Squarespace is one of the best-known names in the website builder business. With countless TV and online advertisements, starring household names like John Malkovich or Keanu Reeves, Squarespace does its absolute best to assure you that it is the best you could ever find. Is that true? In this Squarespace review, I will test the platform and give you my thoughts. Is this an incredible website builder, well worth its own hype? Or would you be better off choosing the competitors, such as Wix or Weebly? Let's find out.
Squarespace Pricing & Plans
Squarespace has 4 paid plans. Unlike many other website builder platforms, however, it doesn't offer a free one. Squarespace has full confidence that users will love the services enough to pay for them, so what you can get is a 14-day trial plan. With no credit card required, this option allows you to edit the website to your liking. Once you feel it's good enough and ready to publish - you will be asked to pick a plan and pay up.
The plans you can choose from are divided into two categories.
Simple 'personal' websites:
And business-related eCommerce websites:
Here are all of the main features of all four - put in a regular table form.
|Personal||Business||Basic eCommerce||Advanced eCommerce|
|How many website templates?||~130||~130||~130||~130|
|Free domain||Yes (with annual purchase)||Yes (with annual purchase)||Yes (with annual purchase)||Yes (with annual purchase)|
|Can you connect your own domain?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|How many websites can you make?||1||1||1||1|
|Are email addresses included? (how many?)||No||No||No||No|
|Are there builder’s own ads on your website?||Yes||No||No||No|
|How many add-ons?||0 (only Squarespace's own)||0 (only Squarespace's own)||0 (only Squarespace's own)||0 (only Squarespace's own)|
|Choice for server location||No||No||No||No|
|Free automated backups||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Money-back guarantee||14 days||14 days||14 days||14 days|
And here are the prices you would pay in the basket. The monthly prices you saw in the promotional pictures above are only valid when purchasing for 12 months in advance. The true numbers are like that...
|Period||Personal||Business||Basic eCommerce||Advanced eCommerce|
Renewal costs are the same - repeating in both period and fee.
*Prices here do not include taxes. You may have to pay additionally, depending on your locale.
eCommerce available with every purchase is a nice little thing. Many businesses may not be interested in anything more than a quick payment gateway and only a couple products. So them not being priced out is always a good thing. Transaction fees in the non-commerce plans also suggest that should your business start booming, you can easily upgrade to a better plan.
None of the options include a Squarespace advertisement on your page - however, if that's what you want, you can actually put it on yourself!
Finally, disk space and bandwidth. They're both fully unmetered in all of the packages. Although when you see how much everything costs, it's only expected. Speaking of that...
Squarespace is expensive. $16/month for an entry plan when paying in monthly periods is a lot. No free plan also means you can't set up a website, use your domain to redirect to it and then pay when you're feeling ready. If you want your website to be online, you have to pay. Simple as that.
Free domain is included in all of the paid plans - but only in a yearly plan. When it expires, you have to pay for it yourself.
Overall, Squarespace prices are not ideal. They're just really quite big and there's no way to set up a website without paying for it. Let's hope it's a great website builder - because the resources alone are not enough to justify the price. Our web hosting speed champion Hostinger offers free domain and unlimited data/bandwidth too! And it only costs $3.49 a month. Therefore, Squarespace needs to catch up elsewhere. Let's see if it compensates.
Creating a Custom Website
Upon signing up for the Squarespace trial version, I was immediately greeted with a huge array of website templates waiting to be picked.
First things first, I'd like to come on the record by saying that Squarespace templates are by far the best-looking ones in the industry. Although completely dominated by the trendy "full image on the screen" design, all of the designs look incredibly pretty. If you have photographs to match, you can attempt to replicate such an experience and wow both best friends and mortal enemies alike.
I've decided to kick things off with "Tremont".
Few minutes in, one of the biggest downsides of this platform has started lurking on me. Squarespace has turned out to be one of the most complicated website builders in recent memory. Skills and tricks from WordPress or experience with Wix/Weebly all meant nothing here.
In simple terms, you are given one of the two ways to edit. Either you do your best with the graphical interface...
Or move to editing CSS yourself...
Out of the two options, editing custom CSS actually doesn't even sound as bad. However, that is mostly due to the fact drag-and-drop builder is simply not good enough.
All of the editing is done on one column on the left. It’s very counter-intuitive and takes a lot of time to master. While a jump from Wix to Weebly and the other way around consumed about an hour of adjustment, Squarespace started making sense only 2 days and 10 coffees later.
Even when it makes sense, this platform is not without its little bugs. Sometimes you edit and can’t see the changes only until after you publish the website or restart the entire editor. When it comes to very precise, minimal changes, this can be genuinely frustrating. Some things, however, simply refused to change - such as the layout of the template's header.
You can't edit it in the graphical editor. To the custom CSS you go! Many customization issues problems can get solved by a bunch of code that will override the template's own design and apply your own.
Not very intuitive, right? This lack of editing capabilities has strongly affected this next part of the review...
Hosting.Review Recreation Experience
Right. In this part of the Squarespace review, I try to establish a simple answer to a complicated question. How easy is it to make a website of a specific desired design? Do the editing tools stack up? Can I spend 20 minutes of my time and create a legitimately decent looking website? This is the challenge for both me and the website builder. So let's see what happened.
I attempted to do everything without touching the code, of course. This is a website builder! If you're a coding expert, surely you wouldn't need Squarespace!
Sadly, without coding, it was near-impossible to make things work. Everything in the editor is all over the place. In one spot you can edit the button’s styling, color or shape. Want to change the position or the text itself? Good luck finding it!
Turns out I had to quit the ‘Design’ menu, go to ‘Page’ menu and edit the ’Settings'. This is where my buttons and headings were. After editing them, I found out that the sizes of the headings were custom and the fonts were nothing like I wanted.
Surely, it's available! I just had to try and find it again! What a headache this turned out to be.
In Squarespace, relatively simple tasks require multiple actions. Stuff that usually took a few drag-n-drops or a right-click in other builders required three menus and a degree in astrophysics here. One more example:
Want to make a white header above a banner image?
- Upload a banner.
- Then, set the header color to white.
- Then, uncheck the ‘Transparent on Banner Images’ option.
- Want to move the header menu slightly to the center? Don't worry, there's a custom code for that.
At the end of the day, I didn't even come close to fully recreating a Hosting.Review website I had in my mind. Moving outside of Squarespace's idea of what the template should do is incredibly difficult. You get very restrained.
At one moment, it struck me that Squarespace probably wants to sell its customers the idea of having an absolutely beautiful website - just like in the template! Then, they will happily provide you with the professional who will build it for you. For an extra fee, of course.
If you have no coding experience and want to recreate a website - hire a development team.
Up next - performance. The speed of your page is an incredibly important thing. It enhances the visitor experience and also helps to improve the search engine rankings!
Uptime is also crucial - naturally, the less your website is down, the better.
So, let's have a look at how Squarespace has done during our few weeks of testing.
Not ideal. Less than 99.5% of uptime means that you and your visitors will almost definitely spot the moments when the website is unavailable. In addition to that, an average response time of 600ms+ puts it at the bottom half of the top web hosting companies and also way below Wix or Weebly.
Neither of the numbers is bad - but they could easily improve in order to compare better with the competition.
When it comes to customer support, Squarespace has two options - ticket/email support and live chat. The latter is a great addition, which is common between hosting providers but not so much between the website builders. The emails are answered all around the clock while the live chat works from 4 AM to 8 PM Pacific time. Such an interesting time frame means that you can get a live chat during working time in both Americas, Europe and Africa.
So, let's review how good the live chat really is. During several days of testing, I was always warned that the volume is "unusually high" and it will take more time for me to be connected with an agent. That may have had some negative effect. Yet if the volume is always "unusually high", maybe it's not unusual after all?
Even with the "volume issue" though, it took me 3 to 5 minutes to be connected with an agent, which is perfectly fine.
The agents themselves were quite interesting. I was attempting to ask stupid questions and make them snap - they didn't. They also were incredibly methodical, providing me with answers coming from the templates. Those templates all had links to the Squarespace knowledge base, some of them included videos or other media.
All of that was great - yet I felt I was talking to a robot most of the time. It didn't feel genuine (most likely it wasn't) and if you didn't understand what the knowledge base meant with its answers, you were pretty much done for.
Now, let's check the other option - email support. Personally, I thought it was decent. The answers were extensive - while they also included links, I felt like they were slightly more human. Perhaps with fewer time constraints which come with live chats, agents in email have more time to include pleasantries?
The response times were okay, but nothing amazing - usually from around 4 to 8 hours.
Overall, I'd say that Squarespace has done quite alright with its support. I wish things, especially in live chat, would be resolved more with actual humans trying to help and not tutorial links. Many customers tend to at least Google their issue before they contact support. Agents responding with the top search results may not be helpful at all. Sure wasn't for me!
Squarespace Super Bowl Commercial 2018
Have you seen the game last Sunday? Nick Foles touchdown, two calls against the Patriots, and a record number of yards - sure, all was great. Let's get to the interesting stuff though, have you seen the ads?
Squarespace stayed on top of the game by cashing in on its cover star for a few months now - Keanu Reeves. Squarespace Super Bowl ad of 2018 included some reckless bike driving, old-school helmets, and enough motivational speaking to move a mountain.
You can have plenty of opinions about Squarespace and its services, I sure have a few. Yet with ads like this, including household names like that, I don't see this company ever slowing down. There will be plenty of people coming in, trying to "make it happen" with Squarespace and it's down to the company to deliver on the promised. Looking forward to testing this builder even more in the upcoming months and congratulations to everyone in the company on the great ad!
Squarespace Review - Conclusion
This is a weird one. I stick by my words - Squarespace has the best-looking templates in the business. They're dazzling: the animations are smooth, the structures of the pages are simple, yet powerful. On top of that, this is the only major website builder platform which makes live chat support available - to all of the page's visitors. These two reasons alone should be good enough for a complete amateur to consider using Squarespace.
However, after writing this Squarespace review, I can't fully recommend it - for several reasons. First up, it's quite expensive and if you want to test your website out in the wild, you'll have to pay.
Secondly, the editing of the templates is incredibly difficult. The process is not intuitive and often requires custom coding - which is not something a website builder user should be expected to do!
Unless you fell in love with one of the sleek Squarespace templates. In that case, I wish you patience and good luck.
- Be-a-u-tiful website templates.
- Live chat service available 16h a day, email service - 24h a day.
- Very difficult to justify the high prices.
- Both uptime and response times lack behind the competition.
- Building and editing interfaces are *exactly* like rocket science.
- No free plan.