If you see a Squarespace design you like, it’s far better to show the design to your web developer and ask them to replicate it’s look using a more future-ready platform such as Wordpress.
Do we recomend using Squarespace?
Most of the time and for the majority of our clients, no. Squarespace is unlikely to meet their current or future needs.
Let’s make an analogy. Imagine you were in need of a new car. You step on the car lot and see a beautiful shiny new 2021 model in your favorite color. The salesman turns the ignition and a roar fills your ears followed by a deep rumble in idle. He taps the gas in neutral and the car roars powerfully. How much? you ask. $200 a month he responds. You can cancel at any time AND it includes 1 tank of gas a month, free parking, free tune-ups, AND insurance!
Would you be wary? Now that car may suit some people. Maybe even many people. But to people who care about the finer details, it may be ludicrous to consider seriously.
Now imagine that after driving off the lot you learn that the car’s hood and trunk space were welded shut. That the car has only a 2 litre gas tank and is the engine is 90% solar complemented. That the engine roar you heard was actually coming from the car’s speakers. Imagine if the free parking was only outside city limits, and the insurance covered you between the hours of noon-4pm on weekdays only.
What Squarespace is
Squarespace is an all-in-one website platform where the hosting, software, security and maintenance is all taken care of for you by Squarespace. They emphasize being a solution to help you:
- Make pretty websites fairly quickly.
- Get you online within hours.
They offer a selection of ready made templates that MUST be used that offer varying features and functionality on a template by template basis.
A hosted platform
A hosted platform is akin to subletting a room, instead of leasing a condo, or buying a house.
A D.I.Y. (Do it yourself) platform.
Squarespace was designed from the ground up to be accesible to the target demographic audience of “least technically skilled people, on a tight budget, who want something attractive. In order to meet that objective, many sacrifices have been made. You will not be aware of these limitations until you meet them head on. Advanced options are available for more tech savvy developers, but enabling them comes with it’s own caveats.
A proprietary system
Squarespace is powered by a unique proprietary system that most developers will be unfamiliar with and have to learn from scratch in order to create custom themes for you. This is a learning curve that someone has to foot the bill for. It also means there are going to be far less cool things built for Squarespace by others that you could utilize.
What Squarespace isn’t
Squarespace is not a solution best suited for professionals. This is due to it being a very restrictive and limited capability platform.
When your website and it's infrastructure aren't developer friendly it makes the developer's job more difficult and time consuming. This costs you money.
- New language to learn (JSON-T)
- Poor Google Analytics support (Learn more)
- Theme development requires knowledge and installation of NPM, Git, and being comfortable on the Linux command line.
- Website content can ONLY be exported as XML - Source
- No FTP access for any files that are not squarespace templates. (Requires developer mode to be enabled.)
- Enabling developer mode on a site permanently excludes the website from receiving future platform updates for reliability and security.
- No site cloning capabilities. You cannot duplicate a site before making changes in order to restore from at a later time.
When your website and it's infrastructure aren't SEO friendly it makes the agency's job more difficult and time consuming. This costs you money and undercuts your website's potential to bring in business.
- No support for custom SSL certificates
- Poor SEO iplementation (See ALT tags)
- Poor Google Tag Manager support.
- No support for OpenGraph tags, Schema.org, microdata.
- Criticized by experts
Squarespace is not managed hosting. It is a managed platform. Managed hosting allows you to host anything you want whereas Squarespace hosts only your squarespace site and the template files for it.
What it cannot do
There are MANY things you cannot do on a Squarespace site but let’s look at the most common and reasonable things only for now.
Squarespace has very poor support for restoring content. This is scary considering the lack of permissions levels for site admins who can delete pages if they have blog editing capability and the lack of backup capabilities.
Grow with your needs
It will inevitably happen that your desires for your website will grow beyond the capabilities of the Squarespace platform leaving you with the only option of starting your website again from scratch on a new system.
Add functionality with ease.
Unlike other solutions such as Wordpress you cannot add entirely new functionality simply by adding a free or paid plugin.
If you take your business seriously you should take it’s most important asset (It’s website) seriously too.
Some big red flags
- No revision system Made a mistake? You’re most likely out of luck. Mistakes are instantly live for the world to see.
- Poor backup system Squarespace recomends you manually copy paste your site’s content into Google Docs! This is like backing up your computer by taking pictures with your phone.
- Trustpilot.com rating of 2.2/10 - Source
Terms of service There are many frightening things contained within the Terms of Service for Squarespace. Here are a couple of the big ones.
We reserve the right to suspend or terminate the Services at any time at our sole discretion and without notice. - Source
Translation: You do not own the website you create on their server within their platform.
Squarespace makes no warranty or representation that the Services [eg: website or emails] will: (a) be timely, uninterrupted or error-free; (b) meet your requirements or expectations; or © be free from viruses or other harmful components. - Source
Translation: If something isn’t right. Too bad.
Squarespace showcases many of their best customers on their website. Let’s test their best of the best!
Sadly the sites didn’t fair too well for SEO scores or performance-wise. In fact in our tests, these sites failed Google’s testing tool with lower scores than we’d ever seen before previously. All did extremely poorly on Google’s Mobile test which as we all know, is one of the most important aspects for a site to Google in 2016.
- Mood - https://moodmusicfood.squarespace.com
- Let’s Move - https://v2-letsmoveschools.squarespace.com
- Yield - https://rachel-gant.squarespace.com
- Egg Shop - https://sarah-schneider-l11k.squarespace.com
- Masa - https://masanyc.squarespace.com/
- Marina Abramovic Institute - https://marinaabramovic-institute.squarespace.com
- Lyft Blog - https://lyft.squarespace.com
- White Girl Rose - https://quentin-mulligan.squarespace.com/
Articles other people have written
- Why I Don’t & Will Never Recommend Squarespace
- 10 Reasons Wordpress Will Always Be Better Than Squarespace
- Squarespace Review 2016 - 12 Key Things You Need To Know
- Why We Moved Our Site Off of Squarespace
- Why Squarespace sucks and will never be a WordPress killer