SmugMug vs Squarespace: Which Is Better?

SmugMug vs Squarespace: Which Is Better?

SmugMug and Squarespace deserve user attention due to powerful integrated functionality and customizability. The website builders target diverse user categories, being created with specific focuses in mind. The systems differ a lot in the range of features and tools provided yet each of them covers a distinctive set of users’ needs.

SmugMug – is a contemporary portfolio website builder, which allows starting and customizing advanced photography projects and online galleries. The system delivers a nice set of niche-related features that many other web design platforms lack.

Squarespace – is one of the most popular DIY website builders, which works great for the development of all types of web projects. The platform has much to offer to all user categories, including non-techies and web design pros. You can start a modern and feature-rich website with the system, using a range of integrated tools available in stock.

Does it make sense to compare SmugMug and Squarespace, considering the diverse implication of these systems? Definitely, yes as both of them can be used to sell digital products. To figure out which service has more to offer, take your time to explore the info below.

SmugMug vs Squarespace: General Overview

SmugMug vs Squarespace: General Overview

SmugMug has quite a specific and distinctive specialization – creation of portfolio/photography projects. The website builder is mainly developed with the needs and skills of photo pros in mind, letting them sell their services and works online. The platform can be effectively used to set up appealing online galleries, share access rights to the available photo collections with other users and promote your services on the web.

The website builder was introduced to the market in 2002, having become a trusted representative of its niche. The number of its subscribers keep growing steadily along with the amount of projects the system powers. According to recent stats, the number of SmugMug projects has reached 100,101 websites. This is quite an impressive result. The use of the system does not require programming proficiency – so intuitive and understandable the software is.

Read also: SmugMug review.

Squarespace works well for beginners and code-aware users. As a drag-and-drop website builder, it ensures a smooth and understandable web design process, making it possible for web developers to control each and every step. The system has much to offer to its subscribers, willing to sell their products/services on the web due to the built-in eCommerce engine. At the same time, it can be effectively used to launch blogs, online portfolios, small/medium business projects as well as cafe/restaurant websites.

The foundation of the website builder dates back to 2003, but the system has developed a lot since that time. Recent statistics tells about 4,367,956 websites powered by Squarespace and many more are currently under construction. This is the fact that speaks for itself. Along with powerful customizability and functionality, Squarespace comes with simple interface, versatile pricing and abundance of tools to set up and manage quality web projects with almost no coding skills required.

SmugMug and Squarespace are used for different purposes. While SmugMug aims at photography/portfolio website development, Squarespace is the all-in-one website builder that can cover any web design needs. Obviously, its applicability is more extensive along with its customer base and integrated functionality.

SmugMug vs Squarespace: Which One Is Easier to Use?

SmugMug vs Squarespace: Which One Is Easier to Use?

SmugMug can hardly be called a simple website builder. It is all about its intricate interface, which requires initial exploration. As soon as you get used to it, you will be able to proceed to the website development process. Registering with the platform is quick and easy as the process implies several standard steps. Upon the completion of the sign up procedure, the system will provide you with helpful tips on how to go through the web design steps with maximum convenience. It will help you pick the most suitable design and upload the required content.

SmugMug Editor

What you should know about SmugMug is that the software has a block-based structure. All the templates are made up of content blocks that ensure fixed photo positions. This makes your project well-structured and properly organized. However, it also takes time to get used to this feature, especially for a beginner. All in all, the complexity of the website builder is above the average.

SmugMug customer support is on a high level. Along with educational materials and video guides available on the YouTube channel, the website builder offers quality tech support available via email and contact forms 24/7. ‘Portfolio’ and ‘Business’ plan subscribers may count on live chat assistance provided during the US working hours. The platform also has extensive user community, offering multiple online resources in its blog, forum, SmugMug films and other categories.

Squarespace offers a smooth, simple and intuitive website development process, but it may take time to get used to the system dashboard. First-time users frequently note that the website builder comes with an interface that is somewhat overwhelmed with tools and design customization elements. As you explore and master them, you will be able to quickly proceed to the website creation process.

Squarespace Page Editor

The platform works equally well for web design experts and for newbies, although, it obviously takes more time for beginners to get used to its features. Code aware users may work with programming elements here, creating personalized project design. Due to the integrated WYSIWYG editor, everyone can watch and control all the steps of the design development process, while all the edits are saved automatically here. Availability of the Style Editor, in its turn, contributes to the efficacy of the design customization, letting you move content blocks, adjust their positions, upload media files, work with elements etc.

Read also: Squarespace review.

Squarespace customer support options are versatile. Live Chat assistance is available here 24/7 as well as the ticketing system. You can find out more about the software, browsing the knowledge base materials, such as articles, video tutorials, community forum, blog etc. Whatever issue you face, you will certainly find answers to your questions here.

Thus, Squarespace is simpler and more multifaceted as compared to SmugMug. The website builder allows creating all types of personal and commercial projects, being a nice pick for beginners and web design experts. The system ensures smooth and intuitive web design process without any programming knowledge involved.

SmugMug vs Squarespace: Design and Flexibility

SmugMug vs Squarespace: Design and Flexibility

The integrated functionality of both website builders is quite extensive, although, the systems target diverse user audiences and are used for quite different goals. While SmugMug mainly focuses on photography-related elements and tools, Squarespace grants an all-in-one approach to the process of website customization. To find out which system has more to offer, it is a must to compare their built-in features and tools now.


SmugMug offers powerful eCommerce options, which let its subscribers set up small/medium web stories and sell their services/works online. With this purpose, the website builder allows creating photo collections, introducing discounts and coupon codes, product packs, sales and other events. Likewise, it is possible to offer price lists to potential customers here, adjust payment parameters, use brand promotion tools, logo editing feature and watermark creation option to make your digital store stand out from the crowd. Due to the integrated shopping cart, the entire process of web store creation becomes simple and convenient for everyone. Mind, however, that the system charges around 15% for the transactions made with it. Thus, you will get 85% of the final profit for all the successfully completed sales.

SmugMug vs Squarespace: Which Is Better?

Squarespace comes with an advanced eCommerce engine provided by default here. It allows the software users to get started with their small/medium online stores with no special effort and time investment. The availability of the integrated shopping cart makes the process hassle-free and quite logical and it does not require any preliminary web design expertise. All the features are provided out of the box here, contributing to the smooth and intuitive web design process. Squarespace makes it possible to create/update product galleries, adjust the parameters of items offered for sale, add product variations, export/import files, add descriptions, images, videos and pricing specifications. Likewise, it is possible to introduce versatile special offers and discounts to boost customer engagement rate. Finally, the website builder has a separate section of high quality eCommerce templates to make your web store design truly personalized.

Squarespace edit product

As to the eCommerce feature, Squarespace is on the top of the list here. The website builder has a powerful eCommerce engine that lets its subscribers set up and customize professional web stores to sell digital and physical products/services. Abundance of tools, features and templates along with special offers makes the platform a worthy pick for high end online store creation.


SmugMug does not currently support a blogging feature and, thus, it is impossible to create a blog with the website builder. The entire platform specialization is geared towards photography website creation with no extra features included.

Squarespace blogging engine is powerful and versatile by default. Everyone can launch a blog with the system or connect the one to the existing website, if required. Blog management options are extensive here as well. Users can add and edit posts, schedule new publications, adjust blog parameters, enable user comments here. Collection of blog templates is available here as well to diversify user choice. What’s important, the software lets you transfer blogs created with other niche platforms like WordPress or Tumblr to its servers, thus, eliminating the need to develop a new project from scratch.

Squarespace Blogging

In terms of blogging, there is nothing to compare here at all. As opposed to SmugMug that does not have a blogging engine, Squarespace comes with a powerful built-in blogging platform. It allows launching feature-rich blogs to enhance user communication and their awareness of the niche info.

Integrations and Special Features

SmugMug focuses exclusively on the photography niche, which has direct impact upon the range of tools, integrations and special features offered. The website builder abounds in image editing options, making it possible to adjust photo parameters, connect the Lightroom plugin, add watermarks/location parameters to the selected photos. Likewise, it is possible to organize photos into separate collections, enable image protection settings, assign access rights to different user groups and even completely restrict image access. Import of photos from popular services like Flickr, Amazon Drive or DropBox to SmugMug servers is available here as well. When working on your SmugMug project, you can make use of widget collections (text, gallery, logo, map, share buttons, calendar etc.) to form the required gallery layout.

Squarespace stands out from the crowd due to its versatile integrations and special features. Users may pick from multiple add-ons and widgets to personalize your image galleries and add to your project performance. Thus, it is possible to choose widgets for the creation of photo galleries, social sharing options, contact form creation and customization, integration of analytic/statistics tracking tools. Special attention should be given to the Unfold App – the high end storytelling tool, which lets you create and post stories in social networks. The app can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play Store for free. Integrated App Market is unavailable here. Squarespace is also known for its built-in Logo Maker, which can be used for individual logo creation.

squarespace app

When it comes to integrations and special features, Squarespace is a distinct leader here as well. The website builder has a nice collection of widgets and tools to use for DIY website creation. It also boasts a built-in Logo Maker and Unfold App along with advanced design customization tools. SmugMug definitely lags behind its competitor.

Template Editing

SmugMug cannot offer a rich collection of templates yet the available photography designs are on a high level. They are responsive and free, coming up to recent web design tendencies. All in all, you can pick from 8 pre-designed themes here. If you need more quality samples, you can upgrade to the “Power” plan to get access to 26 more professional templates.

smugmug templates

The website builder allows using diverse design customization tools to create unique photography projects. Subscribers can add and edit new blocks, change fonts, styles, backgrounds and color schemes, add sidebars and even edit HTML/CSS codes. The system supports the upload of photos, the resolution of which does not exceed 4000. If you are not satisfied with the selected design for some reason, SmugMug lets you switch between the themes on any step of the web development process. The submitted content will be preserved.

Squarespace abounds in quality and versatile templates, which are divided into niche categories to simplify user choice. The system allows choosing from around 100 professional layouts. The designs are free and responsive by default. If you intend to set up personalized projects, you can make use of code editing options available for Business Plan subscribers. Mind that this requires extra coding awareness and web design background.

Squarespace template

Ready-made themes can be customized to your liking based on the niche you specialize in. Designs for cafes/restaurants, wedding projects, portfolios and digital stores deserve special attention. These themes are stylish and modern, which makes them stand out from the crowd.

Squarespace boasts a built-in Cover Page Builder that allows creating individual one page projects. It is possible to choose from 29 pre-designed themes here. If you expect to launch a personalized website with the service, take your time to use the built-in Page Editor with its rich choice of animation/visual effects, high end typography tools and other project customization features.

Summing it all up, Squarespace overcomes SmugMug in terms of template editing and design customization. The platform allows for deep code editing and it also offers a unique Cover Page Builder as well as Page Editor. Its templates are free and responsive by default, while their quality is above the average.

SmugMug vs Squarespace: General Pricing Comparison

SmugMug vs Squarespace: General Pricing Comparison

SmugMug has a 14-day trial that lets you test the systems’ functionality provided by default. To get access to the entire toolset of the platform and to start working on your project, you will have to upgrade to one of its premium subscriptions. These include:

smugmug prices

  • Basic ($7/mo or $55/year) – full Homepage customization, unlimited image uploads, free mobile and desktop apps, password-protect for galleries, pages and folders, personalized photo website, unlimited full-res storage, detailed privacy and security options, 24/7 live support;
  • Power ($11/mo or $85/year) – 21 extra templates, complete website customization, advanced security and privacy options, right-click image protection, HTML/CSS code adding, drag-and-drop design tools and templates, personalized domain name;
  • Portfolio ($27/mo or $200/year) – integrated sales and fulfillment tools, watermark protection, opportunity to sell photos and videos, eCommerce optimized galleries, orders from WHCC, Bay Photo, Loxley and EZPrints, site wide pricing (this allows keeping around 85% of the markup);
  • Pro ($42/mo or $360/year) – opportunity to create custom coupons, packages and events, create group galleries under events, use client management tools, set prices for individual galleries or images, provide gift-wrapped packaging and brand shipped client options.

All SmugMug subscriptions come with unlimited storage space for the uploaded video and photo content. Other parameters differ with regard to the chosen subscription, but if you intend to create professional projects, it makes sense to give preference to the “Power” Plan. The thing is that cheaper options do not imply doman connection feature, which is a must for quality portfolio creation.

Squarespace also offers a 14-day trial to let you explore the platform’s functionality. You are required to enter your credit card data, but you will have to register for a personal account upon the end of the trial. Have a look at the major options below:

Squarespace price

  • Personal Plan ($12/mo billed annually) – 2 contributors, free custom domain, up to 20 pages, SEO features, unlimited bandwidth and storage, integrated website metrics, SSL Security, 24/7 customer support etc.;
  • Business Plan ($18/mo billed annually) – premium blocks and integrations, professional email from Google, unlimited pages and AdWords Credit, 3% transaction fees, unlimited contributors, advanced website analytics, fully-integrated eCommerce, CSS/JavaScript design customization etc.;
  • Basic Commerce ($26/mo billed annually) – powerful eCommerce analytics, domain checkout feature, unlimited products, storage and bandwidth, Instagram synchronization, customer accounts etc.;
  • Advanced Commerce ($40/mo billed annually) – limited availability labels, abandoned cart recovery,real-time carrier shipping, gift cards, advanced shipping and discounts, APIs for order and inventory etc.

When it tackles the pricing aspect, Squarespace offers more reasonable and affordable plans that cover diverse user needs and fit any budget. Both systems have a 14-day free trial yet Squarespace provides more extensive terms that let its users create all types of web projects, including eCommerce websites.

SmugMug vs Squarespace: Which One Is the Best for SEO?

SmugMug vs Squarespace: Which One Is the Best for SEO?

SmugMug makes it possible to set up baseline parameters for your project Search Engine Optimization. Along with that, it grants access to quality analytics and stats tracking tools that let you control your project parameters. No extra features are available here.

Squarespace positions itself as a SEO-friendly website builder. It lets you set up standard SEO settings and use typical tools to edit the metadata of your project. You can fill out meta tags for all website pages. Likewise, you can hide your project from indexing by the search engine bots until it is ready for publication. A nice option is the opportunity to stick to the checklist that will simplify the process of SEO set up for beginners. If you need more proficient assistance, you can address the system experts, who will help you pick the most effective SEO strategy that will work for your project.

Comparing the SEO nuances, Squarespace ensures a more effective process of website optimization. It also lets you hide your website from indexing until you are sure it is ready for promotion. Assistance of the software SEO experts along with the availability of the checklist ensure quality result, irrespective of a user’s web design expertise.

SmugMug vs Squarespace: Which Is Better for Selling Digital Products?

SmugMug vs Squarespace: Which Is Better for Selling Digital Products?

SmugMug creation was initially associated with the opportunity of selling digital products. Specializing on photography projects set up, the website builder unveils eCommerce options that make it possible to offer niche services/products for sale. Users can create photo galleries, granting access rights to those users, who are interested in them. They can adjust sales parameters, which contribute to more effective project promotion. There is an opportunity to choose the most suitable pricing option with regard to users’ needs.

Squarespace allows launching quality and feature-rich projects that can be used for a variety of purposes, including online sales (see examples). The website builder comes with a powerful eCommerce platform, which lets you set up small/medium digital stores. The system also ensures worthy SEO promotion of your project as well as availability of tools to enhance brand popularity. Its Unfold App, selection of integrable widgets, versatile pricing and design customization options eventually guarantee a professional result.

SmugMug and Squarespace can both be used for selling digital products. As opposed to SmugMug with its limited toolset and functionality, Sqarespace grants access to the broad range of features that let you sell digital products/services online. No web design expertise or extra skills are required to do that, which certainly appeals to non-techies.

Key Differences Between SmugMug and Squarespace

Ease of Use:SmugMug is a DIY portfolio website builder, which allows creating/managing quality projects. Its intuitive interface and availability of professional tools let you run appealing websites with no coding skills required.Squarespace is one of the most popular drag-and-drop website builders. It can be used to set up and customize personal and commercial projects. No programming expertise is needed to work with the software.
Functionality:The website builder grants access to powerful photo-related tools and features. It allows creating digital photo galleries, offering your works/services for sale. The software ensures Lightroom and Flickr integration, client engagement features, abundance of image editing tools etc.The platform comes with an easy and understandable WYSIWYG editor, blogging and eCommerce engines, social integrations, Logo Maker etc. When starting a project with it, you can get access to high end features like Style Editor, Cover Page Builder, Google Maps, Unfold App, stats tracking tools and other merits.
Design:SmugMug doesn’t offer a rich template collection, but the quality of the available designs is above the average. There are 8 free ready-made templates and 26 paid themes included into the Premium plan.Squarespace template collection is quite extensive. The designs are free, responsive and customizable. High end customization tools, Logo Maker, Image and Style Editors help create personalized project design.
eCommerce:The software has a feature-rich eCommerce engine, which allows selling digital photos online.The system includes a quality built-in eCommerce platform. It lets you run small/mid-size online stores to offer physical/digital services/products for sale.
Blogging:The website builder doesn’t have a blogging engine.Squarespace boasts a blogging platform, which lets you set up and manage a quality blog. The platform allows adding and editing new posts, setting up the parameters of upcoming publications, adjusting blog design and its special features.
Small Business:SmugMug is a nice tool for entrepreneurs, who run businesses that belong to the photography niche.The system is a smart pick for small business owners. Availability of add-ons and widgets, media files, advanced integrations, Unfold App, analytics tracking tools etc. makes the software a worthy solution for any commercial project.
Pricing:The website builder has a free 14-day trial and four paid plans. Their cost starts at $7 per month.The platform has a free 14-day trial and 4 premium subscriptions. Their cost starts at $12/mo.
SEO:SmugMug websites are well optimized for the search engines. The system has a separate SEO section, where you can set up the required meta tags and other parameters for your project as well as track its current statistics.Squarespace is a SEO-friendly website builder, which lets you adjust baseline parameters. The website builder also has a checklist to control the task completion. There is also a nice opportunity to hide your website from indexing by the search engines until it is ready for publication.
Customer Support:Powerful customer support, email and live chat assistance, extensive user community, YouTube channel etc.24/7 Live Chat, FAQ section, Email Support, Community Forum.

Comparison Conclusion: Which One Is Better?

It takes time and effort to launch a professional project, irrespective of its specialization and user awareness rate. There are many aspects to keep in mind to make sure your website targets the required audience and is feature-laden enough to cater to any requirements. SmugMug and Squarespace are used for different objectives, each offering a unique set of features and tools.

While SmugMug is a solely portfolio website builder, Squarespace is the all-in-one platform that also lets you launch photography projects to sell digital products. Availability of blogging and eCommerce engines, versatile pricing options, high end design customization tools and integrations undoubtedly make the system prevail over its competitor. If you need a professional commercial project to sell online, Squarespace is the answer.


About the Author

I'm Howard Steele, the founder and editor-in-chief of this website. With over 10 years of web building I know how complicated and tiresome this task can be for a non-IT person. Can’t decide which service to choose? Feel free to ask me for advice. Just describe your website needs, and I’ll gladly help you.

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