Squarespace – is a large cloud platform for creating various types of websites. It has been in the market since 2004. The software is mostly focused on eCommerce and business niches (it is currently the main Shopify competitor), offering multiple extra tools and services to eCommerce clients.
According to the latest stats, more than 4 million people worldwide have used the platform to create stylish and responsive websites. Mind that Squarespace is mostly relevant for foreign projects, targeting the audience from Europe, Canada, the USA.
The system, however, may be an interesting solution to launch and maintain large-scale blogs, beautiful and complex landing pages, corporate websites etc. This is due to the capabilities of the built-in website builder that comes with an exhaustive set of functions, including an extended list of responsive and stylish templates, improved usability, support for G Suit and Getty Images, custom Cover Page Website builder, and more. It will definitely appeal to professional developers, designers and web studios that give preference to Squarespace to serve customer projects.
Squarespace Pros and Cons
Squarespace – is one of the most popular web development platforms in Europe and the USA. It is flexible, convenient and has much to offer to diverse user categories (see the best Squarespace website examples).
Just like any other website builder, however, Squarespace has its pros and cons.
| ✔ Rich choice of ready-made niche templates. All of them are responsive. AMP support is available. |
✔ Convenient editor with an intuitive interface.
✔ Advanced features for professional designers and web developers.
✔ Great eCommerce module (with catalog upload feature, integration of shipping services etc.).
✔ Opportunity of quick website migration from other platforms (WordPress, Shopify, Blogger, Tumblr, Etsy, Big Cartel) to Squarespace.
✔ Ready-made mobile applications for store and website management.
✔ Integrated email-marketing system (template builder, subscriber collection and mailout).
✔ A separate service for meeting scheduling with a built-in booking system.
✔ Application for creating content for social networks (Unfold) and ready-made integrations.
✔ Application for working with videos (Squarespace Video Studio app).
✔ Built-in analytics system.
✔ Quality SEO tools.
✔ Opportunity for CSS code customization and adding Google/TypeKit fonts.
✔ Integrated post commenting system (for blog creation).
✔ Free photo stock integration and built-in image editor.
✔ Ready-made API.
✔ Catalog of extensions and extra services.
✔ Free Logo Maker.
✔ Detailed documentation, blog, webinars, tutorials, forum and professional tech support.
✔ Opportunity of team cooperation (for example, with co-authors).
| ✘ Some extensions and many integrated services require separate subscriptions.|
✘ Domain email can only be connected via Google.
✘ Limits are set on the volume of stored video files (unlimited storage space is available for images and other content).
✘ Features, integrations, and available website builder blocks vary with regard to the subscription type.
✘ Prices are above the market average.
✘ Free testing is possible only via the trial model (first 14 days).
As seen from the chart, Squarespace has more advantages than disadvantages. Demerits are not quite substantial for users, who intend to use the platform for complex website creation. Thus, this is a quality and convenient all-in-one software that has much to offer to its subscribers. Get ready, however, to invest in the system to have an opportunity to use extra services.
What Is It Best For?
Squarespace was initially launched as a software to create content-based and small business websites as well as an alternative to the popular WordPress CMS with the strong focus on serving multi-page blogs.
Later, however, the concept somewhat changed. The system significantly expanded the possibilities for working with online sales and added special features for other types of websites.
The website builder now works great for launching blogs, portfolios, restaurant websites, projects for photographers and other professionals as well as for servicing small and large online stores.
What’s important, the software grants access to multiple eCommerce options: marketing services, integrations, email newsletters, payment acceptance, shipping, analytics etc.
Due to a large selection of ready-made layouts and design templates, the platform is easy to master for beginners. The page editor does not require any special knowledge as well.
The degree of freedom of action, however, makes Squarespace a suitable tool for professional webmasters, developers, designers, marketers and other specialists.
To sum it up, Squarespace will be of great interest to almost any user category: entrepreneurs and small businesses, bloggers, photographers, influencers and media personalities, professional web developers and web agencies, restaurant owners etc. It allows setting up an online store, a blog, a landing page or a portfolio in a few clicks here.
Ease of Use
Squarespace is really easy to use. Yes, the control panel looks a bit non-standard, but this is just the first impression. It is quite easy to get used to the interface as it is understandable for everyone.
The key feature of any cloud website builder is the online editor. When working with Squarespace, you will be able to see all website pages. To switch to the editing mode, you just need to activate the “Edit” button found in the top panel.
To speed up the launch of standard projects, the platform catalog provides a large selection of ready-made templates and layouts.
You can buy a domain directly in the control panel, but you can also link existing domain names to Squarespace.
Settings and niche features are categorized in the following way:
- pages (to manage the list of web pages);
- design (for centralized management of styles, fonts, animations and other design parameters);
- eCommerce (everything related to web store performance and sales is available here);
- marketing (a set of marketing tools, for example, email newsletters, subscriber base management etc.);
- planning (a special service for business automation);
- analytics (works without the need of external services connection);
- user profiles;
- website settings;
- support section.
Steps to Get Started
To start using the platform, you just need to create an account.
Step1. Prior to registration, the system will offer you to pick one of the niche templates. To narrow down the search, you will have to answer a couple of prompt questions. You can skip them, if needed.
Step 2. Sign Up. You can create an account linked to existing profiles in social networks like Google, apple ID, Facebook. Another option is to provide your email address and password. The system won’t even wait for confirmation (you will still have to confirm the email afterwards).
Step 3. Basic Settings. A special interactive wizard will ask you to specify your website name and will guide you through the most important settings: how to create and edit pages, how to customize website design. However, you can also leave everything as it is here.
You are not obliged to publish a website in Squarespace. This is done automatically. All websites work on a secure HTTPS protocol, so you won’t have to add your SSL Certificate.
That’s it. Your website is ready for further editing.
We have reviewed all control panel sections above. You can configure certain website parameters, access specialized tools to create a free logo or start an online mailout, for example.
You will need three tools to work with website pages:
- “Design” Section. You can access these settings from the control panel or from the online page editor. We will review design settings further. Squarespace makes it possible to effectively edit styles, fonts, indents, buttons, animations and other parameters. It is possible to customize system pages design and add your own CSS code, change website icon, add lock screen (if a web page access is password-protected) etc.
- Website Builder. Squarespace allows creating web pages by using sections. They may be either ready-made (that is, they come with niche content and pre-set functionality) or blank (an empty page). If you have added a ready-made section, specific settings will be provided based on its content type. This concerns blocks with products, galleries indentsetc. An optional set of blocks can be added to blank pages and to some other sections (those with contacts, text etc.). Apart from text, buttons, separators, images and other simple blocks, Squarespace also uses more complex elements such as online maps, input forms, search forms, tag clouds, tables as well as external integrations (content from social networks, forms for collecting donations, event registration etc.).
Header and footer are editable blocks found on each website page. It is possible to set up the design parameters for any block (a background, including animated art wallpaper), indents, height, animation and other parameters. What’s interesting, the design change process is completed on the basis of suggested templates (layouts for proper location of key elements) and color schemes. It only takes a few clicks.
The rest is simple – you add the required blocks to the page and edit their content. New pages may be blank or may come with ready-made standard content (to match one of standard tasks).
To go live with the project and to make the edits take effect, you just need to click the “Done” button.
There are no complicated manipulations with backup or page versioning here.
If you don’t wish to save the edits, choose the “Discard Changes” point in the drop-down list.
You can undo the changes step by step, just like in any text editor. To do this, use the “back” and “forward” arrows.
If you want the website to look more attractive to customers, add an existing domain or register a new second-level domain.
Features and Flexibility
Squarespace works great for solving different tasks. It has a huge number of built-in functions, if necessary and it is also possible to use extensions and ready-made integrations, if required.
Some of the features are included in the main subscription, while others require extra payment. We will now review the platform’s functionality with regard to standard tasks and the most important technical features.
Starting a Web Store with Squarespace
The system comes with its own integrated eCommerce module, which is quite powerful for launching large-scale sales platforms (see examples).
The main settings related to web store performance are found in the “Commerce” and “Marketing” sections. To add a store module to any website, just select the “Store” collection as a new page. The same website may have several stores at a time (like several storefront options for example).
Here is the list of eCommerce features Squarespace provides:
- Catalog of any complexity and volume. Categories can be nested at any level.
- Bulk import and export support. It is possible to download the catalog from the following marketplaces: Etsy, Shopify or Big Cartel. CSV support is applicable to other platforms.
- You can sell physical and digital goods, services, subscriptions and gift cards.
- Availability of a separate service for hotel booking and selling consultations (with scheduled time reference).
- There is a built-in CRM system for tracking the status of applications/orders and storing customer contact information.
- Product cards can be assembled from blocks (all blocks available in the website builder constructor for blank/free sections are included in the list).
- Products may have variations and options (color, size etc.).
- You can add a list of recommendations to products.
- A ready-made system of reviews and ratings has been implemented.
- Customers can be converted into subscribers directly on the checkout page.
- There is a powerful built-in mailout system (with audience segmentation, ready-made email templates etc.).
- A special builder to create pop-up windows with marketing offers and an announcement panel as a window option to attract attention are provided.
- A ready-made system of schedule-based promotional codes and closed sales option are also available.
- Synchronization of the catalog with stores in social networks (Facebook and Instagram).
- A ready-made POS system for organizing sales points (currently available for the USA).
- Waiting lists with automatic mailings about product availability.
- Opportunity to manage email notification templates.
- Fast and easy connection of payment systems (Stripe, PayPal, Square).
- Fine-tuning the checkout page.
- Ready personal accounts of buyers.
- Integration with shipping services and networks of distribution points as well as with advertising networks (Facebook, Google).
- eCommerce analytics.
- Commercial API (for process automation and custom integrations).
- URL builder (for generating friendly URL templates).
- Team work.
- Mobile application for convenient management and receiving prompt notifications.
- A special tool for organizing the work of restaurants and local businesses – TOCK.
Mind that Squarespace separates trading features with regard to its pricing plans. The more features you need, the more expensive the subscription will be.
When it comes to the procedure of setting up a web store with Squarespace, it includes the following steps:
- Add a new “Store” collection and fill in the basic web store parameters (name, page URL, currency etc.).
- Choose the subscription (according to the required features).
- Create a catalog structure (categories and subcategories).
- Fill the catalog with products (manually or using import tools).
- Add and configure payment methods.
- Add shipping options.
- Publish a store.
- Start accepting orders and carry out further project promotion work (advertising, SEO etc.).
Starting a Blog with Squarespace
A special “Blog” collection is responsible for blog operation in Squarespace website builder. To do this, select the appropriate point in the menu to create a new material. The platform instantly provides 4 layout options for proper blog feed adjustment.
You can further import the content from WordPress and other platforms, or simply create a project from scratch.
Squarespace blogging module offers the following features:
- Ready-made thematic templates.
- All the necessary attributes for high-quality SEO (title, description, friendly URL, micro-markup).
- Special fields for Apple News, Apple Podcasts and similar services.
- Insertion of custom HTML and JS codes for category pages and separate posts.
- Cooperation of co-authors and various statuses of materials.
- Scheduled publication.
- System of tags, categories and commenting (without using external services).
- Auto-publishing posts in social media (pushing).
- Built-in email marketing tools.
- A large selection of editor blocks for easy creation of blog materials (comparable to the set of blocks for a free section).
- Search system for missing post images (thumbnails).
- Fixing individual posts on top (featured post).
- Application for creating stories (special content for social networks) – Unfold.
- Video Studio App – application for creating beautiful videos.
- Integrations with social networks.
You can even monetize your blog, if required. However, access to the HTML code insertion and donation blocks is available for the subscribers of the business plan and other advanced subscriptions.
Starting a Landing Page with Squarespace
To create landing pages, you can use a block-based visual editor applicable to any standard pages.
However, if one of your tasks is to show work samples, you can use the “Portfolio” collection. This is a special page type that simplifies the process of creating presentations with quick switching between them. A classic landing page, however, is a one selling page only. This format may also work well. By the way, take a look at more Squarespace portfolio examples in my latest compilation.
The list of features Squarespace offers for landing page creation currently includes:
- Rich choice of ready-made sections for different tasks (titles, lists, galleries, quotes, videos, forms, online maps etc.).
- Niche templates.
- Several price list variations and opportunity to insert product cards from the online store module.
- Acceptance of online payment.
- Ready-made forms for collecting subscribers and elements to attract user attention (pop-ups and announcement panel).
- Built-in analytics system (if required, you can connect a third-party code).
- Powerful marketing tools (newsletters, built-in CRM system, editing notification templates etc.).
This is a very simple and convenient service. It works independently – without any registration and the need to pay for logo downloading.
The icons are selected from free libraries. You can choose various content fonts and colors. Listed below are the examples of how the logo will look on business cards, on work clothes or on website pages.
Logo Maker disadvantages are as follows:
- Only one icon can be added.
- Objects on the canvas cannot be rotated (to change the angle of inclination).
- Not all fonts work well with Cyrillic.
- The logo is exported only in the PNG format (there is no access to vector formats).
- Extra effort is required to edit the logo after uploading (resolution change and/or cropping).
Integrated Image Editor
Any picture uploaded to the Squarespace server for further insertion into a gallery or as a standalone photo block, for example, can be edited without any external tools.
An integrated editor with a handy drag-and-drop feature has a large selection of preset filters, scissors (cropping, rotation, reflection, changing the aspect ratio etc.) as well as the ability to adjust other parameters (brightness, contrast, saturation, blur etc.).
The editor is completely free to use.
The images can be downloaded from a PC or from integrated photo stocks – there is a free library and a search in a paid Getty stock.
Pictures can be opened by clicking in a pop-up window (Lightbox) and cropped along complex contours (according to the selected shapes).
Background images can be replaced with video or animated art background from a special set (your browser must support WebGL).
Squarespace Video Studio App
This is a special mobile application, which has distinguished itself as an advanced video editor designed for quick and easy creation of promo videos. You can use it for free, if you have a premium subscription.
The work on video creation is accelerated due to the availability of built-in templates and applied effects.
Currently, you can download the tool only in the App Store (for iOS).
The platform’s functionality can be expanded by means of using ready-made integrations and APIs. Integrations are collected in a separate catalog, which can be accessed from the general website settings section.
The catalog contains extensions from the following categories:
- Financial tools (accounting reports, tax audits, data synchronization, etc.);
- Tools to work with the product catalog (accounting of warehouse stocks, wholesale offers, improved forms for ordering photo products, etc.);
- Expansion of sales and marketing (automatic surveys after purchases, mailing and informing services, feed management, SEO tools etc.);
- Shipping and fulfillment extensions.
Mind that many extensions require separate subscriptions, which can affect the final cost of website maintenance.
Squarespace Marketing Tools
The key marketing automation tool is email newsletters. They make it possible to solve a lot of important tasks, such as informing, advertising, customer returns, upselling etc.
Squarespace has implemented its own mailing system. It is integrated with a built-in CRM system and can collect subscribers from the checkout page forms. Additionally, contacts can be collected via special pop-up windows and from built-in forms on the website.
Contacts (audience) can be segmented according to different criteria – just as in any other specialized mailing services.
Along with email marketing options, Squarespace offers other marketing tools, namely:
- Unfold app.
- Editor for creating videos (Video Studio App).
- A ready-made system of user profiles with wishlists and order status tracking, purchase history viewing etc.
- High-quality SEO tools with opportunity of template-based title generation.
- Social network integrations.
- Built-in analytics system (it can be easily called “end-to-end” with such a complex integrated approach).
You can register your own domain directly from the Squarespace control panel. A large number of domain zones are supported here.
If needed, you can point the existing domains (registered with other providers) to the servers or complete a transfer to Squarespace.
When you buy the annual subscription for the website builder, you can get a domain as a gift (its further renewal will be completed at a standard price).
All websites, regardless of the way of their registration, receive free SSL certificates and work on the secure HTTPS protocol.
Domains connected to Squarespace can be pointed to the selected websites in your account any time. When you purchase a domain from the website builder, you automatically receive owner privacy protection.
You can view detailed information about your Squarespace website performance without any external services and code insertion. This includes data:
- By sales (in the context of the entire store or with reference to a specific product);
- By traffic (geography of visitors, search queries that brought them to you, the number of clicks with reference to time etc.);
- By sales funnel and abandoned carts (analytics of form and button conversions);
- By activity logs and engagement metrics.
- By RSS subscriptions.
All data is displayed in a convenient and easy to read form – in charts and tables. If necessary, you can upload them for further analysis in other services and in special programs.
If the built-in analytics is not enough, external tools like Google Analytics are connected (via code embedding).
The set of data in analytical reports will depend on the current subscription.
Squarespace Mobile Apps
The major Squarespace application is developed to manage a website from smartphones and other mobile gadgets.
It is distributed for Android and iOS devices. It is easy to view website events, manage an online store, create and edit new content here.
In addition to the main application, Squarespace offers a number of specific products:
- Acuity Scheduling (separately for clients and for business owners) – meeting and class management, notifications and reminders, calendar synchronization. The app is distributed on a subscription basis.
- Unfold is an application for creating stories based on professional templates.
- Video Studio App is a video editor that currently works on iOS only.
Design and Templates
Squarespace website builder has over 150 ready-made niche templates and over a hundred of web page layouts (for quick content adding). This is not to mention various thematic sections and visual editor blocks.
You can filter the required templates by subject and application area (ecommerce, blogging, portoflio).
All Squarespace templates are completely free. They support responsive layout and look great on mobile screens.
It is easy to create pages for any project type inside the editor, be it a blog, a web store, a corporate site, a business card etc.
Website header and footer are end-to-end blocks for the entire project. The header can be pinned when scrolling. It has a separate mobile version of the menu with a sandwich icon. The design layout and color scheme can be easily changed in the settings.
The footer allows adding various additional blocks. For example, an online map with office location or a feedback form.
You cannot upload your own templates or edit the HTML code of sections.
Squarespace, however, has special blocks to insert an external HTML code and allows assembling your own sections (these are composed of external block sets – simple and more complex elements).
A part of ready-made sections cannot be supplemented with auxiliary elements. Usually these are layouts that have complex functionality – galleries, sliders, product cards etc. There is, however, an opportunity to change the layout option and color scheme for them.
Professional Web Design Tools
If you are not satisfied with available color schemes and standard font sets, you can use the advanced Theme Editor. It allows fine-tuning colors for almost any page element: headings, links, buttons, paragraphs inside certain blocks etc. Image blocks and buttons are configured in the same way.
You can use custom CSS styles for the most complex cases.
Squarespace ensures fast switching between free web fonts provided by Google Fonts and TypeKit.
Web design pros, however, can upload their own font and CSS chart files. You can do this in the Design settings section – Custom CSS –> Manage custom files.
The key styling options are available in the Designers panel. There are over 1000 versatile solutions here: indents, animations etc.
The website builder cannot set online map sections as a background, but many users will like video and animated backgrounds (based on WebGL).
Note that Squarespace offers a separate cloud platform for web developers – Developer Platform. It allows working with npm packages, json templates and using git repository.
HTML Code Embedding
The website builder supports Markdown markup and HTML code embedding features. This option is implemented by the use of special blocks of the visual editor.
Mobile Website Set Up
Squarespace has two breakpoints – PC (large screen devices) and mobile (smartphones).
To fine-tune the design specifically for mobile devices, you need to switch the editor to the appropriate preview mode. You can move the borders of the elements as required here. This will not affect the PC version at all.
Only the header section has separate settings sections for PC and mobile devices.
Business plan subscribers can activate a special information panel for smartphones. You can display email, phone number, office address and work schedule inside it.
Users receive a comprehensive set of educative and reference materials on the platform use:
- free community forums,
- detailed knowledge base.
The main actions in the system are guided by a virtual assistant and interactive prompts.
If this is not enough for you and you can’t find your way around, you can contact tech support or order work from experts (there is a separate marketplace for finding specialists).
The major ways to contact tech support are as follows:
- By email (you can contact the team 24/7);
- In the online chat (during working hours on weekdays).
Pricing Policy: How Much Does It Cost to Start a Website with Squarespace?
The website builder does not have a free plan. There is only a free 14-day trial for all new websites in the account.
Upon the end of the trial, you need to pick one of available subscriptions. Here they go:
- Personal (from $16/mo) – The cheapest way to get started, offering a basic set of services and features (2 extra accounts, a gift domain, unlimited hosting, a store with extensions and technical support);
- Commerce Basic (from $27/mo) – Personal customer accounts, advanced analytics for the eCommerce module, check-out on your domain, integration with Instagram store.
- Commerce Advanced (from $49/mo) – Abandoned cart reminders, subscription sales, advanced shipping and discount options, commercial API.
Domain registration cost starts at $20/year (depending on the domain zone).
The price of planning (automation) tools ranges between $14 and $50 per month (depending on the type of subscription and set of services).
Integrated email service will cost you from $5 to $68 per month (depending on the number of campaigns and emails available for sending).
The use of Unfold app currently costs from $2.99 to $12.99 per month (for PRO or PLUS options).
Alternatives & Competitors
We have examined different popular website building platforms and compared them to Squarespace. The overview provides a clear vision of the platform’s hits and misses in front of the main competitors.
- Wix – is the most flexible website builder to create any site from the blank with no coding. Either you are a blogger, a small business owner, or merchant, the platform will meet all your needs in terms of ease of use, functionality, and customization. Unlike Squarespace, it has an App Store while the editor is a bit simpler letting you go live with a ready-made site in 10 minutes. Here you may learn how to transfer your Squarespace website to Wix.
- WordPress – is a self-hosted CMS with full access to the source code. Besides, users may choose from thousands of responsive themes that are easy to manage and customize while Squarepsapce has only 100+ templates although they look much more stylish and have built-in widgets. Take a look at the Squarespace to WordPress migration instruction.
- Shopify – is an eCommerce- focused website builder that serves merchants’ needs the best. It comes with a wider selection of selling, promotion, and reporting features if compared to Squarespace. So, if you want to build an online shop, you may consider this platform as an alternative. If you are with Squarespace already, you may easily switch to Shopify following this guide.
Bottom Line: Is Squarespace Worth Using?
As seen from the review, Squarespace is a really powerful and full-featured website builder. It adheres to the “all in one” web design approach. Thus, you can get everything needed to set up blogs, online stores and mailouts, schedule meetings and automate business processes, use a CRM system and application to create stories and other content in the one-window mode.
This approach, however, has a downside – the prices are notably higher as compared to rates charged by niche competitors. You can also add extra expenses (on mailouts, apps, extensions etc.) to the main budget. This investment, though, makes sense, if you intend to set up a full-featured website to come up to your needs and business requirements. Either you run a small online shop, hospitality business, web design studio, or offer photographer services, this platform is the right pick.