February 15, 2021

6 Brutal Truths About Squarespace

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Squarespace has become a massive powerhouse, hosting over 2 million websites in the United States alone. In January 2021, they started the paperwork to go public. Here are five truths about Squarespace from the perspective of a professional web designer and developer.

It Can Be Super Difficult to Use

Squarespace is known for nice-looking, modern templates. But if you are expecting a drag and drop builder that is intuitive, you may be surprised. We have clients who bring us in to tweak and customize their Squarespace sites. Even after creating hundreds of websites, I have trouble consistently making columns and moving elements around. It looks easy if you watch the GIF below a few times, but imagine dragging that exact way and it doesn’t split into columns – that is going to happen to you, a lot.

If you want to create something outside of the template style you are working with, you will likely need a web developer’s help to use custom code blocks. On the higher end plans, they give you more control over what types of custom code you can use, but again, you will either need to learn HTML, Javascript and CSS or hire someone to help.

You May Need a Web Developer Anyway

We frequently have clients that come to us with a mostly done Squarespace website and need help finishing it. Often they would like a bit of customization that requires coding. Be prepared to be limited or to call in expert help. Otherwise, be prepared to do a lot of Googling and watching tutorial videos to create the website you want. It will take trial and error and at a point you could use your time to do the work only you can do in your business.

It’s Going to Be Slow

Squarespace has made some improvements in this area, but full pages of content built with Squarespace can be slow to load. Like any website, there are ways to improve this, but some faults are intrinsic to the platform. One way to keep this under control is to keep the number of images on a page limited, as well as total page length.

If you are on Squarespace and experience speed issues, check out this handy help article with some starting points. 

E-Commerce is Only Worthwhile With Their Advanced Tier

These days, one big selling point on Squarespace is the ability to set up e-commerce and start selling quickly. Be aware that if you want to calculate live shipping rates, you need the advanced tier. 

Shipping calculations are essential because shipping costs can vary a great deal. You don’t want to be charging $4.95 to ship, only to end up paying $12 to send it across the country. 

Another reason to consider Advanced is your discount strategy. The basic tier of e-commerce is too limited when it comes to coupon codes. You cannot automatically apply them in the cart based on rules. You cannot effectively limit their use either. 

Be prepared to upgrade to Advanced if you want to get fundamental e-commerce features. 

Pricing is All But Hidden

Every time Squarespace updates its main marketing website, pricing gets more and more obscured. It feels a little like a pushy, hard-sell to me. Read about all the benefits, press Get Started, answer questions, pick a template – all before you get pricing. I get it, they want to show the value before showing how affordable that value is. But when you are selling a software as a service, I think up-front pricing is a must.

Here is a link if you are having trouble finding it buried in the footer under the Products heading. 

If You Don’t Need Much, It May Be Just Right

The brutal truth for The Sky Floor is; not everyone needs a custom website. If you are okay with having a website that looks like Squarespace (which isn’t as snarky as it sounds), it is a great way to get going quickly. Best of all, you get to bring an idea to life for a relatively reasonable cost. If you find you are stuck working in Squarespace, contact us and we can help you.

However, when you grow in sales or traffic, you may want to consider a custom website. You can differentiate yourself more effectively with a custom website, and you also have more long-term control over how it works for your business. Side note: the added benefit of creating a custom website is not just the website you get, it’s the years of expertise that comes with it. Squarespace is great to get the website up, but you may still flounder figuring out how to best position yourself in a digital world. That is impossible to buy for $40/month!

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