Overall Ranking: 70 out of 100 or 3.50/5 stars
Price: 4 plans depending on your needs $12, $18, $26, $40 paid annually or $16, $26, $30, $46 if paid monthly
Ease of use: Intermediate
I have read many reviews about Squarespace saying what a great platform it is and how easy it is to set up a site. So, I thought I’d take a look. Additionally, I was interested in the e-commerce platform to see if this is a good alternative to some of the other systems online.
Squarespace was launched in January 2004 by Anthony Casalena. He decided to create the company after being disappointed with other website creation platforms. His idea was to create an all in one web publishing solution.
After borrowing money from his father, Anthony started work from his bedroom and was the engineer, designer and support for the company.
What is Squarespace?
Squarespace is a content management system (CMS) that is composed of a drag and drop website builder and hosting. The service allows anyone to create great looking websites without having to do any coding.
Is Squarespace for you?
There are many online site-building platforms and it may hard to decide what is right for you.
Squarespace is for anyone who wants to create a website with a great design and profit from a platform that is relatively easy to use. You can build a professional-looking site using their well-designed templates.
They have templates designed for businesses, personal blogs, online stores, restaurants, weddings and musicians. So Squarespace is for more or less any type of website.
How to use
As an online website builder, the intention of Squarespace is to enable you to get your website online as quickly as possible.
When you have selected your template you are taken to the interface where you have the preview of your site and the sidebar which expands and contracts as you click on the different items in the menu.
A Squarespace website is divided into different areas header, body, footer, etc. Each area can contain blocks such as text, images, video and many others as you can see below.
As you can see there is a fair selection of content blocks and each block is designed to add specific content to the different areas of your page or site.
As some Squarespace templates are aimed at musicians and restaurants (amongst others) they even have blocks for creating a restaurant-style menu and a tour dates calendar for a band.
I was impressed with the gallery blocks that allow you to build any type of image gallery. Also, there is a built-in image editor that you can use to edit all images on your site, which is useful.
There is a learning curve in finding where everything is and how it works. However, this took longer than I expected and someone who has never built a website would find this difficult. Having read the reviews stating how easy it is to use and how good it is for newcomers I imagined that I would have a site up and running in no time. That was not the case and this is certainly not the easiest site builder to use.
Nonetheless, once you are used to everything the site builder is an impressive tool. It’s a good idea to look at a few tutorial videos before starting, this will speed up the learning process.
Although the number of templates is very restrained (only 32) the Squarespace templates look great and are all responsive which is a necessity today.
What I did like about choosing a template with Squarespace is that they show you how some other people or companies have used the template. You can see it on some real sites. This can help by giving you ideas and also help you in choosing a template that is right for you.
The templates are also sorted into 7 categories which can help to make your choice easier.
The categories and number of templates in each category:
- businesses – 14 templates
- portfolios – 9 templates
- stores – 9 templates
- personal – 7 templates
- musicians – 3 templates
- restaurants – 8 templates
- weddings – 6 templates
The templates can be personalized using the style editor where you can set your own: background colors, typography, spacing and more.
If you have knowledge of CSS you can use the CSS editor, but only to change fonts colors and backgrounds.
Although it is possible to change many features in a Squarespace theme you can only go so far. As the platform is owned by Squarespace you can only use the templates and plugins that are provided. If you are looking for a functionality that is not included on the platform then you can’t have it.
They do have a developer option where it is possible to customize the code, but only for experts.
The e-commerce platform allows you to sell physical or digital products and services.
There are 9 templates that are recommended for stores. When you select a template you can see how other people are using the template for their stores.
To add products to a page you need to add the product block. From there you can start adding products.
Some of the features in the e-commerce platform that are worth noting are:
- you can add product variants (size, color, etc) the different options will appear in a drop-down menu in your store
- a products page can accommodate up to 200 products
- possible to sell digital products, or example, an ebook, your customers are sent a download link after paying, the link expires after 24 hours to prevent someone from sharing the link with too many people
- possible to create shipping options (flat rates, rates by weight, USPS or free) these will apply to physical products automatically at checkout
- manage your inventory
- tax settings – you can set up sales tax rules for every country or state to which you are selling
- you can create coupons to manage any online promotions
- automatic email order confirmation
- only one possible payment gateway – Stripe – which is a bit limited. Nonetheless, they are a reliable payment service and it is easy to set up an account
Stripe is now available in: Australia, Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom, United States, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden.
Overall a powerful e-commerce platform. However a shame they only have one payment gateway, it would be good to have other options like Paypal.
This could be a possible solution to build a content-based website or a niche site selling a limited number of products.
The help and support section at Squarespace seems quite good, although if you look at some of the customer comments below you will see there are some very mixed opinions on this.
Here are the different ways of getting help:
- there is a knowledge base with extensive articles and video tutorials on a really wide range of subjects.
- the forum where you can ask your questions
- live chat
- if you can’t get an answer or find what you are looking for you can open a ticket. They have a 24/7 response team and they reply to all emails within one hour.
Pros and Cons
- 14-day free trial
- easy to import your site into Squarespace
- possible to build e-commerce sites
- professional looking responsive themes
- live editing – you can see any changes as you make them
- built-in analytics platform giving details similar to Google analytics
- no hosting needed, everything is hosted on Squarespace
- no need to search for plugins, they are included
- Squarespace deals with all software updates
- drag and drop makes it easy to get things exactly where you want
- image editor you can: crop, rotate, enhance, add text, resize, adjust brightness, contrast…
- a free domain name for plan paid with an annual subscription
- not many themes to choose from
- only one payment option on Squarespace commerce
- getting started maybe not all that evident for a newbie
- exporting your site might be difficult – you can only export certain content from Squarespace notably you cannot export product pages and only export one blog page
- limited customization
- questionable support
How much does it cost?
Squarespace offers 3 different plans, the prices quoted are for annual payments. If you want to pay monthly the prices are $10, $20 or $30. There is no free option.
The more expensive plans give you more storage, more bandwidth and allow you to sell more products. The business plan is probably only useful if you intend building an online store.
A free domain name is included with each plan that is paid annually.
Here are some customer reviews taken from Trustpilot. Squarespace scores an average of 5.8 out of 10 from 108 reviews.
There are some good comments.
But also some complaints.
On another site I found current Squarespace users complaining about the latest update Squarespace 7.
Since their latest update ,they seem to have some problems. Judging from the reviews Squarespace seems to have taken a step back with their latest release.
My final opinion
I quite liked the Squarespace platform although getting started it took more time than I expected to get used to everything. As I was coming from the WordPress platform perhaps this was normal.
If you are completely new to building a website you will need to read some of their guides and watch some videos before starting. I think it would be wise to invest your time to learn the ins and outs of this site building tool instead of jumping straight in and trying to build your site.
There are platforms online that give you websites and training to get started. For building your first website I would choose this solution, it will save you time and frustration.
Myself, I found getting started with Squarespace a lot harder than WordPress, nonetheless, after a little time, it does get easier.
One feature I did like that you don’t get in WordPress was the live editing. As Squarespace is a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) site builder all changes you make are seen as in the live site.
The templates you can choose from are all responsive (which I expect now) fully tested and look lovely. There is only so much customization you can make to each template, but to be honest, for most purposes this is sufficient. You don’t have to change or re-write code which is nice.
The 14-day trial is valuable and after that, you should have a good idea if Squarespace is suitable for you and your website. Personally, I will be sticking with WordPress.
Creating an online business
If you use Squarespace to create an online business you will need to already have your physical or digital products to sell. OK, you can build a beautiful website or web store with Squarespace, but to earn money a great looking website by itself won’t suffice.
You will probably need some training to help you get traffic. I recommend a program called Wealthy Affiliate where you get full training to start your own internet marketing business. Here are some of the features they offer.
- FREE trial
- 2 free WordPress sites
- hosting included
- step-by-step internet marketing training
- real 24/7 support and live chat
- possible to add an unlimited number of products to an e-commerce store
Try both for free
You can try out Squarespace with their free trial and evaluate WordPress with the 2 free websites from Wealthy Affiliate by getting started below. At Wealthy Affiliate, you will also get some free step-by-step training to help you set up your website.
I hope you enjoy building your sites and please let me know what you think of each platform. If you have any experience with Squarespace I would love your feedback.
Description: Website builder to create blogs, e-commerce stores, business websites or portfolios.
Price: 4 plans depending on your needs $12, $18, $26, $40 paid annually or $16, $26, $30, $46 if paid monthly
My opinion: Squarespace is quite a good platform to build a website. It might be difficult to get started for a newcomer, but once used to the block system it’s quite a powerful tool.