as a website builder, we had to test it ourselves in order to validate those reviews.
We entered our Squarespace review testing phase with (unfair) higher expectations than normal, driven by 3 main reasons:
- Good publicity
- Mesmerizing marketing videos
- Killer example websites
Were our higher than normal expectations unfair given that we are supposed to be “objective”? Yes – most definitely. But at least we recognize this throughout our extensive testing process.
Did Squarespace meet our higher expectations? Yes and no. I’ll go over them in detail below.
Squarespace was launched in 2004 and is a drag and drop website builder specifically focused on providing rich-imagery, highly polished / finished experiences for website builders. The visual experiences are undeniably rich, causing us to believe that Squarespace is targeting a unique segment of users such as designers, boutique businesses, portfolio driven websites, and such.
Squarespace currently powers more than 1.8 million websites, which in appearance is much lower than other website builders such as Weebly or Wix. But one significant distinction is that all websites created by Squarespace are paid, whereas an unknown number (we suspect a fairly high number) of websites created with Weebly or Wix are free.
Squarespace is able to achieve an unprecedented level of control over the experience of creating and hosting a website. This end-to-end control allows Squarespace to deliver the best website creation tools on the web, which in turn enable the most sophisticated and modern customer websites in the industry. - Anthony Casalena, Squarespace CEO and Founder
Click on the following links to read the specific sections:
SQUARESPACE REVIEW - TOP 3 PROS AND CONS
- Squarespace provides you with beautiful, rich imagery, designer templates that undeniably command your attention right off the bat. Our first thought of their templates is that they are clean, minimalistic and gives off a sophisticated vibe. They definitely project a highly finished quality, as if a designer has invested months in polishing them. We particularly appreciated their clean lines which is a nice contrast to other website builders’ templates which could be a bit noisy.
- All Squarespace templates are responsive, meaning that you can resize your browser and the content (including the images, slideshows) will also automatically resize to help give you and your visitors optimized viewing experiences. This is especially helpful if your visitors tend to use mobile devices (certainly an upward trend for most users).
- Squarespace gives you extensive styling options that the majority of other website builders do not have. We’re not saying that you can’t do those types of customizations with other website builders, it’s just that Squarespace makes it very easy for you to customize your website’s design without editing codes. So this option works great especially if you are not a coding ninja. For example, you can adjust the fonts, colors, image opacity, sidebar width, background images, sizes, spacing / padding, etc of just about anything on a Squarespace website.
- Adding, and Dragging and dropping Blocks in Squarespace were slightly buggy in our tests, and not as smooth as other website builders (Blocks are Squarespace’s basic website building components such as text, image, slideshows). We had to try multiple times to add or re-arrange Blocks, which slightly annoying. For example, we wanted to move an Image Block from the top of the screen down to the bottom, we expected to be able to click on the Block, drag it to the bottom of our screen and the page will automatically scroll down to the bottom so we can drop off the Block. This didn’t happen, so at the time of our test, we had troubles re-arranging content.
- Although Squarespace’s Style Editor gives you the ability to customize or style almost everything in the website without going into codes, this could be a bit overwhelming to the average joe. This could be a case of paralysis from too many styling options. It’s awesome if you have the patience, a designer-eye or high, specific design standards for your website. However we feel that for the average person, this could potentially be a bit too much. That does not mean you can’t create a beautiful website with Squarespace, because you definitely still can.
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SQUARESPACE IS IDEAL FOR….
Based on our Squarespace review, this website builder is ideal for:
- designers, portfolios
- boutique businesses / online shops
Just about any user who want to create a website that’s imagery / gallery focused.
The templates available to you are very designer-like, and should make a great first impression for your visitors.
Squarespace has really done a great job in creating clean, polished image-focused templates.
EASE OF USE
During our test, Squarespace is fairly easy to use most of the time, especially if you watch some of the Workshop tutorial videos, which are helpful in giving you a proper introduction into how to use it.
Squarespace is basically a drag and drop website builder in which you can add Blocks into the website to create your own content. So it’s relatively easy to pick up how to use the basic features.
However, when we dug deeper in our tests, there were a few nuisances which we have highlighted in the “Pros and Cons” section above, mainly being:
1) Squarespace separates the editing screen and the live preview screen, making it challenging for you to format your website layout because what you see while in editing mode, is not necessary how things will appear in the live mode.
2) Adding, and dragging and dropping Blocks in Squarespace were slightly buggy and not as smooth as other website builders.
Patience is definitely required at certain times
TEMPLATE DESIGN OPTIONS
The first words that came out of our mouths when we saw Squarespace’s templates include “I love them”, “looks clean, high-end and expensive” and “very designer-like”.
Throughout our Squarespace review, we think those words pretty much summarizes how we feel about their templates.
Even though Squarespace does not have hundreds of templates for you to choose from (like other website builders), to us, it’s pretty clear that a ton of thought, care and time have been invested in each and every template.
Squarespace currently has 11 portfolio templates, 9 blog templates and 8 business focused templates (a couple of business templates overlapped with blog templates). It’s a classic case of high quality over quantity.
They don’t give you a bag of mediocre templates, which a lot of other website builders do, but rather, a carefully selected, smaller group of polished templates. We really like and appreciated this piece of thoughtfulness. If you were to compare Squarespace’s templates against other website builders such as Jimdo, Weebly or even Wix, you’ll see right away that Squarespace’s templates are head and shoulders above its competitors.
To those who know a bit of code, Squarespace does allow you to make edits to CSS to further style your website. You can also reset the codes to revert to the original CSS codes in the template.
SUPPORT / TUTORIALS / COMMUNITY RESOURCES
Squarespace Customer Support
Squarespace makes it easy for you to get help. The have a 24/7 support team which can help you, either with 1) live chat or 2) email support.
It is their policy to reply to every email message in less than 1 hour, no matter what time you send in support requests.
This is helpful especially if you are living in a completely different time zone from New York (where they are headquartered), or if you are working in an odd hour.
Squarespace Tutorial Resources
Squarespace gives you a series of “Workshop” videos, which are just a webinar series that show you how to use their website building tools. We found these immensely helpful in learning the basics of how to use Squarespace, instead of trying to figure everything out ourselves. These Workshop videos are a good way to speed up your learning curve as to how to us Squarespace properly.
They also have a Knowledgebase in which you can search through to find answers to your questions. The Knowledgebase articles include short video tutorials as well as text and screenshots, catering to different people with different learning styles (watching videos vs reading text).
Squarespace Community Forum
Squarespace does have a forum where you can ask questions in public and have their support staff or other Squarespace users answer your questions. This is an excellent way for users to share experiences and troubleshooting tips.
While this is a neat idea, we personally thought that it could be more user-friendly to group the answers to questions from the forum, with the Knowledgebase articles. For example, when we were searching on tips on how to reduce the size of the gallery Block, we found answers in the Forum, but not the Knowledgebase. When we wanted to find this article again, we went to the Knowledgebase and struggled to find it because it wasn’t there (it was in the Forum). So somehow grouping both resources together would be a better user experience for those looking for answers.
Nevertheless, the answers to your questions are likely there, but the process of finding it could be improved. At the end of the day, you can always email their support team (they will answer you in less than 1 hour) or reach them through live chat.
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SQUARESPACE E-COMMERCE ONLINE STORE
SQUARESPACE SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Squarespace allows you to optimize all the basic SEO functions, such as titles and descriptions for your overall website and also for each web page. It produces pages with clean HTML markup so that it is easily indexable by search engines. This is no different from other great website builders in the market, so it’s right on par.
They also automatically create a sitemap for you, so you can submit it to Google through Google Webmaster Tools. This is a nice feature as not all website builders provide this for you. A sitemap is basically a website map where it tells Google where to crawl and index.
Squarespace also provides you with a real-time statistics dashboard which helps you track hourly traffic, up to traffic data for the past 12 months. Squarespace’s statistics also tell you information about who referred you to your website, the most popular content, etc. Alternatively, you can also insert Google Analytics to start tracking your website visitor statistics as well.
We recommend using a combination of Google Analytics and Squarespace’s own tracking to maximize the usefulness of the information.
HOSTING AND EXPORT OPTIONS
Squarespace hosts all the websites for you, so you do not have to pay for hosting separately.
The good thing is that they manage the entire hosting process for you so you can focus on building your website and other more important things (such as marketing, or life in general!) Squarespace takes care of all the security upgrades for their servers and do all the technical details to ensure your website is always up and running, and doesn’t get hacked.
One important benefit that makes Squarespace stands out is that they allow you to export your pages and blog from Squarespace into WordPress. It’s nice when a website builder doesn’t hold you hostage – that’s a nice touch.
PRICING – IS IT WORTH THE INVESTMENT?
Squarespace is different from other website builders in that it does not offer users a free plan. There is, however, a 14-day risk-free trial for you to thoroughly test out their website builder. This removes a lot of the risks from you without you having to commit to Squarespace without trying it out. [We also have an official coupon code for you below]
Squarespace offers 3 packages:
1) Standard – $8 per month for an annual plan (or $10 if you are paying month-to-month)
2) Unlimited – $16 per month for an annual plan (or $20 if you are paying month-to-month)
3) Business – $24 per month for an annual plan (or $30 if you are paying month-to-month)
The pricing for the plans are marginally higher than other website builders with similar capabilities, but not too far. Once you’ve had a chance to experience what Squarespace’s platform is capable of creating, you can see why it is priced a just a tad bit higher.
The thoughts and details that Squarespace has invested into their templates, allows you the potential to create similar websites that professional developers and designers may charge you thousands of dollars.
Furthermore, even if you were to have a developer or designer create a website for you, you will have to pay for hosting services on a monthly basis. That in itself is already a $4 – 6 per month expense. Moreover, you will have to deal with all the technical aspects of things, such as getting your website linked to your host, etc. Squarespace includes all these services in their plans, which frees up your time for more important things.
All things considered, if you are serious about having an online presence and building a clean, polished looking and functional website, Squarespace is not expensive at all considering the 24/7 “instant” support and website building functions you receive from them.
Squarespace offers you a 14-day risk-free trial period to test out their website builder – this completely removes the financial risk from you.
Here are an in-depth analysis of why Squarespace Pricing makes sense.
To get you started, here is an official Squarespace coupon to help you save money. [When and if you are ready to upgrade, just click on the "Enter an offer code" link in the upgrade page, and insert the coupon code. You can find this link on the lower left side of the upgrade screen.]
SQUARESPACE REVIEW – CONCLUSION / RECOMMENDATION
Their styling options are second to none, which gives you the flexibility to customize your website in a very detailed way. Although this can be a very powerful tool especially if you have a very keen eye for design or a very picky in how you want your website to look, it could potentially be slightly overwhelming for an average user. But you always have the choice of not using these tools – the ready-to-use templates are beautiful enough.
Squarespace has a pretty comprehensive Knowledgebase, Forum and Workshop videos which are helpful whenever you need help. On top of that, they offer live chat and 24/7 email support in which they promise to answer you within 1 hour. We can’t think of any other website builders that are committed to the same level of customer support.
Aside from a couple of user experience nuisance as mentioned above, which I’m confident that Squarespace will keep improving, this website builder is really very powerful, especially if your website is related to design, portfolio, photography, boutique businesses / online shops, personal websites / blogs or restaurants. We think Squarespace is definitely a leader for this niche, going head to head with Wix.
If you are interested in finding out more about Squarespace and if it’s the right website builder for you, a easiest and fastest approach is to start off by visiting their templates to see if you like them, and also view their Workshop videos to familiarize with how it works. This will speed up the learning curve by hours.
You can sign up for a trial account which gives you 14-days to decide whether you like Squarespace or not before you invest in using them as your website builder. No credit card information is required to get started with the 14-day trial.
We think you will be equally impressed with Squarespace as we are, especially if you are seeking to build a clean, minimalistic, image-rich website.
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