Squarespace’s templates page. Source: Squarespace.com
On a mission to help people easily build their brands online, Squarespace has the look of a sleek design agency, the functionality of a powerful website builder, and the character of a true New Yorker.
In this review, we’ll go through some of the pros and cons that Squarespace has, arming you with some additional information to see if this platform is the right one for you. We’ll also highlight a few of their key competitors near the end to give you a better understanding of where Squarespace fits in the website builder ecosystem.
Good things about Squarespace website builder
Template and theme positioning
Analyzing Squarespace, you see the functionality you’d expect to see from a website builder, including pre-built templates for fast page building. What stands out about Squarespace, though, is their presentation of templates. Instead of using brand names like WordPress themes do, Squarespace templates are geared towards use cases.
They ask the reader “What is the purpose of your website” and offer a search bar where you can type what you hope to accomplish with the website, such as photography, restaurant, or blog.
It’s a useful way to segment their templates, offering much better product positioning for Squarespace and a more natural-feeling user experience.
Mobile optimization and WYSIWYG builder
The builder touts its WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) styling and mobile-optimization, which is definitely a “pro” but perhaps not a standout – competitors like PageCloud and Wix both advertise their WYSIWYG builders.
Squarespace’s design page. Source: Squarespace.com
Customer engagement tools
Squarespace seems to have looked at the whole ecosystem of building a brand online (their tagline, after all), and built tools and functionality to empower it. What I mean by this is that Squarespace not just integrates with, but actually has native applications, for:
- Email marketing
- CRM system
- Finding custom website developers or web design freelancers
- On-page customer engagement tools like surveys
- Calendar and map integrations for easier on-page marketing
Squarespace’s customer engagement page. Source: Squarespace.com
To be sure, they have integrations with other platforms. But the “pro” here is that you get the option of the lightweight, built-in feature or you can get a robust integration. That’s a win for consumer choice all around.
Support and transparency
Squarespace touts 24/7 customer support for customers. If genuine, they are demonstrating real knowledge of their target market – many entrepreneurs and others building their brands are doing so on evenings and weekends, so support at any time is a huge win.
Squarespace’s support page. Source: Squarespace.com
Further, their Squarespace status page is transparent about all bugs, major and minor, affecting the platform. It also is where the team posts updates about bug fixes and solutions. A win for transparency and a win for customer anxiety reduction – they know the team will communicate with them via that page.
Squarespace’s status page. Source: Squarespace.com
Annoying / weird things about Squarespace
The platform has clearly invested a lot in their brand (and have a very flashy Squarespace brand page to show for it). But it seems, in some cases, the flashiness is masking shallowness in their resources.
Education seems limited
Their webinar page (called “Workshops”) touts how Squarespace “believes in empowering individuals to build their brand online.” I love that tagline. It’s sexy. I fully expected to see a library of content much like Shopify blog, guides, and academy.
Squarespace’s webinar page. Source: Squarespace.com
Instead, I scroll down to be greeted with two webinars. One is about Squarespace. The other is about building an online store. Both helpful for those specific topics, but it was not quite what I expected to see when the intro talked about helping me build a brand online. I couldn’t find other webinar or video offerings on the page.
Squarespace’s webinar page. Source: Squarespace.com
To Squarespace’s credit, they have a free online logo generator tool that is easy to use and sleek. Points for this, but it’s in the “con” section because it’s fairly rudimentary and there aren’t many options for customization.
Social presence comes off as, for lack of a better term, selfish
Unfortunately, their online social presence primarily talks about themselves. The featured article when I visited (see screenshot) is an advertisement for their latest email marketing feature. The first four blog posts in their roll are about them – company updates or announcing an acquisition.
Squarespace’s blog. Source: Squarespace.com
To be fair, all of these things are helpful for the individual trying to build their brand – scheduling, email marketing, etc. – and the content speaks to a powerful platform.
But that’s kind of the problem: Squarespace speaks to users primarily (only?) about Squarespace. It doesn’t seem to touch on user problems outside of specific platform use-cases (those conversations are mostly in Squarespace support, which still really only talks about problems in the context of Squarespace. If you have a business or brand challenge not directly related to a Squarespace feature, you’re not likely to find much help).
Squarespace’s help page. Source: Squarespace.com
The one outlier to this is the Squarespace engineering blog. While the team writes the occasional update about Squarespace, the blog offers thought-provoking content on engineering models, tech debt, and more.
Squarespace’s engineering blog. Source: Squarespace.com
The company doesn’t seem human
To say this is a con is debatable because 1) it’s not necessarily a good thing for a company to be overly “human”. And 2) being “human” is incredibly subjective and up for interpretation.
However, this is here because of the company’s stated mission: to help individuals build their brands.
While the web presence, tools, features, and overall support nails the “brand” part right on the head, it seems to miss the mark on the “individual” part of the conversation.
Squarespace, proudly from New York according to their brand page, looks and feels like every New York-based design agency.
If they were a design agency, I’d be thrilled for them. But they are not. They aren’t even B2B in the traditional sense of the word. And, even though many businesses power their websites through Squarespace, their specific wording of helping “individuals” makes me judge them more as a B2C company (especially when considering their price points – see below).
So, while the flash is beautiful, it doesn’t stand out for me because it doesn’t feel relatable. Further, many of the rich elements on their pages take a long time to load – not super helpful if you aren’t on blazing-fast Internet in NYC.
Pricing begins at $12 a month billed annually, or $16 billed monthly (USD).
From there, you have two pricing tiers:
- Online Stores
In the Websites tier, you can do the $12 or $18 a month options. In the Online Stores tier, you can do the $26 or $40 a month options. Each level includes the features of all levels that come before it, and you can see a list of features on their pricing page.
Squarespace’s website pricing page. Source: Squarespace.com
Squarespace’s online store pricing page. Source: Squarespace.com
Now, the premium Website option does allow for e-commerce, but it doesn’t have all the additional built-in features and functionality that would make running an e-commerce store effective (which are included in the Online Store options). You’d have to do that stuff on your own, further cementing Squarespace’s duality of options to either use them as a skeleton or run the whole shop through their integrated system.
Alternatives and competitors
Squarespace operates in a relatively crowded market – there are at least 15 competitors depending on what you want to build.
For the sake of this article, we’ve included 7 Squarespace competitors that offer web-building and e-commerce.