Squarespace Review

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Known for its incredibly well-designed templates and aesthetic sense, Squarespace was founded in 2003 in a dorm room by Anthony Casalena at the University of Maryland. It was born out of bringing together elements such as web hosting, statistics, analytics, blogging and design software together towards the creation of one simple software.

Presently, Squarespace employs over 800 people and now operates out of New York, Portland and Dublin, and has an estimated 5 million websites to its name. What separates Squarespace from its competitors is its all-inclusive solutions when you don’t have to shell out money to buy all the “pieces” of your websites such as portfolio templates, designs and other tools from different sources.

What It Offers

Though Squarespace may not be as customizable as WordPress, it is not lacking in any functionalities, including widgets and integrations. There are tons of tools and the target audience here is both the developer kind and the non-technical folk and hence there is a lot of customization available and access to the code. Let’s take a look at what Squarespace has to offer.

Well-Designed, Beautiful Templates

Squarespace has an amazing collection of templates that are beautifully designed and grab the attention of a casual visitor. And they are available in many categories such as food and drinks, community and non-profit, music, photography, travel and lifestyle, entertainment and media, online stores, weddings and so on. All these templates are professional and beautiful to look at.

These templates have a minimal vibe going for them, but at the same time, they rely heavily on photographs. Compared with other website builders whose templates look busy and cluttered, Squarespace templates are clean and minimalist. You can, of course, replace these photographs with your own and watch the typography and color schemes sync in with the design. So if you are viewing it on a big computer screen, it is a treat.

At the same time, if you are viewing this website on a mobile device, Squarespace will automatically adjust it for your screen size, without any distortion. That eliminates the need to create a separate version of the site just for mobile devices.

Blogs

Squarespace offers one of the better blogging experiences (though not as good as WordPress, but close) that there is on the market and comes power packed with features such as tagging and categorizing posts, enabling comments, customizing URLs, pushing a post to social media, moderation and many more. The blog post editor is beautifully designed and allows support for a team of bloggers. This way, each blogger can be assigned to their roles, whether they are a moderator or an editor.

Backend Functionality

You can customize your template using the Style Editor quite easily because of the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) controls. It has hundreds of customizable settings with complete control over fonts and page configurations such as sidebar width, image opacity and colors of all elements on your website. You don’t really need to know anything about programming.

Typekit Fonts

They have partnered with Adobe to provide a set of free (over 1,000), high-quality fonts to every customer so that they don’t have to shell anything extra on font kits. The kit can also be used to create your own custom font. At the same time, the set also includes a collection from Google’s set of free font library to use without having to embed fonts.

Custom CSS

All pages in Squarespace consist of ‘blocks’ (such as text or forms), which are actually pre-coded elements so that you won’t have to write the code yourself. So while you are moving or adding features to your website using the editor, you are actually modifying the CSS. If you know how to code, you can easily make any desired changes to your website using the CSS editor.

Video Backgrounds

You can greet your visitors with a powerful visual experience by adding video (from Youtube or Vimeo) to your website background. These videos play in the background with no sound and add character and stunning visuals to your website. You can even stylize these videos by adding color or using a filter on them.

Form Blocks

This is another exciting feature that lets you collect visitor information. The form blocks can be used to create a survey, poll, sign up form, contact form and so on. It supports MailChimp and Google Docs integrations.

Pricing

Though Squarespace lets you try their website for free for 14 days to get a general idea of how it works, their templates, their editors and the ease of use of the platform. But when you look at Squarespace’s price structure, you will probably find it more expensive, if you compare it with their direct competitor, Wix.

Squarespace has divided their pricing into 4 slabs, divided into 2 categories — websites and online stores.

Websites

Personal

This is the most basic plan Squarespace has. This costs $12 monthly (if you pay for the entire year) or $16 if you want to pay month to month. This plan will fetch you 2 contributors, unlimited bandwidth and storage and unlimited pages, galleries and blogs, along with website metrics. The website would be mobile optimized.

You also get a free domain, 24/7 customer support and SSL security.

Business

This costs $18 monthly (if you pay for the entire year), or $26 if you want to pay month to month. Apart from all the features that the personal plan has, you get a professional email from Google, $100 in Google Adwords credit, mobile information bar, premium blocks and integrations and complete customization through CSS and JavaScript. Fully integrated e-commerce is also included in this plan.

Online Stores

These are the more expensive plans that Squarespace has and are aimed towards e-commerce.

Basic

This costs $26 if billed annually, or $30, if you want to pay month to month. It contains all features from the Business plan and has other exciting features such as label printing, check out on your own domain, commerce metrics, free custom domain, customer accounts and many more. This plan is aimed at the people who have just started their business and want something extra from their website.

Advanced

Aimed at those who are looking to expand their business, this plan costs $40 monthly (if paid annually), or $46 if you want to pay month to month. It has all the features from the Business and Advanced plans and has other features such as real-time carrier shipping, gift cards, flexible discounts and orders API.

The downside is that the prices are quite high, compared with their competitors and all the plans are limited to a single website. You will see the difference when you compare it with, say, setting up a site on WordPress.

Customer Support

Squarespace offers 24/7 customer support. There is also a very comprehensive section on their website labeled “Support”, that covers topics ranging from accounts and billing, analytics, commerce, domains, email campaigns, SEO, mobile apps and many others. They have extensive documentation on e-commerce, which is building up. What a customer cannot find in the guides, can be found in the FAQs.

Apart from the standard help topics, Squarespace also has a solid customer forum. Another section, titled webinar, is dedicated to help the community of users. These hour-long live interactive videos are aimed to helping you walk through the basics of setting up your website. Squarespace announces their upcoming sessions on their website and notifies its registered users an hour before the webinar, following which they can join the session.

Otherwise, the customer support can be reached 24/7, 7 days a week via email, live chat and Twitter. Squarespace assures that every time you connect with them, you talk with live, friendly humans. There is no phone support and Squarespace explains the lack of it because they feel that it would be impossible to provide effective assistance over the phone. Besides, their live chat has received great reviews from their customers.

Security

Squarespace has a dedicated team that is responsible for all aspects of customer security, whether it is analyzing or identifying potential threats, providing recommendations and conveying clear communication. Squarespace offers free SSL certificates to all third-party and Squarespace domains that point and connect to a Squarespace site.

The presence of SSL certificates ensures that the visitors are secure no matter what page they are on. The lock icon in the URL assures the visitors that that site or page is secure. In addition, Squarespace also employs the Web Application Firewall technology.

Conclusion

For an all-inclusive website builder, Squarespace performs solidly. If you are a novice and are interested in building your own website and want to add style to it, you will love the experience. Squarespace has very impressive built-in features that make the whole journey of building your own website fun. What is also commendable is that you are not limited to the templates offered by the website, you can add your own style and your own scripts.

The website building might not be an “easy out of the bag” experience as some of its competitors, but once you get the hang of it, you will realize that Squarespace has quite a powerful set of tools. The one deterrent that future users may find is the price factor. But the point to remember is that this is an all-inclusive solution, which means that you are also paying for the web hosting.

 

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