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In this Squarespace review, I look at a website building tool that has often been praised for its attractive templates and its tools for showcasing photographs and creative work. But is it right for you? Can you build a business website with it? And how good is it for selling products?
There is a vast number of website building tools now available, and picking the right one for your project can feel extremely difficult. Squarespace is one of the best-known website builders available — but is it best for you?
Well, read on, because in this post, I’m going to help you find out, by giving you…
- an overview of what Squarespace is, and how it works
- an evaluation of its templates and key features
- a list of all the main pros and cons of Squarespace
- a good idea of the best Squarespace plan for your project
- a list of the best alternative website builders.
By the end of the review, you’ll have a much clearer idea as to whether the platform is right for you, and the other website builders to consider if not.
What is Squarespace? And how many people use it?
Squarespace is a website builder tool that is aimed mainly at small business owners and ‘solopreneurs.’
Created in 2004 as a solution to let people without web development skills build and maintain their own websites, Squarespace now powers millions of sites worldwide (over 2.9 million, according to Internet statistics company Builtwith.com).
Although it initially started life as a tool for building static, brochure-style websites, Squarespace has evolved over recent years into a platform that also offers built-in ecommerce and marketing features.
As you’ll see later on in this review, the platform can now be used to host an online store, run email marketing campaigns and even help you create video ads.
But how does Squarespace actually work?
How does Squarespace work?
Squarespace is a ‘hosted’ solution. This means that it runs on its own servers and you don’t have to pay for a hosting service or install software anywhere to use it.
The platform lets you create a website in a web browser without coding, and edit it easily thanks to a user-friendly content management system (CMS).
You pick a template, click on the bits of the design you want to change, and then adjust controllers in the style editor to do so.
For example, you can click on some text and apply a new typeface; click on a background and change its color; and so on (the video below gives you an idea of how this works).
But although Squarespace gives you a lot of control over your site’s design, it’s not necessarily a website builder that encourages its users to change things site too much — the idea is that you pick a template, make a few tweaks, add some content and hit the ‘publish site’ button. This simplicity is a key part of Squarespace’s appeal.
But how much does the platform cost to use?
Squarespace plans and pricing
Like most site builders, you don’t ‘own’ a copy of Squarespace, but rather pay an ongoing fee to use it.
There are four Squarespace pricing plans available, all of which provide you with unlimited storage (meaning that you can add as much content as you like to your site) and unlimited bandwidth (meaning that there are no restrictions on site traffic levels).
The available plans are as follows:
Personal — $23 per month
Business — $33 per month
Basic Commerce — $36 per month
Advanced Commerce — $65 per month
This makes Squarespace slightly more expensive to get started with than some competing solutions (for example Wix or Shopify); but if you pay upfront for a year, discounts of 25% to 30% are applied to the above fees, depending on the plan.
Additionally, there’s an ‘Enterprise’ plan available. This gives you access to priority support and ‘white glove’ consultancy services to help you create and manage a website. Pricing for this is negotiable and based on your requirements.
And if you’d like to try Squarespace out before buying, a two-week trial is available, which you can access here.
In a hurry? Check out our Squarespace video review
Key differences between Squarespace plans
When it comes to the key differences between Squarespace pricing plans, some of the main things to look out for are:
- Ecommerce functionality — all Squarespace plans except the ‘Personal’ one let you sell online; as you go up the pricing ladder, the features for doing so become more sophisticated.
- Transaction fees – these are 0% on the dedicated ecommerce plans (‘Basic Commerce’ and ‘Advanced Commerce’), and 3% on the ‘Business’ plan.
- Contributors – the ‘Personal’ plan lets 2 people edit your site or add content to it; all the other plans let an unlimited number of contributors do so.
- Integrations — connections to certain third party apps and services like Opentable, ChowNow, Amazon and Mailchimp are only available on the ‘Business’ or higher plans.
- Video Studio – on the ‘Personal’ plan, you only get limited access to Squarespace’s new video-making app (a tool that aims to help you make videos that match the design and branding of your website).
- Marketing features – on the $33 per month ‘Business’ plan or higher you can use Squarespace’s promotional pop-ups and banners. These allow you to highlight particular offers on your website, or ask users to sign up to mailing lists. You can also add ‘mobile information bars’ on these plans (pictured below).
As you go through this review, you’ll learn more about all these features.
Getting a custom domain name from Squarespace
If you pay upfront for a year’s service, Squarespace gives you a free domain name (for one year).
This lets you avail of your own domain name — www.yoursite.com etc. — and connect it easily to your Squarespace site.
Remember however that by registering your domain via Squarespace, you are entrusting your website and your domain to one company — so, if you ever lost access to your Squarespace account, you’d lose access to both.
Accordingly, some users prefer to register their domain elsewhere.
Now that we’ve looked at some of the key differences between pricing plans, it’s time to take a look at a particularly important aspect of Squarespace: the visuals.
Squarespace templates and design features
Quality of templates
Template quality is key when it comes to good web design — particularly if you’re not a professional designer.
So how does Squarespace stack up on this front?
Well, a range of 139 templates is available, and they are — are on the whole — all very attractive. Nearly all Squarespace templates have a slick, contemporary look and feel, in my view outclassing the offering from many other similar hosted website building tools.
In terms of the number of templates available, Squarespace is more generous than Shopify or BigCommerce (which both offer just a few free templates), but less generous than Wix (which offers 800+) and WordPress (for which thousands are available).
Now I really like the Squarespace templates, but it has to be said that most of them work are very ‘image-centric,’ and really only work well when professional, eye-catching photography is used. A lot of the Squarespace templates expect you to fill your home page with a large, full-bleed photograph (see above screenshot for an example of what I mean here!).
So, if you are considering using Squarespace, it makes sense to invest some thought and time in getting some great pictures for your site before you start building it.
Tip: you can browse all the Squarespace templates here.
And speaking of pictures…
Stock images in Squarespace
A nice thing about Squarespace is that it provides you with access to all of Unsplash’s image library out of the box — you get access to a large number of royalty free images that you can add directly and easily to your website.
When adding an image to a page, you just click a ‘search for image’ option, and you can choose a picture from Unsplash to insert into it.
And, if the quality of the Unsplash library doesn’t appeal, Squarespace offers you the option to buy images directly from Getty. These images cost $10 each, which is not unreasonable.
As with the Unsplash integration, it’s very easy to insert Getty images into a Squarespace site — it’s simply a case of searching for a stock image using a keyword, trying it out and paying for the picture if you think it works in context.
I’ve found both the Unsplash and Getty options extremely useful when building Squarespace websites for clients who don’t have any images to hand.
Now, a quick word about typefaces.
A huge range of web fonts — 1,000 from Adobe and 600 from Google — is included with Squarespace.
This is far more than provided by most competing website building platforms, and makes it easier to match your website’s branding with those used in your other marketing materials.
If you want to use a font that’s not available in Squarespace, you can add it to your site via custom CSS (so long as you’re on a ‘Business’ plan or higher). This is a bit of a fiddly process however — it would be better if Squarespace gave users a code-free way to add custom fonts.
How do Squarespace websites look on a mobile?
All Squarespace templates are fully responsive, meaning that your site design will resize itself automatically so that it appears correctly on tablets, mobile devices and desktop computers.
Not only does this make your site more accessible to a wider range of users, responsive design can provide some SEO benefits too.
Additionally, you can enable AMP — Accelerated Mobile Pages — on Squarespace websites. AMP is a Google-backed project that speeds up the delivery of content on mobile devices via stripped down code. Using it can lead to a better user experience and preferential treatment in search results (Google favors websites that load quickly).
Enabling AMP in Squarespace is easy — it’s just a case of ticking a box in your site settings — but it’s important to note that currently, you can only use it with blog posts.
Editing the template design
As touched on earlier, it’s straightforward enough to configure a Squarespace template design to your liking. You use a menu of styling options on the right hand side of the screen to adjust how components — displayed on the left — appear.
You can adjust things like fonts, colors, page width and so on easily.
One important thing to note about the latest version of Squarespace (7.1) is that it doesn’t allow you to switch templates once you’ve selected one.
This is frustrating — but less of a big deal than it sounds at first, as all the 7.1 templates work the same way, and you can achieve the same look and feel as another template by tweaking your site fonts and colors.
However, it would it be preferable if Squarespace offered the option to switch to another template design with the click of a button — as many competing platforms do — rather than forcing users to manually change a lot of design settings.
Customizing your Squarespace template
So long as you’re on a ‘Business’ or higher plan, you can add your own custom CSS to your website — code that allows you to change the appearance of it. This is useful when you want to make a change to your website’s appearance that Squarespace’s design controls don’t quite permit.
You won’t be able to see the full CSS stylesheet in Squarespace, but you can add your own CSS rules to change the appearance of certain items on your website (see screenshot below for an example).
However, it’s important to note that if you add your own CSS, Squarespace’s customer support team reserves the right to limit the kind of support they give you.
And some competing products are better than Squarespace when it comes to providing full control over the templates — Shopify and BigCommerce, for example, provide you with complete access to your site’s CSS and HTML on all plans.
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Squarespace provides a useful video backgrounds feature — this can turn an already nice-looking Squarespace template into a stunning one.
This feature lets you use a Youtube or Vimeo URL to create a looped video background for your Squarespace site; you can also apply a range of filters to this, and speed up or slow down playback.
(Note: to use a Vimeo video as a Squarespace background, you’ll need to be on a Vimeo Plus plan or higher.)
You can also upload videos to be used as backgrounds — you are given 30 minutes of video storage by default on all Squarespace plans, with more storage available if you purchase a ‘Members Area’ plan. (More on which shortly!)
Squarespace 7.0 vs Squarespace 7.1
There are actually two versions of Squarespace available at the moment: 7.0 and 7.1. This review is focussing on the default version, Squarespace 7.1, but technically you can still choose to build a site on version 7.0. Doing so will give you access to a different set of templates, and a few features that were removed in version 7.1, including:
- cover pages (landing or ‘intro’ pages for your site)
- the ability to switch templates
- access to the Squarespace developer platform (which can be used to code bespoke Squarespace sites).
Unless you’ve got a very good reason to use Squarepace 7.0 though, it’s best avoided. Using the newer 7.1 version gives you a more sophisticated layout engine that provides access to more page layouts and content blocks. It’s also going to be better supported by Squarespace going forward, and it’s the version of the platform into which new features will be introduced.
And speaking of new features, Squarespace recently rolled out a new drag and drop site editor to sites built in 7.1. Called ‘Fluid Engine,’ it gives users much greater control over the positioning of blocks and how their mobile site appears.
(Check out the video below for more details on Fluid Engine and how it works).
In my tests, I’ve found that Squarespace 7.1 is generally faster than 7.0 — and page speed is important for SEO. Version 7.1 also meets Google’s new ‘Core Web Vitals‘ standards on site speed and stability better too.
So overall, my advice would be to subscribe to a Squarespace version 7.1 plan, not a 7.0 one — and you can browse Squarespace 7.1 templates here.
Designing logos with Squarespace
A useful feature available from Squarespace is a logo designing app.
A selection of symbols is provided in the app — you drop these into position, add some text, move things around about a bit and, when you’re happy with the results, you can download a hi-res version of your logo.
The tool is pretty basic, so it won’t be right for all users, but it has its uses. The main thing I’d like to see added to it are more typefaces — the selection available is extremely limited, especially by comparison to Squarespace’s main site builder.
Content management in Squarespace
There’s a LOT to like about Squarespace’s approach to content management.
Let’s go through some of the good stuff first.
Squarespace’s ‘layout engine’ is very easy to use and lets you drag and drop ‘content sections’ anywhere on your site (images, text, forms, videos, code snippets etc.). This makes for very flexible, attractive presentation of content.
When you set up a page, you can choose from a range of pre-defined page layouts — for example contact pages, about pages, team pages etc. — which can further speed the design process up.
These layouts are extremely helpful to website-building novices who are not familiar with the best ways to present their content.
Once you’ve got your page, you can add ‘content sections’ to it. These include:
galleries (in slideshow, grid, carousel, or stack format)
It’s very easy to change the position of these content sections — it’s simply a case of grabbing an element and dragging it to another location on the page (or using the up and down arrows provided).
It’s easy to place elements within content sections too — you just add ‘content blocks’ (pictured below). As with Squarespace’s content sections, these can be positioned around the page very easily.
As you move blocks around the page, you’ll see a grid appear — you can use this to ‘snap’ things into the right place.
With the introduction of Squarespace’s new ‘Fluid Engine’ editing system, you can now edit the mobile version of a page too. Previously, Squarespace created this automatically based on the content you added to your desktop version.
My view is that editing mobile pages isn’t strictly necessary — normally the mobile version of a page that Squarespace creates will serve you perfectly well — and in truth, messing with it can cause more problems than fixes!
But if you do want to change the appearance of the mobile view of a page, you can do so easily by clicking the mobile icon at the top left hand corner of the screen.
Once that’s done, you can adjust the layout of the mobile version of your site by dragging and dropping your content blocks into the right positions.
Oddly, one thing you can’t do in the mobile editor is hide blocks, which is odd — for me, one of the main reasons I’d want to edit the mobile version of a page would be to remove elements that work in a desktop context but not in a mobile one.
But all in all, the Squarespace content management system is excellent and gives you a great range of design options. It represents one of the strongest arguments for using Squarespace over a competing platform.
(Interestingly, WordPress — one of the main alternatives to Squarespace — has introduced a drag and drop editor, Gutenberg, that bears more than a passing resemblance to Squarespace’s website editor. This in my view speaks to its quality!).
The way Squarespace lets you work with images is another key plus point of the platform — its image manipulation and management tools are really strong.
You can resize, stretch, crop or rotate any image you add to your website with ease in Squarespace, or apply shapes to it.
You can also pick a ‘focal point’ for your images; this helps ensure that no matter what type of device a user is viewing your site on, the part of the image you care most about is always on display.
In this era of mobile responsive websites, where images are resized according to device, this can be a bit of a design lifesaver: it ensures that your images always ‘make sense,’ regardless of the device you’re using.
In terms of using galleries and slideshows, Squarespace offers you several different presentation options — including slideshows, carousels and grids — and all look excellent.
This wide range of gallery features makes Squarespace a particularly good option for photographers who need a website to showcase their portfolio.
So all in all, a really big thumbs-up for image management in Squarespace.
But what about text?
What is Squarespace like as a blogging platform?
Well, first the good stuff:
Unlike some competing platforms, you can have as many blogs as you like on your Squarespace website. This is useful, because it means you can create different blogs for different types of content — news, reviews, tutorials and so on. Or, alternatively, you can stick with one blog and use categories and tags to split out your posts in various ways(as you might do in WordPress).
You can create really stylish summary blocks of your blog and drop them into any page of your site. And you can configure these (based on things like author, topic, tag etc.) so that the most relevant posts for that page are displayed. Anyone who is interested in creating a magazine style layout for their site will love this.
While competing website builder tools often restrict you to using tags only, you can use categories AND tags in Squarespace — this means you can present your content in a more flexible way (and give your readers more options on how they filter it).
As discussed earlier, you can enable AMP on your blog posts, which means that they will load very quickly (something that can help your content rank higher in search results).
- Squarespace blogs come with an RSS feed, meaning that you can power e-newsletters with them, or let people feature your blog content on their sites in various ways.
There are however, two significant flaws in Squarespace’s blogging setup that need to be pointed out:
There’s no autosave. This is a big omission and it can lead to lost content (for example if your browser crashes mid-sentence, or you accidentally delete part of a blog post).
There’s no revision history (i.e., an archive of older versions of posts).
The bottom line with blogging in Squarespace is that it’s fine for most users — but if you’re a professional blogger, or intending to run a large publication, there are better options available to you, not least WordPress.
Importing and exporting content and products
It’s easy enough to get basic web content into Squarespace. Helpful ‘wizards’ are provided to help you import pages, blog posts and other content from WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr.
As for importing products, so long as you are on a ‘Business’ or ‘Commerce’ plan, you can import up to 10,000 products via CSV or, using an import tool, from Etsy, Shopify and Big Cartel.
You can export certain types of content from Squarespace into a WordPress-format XML file — not everything exports, but content that you can get out of the platform includes key items like pages, posts and galleries.
There are limitations to watch out for when it comes to products, however — only physical products can be exported, and you can only export up to 10,000 products (with each variant counting as a product).
Charts — but no tables?
An unusual but potentially useful feature in Squarespace is its ‘charting’ functionality — this lets you drop some data into Squarespace and use it to create a pie chart, line chart or bar chart.
These look good and are a handy way to include a visualization of your data in your site content.
A related feature that’s sadly missing however is the ability to insert tables into Squarespace pages and posts.
The omission of such a feature is rather strange, but workarounds do exist, thanks to third-party plugins developed by Squarespace experts (you’ll find a good one from SquareWebsites here).
As things stand Squarespace is not really a great tool for creating websites with ‘multi-level’ navigation systems.
While all Squarespace plans technically allow you to create up to 1,000 static pages (and an unlimited number of blog posts), limits apply to how you organize them.
In practice, the platform only permits you to create rather ‘flat’ websites, with a maximum of two levels of navigation.
In many ways this is a good thing, because your site will end up being easy to navigate; but some businesses — particularly those offering a wide or complex range of services — may require a deeper website hierarchy and a suitable navigation system to facilitate this.
Unlike competing products like Wix and WordPress, Squarespace doesn’t automatically keep a history of changes to your website. This means that if you accidentally mess up a page (or worse, permanently delete it!), you can’t restore an earlier version of it.
That’s not to say that Squarespace doesn’t back up your website — the company says that it keeps copies of its customers’ content in multiple locations and that your data is safe with it.
However, it’s not clear what actually happens in the event of a data loss — and the fact that the Squarespace help page on troubleshooting lost content encourages you to try to retrieve accidentally deleted content by searching an Internet archive (the Wayback Machine) or visiting a Google-cached version of a page doesn’t really inspire confidence!
Workarounds exist however: you can create your own backups by copying and pasting your content somewhere else, or by using Squarespace’s export features to create a copy of your website’s content or products.
Ultimately though it would be much better if Squarespace provided a dedicated backup tool, or an integration with one.
Creating multilingual versions of a Squarespace website
For a long time, users who wished to use Squarespace to create a multilingual website didn’t really have an option to do so. Workarounds were available — but they were messy and didn’t work terribly well.
However, thanks to a new and ‘deep’ integration with the site translation tool Weglot, this situation has changed, and it’s now possible to put together a multilingual site in Squarespace pretty easily (using either machine or manual translations).
For corporate users with advanced multilingual requirements, WordPress Multilingual or WordPress Multisite still offer more bespoke translation features; but for small businesses who want to present their content in multiple languages with a minimum of fuss, the Weglot integration works perfectly well.
The main thing to watch out for however is costs — although the Weglot integration can be used for free to create one additional site in another language, if the word count on this exceeds 2,000 words, additional fees will apply.
And, as the pricing screenshot below shows, these fees can mount up — especially if you’re translating a lot of text-heavy Squarespace websites.
If you’d like to manage your Squarespace site via a mobile device, there are three key apps available that help you do this:
- ‘Schedule Admin’
- ‘Scheduling Client’
All three are available for both iOS and Android.
The ‘Squarespace’ app is the main one you’ll need to use for managing your site on the move — it lets you edit pages and posts, view Squarespace analytics and manage orders using a mobile device.
The Squarespace scheduling apps are designed to let you facilitate or manage appointments via a Squarespace site.
Thee ‘Schedule Client’ app allows people to book and change appointments, and the ‘Scheduling Admin’ app lets you view and manage them.
A new mobile app from Squarespace: Video Studio
Squarespace recently added a new mobile app to the platform: Video Studio.
The aim of this is to let you make professional videos that match the look and feel of your Squarespace site. This is done via ‘guided project templates’ that are designed to help you create professional videos without a production team. These can then be exported into various formats for use in various contexts (on your site, as social media ads etc.).
On the plus side, the app makes it extremely easy to for complete novices to create slick videos showcasing products and other site content — it just grabs content from your Squarespace site automatically and uses this as the starting point for your videos.
However, the app fails to live up to the claim made on the Squarespace website that it lets you make “videos that match the design and branding of your Squarespace site.”
This is simply because it doesn’t let you use the full range of typefaces that are available in the main Squarespace interface — you’re limited to just 14 of the 1600+ fonts that are available in the desktop version of Squarespace.
Given the importance of typography to branding, this makes the app a lot less useful than it could be — which is a real shame, because there is lots to otherwise like about it.
The app is available on all Squarespace plans (with the ‘Personal’ plan restricting the number of ‘guided templates’ you can use to four) — and interestingly can even be used on the Squarespace free trial.
Integrations with other apps
Squarespace offers several built-in integrations with key web applications — you can incorporate apps and services like Amazon, Mailchimp, OpenTable and ChowNow (plus quite a few others) into your website in lots of useful ways.
You will need to be on a ‘Business’ plan or higher though to get full access to some integrations, however.
Squarespace recently introduced ‘extensions’ for its platform — a range of paid-for add-ons that provide extra functionality for your website.
The number of extensions is currently small — at time of writing, there are only 31 add-ons available. To put this in context, you’ll find 400+ similar apps and integrations available for Wix, 1,200+ for BigCommerce and 8,000+ for Shopify.
That said, the extensions on offer from Squarespace are useful — integrations are provided for several key admin apps including Quickbooks, Freshbooks and TaxJar. They are a bit pricey by comparison to offerings in other platforms’ app stores, however.
If a built-in integration or extension isn’t available to help you get Squarespace talking to a particular app, then you might find the Squarespace-Zapier integration a good option.
Zapier is a tool that lets different apps share data with each other based on ‘If this, then that’ (IFTTT) rules that you define.
You will usually need a premium Zapier plan to get the most out of this, though (costing at least $29.99 per month), and will need to be on Squarespace’s ‘Business’ plan or higher to make use of the integration.
There’s also the option of buying ‘code snippets’ to enhance the functionality of your Squarespace website from various providers.
These snippets are increasingly referred to as ‘Squarespace plugins’ — and although these add-ons are not quite as easy to install as their WordPress equivalents, they nonetheless allow you to significantly extend the functionality of your Squarespace site.
Plugins exist for a variety of applications — for example, enhancing video backgrounds, adding sidebars, creating bespoke lightboxes…and much else besides.
Integration with social media accounts
Connecting Squarespace to social media accounts is very straightforward — you simply add your accounts in your website settings, and Squarespace takes care of the relevant icons and feeds (pushing content automatically to selected social networks if required).
All the most popular social media networks are catered for in Squarespace, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
A way to save money on Squarespace
If you’re interested in using Squarespace, the company is currently offering 10% off its plans. This can amount to quite a saving, especially if you opt for one of its ‘commerce’ plans.
This discount is available for a limited time only – to avail of it,
1. Grab a free trial on the Squarespace website using this link.
2. Enter the code STYLEFACTORY10 when purchasing a plan.
Data capture and forms
Data capture is one of the most important features of any website, especially in this era of inbound marketing — a robust approach to data capture is absolutely vital to generating leads and clients.
So how does Squarespace stack up in the data capture department?
Well, there are two ways to approach data capture in Squarespace. The first is to simply use code blocks to integrate an email marketing service of your choice (GetResponse, AWeber, Campaign Monitor, Mailchimp etc.).
This gives you a lot of flexibility — but means adding HTML forms to your Squarespace website and styling them using CSS so that they match the rest of it.
The other way to capture data is via Squarespace’s built-in data capture options: the ‘form block’ or the ‘newsletter block’. These both allow you to construct bespoke forms easily.
Both the form block and the newsletter block allow you to send the data captured to
- an email address
Squarespace’s Email Campaigns tool (more on this below)
The good news first: the forms are really easy to set up and use and they look great — if you are happy to send your data to Google Sheets and Mailchimp, or set up a ‘zap’ to another application via Zapier, you’ll love them.
You can also integrate Google’s ‘reCAPTCHA’ service into Squarespace data capture forms easily, which helps reduce spammy form submissions.
There are some improvements that I’d love to see being made to forms, however.
First, although the Zapier integration is very useful, opening up Squarespace’s data capture functionality to users of well-known email marketing products such as GetResponse, Campaign Monitor and AWeber, it still makes life more complicated (and expensive) for these users than it could be.
Another improvement I’d like to see made to Squarespace forms is file uploading functionality — as things stand, you can’t let users attach any files to form submissions in Squarespace.
The other thing I’d love to see is conditional logic being added to Squarespace forms, so that you can display additional fields based on user action, or send data to particular people (or storage options) based on what the user submitted.
And finally, you can’t create one form in Squarespace that you then drop into pages as you please — you have to create a new form for every page.
If your data capture needs are simple, you’ll be fine with Squarespace — but if you need to use conditional logic or facilitate file uploads as part of your data capture process, you will probably end up having to invest in a third party forms app like Wufoo Forms or Jotform, or using custom code to connect your forms to your preferred email marketing app.
And speaking of email marketing…
Email marketing functionality – ‘Squarespace Email Campaigns’
For an extra monthly fee, you can carry out email marketing with Squarespace, thanks to its ‘Email Campaigns’ feature. This allows you to capture email addresses and send newsletters to mailing list subscribers without leaving the Squarespace environment.
This brings Squarespace into line with key competitor Wix, which has offered this sort of functionality for some time, via its ‘Ascend’ feature.
Squarespace offers you four email marketing pricing plans:
Starter — $7 per month to send up to 3 e-newsletters and 500 messages per month
Core — $14 per month for 5 e-newsletters / 5,000 messages
Pro — $34 per month for 20 e-newsletters / 50,000 messages
Max — $68 per month for an unlimited number of newsletters / 250,000 messages
(As with the regular Squarespace plans, these fees are reduced if you pay for Squarespace Email Campaigns on an annual basis).
In terms of how this pricing stacks up against other email marketing products, the Starter and Core plans are cheap by comparison to the entry-level plans available from the likes of AWeber and Mailchimp; they allow you to start capturing data and creating newsletters without spending too much.
In fact, you can technically host an unlimited number of email addresses with Squarespace Email campaigns, which is very generous.
Another important benefit of using Squarespace’s Email Campaigns is that doing so lets you manage your website AND mailing list — probably the two most important online assets of any business — in one place, and keep the branding reasonably consistent across both.
On top of that, the email templates — as you’d expect from Squarespace — are very attractive and mobile-friendly. They are easy to edit too, as the Email Campaigns feature provides a drag-and-drop user interface that is fairly similar to Squarespace’s web page editor.
Some autoresponder functionality is also included with Email Campaigns (so long as you are on a ‘Core’ plan or higher). However, the automation provided is currently pretty basic by comparison to that provided by dedicated email marketing tools like Mailchimp or GetResponse, letting you create simple ‘drip’ campaigns only.
Furthermore, you can’t segment data using custom fields or split test your mailouts using Squarespace Email Campaigns. To get these sort of features, you’ll still need a dedicated email marketing solution.
Editing HTML and CSS on a Squarespace website
HTML — adding widgets and code blocks
It is, however, possible to add ‘HTML code blocks’ to a Squarespace website, so you can incorporate a third-party form / widget into proceedings easily.
CSS — styling your website
You can add custom CSS to your Squarespace website (if you’re on the ‘Business’ plan or higher), but it’s not entirely encouraged: you are warned when doing so that 1) adding lines of CSS can break your design, and 2) you might not be able to avail of full support if you add CSS.
That said, if you know what you’re doing with CSS, the freedom to add bespoke visual improvements to your site is definitely welcome.
If you’d like to add scripts to the header section of a Squarespace website, you can do this via a code injection section (on the ‘Business’ plan or higher).
How good is Squarespace SEO?
As with any hosted solution, you don’t have full access to the inner workings of the Squarespace platform or the ability to choose a super-fast host for your site. Accordingly, this means there will always be some limitations around SEO with Squarespace.
That said, websites built with Squarespace do quite a lot of things that Google and other search engines like. They…
- are secure
- automatically generate a sitemap.xml file
- create clean HTML markup
- use responsive design, making them mobile friendly (Google prioritizes websites that appear quickly and display correctly on mobile devices)
- provide some AMP features.
Squarespace lets you tweak most of the key search engine optimization elements easily enough — page title tags, headings, meta descriptions, alt text etc.
The platform also allows users to enable free SSL on their sites (and very easily too). This is important, because sites using SSL certificates can be treated preferentially by Google in search.
And I’ve noticed that sites I’ve built in Squarespace 7.1 are starting to pass Google’s new ‘Core Web Vitals‘ tests more frequently than sites I’ve built on other similar platforms.
(The Core Web Vitals targets focus on various aspects of site performance and stability, and sites that meet them can occasionally receive higher search rankings).
However, Squarespace sites could definitely load a bit faster (page speed is important for SEO). The pagespeed scores I’ve got when testing Squarespace sites in Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool have tended to be pretty mediocre.
And unlike competing solutions, Squarespace doesn’t let you edit your robots.txt file (a file that lets you tell Google and other search engines what content you’d like it to crawl or not).
Note: if you’re interested in learning more about Squarespace SEO features and optimizing your Squarespace website for search engines, do check out our Squarespace SEO resource.
Ecommerce in Squarespace
The ecommerce functionality in Squarespace is pretty strong: it’s easy to create, edit and manage products and product catalogues. You can definitely create an attractive online store with the platform — and one that’s easy to maintain.
Key features include:
a user-friendly shopping cart system
the ability to sell an unlimited number of products
the ability to sell physical goods, digital goods, services and subscriptions
a 0% transaction fee (on ‘Commerce’ plans)
automatic abandoned cart recovery (on ‘Commerce Advanced’ plan)
gift cards and discount codes
- customer accounts (‘Commerce’ plans only)
point-of-sale functionality (US only).
I particularly like the way Squarespace handles product images. Unlike some competing platforms, Squarespace allows you to automatically apply image ratios to all the products in your online store — a huge timesaver for larger ecommerce projects.
It’s worth flagging up the subscription functionality as another strong feature of Squarespace ecommerce — the platform makes it very easy for you to accept recurring payments for goods or services.
Another interesting aspect of Squarespace’s ecommerce functionality is its member areas feature. This lets you charge users for access to a private area of your website, allowing you to sell courses, video and other exclusive content to your audience.
Although this requires an additional fee — ranging from $9 to $40 per month depending on how many member areas you want to set up, or hours of video you’d like to sell — the feature provides a great way to monetize your website and site traffic.
The video below contains an overview of how member areas can be used to create membership sites.
Squarespace’s new member areas feature
There are a few areas in the ecommerce department where Squarespace definitely needs some improvement, however.
Squarespace doesn’t facilitate multi-currency transactions. This won’t be a showstopper for anyone who wants to use the platform to sell products locally, but if your sights are set on selling goods all over the world, then platforms like BigCommerce or Shopify are a better bet, as they allow you to show product prices and facilitate checkout in local currencies (BigCommerce being a particularly good option for this).
Point-of-sale functionality (POS) — which allows you to sell your products in physical locations using your online store to process payment and handle inventory management — could be a bit better too. It’s currently limited to the USA, only iOS devices are supported, and the hardware you can use is limited to a card reader – i.e., no barcode scanners or cash registers are supported.Accordingly, if point-of-sale is important to your business, it’s better to look to platforms that specialize in it, like Shopify.
- If you want to use Squarespace to sell on a variety of different sales channels (like Instagram, Amazon, eBay, Facebook etc.) you’ll usually need to use the ‘Trunk’ extension to do so. This starts at $35 per month, so will add significantly to your costs.
The dropshipping options are a bit limited too: you can only use a few dropshipping providers. As with POS, if dropshipping is going to be the key focus of your business, you may be better off with Shopify, which offers a huge range of dropshipping options.
As things stand, automatic tax calculations are restricted to the US.
Payment gateway options are restricted to Stripe and Paypal. The most significant upshot of this is that Google Pay is not currently supported by Squarespace (Apple Pay is, however).Competing ecommerce platforms typically give you a lot more choice when it comes to payment methods.
Overall, I really like the Squarespace ecommerce features, and they’re great for any small business that needs a simple online store and doesn’t mind selling in just one currency.
Merchants who have more advanced requirements however would be better off looking at a dedicated online store builder like BigCommerce or Shopify — these are more fully-featured platforms that provide more professional features for running an ecommerce business.
This is particularly the case if you’re interested in dropshipping — Shopify is a much better solution for that.
How to dropship with Shopify — video guide
Squarespace is a very user-friendly product.
In fact, I’ve yet to use a hosted website building platform with an interface that feels quite as slick and as straightforward to use as Squarespace’s.
Whenever I build a website in Squarespace and hand it over to a client for them to edit themselves, there are rarely any problems — we are not talking about a steep learning curve here at all.
The main criticism I have about Squarespace in the ease-of-use department is that in the latest version of the product (version 7.1), you can’t switch templates.
As discussed above, this means that if you want to recreate the look and feel of another template, you’ll have to rejig all your design settings. This is doable — but it can be time consuming.
That issue aside, I think Squarespace provides one of the easiest-to-use and most intuitive content management systems out there, and the quality of the interface is probably one of the strongest arguments for using it.
(Our Squarespace tutorial video below gives you an idea of the how the interface works, and how you use it build a website).
Squarespace customer support
Squarespace provides customer support via email (24/7) or live chat (4am-8pm EST, Monday to Friday); you can also use Twitter or Facebook Messenger to contact the company. However, no phone support is available.
In terms of the customer service that is available, while the staff on Squarespace’s support desk are very friendly and provide reasonably quick answers to queries (with, in my experience, the live chat option being quickest), they tend to deal with pretty simple issues only.
In essence, if you want to add some functionality or design aspects to your Squarespace website that are not provided ‘out of the box’ you won’t always get much help from Squarespace.
Sometimes you will just be told that what you are trying to achieve is not possible (even if actually, with a bit of perseverance, research or simple coding it actually IS) and directed to read the Squarespace blog in case the functionality you’re trying to add to your website gets added as an official feature down the line.
And, as mentioned briefly above, if you add custom CSS to your site, you may not be able to get full support from Squarespace.
All that said, I have had some very positive experiences with the Squarespace support team — it’s just that it has sometimes required a bit more perseverance from my side than I might like.
As with many support desks, the quality of support can often boil down to who you get on the day.
One final thing to be aware of is that while Squarespace email support is available in six languages (English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish), live chat support is English-only.
The Squarespace help center
In addition to phone and live chat support, you can also make use of Squarespace’s ‘help center‘ to help you solve problems.
The help center is a searchable online manual / knowledge base containing videos and articles to help you understand how Squarespace works.
It’s usually pretty good for getting a sense of the basics, but there will still be the odd occasion when you may need to get in touch with Squarespace’s customer service team for help.
How GDPR-compliant is Squarespace?
In the era of GDPR — General Data Protection Regulation — it’s important to get privacy and data protection issues right, as the fines for not doing so are considerable.
However, when it comes to compliance in the area of cookie consent, Squarespace presents some fairly big challenges to prospective users.
GDPR requires website owners to follow 5 key rules with regard to cookie consent:
Let site visitors know that cookies are being used.
Explain how cookies are being used, and why.
Provide visitors with a means to consent to ‘non-essential’ cookies being used BEFORE they are run (non-essential cookies include Facebook pixels, Google Analytic, Adsense etc.).
Log consent of cookie usage.
Allow users to withdraw that consent (i.e., switch cookies they’ve previously activated off).
While you can meet the first two requirements with a Squarespace website easily, it’s not that easy to meet the other three.
To do so you will usually need to use a third-party paid-for tool (we generally use CookieYes) to create a GDPR-compliant banner that gives users 100% control over the cookies used on a Squarespace site.
Ultimately it’s a ‘could do better’ here for Squarespace, because you can’t use key business tools like Google Analytics, Adwords or Facebook ads without dropping cookies.
To be fair, the product is not the only hosted solution that could provide a better solution for meeting these GDPR rules, but Squarespace could be much more proactive about helping its users deal with this problem — even if that simply meant pointing people in the direction of tools that can be used to solve it.
In the case of Shopify, there are (paid-for) apps available that sort out the cookie banner and other GDPR issues; and in the case of Wix and BigCommerce, both platforms provide some built-in tools that let you manage cookie dropping and capture consent adequately.
It would be great to see Squarespace following suit.
Squarespace review conclusion
Overall, Squarespace is an excellent option for individuals and small businesses in search of a platform to build their site or store with. Its templates and content management features are strong; its learning curve is gentle; and it’s an extremely reliable website builder.
It’s worth highlighting however that Squarespace is particularly good for two main applications: running a brochure website or hosting a portfolio site.
If you are an artist, photographer or a musician — or building a website for a one-off event like a wedding — you’ll find Squarespace to be a great choice of platform for building your site (and maintaining it in future). It’s also a very good choice for restaurant websites — photographs of meals and menu layouts can look fantastic in the context of a well-chosen Squarespace template.
Thanks to its easy-to-use ecommerce features, businesses needing a simple online store or shopping cart system may also find Squarespace a good solution — and because it’s a hosted solution, using Squarespace doesn’t require you to worry about things like server updates or security (other than taking the usual precautions around passwords). This brings a LOT of peace of mind to proceedings.
Squarespace does require some improvements to its ecommerce functionality however. Its lack of multi-currency selling features and limited point of sale functionality would probably nudge me in the direction of a more dedicated ecommerce platform like Shopify if I was working on a project for a corporate entity, or needed more advanced features for my online store.
GDPR is another one of my concerns — although you can make a Squarespace website GDPR compliant, it involves a bit more work than you might like (and usually a third-party app).
The good thing is that — as with a lot of hosted solutions — you can try Squarespace out before committing to it. Accordingly, I’d strongly advise making the most of its free trial. Check every feature out thoroughly to ensure the platform meets your requirements.
So, I hope this Squarespace review has helped you make your mind up on the platform! Below you will find a summary of the key Squarespace pros and cons, and feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments section below.
Pros and cons of Squarespace
Pros of using Squarespace
Its templates are contemporary and beautifully designed — and thanks to a responsive design, websites and online stores created using the platform will look great not just on desktop computers but on tablets and mobile devices too.
Its user interface is fantastic — I’d argue that Squarespace has one of the most user-friendly content management systems available.
Its image management options are excellent.
- It now comes with good multilingual features.
It provides a decent range of import tools for importing content from other platforms.
There are no transaction fees to worry about (so long as you are on one of its ‘Commerce’ plans).
It allows you to work with a very large range of web fonts.
It integrates nicely out of the box with many well-known third-party tools, including Google Workspace, Opentable and Mailchimp; it also provides a comprehensive range of social media integrations.
A Zapier integration is available that allows you to connect your Squarespace website to a large number of other web applications.
It comes with a pretty usable and reasonably-priced built-in email marketing tool.
You can use its logo designing app to create a simple but professional-looking logo.
- Whilst in need of some improvements where font availability is concerned, the new Squarespace ‘Video Maker’ app gives you an easy way to put pretty slick videos together quickly.
- Squarespace offers unlimited storage and bandwidth.
- You get a free custom domain name from Squarespace if you sign up for a year.
Cons of using Squarespace
- It’s slightly more expensive than competing website building platforms.
- There’s no multi-currency selling functionality — if you’re hoping to create an online store that caters for a global audience, there are better alternatives available (see below).
GDPR compliance is poor in the area of cookie consent — you’ll need to invest in a third-party tool to make your Squarespace website fully compliant.
- Automatic tax calculations are currently limited to the USA.
Payment gateway options are quite limited.
Although support for Apple Pay is provided, there’s no equivalent support for Google Pay.
No version history functionality is available.
There’s no autosave for pages and posts.
Squarespace sites could load a bit more quickly.
Point-of-sale is only available in the US, and is quite basic — only a card reader can be used when selling in physical locations (other platforms let you use a wider range of hardware, like barcode scanners, tills, receipt printers etc.).
The customer support team can be contacted by email or live chat only — no phone support is available.
- Live chat support is available in English only.
The app store for Squarespace (its ‘Extensions’ directory) isn’t currently very well stocked— only 31 apps are currently available.
- Unlike some some of its competitors, Squarespace doesn’t offer a free plan. However, there is an extendable 14 day free trial available.
Our overall rating: 4.1/5
Free trial / special offer
If you’re interested in using Squarespace, the company is currently offering 10% off its plans. This can amount to quite a saving, especially if you opt for one of its ‘commerce’ plans.
This discount for the Squarespace website builder is available for a limited time only — to avail of it,
1. Grab a free trial on the Squarespace website using this link.
2. Enter the code ‘STYLEFACTORY10’ when purchasing a plan.
Like Squarespace, these are all ‘hosted’ solutions that involve an ongoing fee, and are products that are chiefly aimed at users who are starting a brand new business but lacking in technical web design skills.
If content management is a key concern, then self-hosted WordPress is an obvious alternative to Squarespace; but the two platforms are rather different beasts.
Self-hosted WordPress is a much more powerful tool, but one which usually involves a more manual setup and customzation of elements — Squarespace is more of a ‘click and point to change something’ style solution (and, unless you engage a developer or agency to help you, you won’t have a support team at your disposal to help you with any queries about your website). I’d suggest reading our Squarespace vs WordPress article to get an in-depth comparison of these two platforms.
You could also look at hosted WordPress, which is a site builder that works in a similar way to Squarespace (i.e., it’s hosted on a server and doesn’t involve much in the way of manual configuration). However, it delivers more sophisticated options when it comes to blogging (not least an autosave feature!).
If high-quality design is something you’re particularly interested in (as is the case for a lot of Squarespace users) then Webflow is a potentially good alternative for you – this platform places a huge emphasis on template design and custom animations. It does come with a steeper learning curve than Squarespace however. For more information about it, check out our Webflow review or our Squarespace vs Webflow comparison.
Although the Squarespace template designs are arguably better than the ones you get with both of these tools, the Shopify / BigCommerce ecommerce functionality is a lot stronger. For more information check out our Shopify vs Squarespace post post and our Squarespace vs BigCommerce comparison.
Using an existing online marketplace like Amazon, eBay or Etsy as your ecommerce solution is also an option — this involves a different method of selling than using a hosted solution like Squarespace, but because so many people use these platforms, it offers a ready-made customer base to tap into. Read our Shopify vs Amazon, Shopify vs eBay and our Shopify vs Etsy comparisons for more thoughts on this way of selling.
And then of course, there’s WordPress again, which so long as you happy to spend time configuring, can be used effectively with various ecommerce plugins such as WooCommerce, Ecwid or Shopp to sell goods.
And finally, Wix is worth a look — the product provides a similar ecommerce feature set to Squarespace.
A free Wix plan is also available (it’s basic, but good for some applications). Check out our Wix review, our guide to Wix pricing, our Wix free trial guide, our Wix vs Shopify comparison, our Wix vs Shopify YouTube comparison, our Wix vs Squarespace comparison and our Wix vs WordPress post for more details on this platform.
Squarespace review FAQ
Is Squarespace good for beginners?
In general, yes. Squarespace is a ‘do it yourself’ website builder, which means that it’s aimed at people without coding or web design skills. Like all similar products, there is learning curve involved, but of the website builders we’ve tested, it’s definitely one of the easiest to use.
What are the main pros and cons of Squarespace?
The main advantages of using Squarespace are its beautiful templates; its intuitive interface; its easy-to-use selling tools and its lack of transaction fees. The main disadvantages are the fact that it doesn’t facilitate multi-currency selling; its lack of revision history features; and its inadequate approach to providing GDRP-compliant cookie banners.
Which is better, Squarespace 7.0 or 7.1?
Although Squarespace 7.0 does contain a few features not found in 7.1 (key ones being parallax scrolling, landing pages and the ability to switch templates), in general Squarespace 7.1 is the better option, because you can create faster sites with it, it contains better ecommerce features and it’s the version that’s going to be developed and supported by Squarespace in the long term.
Is Squarespace free?
No. A monthly or annual subscription fee is required to use Squarespace.
Is there a free trial available from Squarespace?
Are there any discounts available for Squarespace?
Yes. By paying upfront for a year, you can avail of a 25%-30% discount (depending on plan). You can also avail of an additional 10% discount by starting a free trial and entering the STYLEFACTORY10 code when upgrading to a paid plan.
How we tested this product — and why you can trust this review
We tested this product via detailed independent research and, more importantly, hands-on experience of it.
We regularly help clients build Squarespace websites, and have extensive knowledge of how the platform works. So this Squarespace review is based on building many Squarespace websites and ecommerce sites from scratch; editing existing ones; and customizing them extensively using CSS and HTML.
For more information about the criteria that we use to evaluate ecommerce tools, please read our ecommerce platform buyer’s guide, which contains a list of the factors we typically consider when reviewing products like Squarespace.
Now..over to you!
Thank you for reading our Squarespace review! If you’ve got any thoughts or queries on the platform, or have any questions on what the best website builder for your project might be, do scroll down and leave a comment on this post. We read all comments, and will do our best to answer any questions you may have.
Did you know? This article is now available in French. Check out our “Squarespace Avis” post on the Style Factory France website.