SquareSpace offer some of the hippest and slickest website builder solutions on the web. Their style is backed up by lots of integrations and capabilities including support for Apple Pay and free secure sockets layer (SSL) for every site built using their solutions. Through regular updates, SquareSpace have been improving their products and services making them more intuitive to use than before. Looking at the websites designed using SquareSpace, you can’t help it but appreciate the aesthetics and responsiveness.
An Overview of SquareSpace
Launched in 2003, SquareSpace is a simple, but intuitive drag and drop website builder focused on delivering highly polished, rich-imagery, and stunning experiences for users. Currently, they are servicing an active customer base of more than a million users and that tells you something about their popularity. This is because one of the reliable metrics or indicators to gauge how well a product or service is delivering results is by the number of paying customers on board.
If your business or website is design-oriented and you want to be at the forefront in crafting its look and feel, then SquareSpace gives you that ability. You can do a lot of tweaks to your design without touching the much-feared codes. Their team of over 670 talented individuals are always on standby to respond to your queries and sort you out just in case you get stuck.
In terms of regional presence, the company has put up offices in New York City, Portland, and Dublin. These spaces serve as collaborative working spaces as well as hubs for customer operation teams. Bringing services closer to the people is one of the key priorities at SquareSpace.
What Makes SquareSpace Website Building Solutions Unique
There are lots of aspects which make SquareSpace truly outstanding in the website building niche. Inasmuch as there are competitors such as Wix, Weebly, and Zoho battling it out in the same space, the company has an edge in the following areas.
Design and Editing Interface
Even though it is not the most intuitive, SquareSpace editing interface is undeniably elegant. Their latest version is a major improvement from their earlier offerings. Instead of a sidebar for elements, the interface has in place a dialogue box of content items which opens up the moment you click on a spot that accepts new elements on your page. Users new to SquareSpace, find this slightly disorienting at first, but with time they grow to love it. As you hover the cursor over a content block, you can either add or edit elements.
One of the very recent addition to the interface is the Starter Layouts. This feature presents you with prefab page layouts for pages such as Contact, About, and Team. Without any modifications, you can adopt these layouts and use them right away. Needless to say, this saves you time and the hassle of designing pages from scratch.
Website builders such as Wix give you a separate menu for navigation. SquareSpace on the other hand, allows you to seamlessly navigate your site through the navigation that appears on the preview itself. There is a wide array of page elements you can choose from. There is a specific one which lets you to enter a lightweight webpage-editing language known as Markdown. The usual elements for images, text, spacers, chats, buttons, galleries, and links are also present. There are 9 choices of page types you can directly add from the side menu panel which include cover page, album, blog, folder, gallery, products page, and even a blank page.
Working with Images
SquareSpace integrates an online photo editing tool known as Aviary which you can freely use to curate your uploaded images. More than this, the website builder allows you to search, preview, and even buy licenses that let you use Getty Images stock photography on your website. For test images, SquareSpace gives you a pretty reasonable licensing cost of $10.
There are two ways of adding a gallery on SquareSpace. You can add a customized gallery page or simply add a gallery to any existing page. The latter doesn’t give you the luxury of a customized gallery appearance which means you have to do the tweaking yourself.
Galleries on pages appear as carousels, slideshows, stacks, or grids. They also offer you behavior customization options such as transitions, title and descriptions whenever you hover a cursor over the image as well as a lightbox option. There is also a leeway to adjust spacing.
With SquareSpace, you can add any type of content to your blog post. An important feature SquareSpace have that some website builders such as 1&1 MyWebsite lack is the ability to save and schedule posts you want to publish later. The blog posts have heart icons for liking, share icons, and an interface for comments. Depending on your preferences, you may enable the RSS feed and use your email address to conveniently write new posts while away. Again, depending on what you want to achieve, you may consider setting up iTunes podcasting on your blogging platform.
Tutorials and Customer Support
SquareSpace has a live chat facility, comprehensive tutorials, and an email response turnaround of just an hour.
Their 24/7 support team handles over 500,000 chats and an average of 720,000 customer emails each year. Their rating based on customer satisfaction is well over 90%. Because of these incredible and outstanding efforts in customer support, the team has bagged 3 Stevie Awards. The 24/7 support is especially helpful if you are living in a different time zone from New York or if you are the kind of person who works in odd hours.
In addition to the customer support, the company has tutorial resources comprising video series which show you how to use their tools in a step-by-step instructional format. When learning how to use the basics of SquareSpace, you will undoubtedly find these resources immensely helpful. There are places you can fumble and get away with it, but online is sensitive and SquareSpace knows that pretty good. Their knowledgebase has tons of answers to questions you may have or those which others have asked before you. You will find screenshots, text, and video tutorials and this caters for people with different learning styles.
In this space, you can ask any question and other SquareSpace users or the support staff will respond to it. This is an awesome channel that lets users to troubleshoot and share experiences. Probably, the only area SquareSpace needs to work on is in grouping the forum answers together with the knowledgebase articles to allow for users to search both at the same time. If you can’t seem to find or get an answer for something you are looking for, email the support team and in under an hour, you will get a response.
SquareSpace Ecommerce Tools
The ecommerce options SquareSpace offers are more comprehensive and flexible than many other website builders. People interested in creating online stores here, have a wealth of ecommerce tools to choose from. You can sell anything and manage your inventory, print packing slips, process customer orders, and customize all your emails on the same platform. The handy settings allow you to quickly setup tax rules, multiple shipping methods, and lots of coupons.
Being a design-oriented website builder, SquareSpace has some of the most beautiful and amazing ecommerce ready templates. If you are a photographer, a designer, or just anyone who loves minimalistic and designer-looking websites, you will find that and many more here. But we all know that selling products online is much more than just having a pretty face. You need to give your customers enough reason why they should buy from you and not your next-door competitor.
The company gives its users the ability to manage and market their products through SquareSpace 6, a powerful architecture which integrates commerce solutions giving them amazing power and flexibility. The platform brings onboard a shopping cart designed from scratch to blend with your website. This is important because some online shop owners have had to plug in a shopping cart from a third party and at times this doesn’t blend well and may jeopardize your success.
Because your customers stay on your shop throughout the checkout process, they develop trust in you, your products and see you as legitimate. This also gives you an opportunity to influence their checkout experiences. Most third-party shopping carts require that your customer leaves your website and this may lead to cart abandonment.
The ecommerce solutions allow you to list unlimited products and have full control over the different variants such as color, size, weight, and other dimensions. This freedom to choose, create, and configure lets you sell any product you want while giving your customers a positive experience because of the wide portfolio to choose from. If you love selling digital products such as eBooks, music, photos, and downloads, you can do so comfortably on SquareSpace. Immediately your customers pay, the ecommerce solution delivers the products right away to them via download links which expire in 24 hours. This prevents people from sharing links with others.
The other interesting bits with the ecommerce platform at SquareSpace are; the ability to create different shipping options for customers, configuration of sales taxes, and automated sales confirmation emails informing your customer that they have made a purchase. To expand your selling horizon, your customers can pay via PayPal and Apple Pay.
SquareSpace Search Engine Optimization
Content which is not optimized for search engines can be likened to dumped content somewhere in a corner on the web. SquareSpace website builder allows you to do lots of things around SEO which cover practically the basic functions. You can edit and customize title tag and meta tag descriptions for your entire site as well as on a per page basis. The pages the website builder produces have clean HTML markup and this gives search engines an easy time during indexing.
Compared to their competitors, this website builder enables you to customize your webpage URL and this is another major boost to search engine optimization.
Not everyone online gives you the luxury of creating a sitemap for your website. SquareSpace is different, they automatically create a sitemap for your website which you can then submit to Google. Through the sitemap, Google bots know where to crawl and index.
Data analytics is another prime solution you will get on this platform. The reason you are going online is so that you can give your customers and prospects an environment through which they can interact with you and your products. The only way to know whether this is happening and to what degree is by looking at the traffic statistics. SquareSpace gives you an interactive dashboard populated with real time analytics to help you track traffic on an hourly, daily, weekly, and even monthly basis. The analytics in addition to lots of other insights will tell you the section of your visitors who used mobile devices to access your site, the most popular content on your site, and the referral points for the visitors who came to your website.
To supplement the amazing job of SquareSpace tracking tool, you can insert Google Analytics. It is recommended that you use both of them because of the different data dimensions they capture.
Integrated Hosting and Content Export Solution
SquareSpace is an all-under-one roof platform that takes care of your hosting and other technical needs you may have. This gives you the space to focus on building your website and other important aspects such as marketing without worrying about the uptime of your website. From time to time, SquareSpace upgrades the security on their servers and handle all the other technical details to give you the benefit of an up and running, hacker-proof website on a fully managed hosting solution.
There is a unique feature with SquareSpace which lets you export certain content to a .xml file right from your site. This is particularly important when you want to export to another platform such as WordPress. The type of content you can export include basic pages, gallery pages, text blocks, image blocks, and comments. That said, there are certain types of content you cannot expert and this includes folders, product pages, index pages, cover pages, event pages, video blocks, audio blocks, product blocks, style changes, drafts, and custom CSS.
What the export functionality tells you is that SquareSpace won’t hold your website hostage and if you feel that moving on is the right decision, you can do so anytime you wish. With this kind of confidence, users tend to stay on this platform for quite a while.
Template Design Options
The design templates at SquareSpace are heads and shoulders above competition. They are high end, clean, and look expensive. Some users have criticized them for not having hundreds of templates like other website builders, but looking at the quality of what they have, it is clear they gave a ton of thought and heavily invested time in every template they rolled out.
The total number of designer templates currently on the platform is 40. The templates are targeted at different industries including portfolio, business, online stores, restaurants, musicians, weddings, and personal websites. On top of this, SquareSpace gives you cover pages which can potentially take your website to another level of sophistication. You can simply pick a cover page and create a standalone, one pager website, or bring in other templates to give your website that advanced look and feel. There is a total of 26 cover page designs to choose from.
If you know a bit of code or you are adventurous enough to give it a try, SquareSpace unselfishly allows you to edit the CSS so as to advance the style on your website. Anytime you feel like going back to the original codes, you can seamlessly do so.
The mobile template preview function gives you an opportunity to see how the template will appear on mobile. This is a firsthand experience from the perspective of your mobile users so that you do not blindly design a dysfunctional website that only caters for your desktop customers. In case you want to know out of curiosity how other users out there are interacting with the different square piece templates, the company gives you an opportunity to look at some of the best live sites. Every template has a user guide to walk you through and show you how to style and customize for the best results.
SquareSpace unlike Wix and Weebly doesn’t offer you a long-term free account, but it gives you a 2 weeks free trial. Accounts begin at $12 per month, a rate you pay for annual billing for a site that has 20 pages and below. However, for a high-power commerce site with real-time shipping integration and unlimited bandwidth, they charge you $40 per month. Below is a comprehensive analysis of SquareSpace solutions.
Personal Websites – If billed annually, you will be charged $12 per month, but if billed on a month-to-month basis, you will pay $16. These sites come with:
- Full mobile optimization
- Website analytics
- A free custom domain
- Socket security layer
- 24/7 customer support
- Fully integrated ecommerce
- 3% sales transaction fee
Business Websites – These are charged $18 a month if billed annually, but $26 a month if billed on a month-to-month basis. In addition to the features that come with a personal website, you get:
- Professional Google email
- Google Ad Words credit worth $100
- Promotional pop-ups
Instead of the 3% sales transaction fee, the business website solution only charges you 2%.
Basic Online Stores – To access this solution, it will cost you $26 per month when billed annually and $30 when billed on a month-to-month basis. The features you get include:
- The ability to sell unlimited products
- Nil transaction fees
- A complete website with blogs and galleries integrated
- Mobile-optimized and an in-house SquareSpace checkout
- Free custom domain
- Socket security layer
- 24/7 customer support
- Commerce analytics
- Google-powered professional email
- Ad Words credit worth $100
- Promotional pop-ups
- Unlimited bandwidth and storage
- Order management, inventory management, tax and sales discount capabilities
- Label printing through Shipstations
- Xero integrated accounting system
Advanced Online Stores Solution – This is the ultimate plan for people who want to engage full-scale in ecommerce. It comes with lots of features to give you a seamless online trading environment. The cost is $40 per month if it is billed annually and $46 if the billing is on a month-to-month basis. In addition to the features found in the basic plan, the advanced solution has:
- Real-time carrier shipping – The platform calculates for you the real-time shipping rates for UPS, USPS, and FedEx.
- Automatic discounts – You can offer discounts without using codes to qualifying orders
- Checkout on your domain – Instead of using secure.squarespace.com, your customers can use your domain for a secure checkout.
- Abandoned checkout auto recovery – The system will send out automated emails to remind customers that they abandoned their purchases before checkout. This improves sales.
The Bottom Line
Apart from the fact that SquareSpace are a little bit more restrictive in their templates, lack third-party widget market place, and have no free level save for the 2 weeks trial period, they have everything a beginner needs to start off and operate a successful business. The mobile-friendliness that come with the sites designed on SquareSpace makes it a breeze for shoppers on mobile to interact with your store. Through this website builder, you can easily customize your website, add all the stylish features so that it can be attractive to your target customers. The ecommerce functionalities are excellent and this offers a clear advantage for sellers who start off on SquareSpace. When compared head-to-head with their competitors, SquareSpace stand tall in the manner in which they stage their products with perfection. Everything looks fresh, cool, and impeccable!
SquareSpace is an intuitive website builder with lots of features which allow you to design and edit as well as work with images to come up with a professionally done website. They have a variety of pre-designed templates that you can easily customize to suit your preferences. their pricing is far much affordable compared to the feature they are giving you.
- Beautiful responsive designs
- Powerful website-building tools and lots of options
- Free SSL certificate
- Great analytics tools
- Professional eCommerce solutions
- Fewer and restrictive templates
- No free entry level
- No third party widget marketplace
- Very little mobile customization