Squarespace is an all-in-one website builder, blogging platform, and hosting service that has been steadily growing since its launch in 2004. But, some of you may not have heard of it with the widespread use of other services like WordPress and Blogger.
I stumbled across Squarespace back in 2009. By 2010, I had fallen into deep like with the platform and migrated all five of my blogs over. I had previously hosted my blogs on Diaryland and then Blogger, and I had blogged in both Typepad and WordPress for other websites. Squarespace was the one that pulled me in, and it has been my home on the internet ever since.
My full-time work is as a website designer and consultant. I mainly design for both the WordPress and Squarespace platforms. As with any blogging service, there are pros and cons to weigh when choosing which service is right for both you and your website. Here are the pros and cons of Squarespace to give you a better idea how Squarespace works and why it might or might not be right for you.
- Because Squarespace is a website builder, blogging platform, and hosting service all in one, you don't necessarily need to be tech-savvy to build and maintain your website.
- You don't have to deal with outside hosting.
- Software and add-on updates are taken care of for you. You never have to worry that your software is out-of-date.
- There are 20+ templates to choose from that you can customize using their straightforward design interface. You can also add your own CSS to more deeply customize your website.
- Each of their templates is mobile-friendly and will work well with full functionality on mobile devices.
- It's easy to add new content with their WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, which works much like Microsoft Word.
- Their drag-and-drop system to add and position add-ons in posts (like text, images, audio, video, code, restaurant menus, subscription forms, and other content blocks) means that you don't need an intimate knowledge of HTML.
- You can have multiple website contributors with seven different levels of permission. You can grant permission for everything from full access to billing access to trusted commenter status to bypass comment moderation if you have it turned on.
- Squarespace takes care of your site security. They do it well, so hacking worries aren't an issue.
- Squarespace has great mobile apps for managing and updating your blog, image galleries, statistics, and notes.
- It has good in-house site statistics that let you track traffic, mobile usage, subscribers, referrers, popular content, and search queries.
- There is a commerce area that lets you set up shop, sell products, manage orders, configure taxes, create coupons, and more.
- Squarespace has a great help section that you can dig through to learn what you want. The instructions are clear and often illustrated with screenshots.
- Squarespace customer support is some of the best I've received as far as blogging services are concerned. No matter what time of day I contact them, I have received prompt, human responses, and they've usually managed to help me solve my problems within an hour. They actually call their customer service office the Care Bear Lair. I'm not kidding.
- Squarespace's CMS (Content Management System) is not open source. There are no community-developed extensions, which means there is a much less extensive library of add-ons/plugins than there is with WordPress.
- Squarespace's user interface can occasionally be a touch buggy, requiring you to refresh a page to bring back functionality.
- Some of the templates, while being highly customizable, limit your ability to customize certain elements depending on their design focus, so it is important to choose your base template wisely. If you want to dig deeper into the technical side of design, you can always build your own template from the ground up as a Developer.
So, how much does Squarespace cost?
Squarespace costs a little more every month at its $16/month package than WordPress.org at approximately $5–7/month (depending on what company you decide to use for hosting) without any extras or purchased premium templates. But, when you factor in that Squarespace takes care of all the software updates, add-on updates, and hosting while bringing excellent and personal customer service, it's like hiring a super efficient technical assistant who keeps your site consistently functioning and hacker-free for the low price of a couple of extra cups of coffee a month.
WordPress has the allure of more than 26,000 plugins and the option to design your site from the ground up, but you have to invest more time and skills into basic site maintenance, coding, and even building blog posts that contain more than just text content. Most WordPress themes are not properly mobile-ready, so you will have to build and/or customize a second template to handle your site on mobile devices. While there are over 26,000 plugins available in WordPress, they are not vetted by WordPress itself and the quality is often poor, with plugins often not being updated by their outside developers to keep up with WordPress' software updates. That can slow down or even break your website. WordPress offers flexibility, but if you don't have the technical savvy to maintain it, you will have to hire a contractor for regular site maintenance. Outside of user forums, WordPress doesn't offer much in the way of customer service.
Squarespace, while being a bit more limited design- and add-ons-wise, requires no ongoing software and plugins updates, and the add-ons in Squarespace are always high-quality because they are made by Squarespace to work well within Squarespace, even after software updates. You also don't have the added step of having to deal with an outside hosting company. You can create beautiful content layouts using their drag-and-drop interface without having to know any code. Your template and content will all be mobile-friendly and fully functional without your having to build a second template to do the job. Plus, their customer service is pretty great. Squarespace won me over years ago when they saved my broken website one night at 2 a.m.
Overall, Squarespace is easier to use than WordPress for those without much tech know-how. The templates are already mobile-friendly. Both software updates and website hosting are automatically taken care of in the background. It's just a simpler platform to use for publishing without losing the ability to control and create great, beautiful content. Since Squarespace lets you sign up without a credit card for a two-week trial, why not wander over and check it out?
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