Squarespace has a definite learning curve, but the beautiful templates and professional features make it well worth the effort.
Built-in email marketing
Essential e-commerce features with most plans
Lots of lovely, mobile-responsive templates
Free trial with no credit card info required
Free SSL certificate
Helpful 24/7 customer support and well-supplied knowledgebase
A solid set of features
Can't switch templates without starting from scratch
No telephone support
Low level of customization
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If you've been keeping an eye out for easy-to-use, all-in-one solutions to create a stunning website, you've surely stumbled upon Squarespace website builder somewhere along the line.
It's hardly surprising since it's one of the best site builders for setting up beautiful personal blogs, online photography portfolios, and small online shops. For starters, all essential ecommerce website builder tools you'll ever need are part of the package you'll get with Squarespace.
As soon as you land on Squarespace’s official site, you'll notice it's particularly pleasant to look at. It's also simple to use as it benefits from a clean, modern, user-centric design which makes navigating around the site as simple as anything.
The company behind the site builder, New York-based Squarespace, Inc. has been part of the SaaS industry since 2004 - so, it was set up almost two decades ago. Its founder and CEO, Anthony Casalena, came up with the idea of Squarespace while still at the university and turned it into the famous, full-fledged platform we know today. As we write, Squarespace's team consists of over 1,600 talented individuals, and the platform itself is utilized by millions of sites across the world.
So, Squarespace is a pretty popular, beginner-friendly web platform with more than a handful of handy features, but could the same be said about its site builder?
To answer this question, we'll cover core facts about this site-building solution as well as its pros and cons.
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What is Squarespace website builder?
Squarespace started life as a simple tool for building static sites but soon evolved into the all-in-one web platform we got right now. This solution covers everything from domain name registration and cloud hosting service to full-scale site builder with built-in ecommerce features.
As suggested, this is a hosted solution, which means it runs on its own servers and you don't need to purchase a separate web hosting service. Thanks to its beginner-friendly content management system (CMS) and incredibly intuitive user interface (UI), Squarespace site builder lets even the most clueless rookies create eye-catching sites in a short time. It's as simple as selecting a pre-built template and customizing it until you're captivated by it. Then, you can add blogging site tools, ecommerce elements, and custom code to expand its functionality further.
This site builder is a superb choice for professional-looking personal blogs, professional creative sites, and small to mid-sized online stores.
Similar to most “up-to-the-minute” site-building solutions on the market, Squarespace strives to have a bit of something for everyone. A newcomer with a new site on the way will be supplied with all of the tools they need to do the trick, while well-versed designers and developers will get a secure space and freedom to create whatever they had in mind. However, since Squarespace was created with beginners in mind, it’ll appeal more to its core audience.
Squarespace benefits from beginner-friendly drag-and-drop UI which makes it simple to customize any of the awesome ready-made templates without any coding skills. Currently, there are over 100 of these templates and new ones are added fairly frequently. So, whether you’re planning to start a cute membership site about cats or an e-commerce business site, you’ll find the thing you need.
Since all templates are responsive, they’ll look as terrific on a screen of any size. So, whether your visitors are using a smartphone, tablet, or computer your site will seem the same, both in terms of looks and functionality. On the downside, if you want to change the template you’re using, you’ll have to start everything from scratch.
As for additional features, all Squarespace plans come with a free custom domain. However, you’ll have to subscribe for no less than one year and it’s one free domain per site only.
We’ve mentioned above that Squarespace solutions include a cloud hosting service but we didn’t point out that this web hosting features unlimited bandwidth and storage on all plans. So, it will probably be able to support a high-traffic site at any point.
Also, most packages include some media marketing features (such as Video Maker, audience management tools, and promotional pop-ups and banners) and fully integrated ecommerce features. Plus, you can add as many products as you want.
Unfortunately, there’s one drawback with the “Business” plan – Squarespace charges a 3% transaction fee for all sales, which might not seem as significant at the start. However, once your sales kick off, this charge will start getting in your way. To break free, you'll be prompted to upgrade your plan to one of the pricier ones.
If you go with these pricier plans, you'll also get an advanced site and ecommerce analytics so you can work out where your site traffic is coming from, what your visitors are searching for, and how they interact with your content, products, and services.
If you’re into blogging, you’ll be glad to hear that Squarespace provides a full set of blogging features such as built-in blog pages, a comment section, and content promotion tools. However, if you’re making a blog as a means of making money, Squarespace shouldn’t be your first choice. First off, to get hold of ecommerce features, you’ll have to purchase the “Business” plan or up, and it will set you back $23 (£18.70) per month (if you subscribe for a year) or $33 (£26.80) for one month.
This plan will let you integrate a shopping cart into your blog with ease, as well as sell physical products, digital downloads, online services, and subscriptions. However, if we take the 3% transaction fee on sales and the plan’s initial price tag into account, this solution doesn’t seem particularly pocket-friendly. So, if you plan to become a professional blogger on a tight budget, it’s better to use WordPress instead.
Also, Squarespace isn’t as strong as some of its competitor (like Shopify) when it comes to shipping and payment options – for instance, manual payments isn’t an option and you can’t sell in multiple currencies.
Squarespace also offers superb search engine optimization (SEO) features, which will help you get your site in front of your core audience. There are also multiple options for social media marketing, email marketing, and custom post designs. So, it seems Squarespace has everything a small business could wish for.
However, Squarespace doesn’t take too kindly to third-party tools – while there’s a decent variety of versatile tools it’s not up to scratch – so, you might feel like you’re stuck with Squarespace's ecosystem.
We should also talk about Squarespace’s up-to-date, drag-and-drop editor called Fluid Engine, a superior version to their old editor. As soon as you add an element or change something on the template you’re using, it will become visible straight away. It also offers a decent level of customization choices, so you can adjust your template to suit your needs and desires.
The only major drawback is that you can’t place elements (such as images or text) wherever you want them to be - you can position them in pre-built places bounded by grid lines. Also, while you’ll be prompted to save your site after each change, you won’t enjoy the convince of the autosave functionality.
Is Squarespace website builder easy to use?
At the start, you’ll be supplied with a simple-to-understand setup menu, where you can choose between a variety of templates based on the categories - online store, membership, blog, art & design, and photography to name a few.
After this, you can shape the way your site looks and you have the freedom to personalize every element of it. However, as explained a bit earlier, your freedom will be confined to a somewhat limited grid system. Because of this everything is superbly streamlined, making both setup and editing as simple as can be.
We should also note that the new Squarespace 7.1 version is superior to the 7.0 version when it comes to ease of use. While the previous version got a whole lot of criticism, there’s scarcely anything to complain about with the latest version of Squarespace.
Squarespace website builder pricing: is it a good value for money?
The site builder’s price tag is on par with similar all-in-one solutions on the market and it provides plenty of bang for the buck. However, if you only wanted a pocket-friendly site builder without other components of Squarespace, we’re sorry to say you won’t find this here.
If you’re in for an all-in-one solution, you can choose between four plans ranging from $16 (£13.30) to $49 (£40.65) per month, if you opt for an annual billing option, that is. If you choose a one-month-only option, the price will spike significantly.
While Squarespace doesn’t offer a forever-free edition of its site builder, there is a 14-day free trial with all four plans and no credit card details are required.
As for payment methods, Squarespace accepts all major credit/debit cards (Visa, Mastercard, and American Express included), JCB, Diners Club (in USD only), and SEPA direct debit (in EUR only). As you already suspect, you can’t pay via PayPal or Bitcoin (BTC).
Squarespace website builder safety and security
Squarespace will safeguard your site and its visitors with a strong set of safety and security features. All Squarespace sites are kept on the safe side with SSL certificates, two-factor authentication (2FA), protection against denial of service (DoS) attacks, page passwords, and a login activity panel. While log activity won’t protect your site by itself, it’ll help you discover if any logins were made from suspicious or unknown devices.
Squarespace’s security staff is monitoring all Squarespace sites round-the-clock for threats and vulnerabilities to make sure your site is properly protected. Still, if you discover a vulnerability, you can report it to the security staff and they’ll conduct their investigation on it.
Squarespace help and support
If you get stuck somewhere during your Squarespace journey, you can seek assistance from Squarespace’s support staff via live chat, email, and Twitter. Sadly, phone support isn’t available.
Live chat is available Monday to Friday, 5 AM to 8 PM, EST, and once you contact the staff, someone will get back to you in a matter of minutes. In contrast, email support is available 24/7, but the response time can sometimes be sluggish.
As for self-service, you can visit Help Center which contains a well-supplied knowledgebase, video guides, and an avidly active community forum you can conveniently browse by topics.
Squarespace website builder alternatives
Wix is an awesome alternative for those who want to build their site on a tight budget or entirely free - it offers a forever-free edition of its site builder. Plus, it’s super simple to use, packed with features, and provides automatic backups.
If you’re searching for a cheap yet completely customizable site builder, WordPress is the solution of choice. Since it’s an open-sourced software, it has thousands of themes, templates, plugins, how-to guides, and a committed community that can lend you a helping hand. While it’s not as beginner-friendly as Squarespace or Wix, it makes up for it with a fabulous level of flexibility and freedom.
Shopify is built for ecommerce from the ground up, so if an ecommerce solution is what you’re looking for, it might be the best choice. While Squarespace offers all essential ecommerce features, it’s better suited for a professional site or a blog.
Is Squarespace website builder right for you?
Squarespace is a splendid, simple-to-use site builder with terrific templates and it gets better each time a new version crops up. Hitting high marks in all major areas, Squarespace site builder qualifies as an amazing all-arounder in the market, and it’s also fit for small and mid-sized online stores.
However, Squarespace keeps its users on a short leash with a low level of customization and the inability to switch between templates without starting from scratch. Also, the lack of auto-save features makes it less convenient than some of its competitors.
Squarespace website builder FAQ
Is Squarespace better than Wix?
Well, it depends on what you’re looking for in a site builder. Wix offers more templates overall, but the ones you’ll get with Squarespace look better. Also, Wix has a forever-free edition, while with Squarespace you can make use of a 14-day free trial, and that’s about it.
Both site builders are easy to use, offer robust ecommerce features, and provide superb value for money. However, Wix is cheaper while Squarespace has more additional tools for growing your site.
Is Squarespace good for beginners?
Yes, Squarespace is one of the best site builders for beginners. Its intuitive, drag-and-drop editor is backed by simple-to-follow guides in case you get stuck. And if that doesn’t do the trick, you can rely on rather responsive customer support staff.
What are the downsides of using Squarespace?
The primary drawbacks of using Squarespace are the shortage of customization capabilities, the absence of auto-save features, and the lack of phone support. Also, there are cheaper options around and some of them offer a free edition of their site builders too.
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Mirza Bahic is a freelance tech journalist and blogger from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. For the past four years, Mirza has been ghostwriting for a number of tech start-ups from various industries, including cloud, retail and B2B technology.