2019 October 2nd
Squarespace is one of the best-known names in the website builder business. With countless advertisements, this company does everything to assure you it's the best you could ever find. But is that true?
In this Squarespace review, I will test the platform to see if this actually is an incredible website builder and worth its own hype. Or perhaps you would be better off choosing the competitors? Let's find out.
Squarespace is a very popular platform. And it sure offers great services to support that good name. Along with regular features, Squarespace has some distinctive qualities. Eye-catching designs, unlimited hosting, and strong eCommerce possibilities to name a few.
Here are some Squarespace pros worth your attention.
1. Beautiful templates
Squarespace is famous for its beautiful template designs. Smooth looking, well corresponding elements in modern layouts - all Squarespace templates have that.
The options are pretty wide. 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. You get to choose from over 130 templates, and all of them are customizable.
The templates are put together perfectly but of course, you can change many things. Color schemes, fonts, and some composition features can be adjusted to your liking.
And the designs are automatically responsive with all devices. It conforms smoothly even when changing the size of your browser window.
The website editing is done by blocks. There are limitations in matters of template frames however, there's a lot to move around. You just choose the types of blocks and fill them with content.
For images, you can upload your own or use an open library. Collaborating with Unsplash, Squarespace offers a large library of in-stock photos. All of them are high-resolution pieces of professional photography. And the selection gets even wider with higher plans.
Also, the built-in image editor is also worth mentioning. That's a simplified tool but has all the editing options for resizing, cropping and color adjusting as well as various beautiful filters.
If you upload your own photos, keep in mind, that this website builder may not accept small pictures. By that I mean it doesn't allow to cover a bigger part of the page if the image is low resolution. On the other hand, this is a great automatization assuring that the design of your site looks flawless.
The Squarespace templates earn the praise for amazing design. And having all the flexibility to fit your needs it qualifies for those high evaluations.
2. Rich features
Squarespace offers not only a website builder platform but way more.
First, you don't need to bother about hosting. With each plan, you get fully managed cloud hosting with unmetered disk space and bandwidth. That assures your site has great accessibility and you don't have to worry about the space limits when your business starts growing.
When buying a yearly subscription, you get a free domain for a year. And of course, you can connect your own domain.
Also, you get free automated backups and the SSL certificate is included with all plans.
Talking about the plans, there are four: Personal, Business, Basic eCommerce, Advanced eCommerce. And although the first two have smaller marketing and analytics options, plans starting with $18/mo has eCommerce available. Many businesses may be interested in a quick payment gateway and only a couple of products. So having that even with the smallest plan is sure a nice thing.
Of course, Squarespace lets you try it out before buying. You get a 14-day trial to see how the controls and website possibilities work for you before actually spending the money.
3. Powerful eCommerce
If your goal is an online store, Squarespace is the right place. To help you grow your business, Squarespace equips you with marketing and SEO tools.
Also, to track your business, you get commerce metrics and analytics. That includes things like traffic sources and Google keyword searches. And to keep your clients close, starting with Business plans you can use features like promotional pop-ups, flexible discounts, abandoned cart auto recovery, or subscriptions.
All plans have SEO included making your website visible. This way you can underline all your content to make it more recognizable. And if you're new to this, there's tutorials and explanations given in Squarespace's knowledge base.
Having all that, it's safe to say that Squarespace plans for online stores are really focused on making your business successful.
4. Strong customer support
Squarespace takes care to improve user experience. You are provided with an extensive help center, ticket/email support and live chat.
Live chat 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 PT. This time frame is to optimize accessibility during working time in both Americas, Europe and Africa.
To test the live chat for this Squarespace review, I contacted them in several days. Although there was always a warning for "unusually high volume", it took me 3 to 5 minutes to get connected with an agent. Well, perhaps that high volume wasn't so unusual after all. But that response time is perfectly fine, even if is not the fastest one.
The agents were polite and helpful even when asked the stupidest questions. The answers were fast, followed with links to the knowledge base, some of them included videos or other media.
Checking the other option - email support, I was also pleased with the results. The answers were extensive - while they also included links, it felt like they were slightly more human. Perhaps that comes with fewer time constraints which are with live chats.
The response times were also okay - usually from around 4 to 8 hours.
But if you want to search for the answers yourself, the Squarespace help center is not going to disappoint you. It covers all the details with a knowledge base, webinars, and video tutorials. From detailed tutorials to business tips - all can be found.
Overall, I'd say that Squarespace has done quite alright with its support. The resources are informative and actually useful to better your experience with creating your website.
No matter how much advertised and well known, Squarespace still has some not-so-great parts. For example, the combination of high price and low performance can be a serious dealbreaker.
Of course, no provider is perfect and it's simply necessary to point out the weaknesses.
1. Expensive pricing
Squarespace has 4 plans: the cheapest option starts at $12/mo and it can get as high as $46/mo. Even though there are many features on the list, the prices are quite high.
The plans you can choose from are divided into two categories. Simple websites with Personal plan priced $12/mo and coming with eCommerce features, there's Business plan for $18/mo.
As for bigger eCommerce websites Squarespace has Basic plan starting with $26/mo and Advanced for $40/mo.
But the monthly prices you see in the promotional pictures above are only valid when purchasing for 12 months in advance. And there are only two subscription terms - monthly and yearly. Here's a list showing the monthly value with all plans for both possible terms:
|Personal||Business||Basic eCommerce||Advanced eCommerce|
*Prices here do not include taxes. You may have to pay additionally, depending on your locale.
The yearly price has to be paid in advance. Say, when getting the Basic eCommerce plan you'd have to cover $312 upfront. At least it doesn't get higher with the renewals - it costs the same, repeating in both period and fee.
As for the free domain is included in all of the paid plans - it's only in a yearly plan. When it expires, you have to pay for it yourself.
Overall, Squarespace prices are not ideal. So, $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. Keeping in mind that you can create only one website per account that price tag is looking really expensive.
2. Low performance
Sadly, the performance is not the strong side of Squarespace.
And 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.
During a few weeks of the review, Squarespace didn't show great results:
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 such competitors as Wix or Weebly.
The numbers aren't horrible but they also aren't ideal. Especially when they come with those prices.
3. Complicated building and editing
The website editor is very visual although it is not entirely drag-and-drop type. It may take some time to get the grip how much you can change and how things work. And it would be really difficult for beginners.
In Squarespace, relatively simple tasks require multiple actions. Things that usually took a few drag-n-drops or a right-click in other builders required three menus and serious persistence here.
The controls aren't so manageable as with other providers (for example Wix or Weebly). The menu is simplified, but it definitely requires some studying to get all the systematic levels of editing page visuals.
Of course eventually, the control menu makes sense. But while trying it out, I quickly had to admit that Squarespace turns 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.
The editor looks nice, but good luck finding all the little functions you want. For example, in one spot you can edit the button’s styling, color or shape. Want to change the position or the text itself? Get out of the ‘Design’ menu, go to the ‘Page’ menu and edit the ’Settings'. This is where my buttons and headings were. But after editing them, the sizes of the headings went out of place and the fonts were nothing like I wanted. Those needed to be set again...
But you are given one of the two ways to edit. Either the graphical interface or CSS edit.
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.
Many customization issues problems can get solved by a bunch of code that will override the template's own design and apply your own. I attempted to do everything without touching the code, of course. Unfortunately, without coding, it was quite limited.
Furthermore, this platform has 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.
Overall, the Squarespace website builder has great tools within, but if you are a beginner or want some specific design, this builder will become a headache.
While there are many things to cover, here we have some basic questions answered in one place.
- Does Squarespace have a free option?
All Squarespace plans are payable. You can only get a free trial for 14 days and won't be able to publish your website online. So you only get to look around the platform and check out the possibilities it offers. To actually go online, get ready to purchase the product.
- Is Squarespace worth it?
That's debatable. Although it offers beautiful designs and great marketing tools, you may want to look for cheaper options. Building your website can be tricky and the hosting part isn't that trustworthy.
- Is Squarespace good for eCommerce?
Squarespace offers wide possibilities to sell products online. You can connect your store to other platforms, set different payment methods, track payments and so on. Of course, to get the best controls, you should go with its highest Advanced plan ($40/mo). But if the price doesn't bite, Squarespace will give you all the opportunities to grow your business online.
- Do you need to buy hosting with Squarespace?
Squarespace plans have all included: you get website builder along with server space. So you don't need to bother getting hosting services separately.
- How many languages does Squarespace support?
You can create multilingual websites with Squarespace. There are six languages supported: English, French, German, Italian Portuguese, Spanish. Also, you can also localize the website, so your customers would automatically get the site language based on their location.
Squarespace Review - Conclusion
Squarespace is a great website builder. It has the best-looking templates in the field. They're dazzling: the animations are smooth, the structures of the pages are simple, yet powerful. Also, you get a variety of tools to enhance your business. And 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.
However, there are several reasons to have second thoughts. Squarespace is quite expensive and if you want to test your website out in the wild, you'll have to pay. Then the editing of pages is really difficult. The process is not intuitive and can be way too complicated for a beginner user. Or anyone who doesn't want to spend hours on making and fixing their website.
Thit may be a good choice for experienced users planning bigger businesses but in this case, the average performance won't be enough. It isn't even close to the competitors.
All in all, you can try it out and see how it works for you. But before actually purchasing Squarespace services, take time to check out other providers. You will definitely find something more intuitive and less pricey.
- Be-a-u-tiful website templates
- Rich features available even with the starter plan
- Powerful eCommerce with marketing and SEO tools
- 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 really complicated