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Squarespace Review: The Best Website Builder In 2021?

Beautiful templates and outstanding features make Squarespace my most recommended website builder.

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Updated Apr 11 2021 Steve Benjamins By Steve Benjamins

I’m a web developer but I don’t code most websites anymore— instead I just use Squarespace.

I’ve tried other website builders but I find myself continually returning to Squarespace.

One reason is that Squarespace websites look good— their templates are outstanding.

The other, more subtle reason is that Squarespace has excellent features. For example blogs, ecommerce and photo galleries are all excellent.

The Squarespace editor.

Note: My work is supported by affiliate commissions. Read more »

Squarespace At A Glance

  • Outstanding Templates

    No other website builder matches Squarespace’s clean, modern templates.

  • Best In Class Features

    Some website builders promote features that they only "sort of" provide. Not Squarespace. They have best in class blogging, ecommerce, donation, podcasting and more.

  • The Apple Of Website Builders

    Squarespace is intuitive, curated and thoughtfully designed. It's a reasonable analogy to think of Wix as Google's Android and Squarespace as Apple's iPhone.

What Is Squarespace?

Squarespace is a drag and drop website builder that includes everything for a website in one package— including hosting.

Including hosting makes website builders like Squarespace different from a content management system (CMS) like Wordpress (which need to be installed on a host).

While Squarespace has a free trial, there is no free plan. Annual plans start at $12 / month.

Templates

Squarespace has outstanding templates.

Beauty is subjective but in my opinion no other website builder matches Squarespace’s clean, modern templates:

Example Templates

The 'Noll' template.

The 'Noll' template.

The 'Beaumont' template.

The 'Beaumont' template.

The 'Paloma' template.

The 'Paloma' template.

What To Know About Squarespace Templates

A few important notes:

  • Templates are responsive — Which means they fit the size of the browser: so they are desktop, mobile and tablet friendly.
  • Templates have a recognizable look and feel — Squarespace templates have a look: bold typography, white space and plenty of room to showcase photography.
  • Photos will elevate your template — Squarespace templates are designed to showcase photography. Even basic stock photos will enhance the look of a Squarespace website.
  • You can’t switch templates — Templates are starting points in Squarespace as of 7.1. Every template is part of the same family and has the same features and style options.

Template Customization: Fonts

Squarespace provides two levels of font customization.

Level one is simple. You select the fonts you’d like used in for headings, paragraphs and buttons:

There are four global text styles: headings, paragraphs, buttons and miscellaneous.

There are four global text styles: headings, paragraphs, buttons and miscellaneous.

Level two goes deeper. You can customize fonts down to every individual element— from headings to newsletter blocks:

Customizing heading fonts.

Customizing heading fonts.

Template Customization: Colors

Just like with fonts, Squarespace provides two levels of color customization.

Level one is a choosing a color palette that applies across your website:

Choosing a color palette.

Choosing a color palette.

This color palette is important because it creates Section Themes— which allow you to choose color palettes individually for sections (necessary because you may need a darker color palette if the background is light, and a lighter color palette if the background is dark).

Level two of color customization let’s you specify exactly where a color is applied:

Specific choosing how colors are applied.

Specific choosing how colors are applied.

The Editor

Squarespace pages are made up of sections and content blocks.

Sections and content blocks.

Sections and content blocks.

Content Blocks

Content blocks are the individual elements that make up your website: text, buttons, images, maps, forms and more.

Sections

Sections stack vertically on your website and contain content blocks.

Sections stack vertically on top of each other.

Sections stack vertically on top of each other.

While you can create a section from scratch, you can also choose from a library of pre-designed sections:

Choosing from pre-designed sections.

Choosing from pre-designed sections.

Section Backgrounds

Sections can have background images— which is key to nailing that modern, full-bleed image feel:

Notice how the background image extends into the header?

Notice how the background image extends into the header?

You can customize the height, width, alignment and colors of a section— but you can’t stray too far from this basic layout.

Ease of Use

You’ll be fine with Squarespace if you’re comfortable in Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

The best word to describe Squarespace is intuitive. Everything is thoughtful and clear. The interface is never overwhelming.

A good way to demonstrate that is to compare the Squarespace editor…

Editing a photo gallery in Squarespace— notice how calm the interface feels?

Editing a photo gallery in Squarespace— notice how calm the interface feels?

… with Squarespace’s biggest competitor, Wix. Notice how much more is going on in Wix?

Editing a photo gallery in Wix— there's A LOT going on at once in the.

Editing a photo gallery in Wix— there's A LOT going on at once in the.

Ecommerce

Should you use Squarespace for ecommerce?

I use Squarespace ecommerce for small stores but I’ll often use Shopify if I’m building a larger store.

Let me explain.

Is Squarespace or Shopify Better For Ecommerce?

There are two types of website builders:

  1. Website Builders — For any type of website: blogs, ecommerce, small business, non-profits and more. Examples: Squarespace, Wix.
  2. Ecommerce Website Builders — Just for ecommerce websites. Examples: Shopify, WooCommerce.

Because ecommerce website builders are purely focussed on ecommerce they usually have more sophisticated features.

That being said there are still times to use a website builder like Squarespace for ecommerce.

In my opinion the best website builder is Squarespace and the best ecommerce website builder is Shopify.

So when is the right time to use Shopify or Squarespace?

Reasons To Use Squarespace:

  • Easier To Use — For example: customizing your theme with Shopify will likely require you to edit CSS code— Squarespace does not.
  • Drag and Drop — Squarespace has a drag-and-drop page editor. Shopify does not.

Reasons To Use Shopify:

For more, read my in-depth Squarespace vs Shopify comparison.

Squarespace Ecommerce Features

Here are some of the more sophisticated ecommerce features Squarespace offers:

  • Subscriptions — You can sell subscription products that charge on a recurring basis. Ecommerce website builders are able to do this but I don’t know of a single website builder that does.
  • Customizable Email Receipts — This is a feature way too most website builders ignore. Squarespace lets you customize the email receipts sent to customers following a purchase. Email receipts are a great opportunity to thank or upsell customers.
  • Excellent Product Variations — You can create multiple product variations with unique pricing.
  • Digital Products and Services — You don’t have to use Squarespace for just physical products. You can also sell digital products or let customers pay you for services.
  • Apple Pay Integration — Squarespace lets you use Stripe as a payment provider— which allows customers to pay you with Apple Pay. Apple Pay has been shown to increase successful checkouts on mobile (it lets customer authorize payments with only Touch ID).
  • Point of Sale — In November 2019, Squarespace launched a Point of Sale system that integrates with Square’s credit card reader and Squarespace’s Commerce app.

Features

Squarespace has lots of features. The only website builder with a comparable amount of features is Wix.

Blogging

Excellent. Squarespace is the only website builder that competes with Wordpress on blogging.

There’s a long list of features:

  • Markdown support
  • Podcast support
  • RSS feeds
  • Google Amp
  • Mulitple contributors
  • … And more
Editing a blog post.

Editing a blog post.

Form Builder

My one complaint? Squarespace doesn’t store your submissions by default— you have to connect it to a source. Why can’t they just store submissions by default?

Otherwise they support a wide range of features:

  • Google Docs and Mailchimp integrations
  • 19 different form field options
  • Custom post-submit HTML and lightbox mode
Creating a form.

Creating a form.

Photo Galleries

Squarespace has always been popular with artists and photographers— in part because of their beautiful photo galleries.

  • Masonry galleries
  • Easy focal point editing
  • Click-through URLs on images
  • Lightboxes
Editing a photo gallery.

Editing a photo gallery.

Appointment Scheduling

Appointment Scheduling lets visitors book and pay for appointments. It has an additional monthly fee and plans start at $14 / month.

  • Multiple calendars and teammates
  • Calendar syncing
  • Automatic SMS and email reminders
  • Gift certificates
Managing calendars in Squarespace.

Managing calendars in Squarespace.

Mobile Apps

There are 5 mobile apps for managing your website:

  • Commerce — Manages your online store.
  • Analytics — Website analytics.
  • Squarespace - Edit pages and blog posts.
  • Scheduling Admin — View and manage appointments.
  • Scheduling Clients — Clients can book appointments.
The Squarespace app is for managing your website from your phone.

The Squarespace app is for managing your website from your phone.

Analytics

While you can always add Google Analytics, Squarespace also includes their own Analytics which automatically plugs into existing Squarespace features for tracking:

  • Sales by product
  • Purchase funnels & abanadoned carts
  • Form and button conversions
Squarespace analytics.

Squarespace analytics.

Members Area

In 2020 Squarespace announced Members Area which allows you to create and manage paid content for registered users.

It does cost extra (plans start at $9 / month) and there is a transaction fee but it let’s you:

  • Create classes and training packages
  • Charge recurring or one-time fees (or free)
  • Lock content
  • Integrates with Squarespace email marketing
Editing the Members Area.

Editing the Members Area.

Donation System

Squarespace has the best donation system of any website builder and it’s not even close.

Other website builders say they have a donation but it’s often just a crummy Paypal button or a donation product within an online store (which never works right).

Squarespace actually did the work to create a donation system that covers the fundamentals:

  • Custom email receipts
  • Suggested contributions
  • Custom checkout for non-profits
Setting suggested donation amounts.

Setting suggested donation amounts.

Podcast Hosting

Squarespace lets you syndicate a podcast. Syndicating is required to submit your podcast to Spotify and Apple Podcasts which is critical.

Be aware: other website builders say they host podcasts but often that only means you can embed your podcast in an audio player. Make sure that they let you syndicate like Squarespace does.

Email Campaigns

Squarespace also let’s you create email campaigns. This costs an additional fee but you’d be paying an additional fee anyways if you used a 3rd party provider like Mailchimp or Constant Contact.

With Squarespace you can send one-time email campaigns or automated email campaigns.

The biggest reason to use Squarespace for your email is that integrates with Squarespace features like ecommerce and membership areas.

Editing an email campaign.

Editing an email campaign.

Pricing: Is Squarespace Expensive?

Squarespace offers four plans— two for general websites and two for ecommerce:

Squarespace's four plans as of February 2020.

Squarespace's four plans as of February 2020.

Squarespace is priced equally to many of it’s competitors. For example I checked the price for one year on the cheapest no-ad plan of the top 7 website builders and Squarespace, Webflow, Weebly and Format all come to $144. Wix and Shopify are more expensive:

Graph: cheapest plans with no ads plus the cost of a custom domain name. Carrd is the cheapest— but is meant for one page websites.

Graph: cheapest plans with no ads plus the cost of a custom domain name. Carrd is the cheapest— but is meant for one page websites.

Plus Squarespace is honest and transparent with pricing. I bought and cancelled it with my own credit card and it was very easy to do.

I’ve written a more in-depth look at Squarespace pricing here.

SEO: Is Squarespace Good For SEO?

Here’s some advice: website builders are all roughly equal when it comes to SEO. There are definitely some technical SEO features that you need in a website builder— it’s just that most website builders support them.

Unlike other website builders, Squarespace doesn’t try to upsell customers on crappy, nonsense SEO upgrades. (Don’t use any SEO tool that’s bundled with your website builder— instead just go straight to the industry standard tools: SEMRush or Whitespark.)

Squarespace provides tools to execute most of what’s necessary for SEO:

  • AMP Support — AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a Google initiative that creates lightweight versions of websites that load quickly on mobile devices. Using AMP doesn’t directly influence your rankings— but it certainly can indirectly help. Squarespace is one of the only website builders to support AMP pages— you just have to enable it.
  • Meta Titles And Descriptions — Squarespace let’s you customize meta titles and descriptions for pages and blog posts. These are what are displayed in the search engine results. Having your target keyword in the title tag is important for ranking while meta descriptions don’t effect your ranking (so you don’t need to customize it).
  • Custom URLs — Squarespace let’s you customize URLs. This is important— simple urls with target keywords are good for SEO (notice the URL for this page? It’s simply /squarespace-review).
  • Mobile Friendly — In 2018 Google announced that their index was going ‘Mobile First’— making a mobile friendly website critical for SEO. All of Squarespace’s themes are responsive— which means they are mobile-friendly.
  • SSL — All Squarespace domains have SSL— which Google has said is a ranking signal.
  • Sitemap — All Squarespace websites have a /sitemap.xml that can be submitted to Google Webmaster Tools.
  • Alt Tags — Squarespace lets you set alt tags on images.

More advanced SEO techniques such as hiding pages from Google is possible with Squarespace— though they require you to add code snippets.

Domains & Emails

Like most website builders, Squarespace provides a free custom domain name on annual plans for one year. Following that, it costs $20 / year.

At $20 / year, Squarespace domains are on the expensive side— you could always find a cheaper domain name at Namecheap ($14.27) and set it to point to your Squarespace website.

Buying a Squarespace domain.

Buying a Squarespace domain.

Squarespace does include free whois privacy with your domain name. This basically anonymizes the personal information of whoever is registering the domain name. I appreciate this, as website builders such as Weebly charge you for whois privacy.

You can setup email addresses for your domain names (example: yourname@yourwebsite.com) using Google’s G Suite integration on all the plans except for Personal. I highly recommend G Suite, it basically provides the Gmail interface for your custom domain name email address.

Squarespace offers the standard G Suite pricing, which is based on the number of email addresses:

TERM PRICE PER EMAIL ADDRESS
Annual Billing $50 / €40 / £40 / A$66
Monthly Billing $5 / €4 / £4 / A$7

Squarespace Website Examples

Below are a few real-life examples of Squarespace websites— though you can find more in my Squarespace Examples article.

EST Creative is a strategy and copywriting firm:

EST Creative

EST Creative

Steve Benjamins is my personal music website:

My music website.

My music website.

Knapsack Creative is a web design company:

Knapsack Creative

Knapsack Creative

Customer Support: Email & Live Chat

Squarespace provides 24/7 email support and live chat support 4am to 8pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. All of their customer support workers work out of their New York, Portland or Dublin headquarters.

Unfortunately Squarespace does not offer phone support. They do offer community support platforms— including a forum and knowledge base.

Written By Steve Benjamins

I’ve been building websites for over 20 years and websites have been featured in Wired, The Next Web, Smashing Magazine, The Huffington Post and Forbes. Read More →