SmugMug vs Squarespace Comparison 2023: Whats best for Photographers?

Last Updated on   January 21 2023,
  by    
Fact Checked  by     Stuart Kerrs.
vs website builder

Do you want to skip the read and get right to my pick? Between SmugMug vs Squarespace for Photographers, the better website builder is Squarespace.


Introduction to our SmugMug vs Squarespace comparison:

Welcome to our SmugMug vs Squarespace comparison!

For those in photography, putting your work out for all the world to see tends to be daunting. This is particularly true for those who are just starting their careers. It also works for those who opted out of agency work or the corporate scene to go freelance.

In both cases, an online gallery would be a more cost-effective way of getting one’s shingle out as opposed to spending a mint to rent a physical space to hold a temporary exhibition of one’s work.

Most of the current-generation site builders available offer a gallery function that both amateur and professional shutterbugs may avail of. However, not all are made equal and one’s budget may not necessarily be equal to the task of getting a premium subscription.

For today’s SmugMug vs Squarespace review, we have two website building platforms lined up: the first, a platform specifically dedicated to photography and gallery building; the second, an all-purpose site builder that has become a favourite of ecommerce entrepreneurs and creatives.

We’ll see how these platforms stack up in terms of ease of use, features and functionality, and overall capability.


Overview of SmugMug vs Squarespace:

SmugMug:

Homepage of Smugmug, as featured in our SmugMug vs Squarespace review.
smugmug-home

To be perfectly honest, SmugMug is a photographer’s site builder – but one with the ability to help monetise one’s work.

The platform delivers on the promise of allowing users to upload their image files so that they can view, organise, and even edit them in a secure location.

Once you’ve organised your gallery, you can make money from it by offering your own line of merch or using your SmugMug gallery as a professional portfolio to help potential clients find you.

Squarespace:

Homepage of Squarespace, as featured in our SmugMug vs Squarespace review.
squarespace-home

Squarespace has become the darling of the global creative community over the past few years – and there’s a great deal going on for it.

This platform is one of the few ecommerce builders available that offers solutions for visual and performing artists to market their work online.

While, admittedly, this isn’t the most tractable of site builders, Squarespace’s growing following stems from the fact that it allows users to offer scheduled services and digital downloads on top of physical products.


Ease of Use:

SmugMug:

All right: let’s get down to the details as SmugMug does promise to make things easy for the shutterbugs who opt to use it.

On the pro side, uploading image files either from a drive or directly from your camera via USB or Bluetooth is a breeze. Plus, the platform has a wizard to walk you through the upload process.

On the con side, figuring out SmugMug’s user interface takes a bit of getting used to. Much like its competitor Squarespace (as we’ve seen in a number of comparisons), the learning curve is steeper than most, so you really need to give the UI a good tour before you settle down and start working.

Squarespace:

The thing about Squarespace is that learning how to use it takes a while. Unlike other site builders, it isn’t laid out as systematically and some tools are buried deep within the UI. You’ll need to sit down with it for an hour or so to orient yourself with the platform, but once you get the hang of it, it’s intuitive enough to adapt to your work style.

Winner – DRAW! We’re declaring this SmugMug vs Squarespace comparison draw. It’s not that these platforms are hard to use, but you do need to take the time to learn how to use them properly.

SmugMug vs Squarespace Features & Flexibility:

Out of the box:

SmugMug:

Right off the bat, SmugMug offers a platform that is uniquely easy to use and was specifically developed with the needs of the photography community in mind. It already has the following features built in for its users:

Photo Storage SmugMug offers unlimited and secure storage for image files. This cloud-based storage solution already has built-in privacy controls to ensure users' peace of mind along with automatic uploads, as well as compression-free image filing – so the quality of your images is never compromised even when you put them online; and

Photo Sharing Want to build a uniquely personalised portfolio? SmugMug has you covered. While its range of page-creation templates is limited, these are crafted by experts and are categorised based on the genres most commonly used by both amateur and professional photographers. The drag and drop interface does take some getting used to, but it's a doddle to create your page once you get the hang of things. Also, if you're a pro who has clients who need confidentiality, you can set passwords for individual galleries specific to them.

Squarespace:

Squarespace offers a stellar ecommerce building and hosting package right out of the gate: Standard subscription inclusions offer unlimited bandwidth, more than ample storage, and an incredibly extensive range of ecommerce tools for both products and services.

Themes & Template Design:

Whis is better Squarespace vs SmugMug for photographers?

SmugMug:

smugmug templates, as featured in our SmugMug vs Squarespace review.
smugmug-templates

Along with a selection of pre-made templates, Smugmug also gives users the ability to modify their websites with custom elements. This enables them to apply custom themes to their websites either in total or use a different theme or template per page or gallery.

Squarespace:

squarespace templates, as featured in our SmugMug vs Squarespace review.
squarespace-templates

Depending on your industry, you’re bound to find a Squarespace template to suit your website or online store. The platform offers over 100 distinctive templates which are organised by industry rather than by aesthetic.

3rd party apps market:

SmugMug:

SmugMug is compatible with numerous third-party applications, including uploaders like the Lightroom Publish Service and Aperture, as well as image downloaders like the Mac-exclusive solution Smuda.

Squarespace:

squarespace extensions, as featured in our SmugMug vs Squarespace review.
squarespace-extensions

Squarespace offers a wide range of integrations. Squarespace Extensions offers more than 3,000 unique applications ranging from productivity management solutions to ecommerce tools. Rather than depend on community-made plugins, many of Squarespace’s integrations come from notable – and trustworthy – names in the IT industry like Google, Stripe, PayPal, and Mailchimp.

Hosting:

SmugMug:

If you’re in the market for a hosting solution for your photography business, then SmugMug is the platform for you. Hosting is already part of the plans it offers, so you don’t need to go looking for another service. What’s more, it’s actually prepared for image files from low to high resolution, so it essentially doubles as your image archive server.

Squarespace:

Squarespace offers its users fully-managed hosting to ensure constant uptime.

Backups:

SmugMug:

While Smugmug doesn’t have a site backup feature, it does have an image file backup feature to secure the integrity and quality of your work.

Squarespace:

Squarespace doesn’t have an automated backup process in its UI, but it offers a tutorial in its knowledge base for backing up and redeploying saved site data in the event of a crash or hacking incident.

Migration:

SmugMug:

The platform offers its own migration tool, SmuggLr, to make moving sites easier. However, the tool only works with image-centric websites like Picasa and Phanfare.

Squarespace:

Moving non-ecommerce sites or standard blogs is easy, as there is a feature already built into the UI. Store data, on the other hand, needs to be uploaded to one’s Squarespace account manually in the form of *.csv files.

Security:

SmugMug:

Keeping things on the cloud is SmugMug’s advantage in this game when it comes to keeping user accounts secure. Even in free trial mode, users can experience all it has to offer in terms of data privacy, watermarking, and right-click controls.

Squarespace:

Need white-glove security solutions to make sure that your site is well protected? Squarespace has you covered. The platform offers secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates for all users, along with two-factor authentication, advanced password protection, as well as measures against Denial of Service attacks.

Winner – Squarespace! Squarespace wins in this SmugMug vs Squarespace features comparison.

SmugMug vs Squarespace eCommerce Tools:

POS:

SmugMug:

Unfortunately, SmugMug does not offer point of sale solutions for its users as the bulk of transactions are exclusively conducted online.

Squarespace:

Squarespace teamed up with payment solutions developer Square for its own POS system which enables users to accept payments in person. The system also allows them to manage their inventory through one’s mobile device. Unfortunately, the system is currently available only for iOS.

Abandoned cart saver:

SmugMug:

Unfortunately, SmugMug doesn’t have native measures for abandoned cart management and relies on email marketing solutions to draw customers back.

Squarespace:

Where Squarespace is concerned, abandoned cart recovery is only offered as a premium service and works by sending customers an email reminder and a link back to the site.

Payment Gateways:

SmugMug:

Currently, the platform works with payment options such as Amazon Payments and PayPal.

Squarespace:

Squarespace Commerce enables users to accept credit/debit card payments via its own facility, or through third parties like Google Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal.

Winner – Squarespace! Squarespace wins in this SmugMug vs Squarespace ecommerce features comparison.

SmugMug vs Squarespace SEO & Marketing:

SEO:

SmugMug:

SEO capabilities are already built into the platform UI, so users can simply focus on their work without needing to worry about how visible their sites are online.

Squarespace:

Squarespace’s UI is already equipped with its own set of SEO tools.

Mobile:

SmugMug:

Need to work with SmugMug on the go? There's an app for that. While features for mobile are limited, you can view your galleries and make quick adjustments through your mobile device or laptop. The SmugMug app is available for iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and even Lightroom.

Squarespace:

Squarespace is available to download on both iOS and Android devices. There is a caveat, however: do not expect the same level of flexibility and functionality as the standard desktop edition.

Marketing:

SmugMug:

SmugMug has its own roster of marketing tools that enable users to create promotional campaigns they can deploy through their website or via email.

Squarespace:

Along with a number of third-party options, Squarespace offers users its own digital marketing tools and website analytics, with options ranging from email-centric solutions, social media integrations, and metrics monitoring solutions to give you a clearer idea of how well your site is performing.

Pagespeed:

SmugMug:

While SmugMug’s pagespeed is at a respectable 994 milliseconds, its performance grade is a less than desirable 86 out of 100.

Squarespace:

Squarespace’s pagespeed has improved slightly since our last review of the platform, clocking in at 1.18 seconds, with a performance grade of 68 out of 100.

Winner – Squarespace! Comparing Squarespace vs SmugMug, thing sway towards Squarespace's when it comes to SEO and Marketing.

Support and Resources:

SmugMug:

smugmug-help
smugmug-help

In terms of technical support, SmugMug is no slouch when it comes to taking care of its users. The platform offers an extensive knowledge base that helps users through everything from getting started, to technical specifications for their images, security features, and even a walkthrough guide on how to optimise the earning power of one’s SmugMug page.

Plus, if you need to talk to someone about any technical issues, you can avail of the Contact a Hero support service wherein you can send an email and get a response from an actual tech person in an hour, or go on Live Chat (available 24/7) to get quick support.

We also appreciate the fact that SmugMug lets users know if its system is down – no need to go crazy guessing as to what happened to your photography website.

Squarespace:

squarespace-help-center
squarespace-help-center

Squarespace’s customer support is both efficient and knowledgeable about common technical issues plaguing site users. Issue escalation to more knowledgeable team members also goes off without a hitch, and their knowledge base is extensive and frequently updated.

Winner – DRAW! Comparing Squarespace vs SmugMug, things are levelled when it comes to customer service.

Pricing:

SmugMug vs Squarespace Pricing Options:

SmugMug:

No long term freebies here, unfortunately. But we have to admit that SmugMug’s monthly rates are quite reasonable. The three plans on offer are priced at $13, $28, and $42 a month – not too far from what its competitor offers, and there are features specifically aimed at the pros.

smugmug-full-pricing
smugmug-full-pricing

Click for the latest SmugMug pricing

Squarespace:

squarespace-pricing
squarespace-pricing

Squarespace’s four plans range from $12 to $40 monthly, and features are dependent on your plan of choice. For ecommerce users, we recommend the two highest subscription tiers as these options offer the best possible range of tools and solutions.

Click for the latest Squarespace pricing

SmugMug vs Squarespace Free trial, refund policy, and money-back guarantee:

SmugMug:

According to their service terms, you can try SmugMug commitment-free for a fourteen-day period.

Squarespace:

Squarespace allows potential users to experience it for themselves through a fourteen-day trial period. Afterward, based on their service terms, you’ll have to avail yourself of a paid account to keep using the platform.

Winner – Squarespace! Comparing SmugMug vs Squarespace, the latter offers better value for money.

Comparison Winner: SmugMug vs Squarespace?

Squarespace is the winner in our SmugMug vs Squarespace comparison test!


Conclusion and Recommends in this SmugMug vs Squarespace comparison:

What is SmugMug best for?

SmugMug, on the other hand, is specifically for photographers and visual creators.

What is Squarespace best for?

Squarespace has long been known as the top of the line for lifestyle and creative SMEs.

Squarespace vs SmugMug Alternatives:

Other Squarespace vs SmugMug alternatives you can check out are;

Ranking Portfolio Website Builders Our View
1 Format Best for Portfolio Building
2 Squarespace Best for Design & Creatives
3 Smugmug Best for Bare-Bones Simplicity
4 Pixpa Good for Gallery Functionality

SmugMug vs Squarespace Final word:

Now to wrap up our review;

When it comes to comparing two highly thought-of and widely used site creation/ecommerce hub-making platforms, we have to recommend Squarespace. Try it out for 14 days and see if it fits you needs and resources!

Click for the best Squarespace pricing


That's all for now:

If you've read all the way through this SmugMug vs Squarespace comparison, we are thankful. We hope you can now answer the question of what are the pros and cons of website builders! We have a large collection of articles, guides, and comparison reviews of eCommerce solutions, web hosting providers, website builders, and more! Feel free to check them out;

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