If you want some seriously slick web design, Squarespace is the site builder for. All you need to do is to invest some time in this platform. Squarespace can help you build a truly stylish and elegant blog or online store but keep in mind that the good things take time.
It is true, when browsing Squarespace reviews you’d rarely see how easy it is to use. Not that it is extremely complicated, but when compared to other website builders the Squarespace interface looks a bit cumbersome.
Interface is not everything, though. Right off the bat, Squarespace puts in your hands some of the best design solutions out there. Their templates incorporate many advanced web design principles, which can give your site an unforgettably attractive outlook.
To put things in context, occasionally throughout this review I am comparing Squarespace vs Wix and Squarespace vs WordPress. For me, Squarespace falls somewhere in-between Wix and WordPress in terms of functionality and ease of use, which is why such comparison helps in creating a better understanding.
Ease of use
The latest iteration of the Squarespace site builder has a rather functional interface. Previously, many Squarespace user reviews were full of complaints about the disjointed navigation and convoluted settings. It seems that the Squarespace team have been paying attention all this time.
Despite the improvements, which have streamlined the design process to a degree, page editing still seems much less direct compared to the likes of Wix.
When discussing other site builders, I always advise people to play around and explore them freely and only then to check out documentation and video tutorials. With Squarespace I would warrant the opposite.
Better spend some time studying the platform before diving in, as the interface options could be frustrating for people with no previous experience.
Dragging and dropping items is possible but limited.
Editing various elements of the theme can happen only at the top level. In other words, you cannot have a part of the text in green colour and another in crimson. All pieces of text are considered to be equal, hence they would sport the same colour throughout. The same goes for menu buttons, headlines, links, etc.
Truth be told, this makes a lot of sense in terms of design, but it does take some creative power away from your hands.
Themes and designs
This is where Squarespace truly shines. It may not have as many themes as Wix or WordPress, but the ones you can use are top-notch.
Designing a website is much more than creating the right navigation tools and adding pictures. Various principles govern the subtle correlations between different elements. Through proper application, they enhance the user experience, leaving a pleasant memory and a lasting impression.
Understanding those principles and learning how to weave them into the structure of your website is an arduous task and it is probably not for everyone. Squarespace gives you the themes ready to use. All the same, you can insert your own CSS code.
The downside of these finely-tuned designs is that you have to thread carefully when customizing them. Breaking the immersion and ruining the balance on the page can happen easily enough without some creative thought and effort.
Interactivity and responsiveness
All Squarespace themes are optimized for mobile users. There is no need to tweak them much once the main design is complete.
Now, I mentioned how great their designs are and it is true: they are very good looking and very functional. But their speed is somewhat lacking. On average, speed analytic tools tend to rank Squarespace sites in the medium bracket, which is why Squarespace is bad for mobile users.
Of course, there is room for optimization but the performance cannot be boosted infinitely so do not expect wonders there.
Squarespace is highly suitable for blogging and for ecommerce. In fact, only WordPress provides more possibilities for potential bloggers, but it is also much more difficult to use without technical background.
You can integrate easily videos, sound, comment sections, archive and many other features in your Squarespace site. Unlike WordPress, the initial setup is very simple. Adding the necessary elements doesn’t take much effort either.
The same goes for creating an online shop. Every Squarespace plan provides a shopping cart with pretty good functionality.
Squarespace does not have nearly as many external applications as WordPress but all available apps are very useful and very easy to install. Generally, their functionality and ease of use fully compensate the somewhat small number.
Squarespace has a handful of Search Engine Optimization options, but they are by no means complete. All themes are optimized by default but there are a few things to be done manually.
You can insert a description of the site for the search engine crawlers to read, add individual descriptions and custom names to pages, create alt-text for images, tag your blog posts and list your physical address. All these features are good to have but there is nothing really advanced there to help you boost your rankings to the top results. Add to that the relatively longer response times of Squarespace websites and your ranking could suffer severely.
To offset this, all Squarespace subscriptions include a free SSL. Google loves sites with SSL.
Squarespace comes with a free 14-day trial but after that all plans are paid. There are 4 of them in total.
The cheaper two – at $12 and $18 per month when paid annually – are aimed to suit blogging and business websites. Even though they do come with integrated ecommerce platform, the other two plans are the ones tailored for online shops.
Their monthly fees come at $26 and $40 when prepaid for a full year. This price could seem a bit steep but the included features really cover everything you might need to run a successful store online: accounting, marketing tools, analytics, etc.
Squarespace provides exclusively online support: chat during the week, email and Twitter 24/7. There is no phone support for the time being, but the support centre documentation is really comprehensive. Pretty much anything that comes to mind is covered there.
Squarespace covers a specific niche in the website builder market. It attempts to automatize the role of the web designer and, to a certain extent, succeeds in doing so. You can get really awesome templates without the need to negotiate and argue with a real designer.
This approach has its benefits, but it also has some inherent flaws.
- Fantastic templates, excellent design
- A reasonable amount of functional applications; their number is not overwhelming, making the choice easier
- Easy setup for a blog
- Excellent documentation and support centre
- The interface could be more intuitive
- Performance is somewhat slow, optimizing the site speed is difficult
- Limited SEO options when compared to WordPress
- Pricy plans
- No phone support
When doing Squarespace reviews I am always cautious in recommending it. If you know what you are doing and you like the templates, go for it. If you want more creative freedom, easier time learning the basics and the possibility to customize everything according to your taste, there are better and much cheaper options.
1Q: Is Squarespace free?
A: No. You can check it out through a 14-day trial but all plans are paid.
2Q: Does Squarespace provide a domain name?
A: Yes, if you prepay your plan for 1 year.
3Q: Can I export my Squarespace site to another platform?
A: Yes, to WordPress.
4Q: Can I switch templates while my site is live?
A: Yes, you can change themes, customize them and adjust them as much as you want before pushing them onto the live site. No downtime is expected.