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In this Squarespace review, I look at all the key pros and cons of one of the best-known website builders available. Is Squarespace right for your web design project — or should you use an alternative platform?
Let’s find out.
In this in-depth look at Squarespace, I’m going to give 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 you
- 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.
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.’
Founded in 2004 as a solution to let people without development skills build and manage their own website, Squarespace now powers millions of websites worldwide.
Although Squarespace initially started life as a straightforward website building tool, the product has evolved over recent years into one which offers built-in e-commerce and marketing features too — as you’ll see later on the review, the platform can now be used to host an online store and run email marketing campaigns.
Internet statistic company Builtwith.com estimates that there is a total of 2.8 million live Squarespace sites, making the platform one of the most popular website builders currently available. Around 1,100 people work for the company.
How does Squarespace work?
Squarespace is a ‘hosted’ solution. This means that it runs on its own servers and you don’t have to install software on your own computer to use it.
It lets you create a website in a web browser without coding, and edit it easily thanks to a user-friendly content management system (CMS).
In other words, rather than loading Dreamweaver or a similar web design package and churning out lines of code to construct a site, you do it all online using Squarespace’s templates and style editor. All you need to work on your site is access to a web browser and the internet.
You pick a template, click on the bits of the design you want to tweak, and then adjust controllers in the style editor to change them.
For example, you can click on some text and apply a new typeface; click on a background and change its color; and so on.
But in general, Squarespace is not really a website builder that is designed for those who want to edit their design extensively — it is a platform that encourages you to pick a template, make a few design tweaks, add some content and hit the ‘go’ button.
Squarespace is a ‘software as a service’ (SaaS) tool — this means that you don’t own a copy of the product, but instead pay a monthly fee to use it.
And speaking of fees…
Squarespace plans and pricing
There are four Squarespace plans available:
Personal — $16 per month
Business — $26 per month
Basic Commerce — $35 per month
Advanced Commerce — $54 per month
If you pay upfront for a year, discounts of 25% to 30% are applied to the above fees, depending on plan.
(Two other plans— ‘Select’ and ‘Enterprise’ — are also available. These give you access to priority support and consultancy services, but are very expensive — ‘Select’ costs $4900 per year and ‘Enterprise’ pricing is negotiable).
If you want to try Squarespace out before buying, a two-week trial is available, which you can access here.
Key differences between the Squarespace plans
When it comes to the key differences between Squarespace plans, some of the main things to look out for are:
The ‘Personal’ Squarespace plan is the only one which doesn’t allow you to sell online — e-commerce functionality is not provided on this plan at all.
All the other plans allow you to sell an unlimited number of products on your online store — but the commerce functionality you get depends on the plan.
For example, a key e-commerce feature, abandoned cart autorecovery — a way of identifying and automatically emailing users who put items in their carts but don’t complete a purchase — is only available on the most expensive plan, ‘Advanced Commerce.’
Other important online store features, including advanced discounts, subscriptions, real-time carrier shipping and access to the Squarespace API are restricted to the ‘Advanced Commerce’ plan too.
You can avoid transaction fees on the ‘Basic Commerce’ and ‘Advanced Commerce’ plans. If you opt for the ‘Business’ plan, however, Squarespace will take a 3% cut of all the transactions made via your online store.
Depending on the volume of sales involved, this may make the ‘Basic Commerce’ or ‘Advanced Commerce’ plans more cost-effective than the ‘Business’ one quite quickly.
Whether or not you can add CSS and scripts to your site
The ‘Personal’ Squarespace plan doesn’t let you style your website with your own CSS.
CSS is the code used to style a template — and it can be useful to have access to this if you want to have 100% control over the design of your site.
The number of website contributors you can have
The ‘Personal’ plan restricts the number of contributors to your website to 2 (there’s no cap on contributors on the other plans).
You can only make use of Squarespace’s ‘premium blocks and integrations’ if you’re on a ‘Business’ plan or higher. These allow you to connect your website to third party apps and services like Opentable, Amazon and Mailchimp.
Promotional pop-ups / mobile information bars
On the $35 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). These make it easier for mobile users to call, email or locate your business quickly.
Buying a domain name with Squarespace
To incentivize you to pay upfront for a year’s service, Squarespace gives anyone taking out an annual plan a free domain name for their first year of using the platform. This means that you can avail of your own custom domain name, www.yoursite.com etc.
Not every custom domain is catered for — several extensions will only be available with a dedicated domain name provider, but the main ones (.com, .net, .info etc.) are catered for, as are some country extensions.
The only thing to remember here is that by using Squarespace to purchase your domain name, you are placing both your website AND your domain name in the same basket — i.e., if you ever lost access to your Squarespace account, you’d lose access to your domain name too.
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
You can choose from around 140 Squarespace templates; all are very attractive and have a slick, contemporary look and feel — in my view outclassing the offering from many other similar hosted website building tools.
In terms of how this selection stacks up against the free template offering from other website builders, it makes Squarespace more generous than Shopify or BigCommerce (which both only offer a few free templates), but less generous than Wix (which offers 800+) and WordPress (for which thousands are available).
One thing I’d say about Squarespace templates is that the majority of them work best if professional, eye-catching photography is used.
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.
And speaking of which…
Stock images in Squarespace
One of the really great things about Squarespace is that it provides you with access to all of Unsplash’s image library out of the box — meaning that you get access to a large number of royalty free images that you can add directly 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 your 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.
In some cases, the stock photography feature has contributed positively to the overall corporate design of my clients’ sites — and has been particularly helpful when a client has not given any thought to the branding or imagery end of things at all (something that happens rather more than I’d like!).
A huge range of web fonts — 1,000 from Adobe and over 600 from Google — is included with Squarespace.
This is far more than provided by most competing website building platforms, and usually makes it easier to match your website’s branding with those used in your offline marketing materials.
How do Squarespace websites look on a mobile?
All Squarespace templates are fully responsive, meaning that your site design will adjust 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, it can provide some SEO benefits too.
Additionally, you can enable AMP — Accelerated Mobile Pages — on Squarespace websites. AMP is a Google-backed project which aims to speed up the delivery of content on mobile devices through the use of stripped down code. Using it can provide some user experience and SEO benefits.
Enabling AMP in Squarespace is extremely 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
It’s generally easy to configure a Squarespace template design to your liking. You can 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, website width and so on with a minimum of fuss.
One important thing worth noting 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 be much better to offer the option to switch to another template design with the click of a button, rather than forcing users to manually change a load of 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 really want to make a change to your website’s appearance that Squarespace’s design controls just don’t 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.
However, it’s important to note that if you do add your own CSS, Squarespace’s customer support team reserves the right to limit the kind of support they give you.
Many 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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- our online store comparison chart
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Squarespace provides a cool 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 it down.
(If using Vimeo, note that you’ll need to be on a Vimeo Plus plan to remove the Vimeo logo from your videos).
You can also upload videos to be used as backgrounds, so long as they are under 500MB in size and no longer than 60 seconds in length.
However, it would be good to be able to display videos with sound — or give visitors an option to do this. (Fortunately, there’s a nice workaround available for this which you can pick up from our Squaresplace plugins page — a third-party Squarespace background video controls plugin).
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 opt to build a site on Squarespace 7.0 if preferred. Doing so will give you access to a different set of templates, and a few features that were removed in version 7.1, including:
- parallax scrolling
- cover pages (landing or ‘intro’ pages for your site)
- the ability to tweak the mobile version of your site more extensively
- access to a Squarespace developer platform (which can be used to code bespoke Squarespace sites).
Using Squarespace 7.1 gives you a more sophisticated layout engine that provides access to more page layouts and lets you make use of both ‘content blocks’ and ‘content sections.’ It’s also likely to be better supported by Squarespace going forward, and it’s the version of the platform into which new features will be introduced.
Finally, in my tests, I’ve found Squarespace 7.1 is generally faster than 7.0, too — and page speed is important for SEO.
So overall, my advice would be to go for a 7.1 plan rather than 7.0 one — you can browse Squarespace 7.1 templates here.
Designing logos with Squarespace
A useful feature included with Squarespace is a logo designing app.
A selection of symbols and typefaces are provided in the app which you can use to create your logo.
You drop your text and symbols onto a grid, move things about a bit and, when you’re happy with the results, you can download a hi-res version of your logo which can be used either on your site or on printed material.
It’s pretty basic, so 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 very limited, especially by comparison to Squarespace’s main site builder.
Content management in Squarespace
There is 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 simple 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 — in my view, it’s one of the best website builder interfaces available.
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 things up.
These are extremely helpful to website-building novices who are not terribly familiar with the best ways to lay out content.
Once you’ve got your page, you can add ‘content sections’ to it. These include:
galleries (in slideshow, grid, carousel, or stack format)
…and that’s just a few examples really.
It’s also really easy to change the position of your content sections; it’s simply a case of grabbing an element and dragging it to another location on the page.
It’s easy to place elements within content sections too — you simply add ‘content blocks’ (pictured below). As with Squarespace’s content sections, these can be positioned around the page easily.
All in all, the content management system is excellent, gives you a great range of design options, and is one of the strongest arguments for using Squarespace over a competing tool.
(Interestingly, WordPress — one of the main alternatives to Squarespace — recently introduced a new drag and drop editor, Gutenberg, that bears more than a passing resemblance to Squarespace’s drag-and-drop builder).
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, crop or rotate any image you add to your website with ease in Squarespace. You can also pick a ‘focal point’ in images; this helps ensure that no matter which device a user is viewing your site on, the part of the image you care the most about is always on display.
In this era of responsive websites, where images are resized according to device, this can be a bit of a design lifesaver, ensuring 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.
As discussed earlier, another nice aspect of working with images in Squarespace is that you can browse Unsplash and Getty images directly within Squarespace and insert them really easily into your website.
So all in all, a really big thumbs-up for image management in Squarespace.
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 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.
You can create really stylish summary blocks of your blog and drop them into any page of your website, and filter these so that the most relevant posts for a particular context are displayed. Anyone who is interested in creating a magazine style layout for their site will love this.
Whereas many competing website builder tools 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 gives 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 you rank higher in search results).
There are however, some flaws in Squarespace’s blogging setup that definitely 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).
If you want to update an existing blog post, you can’t work on a draft version and publish it when you’re ready; you have to update the live version.
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 content and products into Squarespace. Helpful ‘wizards’ are provided to help you import pages, blog posts and other content from WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr.
One thing to note however is that you need to be on one of the more expensive ‘Commerce’ plans in order to import products. These plans let you import up to 10,000 products via CSV or, using an import tool, from Shopify, Etsy or Big Cartel.
You can export certain content from Squarespace into a WordPress-format XML file — not everything exports, but the type of 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.
I routinely get requests from clients to add tables into Squarespace websites and it’s always a pain to do; it involves either coding and styling something manually, or creating JPG versions of tables.
As things stand Squarespace is not really a suitable tool for creating websites with ‘multi-level’ navigation systems.
Whilst all Squarespace plans 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 very ‘flat’ websites, with a maximum of two levels of navigation.
In a way 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 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.
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 the company.
But 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…
Creating multiple language versions of a Squarespace website
Users who wish to use Squarespace to create a website for a company operating in many different locations or languages may also be disappointed — Squarespace is not really designed to let you create a network of multiple sites using the same design.
Out of the box, for example, you can’t really use Squarespace to host a full UK version of your site at www.yoursite.com/uk/ and a full German version at www.yoursite.com/de/.
WordPress Multilingual or WordPress Multisite would be a better bet for applications like that [note: you can find out more about our WordPress development services here].
If you’re determined to use Squarespace to host a multi-lingual website however, you could considering investing in a third-party tool like Weglot, which automatically creates a multi-lingual version of your site for you.
Although Squarespace doesn’t yet provide a standalone WordPress-style media library, its new image re-use feature goes some way towards providing a media library of sorts, in that it allows you to search for and re-use images you’ve already imported to the platform.
If you’d like to manage your Squarespace site on the go, there are three apps to 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 manage your Squarespace site using a smartphone — it lets you edit pages and posts, view analytics and manage orders.
The Squarespace scheduling apps are designed to let you manage appointments that your clients have booked through your Squarespace site.
The ‘Schedule Client’ app allows people to book and change appointments, and the ‘Scheduling Admin’ app lets you manage them.
Integrations with other apps
Squarespace offers several built-in integrations with key web applications — you can incorporate apps like Mailchimp, Dropbox, Google Drive, Pinterest (and quite a few others) into your website in various useful ways.
You will need to be on a ‘Business’ plan or higher though to get full access to these, however.
Squarespace recently introduced ‘extensions’ for its platform — a range of paid-for add-ons that add functionality to your website.
The number of extensions is currently small — at time of writing, there are only 27 add-ons available — but you can use them to hook your site up to several key admin apps including Quickbooks and Xero, or print shipping labels.
The extensions available are useful, but a bit pricey by comparison to offerings in other platforms’ app stores.
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.
This allows you to send data captured via forms in Squarespace to a wide range of third party applications. Zapier is an ‘if this, then that’ (IFTT) tool that allows you to create rules as to what should happen with data from one application when it’s sent to another.
You will usually need a premium Zapier plan to get the most out of this, though ($29.99 per month).
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
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 requested).
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 PARTNER10 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, and if you don’t get it right, you will hamper the growth of your online business.
Accordingly, I’m going to drill down into this area in quite a lot of depth.
So how does Squarespace stack up in the data capture department?
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. This is perfectly doable, but won’t be for everyone.
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.
There are some improvements that I’d love to see being made 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 should be.
It would be better if direct integrations were available for users of other email marketing products.
Another improvement I’d like to see to Squarespace forms would be 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 absolutely 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 email marketing app.
Email marketing functionality – ‘Squarespace Email Campaigns’
Squarespace recently added significant new functionality to its platform with the introduction of its ‘Email Campaigns’ feature.
For an extra monthly fee, this allows you to capture email addresses and send newsletters to them directly within the Squarespace user interface.
Squarespace offers you four email marketing options:
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
(These rates 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 you can 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 quite similar to Squarespace’s web page editor.
Some autoresponder functionality is included with Email Campaigns — however, the automation provided is currently very basic by comparison to that provided by dedicated email marketing tools like Mailchimp or GetResponse.
Furthermore, you can’t can’t segment data or split test your mailouts using Squarespace Email Campaigns. So ‘power users’ of email marketing needing more sophisticated options will probably better off using another 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 etc. 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 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?
Squarespace websites do quite a lot of things that Google likes:
- they are secure
- they automatically generate a sitemap.xml file
- they create clean HTML markup
- they use responsive design, making them mobile friendly (Google prioritizes websites that appear quickly and display correctly on mobile devices)
- they provide some AMP features.
Squarespace lets you tweak most of the key search engine optimization elements easily enough — page title tags, headings, meta descriptions etc.
Additionally, Squarespace 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.
However, there are a few things Squarespace could do better when it comes to SEO:
- Performance: Google now places more of an emphasis on site performance (thanks to its new ‘Core Web Vitals‘ targets that focus on speed and stability). Sites that perform particularly well against these targets with slightly higher search rankings; and things stand, Squarespace could do better on this front. That said, the company is aware of these issues, and is gradually rolling out the necessary performance improvements.
- Alt text — adding it involves a quite fiddly process of creating and then hiding image captions.
- 301 URL redirects — creating them is a bit of a manual process (and unlike some competing products, you are not automatically prompted to do so whenever you change a page URL).
- Clean URLs — whilst not a major issue, if you write a blog post on Squarespace, you can’t change the URL so that it doesn’t include a prefix (‘/blog/’ etc.). There are SEO arguments for keeping URLs ‘clean’ — made by Google no less — by avoiding unnecessary parameters like this.
Note: if you’re interested in finding out more about optimising your Squarespace website for a search engine, do check out our Squarespace SEO resource. And don’t forget that built-in SEO features are only one part of the picture when it comes to SEO; you’ll need to think about keyword research tools too.
E-commerce in Squarespace
The e-commerce 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 manage.
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 e-commerce projects.
It’s worth flagging up the subscription functionality as another strong feature of Squarespace — the platform makes it really easy for you to accept recurring payments for goods or services.
An interesting aspect of Squarespace e-commerce is its new ‘members area’ feature. This lets you charge users for access to a private area of your website, allowing you to sell courses, exclusive content and more to your audience.
Although this requires an additional fee (ranging from $9 to $40 depending on how many members areas you want to set up), it’s a great way to monetize your website and your site traffic. The video below contains an overview of this feature.
Squarespace’s new members’ area feature
Free trial of Squarespace (use PARTNER10 code to avail of 10% discount).
There are a couple of areas in the e-commerce department where Squarespace needs some improvement, however.
It 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 — which allows you to sell your products in physical locations using your online store to process payment and track inventory — could be a bit better too; it’s currently limited to the USA, only iPhones are supported, and the hardware you can use is limited to a card reader (i.e., no barcode scanners or cash registers can be used).
The dropshipping options are a bit limited too: you can only use Printful, Printique or Spocket as dropshipping providers. If dropshipping is going to be a key part of your business, you may be better off with Shopify, which offers a huge range of dropshipping options.
Currently, 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 supported by Squarespace (Apple Pay is, however).Competing e-commerce platforms typically give you a lot more choice when it comes to payment methods.
Overall, I really like the Squarespace e-commerce 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 more dedicated e-commerce platform like BigCommerce or Shopify.
Interface and ease-of-use
Squarespace is a very user-friendly product.
As mentioned before, the layout options are extensive and can provide you with gorgeous, ‘magazine-style’ presentation of content.
In fact, I’ve yet to use a hosted website building platform that feels quite as slick and as straightforward to use as Squarespace.
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.
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 very 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.
Squarespace provides customer support via email or live chat only — no phone support is available.
In terms of the customer service that is available, whilst the staff on Squarespace’s support desk are very friendly and provide reasonably quick answers to queries (with the live chat option being quickest), they tend to only deal effectively with pretty simple issues.
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 necessarily get much help from Squarespace.
Often 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 religiously 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.
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), chat support is English-only.
The Squarespace knowledge base
In addition to phone and live chat support, you can also make use of Squarespace’s ‘knowledge base‘ to help you solve problems.
The knowledge base is a searchable online manual 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’ll 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).
Whilst you can meet the first two requirements with a Squarespace website easily, it’s not straightforward 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 which sort out the cookie banner and other GDPR issues; and in the case of BigCommerce, the platform has 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 a very strong website builder for individuals and small businesses. It’s particularly good for two applications: running a brochure website or hosting a portfolio site – you can set yourself up with a very contemporary-looking site or image-focused website really quickly with it.
If you are an artist, photographer or a musician — or building a website for a one-off event like a wedding — Squarespace is also a very good, mobile-friendly platform for you (and one that is very easy to use on an ongoing basis). It’s also a great platform for restaurants — dishes and menus can look fantastic in the context of a well-chosen Squarespace template.
Thanks to its easy-to-use e-commerce 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 e-commerce functionality however — the lack of multi-currency selling and limited point of sale functionality would probably nudge me in the direction of a using a more dedicated e-commerce platform like Shopify if I needed to build an complex online store.
GDPR is another one of my key concerns — although you can make a Squarespace website GDPR compliant, it involves more work than you might like.
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 pros and cons of the platform.
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 provides a good range of import tools for importing content from other platforms.
There are no transaction fees (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 lets you push content to social media networks easily.
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.
Cons of using Squarespace
- 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 US.
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.
Although Squarespace websites can be optimized successfully for search engines, there are definitely some improvements that could be made to its SEOsetup — particularly where site speed and performance are concerned.
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.
- 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: 4/5
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 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 ‘PARTNER10’ when purchasing a plan.
There are quite a few similar website builder products on the market, including Wix, Big Cartel, Jimdo, Moonfruit and Weebly. 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!).
As far as selling online goes, the best hosted e-commerce solutions I’ve tried out to date are Shopify and BigCommerce. Although the Squarespace template designs are arguably better than the ones you get with both of these tools, the Shopify / Bigcommerce e-commerce 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 or Etsy as your e-commerce 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. Check out our Shopify vs Amazon post and our Shopify vs Etsy comparison 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 e-commerce plugins such as WooCommerce, Ecwid or Shopp to sell goods.
And finally, Wix is worth a look — the product provides a similar e-commerce feature set to Squarespace.
A free Wix plan is also available (it’s very basic, but good for some applications). Check out our Wix review, our Wix vs Shopify comparison, or Wix vs Squarespace comparison and our Wix vs WordPress post for more details.
Squarespace review FAQs
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 e-commerce features and it’s the version that’s going to be developed and supported by Squarespace in the long term.
Is there a free trial available from Squarespace?
Yes. You can try the product free for 14 days. If after that time you haven’t quite finished building your site, you can avail of a 7-day extension to this trial.
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 PARTNER10 code when upgrading to a paid plan.
Examples of Squarespace websites we’ve built for our clients
Did you know? This article is now available in French. Check out our “Squarespace Avis” post on the new Style Factory France website.
Now..over to you!
Thank you for reading our Squarespace review! If you’ve got any thoughts or queries on the platform, please 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.