Squarespace Review 2020: Is it as good as they say?

Squarespace: Best for beauty

8.6
Ease of Use 8.5
Features & Flexibility 9.5
SEO & Mobility 8.0
Help & Support 8.5
Pricing 8.5

Pros

  • Templates & Designs: A definite plus. Sophisticated, mobile device optimised templates are available although it must be understood that template quality will vary dependent upon the quality of images used. Replacing Squarespace images with yours will make your website look very different
  • E-commerce capability: Those who have loyal website followers can easily add an e-commerce capability to serve as a Squarespace membership site with individual customer login
  • Good support: When available (Mon-Fri - 3am-8pm Eastern Time) the live chat support is very responsive

Cons

  • Website editor: Although this has been improved with V.7 it is still not the easiest or most exciting of editors to use
  • Only 1 sub-navigation feature: Due to this limitation Squarespace is not suitable for those websites with a deep set of menu requirements
  • NO Preview mode: Any site edits made are immediately visible to the public. This can be particularly inconvenient when large edits are required
  • Squarespace SEO & Page Speed: A significant disadvantage is that you cannot edit page titles in Blog posts. Their templates also garner low rates in Googles Page Speed Tool tests. This can affect mobile user viewing experience and possibly affect your page ranking status

Introduction: What is Squarespace Website Builder?

Welcome to our Squarespace review. The Squarespace website builder has been around for over 14 years now and certainly has its followers. It must also be said that opinion seems divided on where it really gives benefit over its competitors.

It should be noted we have had an influx of requests to review this product. In this Squarespace review we will give a comprehensive insight into its strengths and weakness.


Overview: Our Squarespace review could be the solution to your online presence.

Squarespace have been around since 2004 and all the signs are that they will be around for the foreseeable future.

The company offer two separate solutions:

  1. The Squarespace Website Builder.
  2. The Squarespace Store.

If you are looking to build an online presence, or for those who already have one in place but are looking at alternative options the platform offers some beautifully designed templates and a fully loaded website builder solution.

Visit Squarespace.com


Ease of use:

It must be said that the Squarespace website builder user interface is minimalistic. The problem is that it is not always self-explanatory and this can lead to confusion for a newbie.

When learning how to use Squarespace you will find patience and assistance from the helpdesk support team are required in equal measures.

But they as your experience and Squarespace tutorial knowledge grows you will find that content can be edited on the fly and when you get into resizing the window this allows you to see exactly how it would look when viewed from mobile devices.

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Features and Flexibility:

You will find a fair number of features and flexibility.  Here are some main points for consideration in this Squarespace review:

Out-of-the-Box:

Domain name:

Existing domains can be pointed to your Squarespace website and annual or bi-annual subscriptions include a domain name for 1 year. After this, prices start at $20 annually. It must be said that there are better deals to be had from other domain registrars.

Free of advertisements:

This feature exists on all plans which is certainly welcomed.

Cover Page Builder:

When learning how to use Squarespace this is a feature which will be appreciated. It allows the creation of a single page design with little design experience required. It should also be noted that if you opt for the ‘Business’ Plan (details of pricing below). This is classed as the Developer Platform and those with HTML/CSS expertise can manage and control design as they wish.

Blogging:

Many will use Squarespace alternatives such as the ever popular, ever-efficient WordPress blog, but it is possible to create a blog using Squarespace with general blog features such as: Commenting, Trackbacks, Geolocation Tags, Reblogging etc. Those who already have a blog, for example on WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger or Posterous can import this if desired. The Squarespace blogging feature also makes it possible to host podcasts that come complete with RSS feed as well as iTunes tagging.

Language editor:

While the editor supports any language. The interface is only available in English. With this in mind it does not offer a good choice in terms of multilingual websites.

Navigational depth:

In terms of Squarespace website design you can go 1 level below the Squarespace website main navigation and set this up using ‘folders. There are also some templates which feature a secondary navigation below the main navigation.

Add-on features:

There is a fair selection of add-on features available with the Squarespace website builder. These include: Gallery widgets, Social media add-on’s for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. and tools that restaurant businesses will find useful. One minus in this regard is that the website builder does not have an app store for any 3rdparty add-ons.

Monetisation:

Those looking to derive additional income can add Google AdSense as well as other banner ads to their Squarespace website.

Visitor statistics:

Included in the Squarespace website offer is an inbuilt analytical visitor tool showing some key statistics. You can also delve deeper through use of the “Squarespace Metrics App” and set up Google Analytics.

Contact form set-up:

This is fully customisable and the contact form builder offers a wide range of field options.

Newsletter tool:

When looking at how to use Squarespace it needs to be understood that there is no actual newsletter tool available. Those using a Squarespace website who have an existing Mailchimp account can connect it, thus allowing collection of customer’s email addresses when they reach the checkout page.

Storage space:

This should be seen as a positive. There are no bandwidth or storage limitations.

Themes and Templates:

Squarespace offers ‘families’ of templates with variant themes and a very wide choice. There is no denying that the Squarespace templates are beautifully designed and of extremely high quality. There are 22 ‘families’ of templates with the majority containing variants that bring the total number up to 60+. As an aside, you can now find some developers of this platform selling bespoke Squarespace themes. To install these, you need to insert coding, but by doing so you are further increasing template choice. It must be said that the majority of users are still content with the standard template selections on offer. You are also at liberty to change your template whenever you wish without losing any content. This obviously provides flexibility in template design changes.

Another excellent plus is that you have the flexibility to change your template whenever you wish without losing any content. This flexibility is certainly worth bearing in mind particularly for those who have aspirations to add extensive content as their website presence grows.

3rd Party Apps Market:

Squarespace do not have an actual app store. They have taken the route of building all available apps into their offering. While this may appear restrictive, what it does give you is a sense of confidence that the apps used are reliable. If you do need ‘more’, Squarespace do have available is a good selection of 3rd party plugins. You will find some free to access, although being the nature of the world, the majority you will need to pay for.

Hosting and Backups:

Our Squarespace review sees this as an unnecessary negative. The backing up and restoration of Squarespace CMS and all other elements of your site is not supported by the platform. The only advice given by customer support on a highly important function is that you should copy and paste your content into a Google Doc. This is hardly an ideal solution.

On a positive note, for anyone who already has an established blog using the likes of WordPress, Blogger, Posterous or Tumblr, this can be imported to your Squarespace site.

See more Squarespace features


eCommerce Tools:

With limitations, e-commerce functionality is included in all plans. It is fairly easy to integrate a shopping cart as part of your blog. One plus is that a free SSL certificate is part of every plan regardless of whether the price package you take is e-commerce or not. We died deer into eCommerce functionality here in our Squarespace eCommerce review.


Squarespace SEO and Mobility:

This is where our “Out of the Box” Squarespace review finds limitations.

SEO:

When it comes to basic on-page SEO tasks like changing title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs, Squarespace works just fine. (They even have a tab for “SEO”.) You can also verify your site in Google Search Console, and see your data within the platform.

But unfortunately, there are some restraints when it comes to customisability and technical SEO. With important SEO factors like Page Speed, Squarespace handle this behind the scenes. It is also not possible to edit important files like Robots.txt and XML sitemaps, which for bigger sites is not ideal. Canonicalisation is also handled by Squarespace by default meaning any manually custom canonical URL added could result in conflicts. Probably the biggest annoyance is that Squarespace does not allow for Image Alt Text edits.

Mobile:

In terms of mobile viewing, Squarespace offers fully mobile optimised viewing for your visitors. This is certainly a positive and really is a ‘must have’ for any eCommerce platform you decide on.

It should also be noted that your Squarespace website can be managed from any appropriate mobile device. This means that as long as you have internet access it is possible to check and modify all aspects of your Squarespace CMS.

See more Squarespace SEO features


Support and Resources:

It must be said that this is one of the stronger Squarespace website builder features, but still has a few ‘holes’ which may frustrate.

They offer a comprehensive knowledge base and FAQ section which is easily accessible. There is a 24/7 ticket system, a live chat function is available Mon-Fri 3am-8pm Eastern Time, and it is possible to ask questions via E-mail but response times vary. However, there is no telephone support available and no premium support for higher end price plan subscribers. Squarespace have obviously been quizzed on telephone support to the extent that their official website now has a statement as to why this is:

“We don't offer phone support because we truly believe it wouldn't be possible to provide the same effective assistance over the phone.”

See more Squarespace Support features


Squarespace Pricing:

It is obviously of high importance for anyone considering which website building platform to implement that costs are fully understood. Let us look at the Squarespace website cost.

squarespace-pricing

Our Squarespace review must emphasise details of the fairly simple pricing plan offered. It needs reiterating that the 4 plans offered: Personal, Business and 2 x Online stores (basis & advanced) are targeted at very specific groups:

Personal plan: The limitation here is that you will not get any e-commerce module. Those planning to launch an online store must go for a higher, more expensive plan.

Business plan: This should be viewed as the right fit for small to medium businesses. It will allow your Squarespace website to be built for a wide audience. An e-commerce system is included although transaction fees must be taken into account. You have the ability to customise the CSS and JavaScript because the plan grants access to the source files.

Commerce / Online store plans: Undoubtedly these are the best 2 plans for those looking at e-commerce and selling online opportunities. Unlike the Business plan there is no transaction fee charges. The online plans also allow you to sell physical and digital goods, both of which feature voucher management as well as inventory tracking. This makes these plans a good fit for SME’s with a wider range of products or services. For more details with e-commerce, best to follow this link for to our full Squarespace e-commerce review.

>> Check for latest Squarespace discount plans <<


Conclusion and Recommendation:

What is not best used for?

So, our Squarespace review conclusion; The Squarespace website builder is not as easy to get to grips with as other website builders out there. Fully understanding how to use Squarespace will take patience and regular contact with the customer support team in the early part of your set up.

The one big disadvantage we must point out and that which stops us from recommending it above some of the Squarespace competitors in terms of web-building and e-commerce functionality is the shortcomings of its SEO attributes. We are seeing great gains over the years but still we find particularly puzzling from a platform that is so expensive compared to its competitors.

What is it best used for?

If the number 1 concern of your business website is visual appeal then Squarespace certainly has many positives going for it. We are massive fans for their templates! In this respect the sleek, modern templates are a very good fit for businesses in certain business disciplines such as art & design, health & fitness, community & non-profit organisations, photography, travel and lifestyle sectors. Indeed, judged on their templates alone it is clear that the Squarespace website builder caters for those business owners from the more creative side of life.

Squarespace Alternatives:

While there will undoubtedly be interest in the above offers, those who are still unsure as to whether this pricing plan structure will fit their immediate and future needs, it is recommended that you also review other Website builder platforms to achieve a comprehensive understanding of what is out there. We have also written detailed comparison articles with the leaders of the space to help you compare and find the best website builder solution for you;

You may be interested in our related website builder review articles below;

Final Word:

In general (unless you are willing to pay for the higher end price plans), the lower end of the price-plan scale will suffice for those looking at a straightforward web presence and non-complex e-commerce solution. It will also suit those who have little need for specific website customisation and are comfortable with the, albeit beautiful, design options that Squarespace has to offer.

It is possible to take a free 14-day trial. During this trial you will benefit from all of the functionality offered from a “Business” plan subscription and for those wishing to understand how to use Squarespace it is certainly worthwhile giving it a “test drive”.

However, do bear in mind that if you decide to go with the platform on a subscription basis and drop back to the “Personal” plan then some of the features available during your trial period will not be available on this subscription (see chart above).

One other consideration for those who are hesitant is to start with the lowest priced “Personal” plan option and then upgrade as your needs grow. You will not be double-charged for upgrading.


That’s all for now:

Thanks for reading our Squarespace review and don’t forget to keep an eye out for our ever-growing blog of review and comparison articles.

Please share any comments below!


 

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