Last updated: December 12, 2018
Squarespace In 2018: What Do Squarespace Client Reviews Say?
“Squarespace makes beautiful products to help people with creative ideas succeed.” – Squarespace
If you’re short on time, here’s what you need to know about Squarespace: there are few web hosts out there that are as easy to use, yet yield such a beautiful final product. It is expensive, but it is well worth it in my opinion.
My Experience with Squarespace
Squarespace Home Page
Exactly one year ago, I launched my own small business. Since my area of expertise was in technology, I felt that having my own website was a non-negotiable part of getting up and running. However, given the sheer number of things that needed to be done before I could truly launch, I knew that I would need more than a little bit of help with my website — despite the fact that I am a perfectly competent software developer. There just wasn’t enough time for me to craft a website from scratch given everything else on my to-do list.
Signing up for a Squarespace account was a breeze, and just a short while later, I had a beautiful business website with little hassle. My website was reachable via the custom domain that came free of charge with my one-year Squarespace subscription, and I opted to add the G Suite of tools to my plan so I could receive email at my domain as well.
One Year Later
I just received notifications that the following items were renewing:
- My Squarespace subscription
- My custom domain name (Squarespace only covers your domain registration fees for the first year)
- My G Suite plan
Was it expensive, especially compared to the dirt cheap shared hosting plans that could be purchased elsewhere? Yes. Would I do it again and choose Squarespace, despite the hit to my wallet (remember, I am a small business owner)? Absolutely. This, despite the fact that I am a software engineer by trade and am perfectly capable of building my own website from scratch.
Read on for everything you need to know about Squarespace.
What is Squarespace?
Squarespace is an all-in-one website builder that comes with web hosting services, but really, it is so much more.
Obviously, when you are getting started with a website, you need the mechanism by which your website gets served to the rest of the world via the Internet. You also need to build the website that you plan to serve. Squarespace will help you with both things, but it also comes with things like security features (there are some scary things out on the internet, and if you are not careful, you may find some of them targeting your site in any number of malicious ways) and top notch technical support — it is like having your own IT team available and ready to help 24/7.
Where Squarespace really shines, however, are the templates that you can use to build your site. If you are building a site using the Squarespace builder — and honestly, if you are springing for a Squarespace plan, it would be silly to not use it, since there are cheaper hosting options for those who already have a well-designed webpage — you begin by choosing one of the many templates available.
Squarespace’s templates are known for being well-designed and beautiful. They are responsive as well, so you do not have to worry about your website looking strange when viewed on a smaller device like a smartphone or a tablet.
- All-in-one platform that comes with everything you could possibly need to launch a website — you get IT assistance and around-the-clock (personalized!) technical support via email or live chat, unlimited hosting on enterprise-grade infrastructure, top-of-the-line security, and robust analytic tools, as well as the option to add e-commerce features and functionality to your site
- Availability of award-winning templates that make it easy for you to design the most beautiful website you can without necessitating a designer and knowledge of web development — many web hosts offer well-designed templates, but few match the aesthetic appeal of Squarespace’s templates
As we have already mentioned, all Squarespace sites come with the web hosting services needed to ensure that the site is available to the rest of the internet. However, in keeping with its goal of simplicity, Squarespace does not have a wide variety of plan options from which you could choose. Here are your options:
- Squarespace Personal
- Squarespace Business
- Basic Commerce
- Advanced Commerce
The personal plan is a great option for a personal website or a small business website that is just launching — you can think of it the same way you would a shared plan from pretty much any other web hosting provider out there. The business option builds on the Personal plan and includes options that those needing a more robust website would find useful. It is faster and more performant than the personal plan.
For those running e-commerce sites, Squarespace offers you the ability to get your online shop up and running. The Business plan comes with basic e-commerce functionality, but unless you are running a very small shop, you will likely want to upgrade to either of the fully-fledged, full-featured commerce plans. Know that the advanced commerce hosting plan is capable of supporting a fairly large online business.
What Doesn’t Come with Squarespace Plans
While we consider Squarespace an all-in-one website builder, it may not include features you expect. Read the product descriptions carefully before signing up for a Squarespace account.
Generally speaking, Squarespace plans come with a domain name free of charge for the first year. Renewal fees, as well as any additional domain names, are your responsibility.
If you want email accounts using the same domain as your website, you’ll need to purchase this functionality separately. During the checkout process, you have the option of paying for a G Suite package, which gets you a professional Gmail account (using your domain name, of course), as well as productivity tools like Google Calendar, Drive, and so on.
If you do business using a business plan, Squarespace accesses a 3% transaction fees (note that neither of the dedicated commerce plans charge transaction fees on the orders you handle).
Squarespace vs Its Competitors
Depending on what you are planning to do with Squarespace, you may also be looking into some of its competitors, such as Shopify, Wix, and WordPress.
Shopify is an all-in-one e-commerce platform. There are definitely overlaps in the feature sets of Squarespace and Shopify, but the focus of the products are very different. Squarespace is aimed more towards customers looking for a well-rounded solution, while Shopify is definitely aiming toward those who are focused almost exclusively on e-commerce.
Wix and WordPress are very similar to Squarespace. Both come in free versions that you can use indefinitely, but there are paid versions that are more comparable to what Squarespace offers. All three are all-in-one website building tools, though WordPress does lean toward being a blogging platform more than Wix and Squarespace.
Wix is just as easy to use as Squarespace, though WordPress is getting more and more difficult to use as the software bloats with features its parent company keeps adding. Where WordPress shines, however, is the large community that surrounds the product. It is very commonly used, so you’ll find a wide array of plugins, themes, and other tools that help you build the best site possible (a lot of this stuff can even be had free of charge).
|Cost||Plans begin at $29 per month||Plans begin at $16 per month||Free, with the option of purchasing premium plans||Free (including hosting from WordPress.com)|
|Ease of Use||Medium||Easy||Very Easy||Medium|
|Product Focus||E-Commerce||General, with robust e-commerce functionality available||General audiences||General audiences|
Immediately after logging in to your Squarespace account, you’ll see an overview of the sites associated with your account, as well as any domain names you own. You manage each website individually, and you can access the administrative areas by clicking on the icon representing that site in which you are interested.
Managing Your Website
If you click on the icon representing your website in your Account Dashboard, you will immediately be redirected to the Squarespace sitebuilder for your website. As you hover your curser over the different parts of your website, you will see the individual content blocks used to create your site.
For example, you’ll have a content block for your header, a content block for your main text, a content block for your links and so on. In addition to being able to add or delete as many blocks as you like, you can drag and drop to rearrange your site.
Squarespace’s intuitive, WYSIWG sitebuilder makes it easy to make new items for your website, including pages. Adding content blocks means that you can quickly and easily integrate new functionality onto your website, such as photo galleries, grouped links to professional websites where you have work samples, and so on. Bonus: as a WYSIWG editor, you can see the changes you have made immediately — there is nothing like determining at a later point that a chance you have made does not work with the rest of the site, but with Squarespace, there is a smaller change of this happening.
More specifically, there are six links on the sidebar of the sitebuilder, each of which is designed to handle a different aspect of your website:
- Pages: The pages area is where you would go to create new pages for your website. Squarespace has several templates that you can use to get started with designing new pages — nothing is harder than creating something from nothing, which is generally what happens without a sufficiently useful template
- Design: The area where you can change the way your website looks and feels to your visitors
- Commerce: If you have purchased and have access to e-commerce related functionality, this is where you would go to manage your website
- Analytics: Data that Squarespace has gathered about the visitors to your website, including where they are from, what devices they are using to view your website, the pages they are seeing, and so on
- Settings: The Settings page is where you handle all of the back-end and administrative tasks related to your website, including payments and billing, search engine optimization (SEO) settings, your personal information (such as address and email), and so on
- Help: A link to the Squarespace documentation site
The Pages area is where you go to create the individual pages that, together, make up your website.
Rather than forcing you to come up with something from scratch, Squarespace comes with built-in templates so that you can build the following items with ease:
- Products (for e-commerce)
- Cover Page
The pages area is also where you control your site’s navigation, as well as hide/show things that you don’t want deleted (yet shouldn’t be public-facing).
The Design tab allows you to change your theme and customize the theme template you’ve chosen. Rather than throwing all of your options together into one big design panel, the Design tab allows you to work on individual parts of your site, including:
- Logo and Title
- Lock Screen
- Announcement Bar
- Mobile Information Bar
There is also the option to use custom CSS if you would like.
If you are using Squarespace for e-commerce, you’ll get the following built-in features:
- Order Management
- Inventory Management
- Customer Management
- Discount Management
Though you can always integrate a more robust analytics tool Squarespace does include some basic data and analytics tools. You’ll get information about:
- Traffic sources
- Content that is popular
- Geographic information about your users
- What people are searching for on your site
- RSS subscribers
- Search engine queries leading to your website
The Settings area contains everything you would expect to see in your web hosting control panel, including
- Your personal information
- Billing and payment options
- Domain name management
- Email account management
- Marketing and SEO tools
- Security and SSL settings
- Commerce-related functionality, such as shipping and tax calculators
If you ever find yourself needing help as you build your website, you can click on the Help link located in your Account Dashboard. This will take you directly to Squarespace’s documentation pages.
Customer Support is one of the areas where Squarespace shines. In addition to the personalized support available to you 24/7 via live chat or email, you get managed system administration, which means that you are not responsible for the work required to ensure the infrastructure supporting your site stays online.
Though these features do have a cost (as you can see from the higher fees Squarespace charges compared to other web hosts), they may be well-worth it if you can get customer service without jumping through needless hoops.
Squarespace offers all new customers a free trial lasting 14 days. Other than the free trial, Squarespace does not offer any type of free services or a money-back guarantee on monthly plans or renewal payments. You can handle everything related to payments and billing in the Settings portion of your Squarespace Account Dashboard.
Personal websites cost $16 per month, but you can pay annually and receive a discount that lowers your monthly cost to $12.
Squarespace automatically backs up everything that exists on their servers to ensure that you will never lose all of your work in the event of a catastrophic server failure. In addition, this allows Squarespace to switch servers in the event that the primary ones are, for whatever reason, unavailable.
You are welcome to make backups of some of your site at anytime. Squarespace does not provide a backup process, to backup your site, you will need to:
- Export your Squarespace site (remember, not everything can be exported — only certain content can be exported) in an .xml file
- Save anything that isn’t included in the export manually and then upload these files to a secure location of your choosing
Squarespace is known for its excellent customer service, and its support material is no exception. In addition to the usual help articles that show you (in detail) how to accomplish a task, there are guides on how to execute a multi-step process, videos that show you how to do something quickly and easily, and webinars designed to help you build your brand. All aspects of Squarespace’s support material is in-depth and well-done. It is unlikely you will find yourself unable to do something and unable to find the appropriate documentation that you would find helpful.
When it comes to migrating existing websites to the Squarespace platform or exporting your Squarespace content, you are pretty much on your own (though the technical support team is available to help if you have any questions or run into any issues).
Squarespace currently supports content imports from Blogger, Tumblr, Squarespace 5, and WordPress, and the support pages have detailed guides you can follow to complete the process. If your Squarespace site uses the Commerce product, you can import your product information from Big Cartel, Etsy, Shopify, or a .csv file.
Squarespace isn’t like a traditional web host with a control panel. You get use of a proprietary UI that includes functionality other web hosts have on a control panel, as well as all the sitebuilding features.
Squarespace Servers and Datacenters
Squarespace manages its own private cloud, where it hosts all Squarespace sites. Squarespace does not provide any specific information about where its datacenters are located, and you do not get to choose where your site is hosted.
If you like this host, also look at…
Shopify: Shopify is an all-in-one e-commerce platform. Like Squarespace, you get a sitebuilder and the web hosting you need to get online. Where Shopify really shines, however, is in its e-commerce functionality. If Squarespace’s commerce functionality don’t quite meet your needs, take a look at Shopify.
Wix: Wix is an all-in-one website builder that is very similar to Squarespace, but it is simpler and easier to use. Wix is also free (unless you choose to upgrade to a premium option that offers extended features).
WordPress: WordPress a sizable portion of the internet’s sites, and there’s a good reason for that. WordPress itself as an open source content management system (CMS) that is easy to use and infinitely customizable. You can easily serve up a WordPress site on your own, but you can also sign up for an account with WordPress.com for a cloud-based, all-in-one website/blogging product.
Who is Squarespace for?
Everybody! Squarespace can be used by individuals just getting started, as well as larger businesses doing a high volume of transactions. Squarespace is very flexible, and its more premium offerings ensure that you have the resources you need to support the site you want.
Does Squarespace come with everything I need to launch a website?
Strictly speaking, yes. You get a sitebuilder, web hosting, and (if you opt for an extended contract) a domain name, but you have to purchase email as an add-on. Because other (more inexpensive options) bundle email with their plans, this is definitely a black mark against Squarespace.
Are there situations where Squarespace might not be right for me?
If you run a really large website or are the owner of a thriving e-commerce site with multiple layers of complexity, Squarespace might not be sufficient to power your website and ensure the uptime you might expect from your web host.
Squarespace Quick Overview
This reference will help you when you are comparing Squarespace with other providers.
- All-in-one platform
- Award-winning ttemplates.
The platform comes with everything you could possibly need to launch a website. You get IT assistance and around-the-clock (Personalized!) technical support via email or live chat.
In addition, you get unlimited hosting on enterprise-grade infrastructure, top-of-the-line security, and robust analytic tools, as well as the option to add e-commerce features and functionality to your site.
Templates make it easy for you to design the most beautiful website you can without necessitating a designer and knowledge of web development — many web hosts offer well-designed templates, but few match the aesthetic appeal of Squarespace’s templates.
Plans starting at…
$16 per month
Yes – all Squarespace plans include the use of a sitebuilder featuring some of the most well-designed templates in the web hosting business. Squarespace builds their own sitebuilder and aims to make it as easy to use as possible.
Yes, all of Squarespace’s built-in Commerce tools (the e-commerce add-on you can opt for) are PCI compliant.
Tony Hawk, Rodarte, Lyft, V Magazine, Airwalk, and many others
Pros and Cons
All hosts have their good and bad points. These are the main ones for Squarepace.
- Squarespace is a one-stop shop for everything you need to get up and running with a well-designed website
- If you want to minimize the amount of time you spend on managing your website, Squarespace is for you — you have to set up your account and make some design decisions regarding the front-end of your website, but because all Squarespace websites are managed, you will do very little server system administration
- Squarespace is fairly expensive for what is essentially a shared hosting plan
- Squarespace does not offer any service level agreements, so if you are running a mission-critical site, Squarespace might not be the option for you. The company strives for 100% uptime and availability, but you have little to no recourse if Squarespace does not meet its end of the bargain.
Squarespace is a solid provider of all-in-one hosting packages for those looking to get up and running with a website with as little hassle as possible. You get everything you need (sans email), and in no time, you’ll have a beautiful website created. In addition to its excellent customer service, Squarespace is known for the aesthetic appeal of its templates. If you want solid web hosting and the ability to build a beautiful site without the assistance of a designer, be sure to take a close look at Squarespace.
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Squarespace Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I buy a domain through Squarespace?
You can purchase a domain through Squarespace if you sign up for one of their website plans. Customers who sign up for any of their annual plans are entitled to one free domain.
- Can I use an existing domain with Squarespace?
Yes, you can connect your Squarespace website to a third-party domain.
- Can I transfer my existing website to Squarespace?
At this time it’s not possible to transfer an existing website over to Squarespace. The only content that can be imported is blog content from platforms like WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr or products from Shopify and Big Cartel.
- Can I host an email account with Squarespace?
Squarespace doesn’t provide email hosting but you can sign up for G Suite (formerly Google Apps) using their platform. Customers who purchase Website Business, Basic Commerce, and Advanced Commerce plans are eligible for a free year of G Suite apps for one user.
- What ecommerce features does Squarespace support?
Their ecommerce features include inventory tracking, order management, tax, shipping, coupon controls, and more. You can accept payments through Stripe and PayPal and you can also accept credit card payments directly to your bank account.
- Can I upload a third-party design to Squarespace?
Squarespace doesn’t allow uploading third-party templates to websites hosted on their platform. You can, however, activate the Developer’s platform to get full access to the template’s code which you can modify if you have coding knowledge.
- Is Squarespace free?
No, Squarespace’s services are not free, but their cheapest plans are reasonably priced.
- What payment options does Squarespace accept?
They accept all major credit cards. Monthly and annual plans are available and you get a small discount if you sign up for an annual plan.
- Does Squarespace` offer a money-back guarantee?
If you sign up for an annual plan, you can request a refund within 14 days of your purchase. Monthly plans aren’t eligible for a refund.
- Does Squarespace offer an uptime guarantee?
There is no specific mention of an uptime guarantee, however the company claims to use a high-availability and high-capacity infrastructure.
- Can I download Squarespace and host it somewhere else?
No, Squarespace is a fully hosted platform.
- Does Squarespace provide an SSL certificate?
Yes, each plan includes a free SSL certificate.
- Does Squarespace allow unlimited storage and bandwidth?
Yes, all Squarespace plans include unlimited storage and bandwidth.
- Can I host audio and video on my Squarespace account?
You can upload and host audio files directly on your website. Videos have to be embedded from a video hosting website like YouTube or Vimeo.
- How do I change my Squarespace domain?
You can change the primary domain associated with your account at any time once you’ve registered it. Simply log into your Squarespace account, add the domain in the Domains screen, select it, and select the option to make it the primary domain. Once that’s done, Squarespace will show that domain as the main domain for your site. You can leave your old domain as a custom domain, and visitors will be redirected to the new primary domain, or you can remove it if you prefer.
- How many times can you extend a Squarespace trial?
Trials can be extended at the discretion of customer services. After your first 14-day trial is over, one extension of 7 days is allowed. You can extend your trial by clicking the link in the email notification when your original 14-day trial expires.
- How much does SquareSpace charge for each transaction?
Transactions fees vary between zero and 3%, depending on the Squarespace plan you’ve chosen. You’ll find a full guide to transaction fees on the Squarespace website.
- How do I cancel my Squarespace account?
In your Squarespace Settings, locate the Billing & Account screen. Click Cancel Trial. Or, if you want to cancel a paid account, select Subscriptions, then Website, and select the one you want to cancel from the list. Squarespace does not provide refunds for cancelled accounts after the first 14 days of paid service.