Squarespace Review – The next generation of website creation?

By looking at Squarespaces’ website, you can see a brilliant example of great web design. But how does that relate to their new website builder? Let’s find out.

Squarespace 6 is a completely new product. Among the most notable changes, in comparison to version 5, is the all new user interface and stunning new templates that are very “Apple-esque.”

Squarespace has tailored their product specifically to the needs of creative folk. That means it’s a great choice for creating a blog or portfolio site. Just recently they have also added a powerful e-commerce option that you can use to sell physical or digital products.

During our testing phases, we found that complete beginners had to struggle a bit with the user interface in general. Advanced users on the other hand can expect to have some fun with this website builder.

Pricing starts at $8 per month in the Standard plan that has a limit of 20 pages (your blog can have as many posts as you like). Unlimited for $16 per month removes the page limit and adds a few other extras. And then there is the Business package for online stores for $24.

All three plans include a domain name if you go for an annual subscription. More pricing details can be found here.

See it in action here

info Test drive Squarespace 14-days for free. Sign up here! (Link will open in a new window)

Squarespace in detail

Criterion Rating Comment
Ease of use
The user interface is not really intuitive. Once you've figured out how it works, it's pretty straightforward even though a few things seem more complicated than necessary.
Choice and flexibility of design (templates)
The number of designs is a bit limited but look very classy and modern. Styles are flexible and can be easily customized. Their responsive templates are mobile friendly.
Advertisement-free yes All plans are ad-free.
Languages
Editor supports any language, but interface in English only. Does not provide a good way to create multilingual websites.
Your own domain name (e.g. .com or .net) yes Yearly and bi-yearly subscriptions include a domain name (.com, .net, .org, .biz, and .info are available). Find the domain FAQ here. Existing domains can be pointed to Squarespace.
Depth of navigation
One level below the main navigation. You can set it up using folders as they call it. Some templates feature a secondary navigation underneath the main navigation.
Widgets (small tools to add extra functionality)
Fantastic gallery widget, as well as integrations for your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram).
Monetization yes Using Google AdSense or other banner ads.
E-Commerce
Well-thought-out online store: with inventory and coupon management; tax and shipping settings are fully customizable. Import product data from Shopify or Big Cartel. Credit cards  payment via Stripe is the only payment method (sales fee: $0.30 per payment and 2.9%). Find our full review here.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
As good as it gets: editable page titles, meta description, and custom URLs. Even 301 redirects are possible.
Blog
The only real alternative to a Wordpress blog; has all the usual blogging features (commenting, trackbacks) and more (geolocation tags, reblogging). If you already have a blog on Wordpress, Tumblr, Posterous or Blogger, you can even import it.
Visitor statistics
Inbuilt visitor analytics tool shows you some key stats. For more details you can set up Google Analytics.
Contact form yes Fully customizable contact form builder with lots of field options.
Password protection yes You can either protect the entire site or individual pages. More details here.
Newsletter tool no But they allow you to connect an existing Mailchimp account. This way you can collect your customers email addresses on the checkout page.
Add HTML code yes Enables other widgets and tools to be added.
Storage space 2 GB+ Standard plan: 2 GB storage, 500 GB bandwidth, Unlimited & Business plan: no limit.
Forum no In contrast to version 5, the latest release doesn't feature a forum.
Support yes 24/7 ticket system, live chat - The knowledge base is comprehensive. Their support is top of its class. Video tutorials are also available.
Fun Factor
Figuring out how the system works can take a while in the beginning but it's well worth it.
Overall Rating
4.2/5
Although not quite as easy to use as other website builders, it sets new standards for blogging, ecommerce and customization.

Conclusion

If you want to present your photography, design portfolio, or sell online, Squarespace could be the perfect solution for you. Also if you want to set up a blog, and are not really keen on fiddling around with a WordPress installation, it’s a great alternative.

As this platform was built from scratch in 2012, it incorporates some of the latest technologies. For example: their responsive templates that will automatically look nice on smartphones or tablets, no matter what screen size they have. Thanks to their mobile apps (iPhone, iPad and Android) you can also edit your site on the go. It will be exciting to see what the New Yorkers have in store for us in the future.

> Try Squarespace for yourself – 14-day free trial (no credit card required)

Tip: save 10% using our coupon code “WEBSITETOOLTESTER” when purchasing a paid plan. To learn how you can redeem it, please check this tutorial.

Squarespace Example Sites

Alternatives to Squarespace

Weebly
See review
Webnode
See review

FAQ about Squarespace

Is Squarespace secure? How much traffic does it support?

Squarespace uses SSL encryption in editing mode – a feature that sets it apart from most other tools. Both their Unlimited and Business plans support unlimited traffic and can handle tremendous amounts of concurrent website visitors. If you have used WordPress in the past you will probably appreciate this.

Will my Squarespace site work on an iPad or iPhone?

Yes, their layouts are responsive and will adapt to the screensize of your visitor’s device. They also offer mobile apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android that allow you to edit your site on the go.

Does Squarespace include email accounts?

No, you will have to set it up elsewhere. They recommend Google Apps. Alternatively you can purchase your domain name through a registrar like Go Daddy or Namecheap and let email run through them.

Can I create a members-only area?

You can set up password-protected pages on your website, although only a password is used (without a login name). More details.

Does Squarespace support 301 redirects?

Yes, you can set up URL mapping. If you are moving your site over from a previous system, you can redirect old URLs that would otherwise lead to an error page.

Can I use Disqus for comments on my blog?

Yes, Squarespace has a direct integration with Disqus.

Can I import my existing website or blog into Squarespace?

Yes, Squarespace supports imports from. WordPress, Tumblr, Squarespace 5, Blogger, Shopify, and Big Cartel. Squarespace also allows you to export your website.

Is there a discount available through Squarespace?

Absolutely! Save 10% using this voucher code for any paid package: WEBSITETOOLTESTER

Review Updates

31 Jan 2014 – Online store is available in all three plans.
20 Aug 2013 – The online store is now also available in the UK.
30 Mar 2013 – Video review of the online store added.
13 Feb 2013 – We added information about password protection.
20 Feb 2013 – Squarespace adds a shopping cart with their Business plan.
10 Oct 2012 – We’ve created a list of shopping cart options for Squarespace.
06 Aug 2012 – Initial tests of version 6.

Last updated: 31 Jan 2014 | Robert Brandl

Your opinion and user reviews:

 
  • Bobbi Meyer

    SquareSpace is good for people who don’t get frustrated easily, but still think SetMySite is the way to go if you just want it done for you. They’re not much more than SquareSpace and you don’t have to deal with any tech crap. Plus, at least for me, SquareSpace was not as easy as they make it out to be. The tools get choppy and it’s just confusing in general. It crashed three times when I was in the process of saving my website. So frustrating! I gave Wix a try but they were even worse. SetMySite is a better bet in my opinion if you just want it done and handled for you. And for those who insist on doing it themselves, WordPress is really the way to go.

  • Ant ST

    Do you think that squarespace would be good to launch my oersonal trainer compnay on? Bearing in mind that I have no experience in creating websites. Also how long do you think it would take to create a website on squarespace (roughly of course)? Any help would be very much appreciated.

    • http://www.tooltester.net/ Robert (Tooltester Network)

      Hi, thanks for your comment. If you are a beginner I would say that there are easier site builders like Weebly or Jimdo, for example. Squarespace does have a few neat little things like the blogging feature or their responsive templates that adapt dynamically to tablets and smartphones.
      But in the end it depends on your specific requirements. My suggestion for you would be to try out both Squarespace & Weebly and directly compare them. Feel free to also check out our ebook “Website Creation for Beginners”: http://www.websitetooltester.com/en/ebooks/website-creation-steps/ It’s free!

  • GPPNeil

    I’ve been with SS for 3 1/2 years now. Through V5 and almost a year at V6. I’m not particularly skilled at this, but I find SS very frustrating and buggy. Here are a few of the bugs:

    1. Comments are sketchy. Like, stupid sketchy. Especially when readers try to comment from smartphones (over 50% of my comments). Most get through. Some don’t. Many are told their comments are being “moderated.” I have the moderation setting off. When they alert me to their frustrations, I go hunting for their comment. Some are in the “unmoderated” Que. Others are just lost. When I switched to V6 I lost 1/3 of my readers within 2 months. They became frustrated with not being part of the community, or post results from workouts. To comment from a smart phone you must write your comment, then hit post. At this point, a new verification screen (who’s functions are cut in half) pops up. You must try to resize this screen to see what you are writing. After you resize it, you must use your phone in landscape mode to see what you wrote (name, email, etc) then turn it to portrait mode to enter and post. It’s NO BUENO. Most of my readers can’t figure it out. I tried to switch to disqus, but there is (almost) no way to retrieve past comments. My readers use the comments section as a logbook for their workouts. They search past performances to see if they are progressing. Disqus throws all past entries away. My clients would kill me. I’ve written many times to SS. They have given me several responses. a) it’s not an issue (I’m paraphrasing), your clients must be making it up (I even send them screenshots of complaints). b) it’s a known issue, we are working on it. c) we are escalating a ticket – then it’s back to a&b. Any helpful tips? I’m using the “Five” template. Would switching help?

    2. The search function is silly. You can search past articles. It will pull them up very well, but they are without dates. I post the same workout over and over. Maybe 4 times per year. When you search the title of the post (to check past performances), you have to guess which one you posted on. It usually takes a few tries if you don’t give up first. Is this a template issue?

    3. Text editing options are extremely limited. Want to change the font size, color, style? You have 3 options and you have to set them up from another part of the site. You can’t tell what they’ll look like until you post the article. If you don’t remember which is which, you’ll have to save the post, close it, move the style editor page and poke around a bit. Then close that page, reopen the post and start from there. Hopefully you still have your train of thought. It’s weird. I had more options for font styles using wordperfect 1995. Is this a template issue?

    I’m probably just doing something wrong, but I can’t figure out what it is. Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you for this blog.

    • http://www.tooltester.net/ Robert (Tooltester Network)

      Hi Neil, thank you for your feedback!
      1) To be honest, I wasn’t aware about the issue with mobile comments but now that we tried it ourselves I have to agree that this is not user-friendly at all if not completely useless. It’s very tedious to add your details to this pop-up on a smartphone as you can’t zoom in or out (I attached a screenshot for everyone to see the issue).
      2) I generally think their search function isn’t too bad but I have to agree that it needs a date for blog articles. Much like the Google-powered search box on our website.
      3) Being able to change fonts and font-sizes only in the styling part of your website editor is pretty common. You set everything in your CSS styles once, which makes it consistent throughout the whole site. So I don’t see a major issue here.
      I will contact Squarespace about your comment and ask them to post a reply here. The mobile issue in particular really needs to be addressed.

    • Sqspcc

      Hello Neil!

      Thank you for your feedback on this. We’re always working hard to improve our customer experience and we are currently looking into this mobile issue you mentioned. We’ll be touch directly with any developments. Thanks again for being a part of Squarespace!

  • John

    Having testing out Jimdo on their free trial, I eventually went with Squarespace. Jimdo is good, yet, I found the site somewhat basic and not fluid for my idea of building a website. I went with Squarespace because of the look and a certain attraction to the layout, along with the professionalism that I felt Squarespace offered.

    There is a learning curve with Squarespace and it’s not ‘plain sailing’ yet, like with anything, if you focus yourself and keep yourself open to learning than Squarespace will deliver a professional looking website.

    I have only just scratched the surface and will be building my website in the coming days and weeks. Thanks to Robert and Websitetooltester I was able to save 10% on my subscription with Squarespace, that in itself is a good deal.

    I like Robert and his team at Websitetooltester for they have given me valuable information that I’ve not found anywhere else. I will keep coming back to Websitetooltester, because I’m very confident that Robert & his team may be able to solve any issues I may have in the near future.

    I will also update at a later date to my own experiences in using Squarespace as I build my business website.

  • Vivia Horn

    This is my biggest problem with the SS, SquareSpace was not difficult for me to design, but I can’t stand to have @squarespace.com attatched to my web address. I have a commerce site with Yahoo (www.lipspeakstore.com), I am thinking redo it via SS. Few problems: 1) I don’t know how to point my domain name to SS. because I don’t want it be http://www.lipspeakstore@squarespace.com. 2) If there is no Paypal at SS that will be a problem, everyone use it.

    I do like that I can go to SS and change merchandise quantity, pricing… Is there someone out there has a Squarespace merchant site? Can you advise me on is it working for you? What are the unforeseen problems that you didn’t know before you sign on?

    Thanks,

    Vivia

  • http://www.tooltester.net/ Robert (Tooltester Network)

    Hi Vivia,

    1) Don’t worry, you can use your own domain name, no need to have the .squarespace.com extension. You can find the domain mapping instructions in our review under “Your own domain name”. If you are unsure how it works just as Squarespace’s support, they are usually very helpful.

    2) I know, Paypal should be added. You can check out the Weebly online store. They offer both credit card and Paypal intregration.

    I haven’t heard of any major problems with the Squarespace online store so far. You can start with a monthly subscription and see if it works for you. Also, they will extend your free trial beyond 14 days if you ask their support.