SquareSpace Review: A Case study on SquareSpace

As many of today’s trendy website builders, Squarespace it’s a platform that lets you A) build a professional site online without doing any coding, B) edit your site easily thanks to a user-friendly content management system (CMS). It was launch in 2004 and is a drag and drop website builder specifically focused on delivering rich-imagery, highly polished experience for users.

Other than resorting to Dreamweaver or other programming package, and typing out lines of HTML and CSS to come up with your site, you can design it all online using Squarespace’s templates and style editor. The process is fairly simple: You pick a template, point at the things you want to change, and then tweak here and there by adjusting the controllers. Sounds great, right? And these are only some of the reasons why Squarespace has quickly become one of the most popular website builders on the market—although a lot of it has to do with marketing.

Lately, besides investing on research and software development—you would think that—, Squarespace has been spending a lot on sponsorship and good publicity, mesmerizing marketing videos, and killer example websites, all of the above to get better known. So, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that I entered my—rather our 😉 – Squarespace review with very high expectations. Yes, I probably should have been more objective, but it is what it is. Still, I went on and did my research along with an extensive testing process, and came up with a conclusion.

Did Squarespace meet my—probably not so fair—high expectations? Is it the ideal option for you and your goals? Will you find its interface as easy as others—a.k.a. Weebly? Let’s dig in!

SquareSpace review-Websotebuilder.org

Squarespace Overview: Reviewing Features and Functionalities

Design

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Squarespace’s themes and templates is “amazing”. The app has always had excellent themes, sleek and minimal, with a very contemporary look and feel. I would even say their templates arguably outclass the offering from their competitors—take that, Wix—. The “I love them” review is very popular among Squarespace users, and it pretty much summarizes how I feel about its templates too. Squarespace has over 60 templates, designed for big photos and string typography, all of which are included with your plan. And, let’s not forget about their huge range of web fonts, which further enhance the look and feel of any site you built in Squarespace. To those who know a little of code, the app does allow you to make edits to CSS to further style your website. All and all, Squarespace’ templates are head and shoulders about its competitors.

Squarespace Review - websitebuilder

Categories for the templates

  • Online Stores
  • Art & Design
  • Community & Non-Profit
  • Creative Services
  • Fashion & Beauty
  • Food & Drink
  • Health & Fitness
  • Home & Living
  • Media & Entertainment
  • Music
  • Photography
  • Professional Services
  • Travel & Lifestyle
  • Wedding
Price

Unlike other website builders in the market, Squarespace does not have a free plan—boo! —. There is, however, a 14 days free trial for you to carefully test out their web builder, before having to commit to any of their paid plans, thus removing the risk of unpleasant surprises—ok, I can live with that—. These are the 4 plans available:

For Websites:

  • Personal $12 per month
  • Business $18 per month

For Online Stores:

  • Basic $26 per month
  • Advanced $40 per month

pricing image-websitebuilder.org

You might think they pricing per month is a higher than what other website builders with similar benefits offer—and that is because, well, they are. But when you consider how much time Squarespace can save you each month, there’s when you find a real hidden treasure. The thoughts and details that Squarespace has invested into their templates allows you to create similar websites that a professional developer or designer may charge you thousands of dollars for. And not only that, but if you decided to host the website yourself, it will cost you from $4 to $10 each month for hosting, and $10 to $12 per year for a domain. Squarespace starts at $12 per month, and all their plans hosts your website, give you a free custom domain—just for the first year, but still—, access to their 24/7 support team, beautiful mobile responsive templates, and their oh-so-easy drag and drop website builder.  After all, when you experience all of Squarespace’s benefits, you can see why it is priced just a tad bit higher.

Loading time

Sometimes having a beautiful website is not enough to make the cut.  As loading time has become a ranking factor for the king of search engines, Google, page speed is now more important than ever before. That’s why I decided to test a number of Squarespace websites using GTmetrix and, I have to say, their performance was actually very surprising. Squarespace has an average—and not bad at all— loading speed of 6.9 seconds.  All Squarespace images are hosted on a CDN (global content delivery network); it uses hundreds of geographically distributed servers to reduce load time. And not only that, but the app uses Ajax and uses progressive image loading. When using Squarespace, you don’t have to worry about losing sales or interest in what you offer because a page is taking a long time to load. You go, Squarespace!

We a have tested few website made by wix on GTmetrix. Here are the results.
Fastcompany | Business Media  Click Here

Loading time Review - websitebuilder

Result

Loading time Review - websitebuilder (1)

Freemans restaurant  | Restaurant   Click Here

Loading time Squarespace Review 1- websitebuilder

Result

squarespace Loading time Review 1- websitebuilder (1)

Bandsintown | Music  Click Here

Loading time squarespace Review 2- websitebuilder

Result  

Loading time Squarespace Review 2- websitebuilder (1)

Mobile Friendly

All Squarespace templates are mobile responsive; therefore, they will automatically adjust to become optimized for mobile viewing. Your content, including all images and slideshow, will also resize meaning they may move on its own in order to fit nicely into a smaller mobile device’s screen. The app also generates several scaled versions of every image you use, so they look perfect—and load quickly! —on retina and mobile device. This is an important feature for the user experience, especially since more and more people are browsing through their gadgets. Again, this all is done automatically, so you don’t have to worry—at least not 100%—over how your website displays on a phone, tablet, or any other mobile device. Finally, if you feel like it, you can disable the mobile view from Squarespace’s website manager—but why would you!?

Squarespace-mobile friendly-websitebuilder

Squarespace is optimized to look great on all devices. Responsive Designs, every design automatically includes a unique mobile experience that matches the overall style of your website, so your content will look great on every device, every time. If desired, you can disable the mobile view from Website Manager.

SEO

Sites built with Squarespace do a lot of things that Google likes: generate a sitemap.xml file, use a clean HTML markup, customize your address/URL, and, as you read before—IF you actually did—, it has mobile friendly templates, among many other things. Squarespace also gives you statistics and data about your website, which include real-time analytics dashboard that helps you track hourly, daily, weekly and monthly traffic. It also tells you about a mobile usage (visitors that are on mobile devises), who referred visitors to your website, the most popular content, etc. Still, Squarespace does not come with any built-in SEO-checking tools or plugins. There’s no Yoast-like functionality available—which is very sad ☹—. That being said, you can always enter your Squarespace site URLs into an SEO checking tool, of which there are plenty, to see how your pages stack up from an SEO point of view.  Despite this—and may I add “long story sort”—Squarespace offers everything you need to get found in the good old Google.

seo-squarespace -websitebuilder

Squarespace produces pages with clean HTML markup that is easily indexable by search engines. We have full control over the ordering of your page titles, also the ability to create different title schemes for your homepage, item pages, and collection pages. Squarespace automatically generates and links a proper sitemap.xml, which enumerates every single URL on your site.  It automatically generate robots.txt, link your sitemap, and exclude all Squarespace service/search endpoints. What we have found Squarespace is inferior to that of the Wix.

Integration

One thing you should definitely know about Squarespace is that, unlike other web building sites, there is no “app store” … per se. Yes, Squarespace may not have a bona fide app market like Wix or Weebly—which, again, is very sad—, but it does integrate well with some key web applications, such as PayPal, Mailchimp, Dropbox, Pinterest, Google Drive and Google Maps, and others, which pretty much covers you every website building necessities. With its core business and social integrations, Squarespace gives you the tools you need and leaves out the tools you probably don’t even care for, which proofs you don’t have to have a huge app store to provide your visitors/customers with the functionalities they want. This contrasts with many of the website building competitors con the market, but it works amazingly, which is all that matters!

  • Social Integrations
  • Integrate  Google Maps
  • RSS Syndication
  • Gsuit emails
Interactivity

If you want to engage with you visitors—which in all honestly, who doesn’t? — Squarespace is not necessarily the best option out there for you. While other website builders offer, for instance, membership systems to maybe add a little exclusivity/mysteriousness to their page, Squarespace doesn’t. But when it comes to commenting, though, it does have a wide range of very user friendly options. Not only that, but with Squarespace you can always use a third-party app such as Disqus, a very popular commenting system. We’ve talked before about the importance of having elements that require user’s participation on your website. And although commenting is a good one, it seems like in Squarespace it also is the only one. You can only keep the conversation rolling for so long. Is always good to have more than one way to interact and ultimately engage with your audience. Squarespace   So, there you go, Squarespace, your chance to improve!

Blogging

Squarespace’s blogging capabilities are second only to WordPress—and that’s a big deal—. Squarespace has all the common blogging features, such as commenting and trackbacks, and even more, like geolocation tags and reblogging—and their post editor is beautiful, by the way— On top of that, you can have as many blogs as you like on your site, which is perfect if you want to care to create different blogs for different types of content.  And if you already have a blog on WordPress, Tumblr, Posterous or Blogger, the good news is that there’s an import tool to help you bring all your existing content across. And like if that wasn’t good enough, you can also host your own podcast on Squarespace, complete with RSS feed and iTunes tagging. Squarespace is—hands down—the only real alternative to a WordPress blog. Way to go, Squarespace!

Support

Squarespace makes it easy for you to get help. They have a 24/7 ticket system to help you, either via email or live-chat, but no phone support available yet. One would expect phone support for $40 a month, though, but you can’t have it all! When it comes to the support that is available, Squarespace’s desk support is actually pretty good! They are very friendly and provide relatively quick answers to your questions Monday through Friday between 3:00 am and 8:00 pm EST time. But emailing the company, on the other hand, can be just as difficult—or impossible? —as with a lot of similar products. Just finding the their “email us” button is a real struggle, not to mention getting an answer from them despite their 1 hour answer-back policy. You might as well look for the solution to your problem in a support forum. Still, their desk support should be good enough—hopefully!

support-squarespace-websitebuilder.org

Business Email

For a much professional overall look for your website, Squarespace does offer a custom email address service for your website. Whether you have a Squarespace domain or any other third-party domains, you can set up and email with Google’s G Suite integration in Squarespace. Although your site is hosted by Squarespace, and you can even host your domain with the website builder as well, your email address will always be hosted externally. Not too different from what other website builders offer, so that’s a plain OK for Squarespace.

Email -gmail - squarespace -websitebuilder

Multiple Websites

Yes, you can manage multiple sites and parking pages using one and only one Squarespace account. Plain and simple. Does it sound too good to be true? Well, that’s because it is! Each site you build will have its own billing subscription, though. No matter how many sites you build, there are no discounts nor multi-site plans; you have to pay for each one separately. Now, that might look like a pretty reasonable deal, right? A fair bill for each site. But when you think about the lack of a free option on Squarespace, then it doesn’t sound so right. Stop the greediness, Squarespace!

Best For

With its clean, polished, image-focused templates, Squarespace is a good website building option for almost anyone.  Just to name a few, Squarespace is ideal for eCommerce, music, restaurants, hotels, personal websites, photography, events, and – specially them! —bloggers, among many other types of websites. In short, Squarespace is a good option for just about anyone who wants to create a website that looks like it was custom build, and thus, make a strong impression to their website visitors.

Should You Use Squarespace?

As I said in the beginning, I had high expectations about Squarespace—perhaps too high, thus, kind of unfair. But before saying anything else, is only right to say that I actually do like Squarespace, and a lot, may I add. It is good for running simple blogs or hosting portfolio sites. In short, Squarespace is a really good option for simple sites. However—there’s always a but! —Squarespace is not quite up there when it comes to more serious websites, like an e-commerce, for example. It has limited levels of navigation and it lacks a proper file management system, that at the end, would make my look elsewhere, like Weebly or Wix.

I just have you a full on in depth review on Squarespace features and functionalities, but I know that some of you that are reading this probably skipped through this very part. So, for all of you—lazy readers—here’s a quick list of the pros and cons of using Squarespace:

Pros
  • The templates are gorgeous, and there are many of them
  • It is very fairly easy to use
  • The loading time of Squarespace sites is actually very good
  • It allows you to come up with a full working website in an extraordinarily short time
Cons
  • Most of the times templates are very prescriptive in terms of what you can or can’t change
  • The layout of your website on a mobile device maybe slightly different from its published mode
  • It doesn’t have other interactivity features other than a commenting system
  • Even for the simplest website, you will have to pay to build it due to their inexistent free plan

Again, Squarespace is good for building a simple site, but not for something more serious/complex site. I’m confident that Squarespace will keep improving just as they’ve done so far since 2004. All and all, Squarespace is a basic but versatile content management system/ website building tool ideal for people who are not hard-core developers but want to create a functional, secure—and let’s not forget beautiful! —website for personal, business or eCommerce. Squarespace is—as you’ve seen—not perfect though, but I definitely agree with their slogan: “Better websites for all”.

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