Last Updated Dec 18 2018
Finding the right alternative to Squarespace depends on what you're unhappy with. Do you need something self-hosted? Easier to use? Cheaper? I think Squarespace is excellent but I know it can't be everything to everyone. In this article I share 7 alternatives for 2019.
An alternative for photographers... Squarespace is a general website builder. This means it's for building a variety of websites— ecommerce, blogs, photography portfolios and more.
Format is only for photography websites and so it's features are focussed on photographers— there's an integration with Lightroom, proofing features and themes that are designed to showcase photos.
Format is not the only website builder purely focussed on photographers— but it is the best. I surveyed 1,630 photographers with websites and found those who used Format had the highest customer satisfaction— an excellent 97%.
Browsing Format themes.
Unlike Squarespace, Shopify isn't for general websites— instead they're narrowly focussed on ecommerce. Because of that, Shopify is able to provide better ecommerce.
The best example of this is Shopify's App Store which is full of apps that users can use to add additional features to their store. For example, I recently built a Shopify store and needed to display all my orders on a map— I was able to find several apps in the app store that added this functionality!
Plus, Shopify has a really high customer satisfaction rating.
If you're looking for something easier to use... Squarespace is best described as intuitive rather than easy to use— in fact Squarespace is the only website builder that doesn't mention 'easy to use' on their homepage.
I'd suggest Weebly if you find Squarespace difficult to use. Weebly's interface is clear and simple. Everything feels obvious and within arms reach. It's what I recommend to people who aren't tech savvy.
If you want to design your own theme from scratch... Webflow is a more sophisticated web design tool than website builders like Squarespace. It allows for more control over design details and is flexible enough to design themes from scratch.
With more sophistication, comes more complexity. I compare Webflow's interface to Photoshop— it's not quite coding but the interface can feel code-like. So expect a bit of a learning curve.
If you're looking for a free alternative... Squarespace offers a 14-day free trial— but they don't offer a free version.
So try Weebly if you want a free website builder. Most free website builder plans are severely limited— but Weebly has a strong free plan: unlimited bandwidth, non-spammy subdomains (yoursite.weebly.com) and basic ecommerce.
Weebly does include an ad on free websites— but that's the case with almost all free website builders.
This ad scrolls along your free Weebly websites.
If you want to drag elements anywhere.... Squarespace is a structured editor, which means you can only drag and drop elements within a pre-designed grid.
Wix is a blank canvas editor— which means you can drag any element anywhere on the page. It's a lot more freeing (though it can also present challenges).
If you'd like to be able to change your web host.... If you build your website on Squarespace (or any other website builder), you will need to use their hosting for the lifespan of the website. You can't simply export your website and put it on a new host. If this bothers you, I'd suggest looking at Wordpress as an alternative.
Wordpress isn't a website builder— it's an open-source content management system (or CMS). CMS's have a steeper learning curve than website builders like Squarespace— but are much more flexible. You will need to learn how to setup a MySQL database and install Wordpress but there are lots of great tutorials online that can explain how to do that.