In this Squarespace Review、I’ll give you all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether or not you should use Squarerspace to build your website.
I’ll attempt to provide you with factual information rather than personal opinion. The reason being that my opinions are based on biases and don’t give you an accurate picture of everything Squarespace has to offer.
That being said, at the very end of the review you’ll find a section entitled, “My Experience With Squarespace“, where I give my honest opinion of what I think about the platform.
To get started, take a look at this short introduction video to get a feel for what they’re all about…
How To Use This Guide
For ease of navigation, I’ve divided the review up into the following sections. You can jump directly to a section that interests you by clicking on the link provided in the “Table of Contents” below.
You’ll also find a link entitled, “Table Of Contents”, at the end of each section, which will take you back to the Table of Contents section you see below.
Table Of Contents
- Why Was Squarespace Created?
- Who Is Squarespace For?
- How Does Squarespace Work?
- How Much Does Squarespace Cost?
- Squarespace Resources
- Squarespace Features
- Squarespace Integration
- Squarespace Design
- Squarespace SEO
- Squarespace Support
- Squarespace Shortcomings
- Squarespace Alternatives
- My Experience With Squarespace
- Squarespace Test Drive
Why Was Squarespace Created?
Squarespace was started way back in January, 2004 by Anthony Casalena. Squarespace released the 3rd version of their platform in July of 2012, which was dubbed, Squarespace 6.
Casalena first created Squarespace out of his personal frustrations with other website builder platforms. However, you might be surprised to hear that the main objective that Squarespace has for their website builder is NOT “ease of use”.
That’s right. While they are proud of the fact that the platform is easy to use; they have two other goals in mind that compliment the other nicely.
Here’s what a public relations specialist was recently quoted as saying…
“We absolutely believe we are an easy to use platform, however, you do have to invest some time in the beginning to learn the platform and its many features. We offer many resources (including live workshops, live chat, and 24/7 email support) on help.squarespace.com. Once you get used to the platform, it’s a snap… and even fun to use.”
To summarize, Squarespace is aimed at providing the following:
- A powerful tool.This is probably the most important objective.Squarespace wants to give the user the tools they need to create the website they want. Now, if you’re trying to build a simple, basic website, then your tools are going to match those needs.
However, if you’re trying to build a powerful site with great functionality; then you need to have a powerful suite of tools to accomplish that task.
- Easy to learn.Now, just because the platform isn’t easy to use out of the box, doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to learn how to use.Squarespace makes sure it’s users have the resources they need in order to learn how to use the tools properly and take full advantage of the power of the platform.
Squarespace offers a great knowledge base along with guides and even peer-to-peer forums, all providing users with a place they can get their questions answered promptly and professionally.
- Fun to use.Not only do they want you to successfully build your website, they want to make sure you have fun doing it.They do this by giving you the tools you need to create a beautiful website without being a programmer or web designer. All the while using an interface that doesn’t create frustration.
They also make sure you have all the support you need along the way.
Let’s dig a little deeper and see how well they’ve accomplished those three things.
Who Is Squarespace For?
So you’re probably starting to wonder… “Is Squarespace right for me?”
There’s a lot of platforms out there for building your website, but how do you know which one is right for you.
I think there are four important factors to consider when trying to pinpoint which will meet all of your needs.
- The type of website you want to build.
Squarespace is more suited to a certain type of website. Most of their templates work well for blogs and portfolio type websites. More specifically, these types of websites do well with the Squarespace templates.
- Small Business
- Your experience and natural ability.
As mentioned previously, Squarespace can help you build a professional site through a powerful point-and-click, drag-and-drop interface. They also provide amazing technical support, should you need it.
- How much time you want to spend.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of time building your site, then Squarespace helps you out by providing 25 beautifully designed templates to start working with. Most just pick their favorite template; make use of the default layout; and then add their own content.
- How much money you want to spend.
Squarespace isn’t the cheapest website builder out there, but you do get what you pay for. And with Squarespace, it appears that the value they provide more than justifies the slightly higher price.
How Does Squarespace Work?
The Squarespace interface has a Layout Engine along with three different modes that you can change between depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.
- Layout EngineThe current layout engine is the second version that Squarespace has released, and according to user reviews, it provides even more control, allowing you pin-point customization of your templates with the click of the mouse.Here’s a short video showing it in action…
- Edit ModeThe Squarespace “Edit Mode” allows you build your pages through the use of “Insert Points”. Insert Points are specific places on the page where you can place content blocks and then add different types of content such as: text, images, video, forms, etc.This is what Edit Mode looks like…
- Style ModeThis mode allows you to adjust the design elements on your site. You can change the fonts, colors, and sizes. You can also make adjustments to the alignment, size and position of elements such as: borders, backgrounds or even add your own CSS style sheet.This video will give you an idea of how you can use Style Mode…
- Preview ModePreview mode does exactly what it sounds like. It gives you a preview of your website after you’ve made your changes, and before you publish them to go live on your site. This feature helps you check your work before showing it to the world.Here’s a look at Preview Mode…
The benefit of having 3 different modes is that it leaves the interface uncluttered with tools that you aren’t immediately using in that specific phase of building your website.
This allow you to focus on one task at a time and complete it before moving to the next mode. And Squarespace makes it very easy to switch between modes with a icon in the bottom, right-hand corner.
How Much Does Squarespace Cost?
Squarespace keeps it simple by offering 3 different plans you can select from when signing up. Each one has it’s own distinct feature set and you should be able to easily find one that fits your needs and budget.
Three plans to keep it simple…
Below is a summary of the three plans and their prices…
As you can see, the longer you pay for up front, the cheaper your per month cost.
In fact, you can save 25% by paying 2 years in advance and take an additional 10% off by entering the official Squarespace coupon code, “GIMME10” when you check out.
Next, let’s take a look at the resources that Squarespace will give you with each plan. All three plans are very affordable, and offer adequate resources for the intended use of each.
- PersonalThis plan is great for a personal blog or a portfolio type website. If you have a product, such as an ebook, or want to accept donations on your site, then this plan is perfect for you.
- ProfessionalThe Professional plan is a step up from the Personal and offers “Unlimited” resources such as pages, bandwidth and storage space.You can sell up to 20 products with the fully integrated eCommerce solution. It’s also a better choice if you’re a developer and need control over the HTML and CSS.
- BusinessThis plan is designed for those who want to establish an ecommerce shop. It provides you with integrated accounting, label printing and real-time shipping.You can sell unlimited products and have unlimited contributors for your site. That’s really helpful if you need multiple accounts for those who are working for you.
Let’s compare them side by side…
While it may seem like the Personal plan has some strict limitations, it’s actually quite adequate as well as liberal in the allotment of bandwidth and storage compared to the resources that other website builders have to offer.
All Squarespace plans include these basic features that give you the power to create a professional site without any coding or design experience.
You’ll find that other website builders offer similar features, however, my experience has been that the Squarespace is always at least one level above the rest.
- Peer1 Cloud HostingSquarespace provides rock solid, high-speed hosting built on Peer1’s cloud architecture. If you ever have any doubts about their reliability, read this story about how they kept their New York data center alive in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy. Let’s just say, you’ll be in good hands.
- Aviary Image EditorWithin the Squarespace interface, you’ll be introduced to a suite of powerful image editing tools.Here’s what that panel of tools looks like…
As you can see, not only can you do basic operations such as crop, resize and rotate your photos; you can also enhance and change the brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness. Then to finish, apply some special effects to remove red eyes, whiten teeth or cover up blemishes.
- Form BuilderEvery website needs a form. Most don’t have them because they’re so difficult to build and implement. If you’ve ever endeavored to create a form on your own, you’ll be forever grateful for the form building tool that Squarespace has designed.Here it is in all it’s glory…
Notice that you can configure your form from 18 different field types, and then choose where you want to store the data as you capture it.
- AnalyticsSquarespace recently introduced their improved analytics platform.Take a look…
It provides you with a sophisticated tracking platform that will help you follow your visitors’ activity on your site and give you insights to help you improve content.
- eCommerceWhether your a non-profit accepting donations, or you have a full-blown store, Squarespace provides you with the templates, shopping cart and payment resources you need to do business online. And if you’re already using another third-party service that you can’t live without, chances are, Squarespace already plays nicely with it – Shopify, Etsy, Xero and ShipStation – just to name a few.
- Content BlocksBlocks are used for building the foundation of your website. They can be placed in almost any location, and can contain almost any type of content imaginable. With almost 20 varieties of blocks in total, you can place anything from Audio to Video and anything in between.
- Mobile AppsSquarespace provides a Manager app for editing and managing your blog from either an iOS or Android device. Use the Note App to send notes to your blog or other applications like Evernote. Even check your site’s traffic stats with the Squarespace Metrics App.
Squarespace offers three different ways to implement a multilingual website. Unfortunately, the interface is currently only available in English.
Squarespace Integration and Compatibility
Chances are you already have a few third-party apps that you use on a regular basis. If that’s the case and you’re probably wondering whether or not you can use them with Squarespace, just check the list below and hopefully you’ll find them there. If not, don’t despair, you they’re always adding new ones and may see it sooner than later.
- Google +1 Button
- Google Authorship
- Google Analytics
- Google Adsense
- Google Translate
- Google Fonts
- ShipStation Label Printing
- Xero Business Accounting
- Stripe Payment Processing
- Apple Touch Icon
- MLS Search
It should also be noted that you can import or export your whole website to and from WordPress and Squarespace. Both platforms use an XML file to export and import the data.
If you’ve ever worked with WordPress or another website builder, you probably know how difficult it is to get your site to look the way you want it to. With Squarespace that’s not the case, and here’s why:
- Professional TemplatesAs previously mentioned, Squarespace gives you 25 professionally designed templates to work with. They are clean, intuitive and make it easy for you to customize with your own text and imagery. In fact, they look so good out of the box, I never have to make any CSS adjustments like I usually do with WordPress themes.Here’s what their templates look like…
- Responsive DesignAll Squarespace templates are fully responsive, which means that they’ll resize and look good on mobile phones and tablet PCs. In fact, Squarespace gives you a “Mobile Preview” mode which allow you to see what your site will look like on a mobile device.
So whether your setting up shop online, beginning your blogging career, or simply displaying your artistic work; you’ll be able to do it in style with the tools Squarespace provides.
Rand Fiskin, CEO of the most respected online, SEO community, was quoted as saying…
“The Squarespace team has put together a remarkable platform. Every aspect of their product – user experience, featureset, SEO friendliness, design and more – all work together to create one of the few content management systems I’m proud to recommend.”
With an endorsement like that, it’s fairly safe to say that Squarespace is taking the right steps to ensure their platform performs well from an SEO perspective.
Here are just a few things that Squarespace does to ensure your website is SEO friendly.
- They make sure that your site has clean HTML markup.
- They give you full control over your page titles.
- They automatically build a sitemap.xml file.
- They generate meta tags for all pages.
- They create a robots.txt file.
- They generate proper alt tags for images.
- They use rel=”canonical” to fix multiple references.
One last SEO service that Squarespace provides is they make sure your URLs match exactly if you move your site from another platform such as WordPress.
Basically, they take care of all the important SEO stuff so you don’t have to.
Squarespace has a great reputation for helping their customers when they need it most. And with the number of support options they provide, it’s easy to see why that’s the case.
Here’s a look at the Support home page…
If you ever get stuck, there are real people who care and will respond to your questions. And it’s always good to know you’ll get an answer from someone within an hours time. Here are the ways you can contact support.
- Help Ticket
Submit your questions via their ticketing system, and get a reply 24/7, in less than an hour.
- Live Chat
Get online and chat with a support representative, Monday through Friday 8am to 7pm Eastern.
- Squarespace Answers
Post your question in this peer-to-peer forum dedicated to answering questions about the Squarespace Platform.
Squarespace offers these extended video walkthroughs that range from 30 minutes to 1 hour long.
- Knowledge Base
Answers to most questions can quickly be fount in these in-depth articles and videos on anything Squarespace.
Squarespace isn’t perfect by any means.
Below you’ll find a list of shortcomings that either myself or others have discovered with Squarespace. Most of them aren’t that serious for the average person, but some may be a “deal breaker” if you have very specific needs.
For some reason, they only allow 2 levels of navigation – the main level, and then one sub-level below that. It’s never been an issue for me, but others have expressed disapproval of this limitation.
If you ever want to alter the HTML or CSS of your Squarespace site, it can get a bit annoying when moving between the WYSIWYG and HTML editors as they’re not in the same place. A minor inconvenience, but something to point out, nonetheless.
While Squarespace is compatible with almost every modern type of web browser, it appears that Internet Explorer 8 and older are not supported. Only a very small percentage of people still use those versions, but for some organizations, it’s a deal breaker.
Unfortunately, Squarespace doesn’t hand out email accounts with your website’s hosting. As such, you’ll have to set it up on your own with one of the recommended third-party apps/services like: Outlook, Google Apps, Yahoo Business Email or Zoho Mail.
That’s all I’ve found for now, but will add others to the list if they come up. If you have any that you’d like to point out, please do so in the comments below.
Squarespace isn’t a “one shoe fits all” solution for website development. There are many different factors that will influence your choice of website builder.
If, after reading this Squarespace review, you just don’t feel right about giving them a try, then you might want to look at one of these other content management systems.
Weebly is very similar to Squarespace in that it works well for building the same types of websites. The interface is a little easier to get used to, but won’t provide the powerful features that you’ll find in Squarespace.
If you’re looking for an ecommerce solution, but don’t like what Squarespace has to offer, check out Shopify. They’re one of the most popular as they offer a very similar stylish yet powerful ecommerce solution.
- WordPressYou’ve probably heard of WordPress before, but maybe never tried it. It’s a self-hosted content management system that give you more options and more control over the functionality of your site. The learning curve is a bit steeper than Squarespace, but if you can stick with it, it may be just what you’re looking for.
My Experience With Squarespace
Before reading the information below, it should be noted that I am only one person. My background is different from yours and as such, my experience with Squarespace may differ from yours.
To be completely honest, I’ve never used Squarespace to build a website that I published online. I’ve only played around with the interface and tested the different features to build a mock-up website.
I found the interface to be very intuitive from the get go, and after a brief period of experimentation, felt very comfortable navigating my way around.
The templates I worked with were all beautiful out of the box, and I didn’t feel the need to make many customizations like I normally do with WordPress themes I work with. That’s a huge benefit because that usually takes the most time, as it requires editing CSS and sometimes PHP.
I really enjoyed playing with the content blocks, and especially liked the one that lets me add custom code.
I was completely satisfied with both the functionality and design of the website I was able to build. I rarely found something that I wanted to do but was unable to execute.
If you have already used Squarespace and have something to share with others, please leave a comment below.
Squarespace Test Drive
Squarespace is smart. They don’t want to waste your time and they certainly don’t want to waste their time either.
So here’s what they offer…
NO CREDIT CARD REQUIRED”
They make it really easy to sign up and even help you start building your site right away.
With 14 days, and that kind of support, you should be able to build your website before you even spend a dime on it.
If you’ve never taken a serious look at Squarespace, I’d recommend at least taking their free trial for a spin to make sure you don’t miss out on something.