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Squarespace Review

Incredibly well designed. Beautiful themes.

My work is supported by affiliate commissions. Last Updated Jan 22 2018

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User Experience

Steve Jobs learned the value of craftsmanship from his father, who was a carpenter. In his biography, Jobs says his father cared as much about the back of the cabinet as the front— even though the back isn’t seen. This story reminds me of Squarespace. Everything in Squarespace is crafted. Nothing is half-baked. Every detail is thoughtful. Simply put: Squarespace cares about the back of cabinets.

Website Editor

Right: Website Editor

An example of Squarespace's attention to detail is image cropping. In order to display images in a perfect grid, they need to be cropped into squares. Most website builders will crop around the centre of the photo and leave at it that. But Squarespace goes a step further. They let you to set a focal point to crop around.

Right: Setting a focal point makes a big difference in photo galleries.

Podcasting and music is another example of Squarespace’s attention to detail. Very few website builders include an audio player— most just allow you to embed a third party audio player such as Soundcloud. But Squarespace provides a beautiful audio player for both single tracks and full albums. Squarespace is also the only website builder that supports syndicating a podcast— required to publish podcasts in iTunes.

Audio player

Right: Audio player

Pages in Squrespace are made up of Content Blocks such as text, photo galleries and forms. Once a Content Block is added to the page you can re-arrange it by dragging. There’s a wide selection of Content Blocks— anything from photo galleries to charts to restaurant menus.

Right: Choosing a Content Block.

Each Content Block is thoughtful— my favourite example of this is the restaurant menu. Restaurant menus typically have formatting conventions that don’t translate to websites very well (think of how the price is aligned on the right in most restaurant menus). Because of this Squarespace invented a simple markup language so users can design a menu without worrying about formatting issues. It’s an elegant solution to a tricky problem.

If I have one minor complaint about Squarespace it’s that editing pages requires you to hover over different sections to reveal menus. Occasionally this can feel like guessing— like you’re playing minesweeper, trying to uncover the right menu.

Right: Hovering across your page reveals menus— this minesweeper gesture can feel a bit like guessing.

Features

  • Blog

    Squarespace has some of the best blogging of any website builder (second only to Wordpress.com). There are a long list of features: post tagging, categories, drafts, comments, moderation, customizable urls and more. The post editor is beautiful (see the screenshot). It has excellent support for teams of bloggers: you can add contributors with different roles (example: comment moderation, content editor) and contributors can even have multiple authors on a single post— a minor feature but handy for a team!  Show Screenshot

  • Ecommerce

    Squarespace has the best ecommerce of any website builder (Weebly is second best). There’s a long list of features: digital products, customizable email receipts (something most website builders neglect), checkout customization, taxes, customer accounts, gift cards and more. But it’s not just about the features— because like everything Squarespace does, it’s also intuitive. For example the style editor for checkout is excellent and easy to use. Squarespace supports Stripe and Paypal as payment gateways.  Show Screenshot

  • Form Builder

    Google Docs and Mailchimp integrations, 19 different form field options, custom post-submit HTML and lightbox mode— a way to create a button that loads your form in a lightbox. Forms are submitted without a page load— which means Squarespace doesn’t provide an option to send your visitors to another URL after filling out the form. Show Screenshot

  • iOS & Android Apps

    There are a suite of beautiful apps: Commerce lets you manage your store. Blog (iOS) lets you compose blog posts and manage your blog. Metrics (iOS) gives you website analytics. Portfolio (iOS) lets you manage photos and galleries. They also have an Android app that is similar to their iOS Blog app. Having a suite of apps is great— rather than stuff everything into one app, they're able to make a beautiful interface for each use case.  

  • Retina Ready

    Squarespace generates several scaled versions of every image so that they look perfect (and load quickly) on retina and mobile devices.  

  • Newsletter

    Beautiful newsletter signup box that integrates with Mailchimp.  Show Screenshot

  • Membership System

     

  • Restaurant Menu

    The best restaurant menu builder I’ve seen in any website builder. Menus are created using a simple markup language and then styled automatically. Of course you can also customize the style yourself as well. (This feature alone makes Squarespace the best website builder for restaurants.)  Show Screenshot

  • Donations

    You can already guess what I’m going to say: Squarespace has the best donation system in any website builder. It’s not even close. Many website builders just provide a simple Paypal button widget without even understand the donation system needs of most non-profits (I used to work in a non-profit fundraising department so I’m sensitive to this). Squarespace is different. They’ve actually done the hard work to understand the fundamentals of a great donation system: You can customize email receipts— which is important, donors shouldn't receive the same email as an ecommerce customer (a detail too many website builders over look). You can also set suggested contributions and customize the donation checkout.  Show Screenshot

  • Audio Player

    Beautiful (seriously, take a look at the screenshot) audio player that's well suited for showcasing albums and single tracks.  Show Screenshot

  • Podcasts

    You can publish and syndicate a podcast using the Audio Block. (Syndicating lets you submit to iTunes.)  

Themes

Squarespace has always been known for their clean, modern themes. They are designed for big photos and strong typography.

Right: Example Theme

Here’s another example theme. You won’t find any cheesy small business templates on Squarespace. Themes are responsive and work well on tablets and mobile devises.

Right: Example Theme

Theme customization is excellent. Squarespace has the best style editor I’ve seen in any website builder (at this point in the review you’re probably sick of me saying this). It just works really well: it lets you adjust almost everything and has a handy click-to-reveal-options feature that allows you to drill down quickly into the style option you want to adjust.

Right: Click an element to reveal the style options for it.

Good Billing Practices

I was able to pay and cancel my Squarespace account with ease.


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By Steve Benjamins

I'm the writer, designer and developer for Site Builder Report and over the last four years I’ve written over 100 in-depth reviews of website builders. Today over 60,000 people every month use Site Builder Report to choose a website builder.


Review History

  • Feb 15 2016 New review published.
  • May 26 2016 Review was brought up to date with minor revisions and changes.
  • Feb 3 2017 Review checked for accuracy and updated.
  • Jan 22 2018 New review published.

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