You have probably heard of Squarespace before. Launched in 2003, Squarespace is a popular SaaS website building company that makes it easy for regular people with no technical experience to build beautiful, professional, and responsive websites. Squarespace is also known for sponsoring YouTube channels and this is where you may have come across it before.
By positioning themselves as the go-to website builder for any and all types of sites—from online stores to portfolios —Squarespace is a wonderful choice for those who simply don’t want the hassle.
With that in mind, we should remind you that Squarespace is not for everybody.
In this review, we are going to give you an overview of the pros and cons of Squarespace. We’ll help decide whether you should be looking elsewhere to satisfy your website needs.
What We Love About Squarespace
This is what we think Squarespace does really, really well.
Build Beautiful Websites
Squarespace’s motto is “Build It Beautiful.” And they certainly live up to this.
When creating a website with Squarespace, you have two options—import your own custom design or use their native website builder to edit pre-made templates.
This is the primary appeal of Squarespace, the ability to select from a huge range of different designs and build a website that stands up to the demands of modern day shoppers—aesthetically and technologically.
If you don’t currently have a website up and running or a design to use, the fact that you can use a Squarespace template—all of which are slick, attractive, and have a modern feel—and customize it to your liking may sound like the perfect solution.
While there are not as many templates and themes available for Squarespace as there are for WordPress (WordPress has thousands available whereas Squarespace has a few hundred spread across 24 “families”), all of them are included for free with each plan and most templates have several variants.
Editing these templates to your own liking is a breeze.
Within a few hours, you can have your very own bespoke, professional-grade website that works with mobile devices. If you get stuck, there are plenty of video tutorials on YouTube and guides in the Squarespace knowledgebase to point you in the right direction. And you’re not alone.
Inclusive Community Through Forums and Webinars
Squarespace has a nice community-driven forum where anyone can ask questions or open up a discussion.
Whether you’re stuck with something technical or just need help running your day-to-day operations, just know that you’re not alone. There are thousands of other entrepreneurs who are using Squarespace and they’re registered on the forums.
There are also webinars you can join where you’ll learn directly from in-house experts. The webinars run at least twice a week for introductory courses and twice a month for more advanced sessions.
Everything You Need is Available on Squarespace
Squarespace has brilliant e-commerce functionality. If you want to create a beautiful site that places your products front-and-center, you can.
This massively cuts down on the workload required when compared to WordPress-powered online stores that require individual installation and integration for:
With Squarespace, there is no need to fiddle too much with the platform or plugins; you can sell products without any third-party software.
- Want to see site analytics? Squarespace has built it in.
- Want to improve your SEO? It’s there.
- Want to market your website? It’s all integrated.
- Want to talk to your customers? Blog? Manage events? No problem.
Great Backend Interface
Navigating and using Squarespace’s backend is a dream; their motto of “Build It Beautiful” definitely transcends beyond templates and what your visitors can see.
Moving around the backend, adding pages, writing blog posts, and doing anything else admin-related is slick and smooth. Unlike some hosting providers that make it difficult to even perform the most basic of tasks, Squarespace has put a lot of effort into making their backend user-friendly.
This makes the whole task of building a website from the early stages to deployment easy.
The Platform Just Works
As a platform designed for website building, Squarespace has all their features natively built-in and ready to use. This also means Squarespace just works out of the box.
There is no need to import third-party tools and apps that can conflict with one another and cause things to break. There is no need to manually update the extensions, apps, and tools you do use.
With all these internal tools and functions, website management is as simple as it can be. There is no need to check that a tool you want to use is compatible with your site. There is no need to troubleshoot problems and spend hours trawling through knowledgebases.
And there is no need to go searching for a third-party agency to do things for you.
What Squarespace Can Do Better
Although Squarespace has plenty of positives, you do need to keep in mind that it is not a typical “hosting provider”—Squarespace is more of a website building platform. While it is very beginner-friendly, you make sacrifices in certain areas.
And while the Squarespace e-commerce functionality is great, it still doesn’t come close to the likes of Shopify. Remember, Squarespace is a platform that is meant for designing beautiful websites not just online stores. Yes, you can create a store with Squarespace, but it is not a platform that puts e-commerce first.
If you are just starting off and want to jumpstart with selling branded merchandise, Squarespace is a great choice. But scaling is an issue. And it’s not just Squarespace; Shopify faces this problem as well – we’ll explain this in a bit.
Pricing Isn’t Too Cheap
Although Squarespace gives you a comprehensive platform that is easy to use, you certainly pay for it! The saying goes that you pay for convenience, and that seems to hold true with Squarespace.
When comparing Squarespace with direct competitors (e.g. Shopify) and other hosting sites (other hosting sites such as SiteGround and Bluehost) then Squarespace comes out as the more expensive option. If you want to set up a WordPress site on shared hosting, for example, you can pay somewhere around $5 per month on average.
You are paying for convenience and for a trouble-free experience. While you do get a lot for what you pay—and we accept their plans provide good value—their pricing is a “con” only if you know how to set up a website and get things going. If you’re not tech-savvy and just don’t want any headaches, Squarespace pricing seems about right.
Finally, for online stores, there is a separate pricing structure that is a lot more expensive than the pricing for “regular” websites.
Transaction Fees for Online Stores
If you are considering launching an online store with Squarespace, you need to be aware that they charge transaction fees on their Websites Business plan.
At the time of writing, this fee stands at 3% of the final order total. So, if you get a $100 order then $3 will be deducted in fees and kept by Squarespace. This is before any payment processing fees (e.g. Stripe or PayPal fees) are also deducted.
On the Commerce Basic and Commerce Advanced plans there are no transaction fees.
We don’t like that Squarespace does this but it’s sort of the norm in the e-commerce industry. At $18 per month for the Websites Business plan, you would have thought Squarespace is making enough money to not do this. In our opinion, they do this simply to push their customers in subscribing to their pricier Commerce Basic and Commerce Advanced plans for online stores.
Scalability and Advanced Features
The old adage “if you build it, they will come” unfortunately doesn’t apply to your website or your business. You must actively grow it and attract visitors.
Part of doing that at scale is what drives great growth. Although Squarespace does have basic marketing and SEO tools, there is a lot missing. Let’s take a look at the SEO options you get for webpages on your Squarespace site:
While this is a decent amount to work with, you’ll never get quite the same results as if you had full reign to handle your on-page SEO and manage it down to granular levels.
Although you may be able to access marketing tools through Squarespace, use powerful Google Analytics tools, and implement a basic SEO strategy, there’s no room for scaling things up.
Squarespace is a platform that places design above all. This isn’t so bad if you just want to get things going with a working solution. Afterall, why waste thousands of dollars on something enormous if you can try and see if it’ll work for $12 per month?
Squarespace has four plans, two for basic websites and two for hosting online stores.
Personal Plan costs $12 per month and Business Plan costs $18 per month. Don’t let the names fool you, you can still have an online store with the Business Plan.
For online stores:
Basic Plan costs $26 per month and Advanced plan costs $40 per month.
On top of that, the Business Plan and Basic Plans charge an additional 3% transaction fee.
(If you are a student, you’ll receive a 50% discount if you sign up with your academic email address!)
The Bottom Line
Squarespace isn’t a typical “hosting provider” in the true meaning of the word; it’s a solution for a certain type of customer. If:
- You are looking to deploy a modern, responsive, and robust site as easily as possible;
- Don’t mind paying a little more for the convenience of it;
- Want an all-in-one platform with e-commerce functionality; and
- Are content with sacrificing some control over certain elements (e.g. custom code),
then Squarespace is more than suitable for you.
As a “drag and drop” website builder, Squarespace is a great tool with which you can deploy your very own website in next to no time.
With its user-friendly interface, hundreds of templates and themes, great customer support, lots of functionality, tools, and native integrations, Squarespace has done well to meet the demands from a specific portion of the website hosting market.
If you are an experienced web entrepreneur, you already know this isn’t for you.
Squarespace is great for testing the waters – seeing if your website will convert or attract attention. It’s great for those who just want a working solution without having to hire an expensive web development agency.
If scaling is an issue, that’s great – it means you’re making a profit with Squarespace. You can then invest in migrating it over to another platform. Or stick with Squarespace, as plenty of other successful peopl have done.