Squarespace Review Highlights
Better templates than any other website builder. Visually stunning, mobile-responsive designs that make your site look professional.
Powerful and flexible editor that offers more design flexibility than other website builders.
24/7 support with one-hour email response and Squarespace live chat.
1+ million websites
14 Day Trial
Squarespace gets rave reviews for its powerful customization tools and classy templates. But is the praise deserved?
We gave this popular website builder a thorough test so we could judge for ourselves.
We came to the task with high expectations. Partly because Squarespace is widely admired, but also thanks to its…
- Great publicity
- Mesmerizing marketing videos
- Killer example websites
The Squarespace YouTube channel, for example, is packed with amazing how-to videos, case studies and mini movies – with Hollywood stars and viewing figures to match.
For example Squarespace’s short film Get Your Domain Before It’s Gone, starring John Malkovich, boasts 4.5 million views and 2,000 likes. And its Dreaming With Jeff Bridges mini-movie, made for Super Bowl 2015? A cool 6 million views.
Make no mistake, this is a company that knows how to establish a great web presence.
We were even more impressed when we saw these examples of websites built using Squarespace.
These sites aren’t by professional web designers, but by normal web users with day jobs, just like you and me. Give their sites a look – you’ll find plenty of inspiration.
More than 1 million people pay to keep using Squarespace after its free 14-day trial, and that’s a solid testament to the quality of results it delivers.
Squarespace’s user base can’t quite compete with that of Wix, which has more than 3.1 million paying subscribers (October 2017) – but then, Wix has a completely free plan. Squarespace does not.
If you want your website to appear professional, beautifully designed, and expensive – as though you’ve invested time and money in it – then Squarespace could be the ideal website builder for you.
So Squarespace has plenty of fans, but what do we think? Is Squarespace the right website builder for you, and for your small business or project?
Squarespace mostly lived up to our expectations. Here we reveal how it performed on the factors that really matter when choosing a website builder, including ease of use, ecommerce features, templates – and, of course, value for money.
Squarespace review contents
Click to jump to a section:
- Squarespace review in brief – what are the top 3 pros and cons?
- Is Squarespace ideal for you?
- Is Squarespace easy to use?
- How good are Squarespace’s templates?
- How good is Squarespace support?
- Squarespace ecommerce review – should you use Squarespace to build your online store?
- Squarespace SEO review – how will your site rank on Google?
- Squarespace tech review – what hosting and export options are there?
- Squarespace pricing review – is it worth the investment?
- Squarespace review summary – is it the right website builder for you?
SQUARESPACE REVIEW VIDEO
1SQUARESPACE REVIEW IN BRIEF – WHAT ARE THE TOP 3 PROS AND CONS?
|TOP 3 SQUARESPACE PROS|
Beautiful designer templates to make your website shine.
Squarespace offers a good selection of beautifully-designed templates that instantly command attention – which is exactly what you want your website to do.
The templates cover a range of styles and industries, but they all have a sophisticated, minimalistic vibe that gives full prominence to photos. Their clean lines are a welcome contrast with other website builders’ templates, which can look overly busy.
Squarespace lets you start with a Cover Page instead if you prefer. These simple layouts can be used as a standalone website, or combined with a template.
Mobile-responsive templates that make your site look great on phones and tablets.
Squarespace automatically adjusts your site to suit the display it’s viewed on, including touchscreens of all sizes. You don’t have to create a mobile version of your site at any stage.
Even if your visitor resizes their browser window, your content – including photos, slideshows and videos – will automatically adjust to fit.
Full customization control – no coding required.
The Style Editor gives you full control over fonts, colors, image opacity, sidebar width, background images, sizes, and spacing of just about anything on your Squarespace website. You can achieve amazing results without being a coding ninja.
And if you are a coding ninja, you can edit your Squarespace site using CSS too.
|TOP 3 SQUARESPACE CONS|
Less intuitive than other drag-and-drop website builders.
Once you’ve chosen your template, it’s not immediately obvious how to customize it. First you have to find the Style Editor, and then you have to work out how to upload your photos.
If you’re patient, and determined to achieve a really high-spec site, then you’ll be fine. More than fine – you’ll be delighted that Squarespace gives you such fine control over design. But it’ll take a bit of trial and error first.
All the customization options can feel overwhelming.
There are so many ways to customize your Squarespace template that it can feel overwhelming for the average Joe (we know, we’re right there). Sometimes less is more, and an abundance of choice can be paralysing.
No manual mobile editor.
You need your site to look great on screens of all sizes, and Squarespace’s automatic mobile-responsiveness gives you the best chance of that.
But unlike Wix and Weebly, Squarespace doesn’t offer a dedicated mobile editor – so you can’t create a separate version of your site for phones and tablets.
Its Device View mode gives you an idea of what your site will look like on small screens, though. And if you want to switch off mobile responsiveness altogether, Squarespace gives you that option too.
2IS SQUARESPACE IDEAL FOR YOU?“If you want a visually impressive website, Squarespace is an excellent choice – no matter what industry you’re in.”
Squarespace is ideal for anyone who wants a fantastic-looking site. You don’t need any design skills or coding knowledge, but some decent photos might help.
What types of site and site-builder does Squarespace suit best?
It’s great for small online shops (here’s our detailed Squarespace ecommerce review) but may fall short if you have global ecommerce ambitions. In fact, it only recently added the option to accept PayPal.
Its photo-heavy templates may also be wasted on you if you don’t have, or have any interest in having, high-res photos. There are ways around that, though. We’ll explain all in our section on templates.
What we can say with confidence is that Squarespace is top of the tree for portfolios and blogging tools.
Its templates are second to none for visual finesse (here are some inspiring examples), making it the perfect website builder if you’re in the creative industries.
A Squarespace website will help your business make a great first impression – without too much effort on your part.
Here’s our quick hit-list of people we think should head straight for Squarespace to build their site. Click one to visit a related Squarespace page.
- Small businesses and online shops
- Artists and visual designers
- Cafes and restaurants
- Wedding organisers… and couples!
On the other hand if large-scale ecommerce is your priority, or you want a website builder that’s exceptionally quick and easy to use, then Squarespace may not be the best fit for you.
If that’s the case, read our guide to choosing your ideal website builder to find your perfect match.
3IS SQUARESPACE EASY TO USE?“Building a site with Squarespace is easy… when you know how.”
Squarespace isn’t hard to use, but its Style Editor does take a little getting used to.
It’s a drag-and-drop editor, but not a ‘pure’ drag-and-drop editor like Wix. Try hovering your mouse over a photo on your Squarespace template and seeing what happens. (Hint: nothing.)
It doesn’t take many clicks to get going, though.
Instead of clicking elements then uploading photos and other media, as you would in Wix, you need to head for Squarespace’s Design menu, then click Style Editor, and then upload your assets.
Now you’re cooking. Your photos automatically appear on the page, where you can start adding text and dragging certain elements around the page.
Note we said ‘certain’ elements. You can’t select, drag or resize photos. They move slightly when you edit other elements, but their position is largely dictated by the template you chose.
Luckily, Squarespace lets you switch templates as often as you like.
Squarespace is essentially a drag-and-drop website builder, but not everything on screen is clickable. With a bit of practice, you’ll soon realize you can customize anything you see.
The Style Editor is packed with options, but it’s designed to be uncluttered and easy to navigate. Click an element in your chosen template, and the left-hand sidebar of customization options will change to display just the options for that element.
Following a recent update, Squarespace is now a WYSIWYG (‘what you see is what you get’) website builder.
You used to have to keep checking a preview, but now what you see in the editor is what you get when you publish your website. This has made Squarespace much easier and more satisfying to use.
The Style Editor and other customization tools are really quite easy once you’ve got stuck in, but you’ll save yourself a lot of trial and error if you watch a few help videos first.
We’ll have more on Squarespace’s help resources later on.
4HOW GOOD ARE SQUARESPACE’S TEMPLATES?“The designs you find on Squarespace are heads and shoulders above the templates and themes offered by other website builders.”
We think Squarespace’s templates are amazing, but is that just our personal taste? Seems not. When we showed them to friends and family, reactions ranged from “looks high-end and expensive” and “very designer-like” to a straight up “wow, I love them.”
We’re pretty sure you’ll feel the same.
Squarespace doesn’t offer hundreds of templates like some of its rivals (there are just over 40, compared with more than 500 from Wix), but Squarespace goes for quality over quantity.
The collection is carefully curated to meet high standards and conform with the Squarespace “look” – clean, classy, and big on photos.
Squarespace has made sure its small but perfectly-formed collection covers a good range of industries. There are ready-made templates for portfolios, online stores, blogs, weddings, restaurants and more.
As mentioned earlier, Squarespace’s templates tend to assume that you have a good supply of high-res photos to fill those huge picture boxes. You can’t use the dummy photos.
But even if you don’t want to use photos at all, Squarespace can still give you a beautifully-designed site. Just select a Cover Page instead of a template.
Cover Pages are single scrolling pages that you can fill with blocks of colour or just text, as well as photos and videos if you want. They’re ideal for using as ‘coming soon’ pages (as in our screenshot below), error pages or simple one-page websites.
You can also combine Cover Pages with templates to give your site a really advanced structure and appearance.
Here’s a good example of a Squarespace website plus a Cover Page.
Squarespace currently has 29 different Cover Page designs, all a couple of clicks away from the Pages menu and easy to customize.
If you know any CSS code, you can use it to customize your Squarespace site even further. The CSS editor, which you’ll find in the Design menu, includes an option to reset all code to revert to the original template with one click. This isn’t reversible, so approach with caution.
The Design menu is also your gateway to a Checkout Page Style Editor for online stores; a ‘Logo & Tile’ editor; and a link back to the Templates section, where you can easily move all your site’s content to a new template.
Click here to to see our full review of Squarespace templates.
5HOW GOOD IS SQUARESPACE SUPPORT?“Squarespace support replies to emails within an hour, and its video tutorials are superb. Best of all, though, is Squarespace live chat – free, interactive, and 24/7.”
Squarespace Customer Support
Squarespace offers plenty of ways to get help. You can contact the 24/7 support team by live chat or email support.
It’s Squarespace policy to reply to every email message in less than an hour, no matter what time of day or night you send a support request.
Squarespace is based in New York and there’s every chance you’re not, so it’s handy to know they’ll help you out whatever time zone you’re in – or whatever crazy hour you’re working at.
Squarespace Tutorial Resources
Squarespace provides an extensive library of video tutorials that guide you step-by-step through using the tools. We found these videos incredibly helpful when figuring out the basics of using Squarespace, and they saved us a lot of time.
The videos are organised into series such as Getting Started, which includes videos on First Steps, Site Style, and ‘Your Pages & Navigation’ – all covering the relevant tools in easy-to-understand detail.
The written articles in Squarespace’s knowledgebase aren’t as informative as the videos, but they are searchable. And of course, it’s quicker to scan a written guide than watch a video.
Squarespace Community Forum
Get help, ideas and tips from support staff and other users on Squarespace Answers, the site’s busy community forum.
The best way to get a feel for the forum is to click the tags under Popular Topics on the right. For example click ‘blog-page’, ‘slideshow-gallery’, ‘css’ or ‘mobile’ to see all discussions on that topic.
If you need to troubleshoot a particular problem, use the search box – it may have been asked and answered many times before – or click Ask A Question.
The forum actually covers topics that the knowledgebase don’t. When we were trying to find out how to resize our gallery ‘block’, we found answers in the forum but not in the knowledgebase.
We’d like to see better integration between the forum and knowledgebase, to help you find the answers you need.
6SHOULD YOU USE SQUARESPACE TO BUILD YOUR ONLINE STORE?“Squarespace is not an ecommerce specialist, but it offers more built-in ecommerce options than other non-specialist website builders.”
It can’t match Shopify for specialist sales and marketing tools, but it does offer more ecommerce features than Wix or Weebly – without the need to install third-party apps.
Until recently, Squarespace only supported one payment platform: Stripe. Stripe is secure and reliable, but it’s only available in only 25 countries. PayPal, by contrast, works in more than 200 countries.
But Squarespace now accepts PayPal and Apple Pay as well as Stripe. Good news for your store and your customers.
7SQUARESPACE SEO REVIEW – HOW WILL YOUR SITE RANK ON GOOGLE?“Squarespace is slightly better than other drag-and-drop website builders at helping your site up the Google rankings.”
SEO (search engine optimization) – the art and science of getting your site up the search rankings – has become a vital part of running an online business.
Squarespace does more than its rivals to help you win the SEO game.
It offers all the usual basics, such as title tags and descriptions, and it produces pages with clean HTML markup that’s easily indexable by search engines. So far, so similar to other website builders.
Squarespace goes the extra SEO mile, though.
It lets you customize your website address for maximum search performance, and automatically creates a sitemap that helps Google know where to crawl and index. You can submit the sitemap to Google through Google Webmaster Tools.
Unlike its drag-and-drop competitors, Squarespace lets you customize your website title so it’s different from your URL. This can make your site much more SEO-friendly.
You can also track your site’s performance with Squarespace Analytics, a real-time data dashboard that only you can see.
Squarespace Analytics includes hourly, daily, weekly and monthly traffic reports; information about visitors who visited your site using mobile devices; sites that referred visitors to your site; which of your content is most popular, and much more.
Squarespace also supports Google Analytics, which you can link with your site to track your visitor statistics. You don’t have to choose between these data analysis tools, so we recommend using both, to gather as much info as possible and maximise its value.
8SQUARESPACE TECH REVIEW – WHAT ARE THE HOSTING AND EXPORT OPTIONS?“Squarespace takes care of all your hosting and technical needs, so you can focus on building your site.”
Squarespace lets you create multiple websites and hosts them all for you, so you don’t have to pay for hosting separately.
While it looks after hosting and domains, you can focus on building your website and other more important things (such as marketing, or life in general!)
Squarespace also takes care of all the software and security updates on its servers, to ensure your website always works and doesn’t get hacked.
But the tech feature that really sets Squarespace apart from many of its rivals, including Wix, is that it lets you export your site into WordPress.
In other words, you can download the code of your whole site – pages, blog and all – then import it for editing in the more advanced WordPress CMS (‘content management system’ – basically a code editor).
Squarespace doesn’t hold your site hostage if you decide to switch to WordPress. It’s a nice touch – and it shows confidence that users will stay with Squarespace for a long time, even after they learn to code.
9SQUARESPACE PRICING REVIEW – IS IT WORTH THE INVESTMENT?“Squarespace gives you all the tools you need to build a website that looks as professional as a site created by a developer – but for a fraction of the price.”
There’s no free plan with Squarespace, but you do get to try out the service in full for free for 14 days.
If you do decide to stick with it after your free fortnight, you’ve got four pricing plans to choose from (see table below).
As with most other website builders, you save money overall if you pay annually instead of monthly. Pay for a year upfront, and you can save up to 25% off your total bill:
|Squarespace Pricing Plans||Monthly Plan ($/month)||Annual Plan ($/month)||Savings (%)|
The two ecommerce plans cost more than the Personal and Business plans, but they’re worth the extra investment if you’re serious about setting up shop online.
You can still sell products on the Personal or Business plans, but you can’t list as many items for sale, and you will need to pay transaction fees.
For more details, read our Squarespace ecommerce review.
Whatever plan you choose, Squarespace is a little more expensive than other website builders with similar features (click here to see our comparison chart). But the gap isn’t big – and you get a lot more customization power with Squarespace.
Squarespace certainly saves you a ton of cash compared with hiring a designer. Not only would a designer charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars to create a site for you, but you’ll also have to pay for hosting and tech support separately. That’s several bucks per month.
If you’re serious about having a great online presence, Squarespace is a beauty of a deal. You get 24/7 live chat support and all the site-building tools you need – no coding required.
10SQUARESPACE REVIEW SUMMARY – IS IT THE RIGHT WEBSITE BUILDER FOR YOU?
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