When I was engaged, I was stoked to create our wedding website. I was going to start from scratch and create a modern, sophisticated masterpiece with nothing but my keyboard and a few hundred lines of code. Unsurprisingly, I backed off these ideas as wedding planning started to take over my life: What’s the harm in saving time by using a template? This plugin would save a lot of work, and so on.
In the end, we had a beautiful, functional website. Although my developer pride was a little bruised, I was grateful for the help and simplicity of tools that would do the work for me. Whether you’re experienced running a website or just getting started, site builders, such as Squarespace, can help you get online in a fraction of the time.
Put simply, Squarespace is a website for building websites. After signing up, you can build your own website using customizable templates in a drag-and-drop website builder environment.
1. How Do We Rate Squarespace Overall? 4.5/5.0
Launched in 2004, Squarespace has grown into one of the most popular website creators for sharing creativity and ideas. The platform powers millions of websites and is great for visually minded beginners, but a few limitations keep us from giving Squarespace the highest marks.
Site Building: Their Templates are Awesome, but the Cost is Too High
With a slogan of “Build it Beautiful,” Squarespace is known for well-designed templates. They only offer about 60 options — dozens fewer than other website builder options — but Squarespace is the cream of the crop when it comes to carefully polished and crafted website themes. The issue, however, is the $12-per-month price tag and being restricted to only 20 pages for your site. For as little as $2 per month, you can have a comparable builder platform, more templates, and an unlimited-everything shared hosting plan.
eCommerce: Selling is Simple, but Their Marketing Tools are Limited
Selling products from your Squarespace site without adding plugins or new programs is nice, but the eCommerce tools wilt next to the robust functionality of platforms like Shopify. For starters, Squarespace eCommerce options are only supported in the US, UK, Canada, and Ireland. Squarespace will help you with inventory, orders, taxes, discounts, and accounting, but only accepts payments through Stripe. The functionality is technically there, but most store owners will be better served with a dedicated eCommerce platform added to their hosting account.
Blogging: You’ll Love Your Blog’s Look, but Better Blog Hosts Exist
Like eCommerce, blogging on Squarespace can be done — in a simple, perhaps too simple way. Squarespace excels in usability, offering a publishing platform with which even the earliest of beginners can excel. Coupled with beautiful templates and adjustable content blocks, Squarespace blogs look great. However, we miss being being able to toggle between visual and HTML modes or previewing what our post will look like, as you can on so many other platforms.
Mobile: Can Be Done, but You Must Get Familiar With Developer Mode
All of the Squarespace templates are responsive, meaning your content will scale and reorganize to fit whatever device your visitors use to look at your site. That Squarespace templates take care of mobile optimization automatically is a boon for beginners, but we found it a little hard to manage as you replace the provided template images with your own. You won’t have total control without knowing a little bit of coding.
2. Is Squarespace Free? (Trial or Forever)
Squarespace does not have a free option, but they do have a 14-day free trial — enough time to see if the features match your expectations and needs, but Squarespace will inevitably slap on a relatively hefty price tag. An annual plan costs upward of $12/month, which is pretty steep for shared hosting. With many hosts including top-notch website builders for free, we’re not sure Squarespace is worth sacrificing the options available with more complete hosting plans.
3. Should I Use Squarespace or Wix or Weebly or WordPress?
The Squarespace site builder comes packaged with a blogging platform, content management system, and hosting — unlike other builders, you can’t add Squarespace to your existing hosting account. We compared Squarespace to other popular website builders to see how the features and flexibility impact customers.
Our Favorite: Weebly
Although all website builders are inherently easy to use (or at least should be), Weebly’s interface is hands-down the most accessible. Balancing a bevy of customizable options with drag-and-drop simplicity, Weebly users won’t get overwhelmed by the rich collection of available features. When it comes to high-value shared hosting with Weebly, look no farther than iPage — for around $2 each month, you’ll get unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and other perks that make building a site a breeze.
- Choice of Weebly or WebsiteBuilder by iPage
- #1 Pick for WYSIWYG site building with FREE domain
- 100s of professionally designed, customizable themes
|Money Back Guarantee||30 days|
|Disk Space||100 GB - Unlimited|
|Domain Name||FREE (1 year)|
|Website Builder Hosting Plans||www.ipage.com/site-builder|
Our Expert's iPage Review
Do you want your website built today? If you answered "yes," you should look no further than iPage. In fact, it's possible for you to be online before you even finish reading this article. Thanks to iPage's user-friendly interface, instant provisioning, and free domain name, you can have a live, attractive website in mere minutes.
For those that have been around the Web for a while, you may remember when it took a day to get your server online; thankfully those days are gone. Your site is live the second you complete your order with iPage. A domain name is also included, so the ordeal of purchasing a domain name, setting name servers, and waiting for them to propagate is also extinct. Once that's completed, you are taken to the incredibly user-friendly interface, where you can begin your site creation process.
Powered by their own proprietary builder, iPage's WebsiteBuilder makes it easy to have a professional-looking site created in minutes. It all starts with your choice of template — with hundreds of options available. From there, you can customize color schemes, fonts, and sizes, and add your own pictures and videos. Adding forms for comments, RSVPs, or business contacts is just as simple. Before you know it, you have an attractive, functional website.
From the ease of use to the speed at which you are able to get a site live, iPage leaves us with little doubt as to why we've ranked them #1 on our list of web hosts with site builder functionality. An already incredible value, their 30-day money-back guarantee means that you can feel at ease knowing that iPage stands behind its product, and they're confident that you will be happy with their service.collapse info -
Runner Up: WordPress
Sure, WordPress isn’t technically a site builder — but we love the world’s most popular content management system too much to let semantics get in the way. The free platform is available through 1-click installations on practically every hosting plan and opens the door to millions of themes and plugins. WordPress has a bit of a learning curve for those just getting started, but you can rely on a passionate, worldwide community of support.
- WordPress pre-installed
- FREE SSL certificate and unlimited bandwidth
- FREE domain, site transfers, and data backups
|Money Back Guarantee||90 days|
|Domain Name||FREE (1 year)|
|WordPress Hosting Plans||www.inmotionhosting.com/wordpress|
Our Expert's InMotion Review
InMotion, long known for their shared hosting options, entered the WordPress space with a solid option built upon their reputation for great support and reliability. Costing a small premium over other budget-minded options, they do include some nice features to help justify that cost difference.
Build on an all-SSD infrastructure, their speeds are very good. We would have loved to see options like integrated staging and caching included in order to help take full advantage of the nice, modern hardware. The choice of datacenters (East or West) is nice however, as it allows you to target your local audience with better load times.
InMotion offers three different levels to their WordPress hosting offerings, which allows you to tailor the hosting to your needs or budget. For those needing eCommerce support, their middle or top offerings have you covered. Their top offering also allows unlimited installs for WordPress, which is great to see.
Each hosting package they offer comes with a free domain, unlimited disk space, unlimited emails, and free data backups for data security. If you need it, each plan also has support for PHP, Ruby, Perl, and Python, and includes SSH access.
InMotion Hosting has made a name for itself on support and reliability. While not the cheapest of the budget WordPress hosts out there, the packages offered are solid in performance and feature sets.collapse info -
A Fair Option: Wix
We love Wix templates, which strike the balance between the strong designs of Squarespace with the hundreds of options you can find through other builders. However, you’ll run into the same limitations as Squarespace since you can only use the Wix builder on their hosting subscription terms. At least the price tag is much more reasonable — plans range from roughly $4 per month for the most basic sites and top out at $25 monthly for VIP treatment and features.
- FREE signup with email or Facebook
- Drag-and-drop designing is super easy
- 1-year domain free with most plans
|Money Back Guarantee||14 days|
|Disk Space||500 MB - 20 GB|
|Best Overall Hosting Plans||www.wix.com|
Our Expert's Wix Review
As a web builder, Wix is an industry leader when it comes to ease of use, setup time, and available features. The browser-based, WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) site-building service is hands down one of the foremost brands in this industry niche, and that's not without just cause.
Getting started and familiar with the platform is a straightforward process, and the resulting websites you can build are in keeping with industry standards, as far as design and customization go. While you're not going to get the same level of support as you would from a leading web hosting service, the feature set available and included in this free service is a pretty exhaustive list. All it takes to sign up — and said signup is free — is an email or a Facebook account.
Once you're in, you can preview thousands of templates, which are all broken up into categories and then further classified by design or industry type. For example, choose the Online Store category with the Clothing & Accessories subcategory to start selling your custom-printed t-shirts. Your garage band can showcase your latest performances and let family and friends know of upcoming shows by utilizing the Music and Band categories. You can browse the most popular templates and check out the newest additions.
Once you've made your pick, you may feel a tad overwhelmed at the interface — but that's only because the functionality exceeds that of your typical drag-and-drop builder. You can manipulate and edit virtually any facet of your new website, until it perfectly matches the picture in your head.
Finally, get your finished creation noticed by search engines (and the millions of web surfers that they send to websites) using the Wix SEO Wizard. Just tell the Wizard the words or phrases you want people to search for and find your site, and Wix will spit back out a full SEO report — so you know where you stand in terms of relevant visitors being sent to your site. Wix premium plan customers can also benefit from $300-worth of search engine advertising credits, upping the chances of increased site visitors.
Anyone in any field could find themselves wanting a website at some point in their career or personal life. Whether you're a stay-at-home mom with a creative writing habit to share or a serial entrepreneur ready to profit from your next great idea, you don't want building your own website from scratch to be a strain — on your wallet, your time, or your brain. With Wix, you can be your own web designer, developer, and marketer. The interface is easy to use and the end designs are up to snuff with industry standards. When it comes to code-free website building, Wix is a leader and an innovator.collapse info -
For Basic Sites: Squarespace
If you’re really intimidated by entering the hosting world, Squarespace gives you a 1-stop solution with minimal interactions with the technical side of things. Your site doesn’t have to suffer because you want simplicity — Squarespace designs and functionality will give your portfolio, business, or blog an impressive, professional appearance with minimal hosting know-how. Words, images, and other content are contained in blocks that can be easily arranged in any configuration.
4. How Does Squarespace Customer Support Compare to Competitors?
Unlike so many browser-based website builders, Squarespace actually does a pretty good job at onboarding and supporting their users. Like many hosting companies, Squarespace has a support team who is available 24/7 by live chat or email, and they will respond to your email within the hour. Their online help center includes dozens of guides, video tutorials, and links to online webinars and in-person workshops.
Nothing, however, compares to the dedicated support teams behind self-hosted options. Instead of concentrating their efforts on a single product, such as a website builder, hosting providers have more resources to spend on upgrading infrastructure and cultivating a team of experts to assist customers. SiteGround is our Best 24/7 Support award winner and carries a stellar reputation.
- FREE site transfer or new site setup with 1-click install
- FREE automated daily backups, CDN, email, and SSL
- 24/7 expert support with no wait time on phone or live chat
|Money Back Guarantee||30 days|
|Disk Space||10 GB - 30 GB|
|Domain Name||New or Transfer|
|Best Overall Hosting Plans||www.siteground.com|
Our Expert's SiteGround Review
With an impressive breadth of overall hosting services offered, SiteGround is a leading innovator in the hosting space — from custom software solutions to premier customer support. They offer the full range of web hosting features, including a free Cloudflare CDN, cPanel with SSH access, and unlimited MySQL databases and bandwidth — not to mention their prize-worthy customer support.
Tech Talk with Tenko Nikolov (CEO) & Ivo Tzenov (Founder)
We got a chance to sit down with both the CEO, Tenko Nikolov, and Founder of SiteGround, Ivo Tzenov, to discuss the technology behind some of their incredible innovations. They gave us the inside scoop on SiteGround's features, and took us through the solutions they've engineered to enhance the user experience.
Custom-Built Customer Service: Chat and ticketing systems
What's SiteGround's strongest "pull" factor, you ask? Well, customer service has been their claim to fame, without a doubt. However, customers come to SiteGround for the support, only to be blown away by the custom solutions they've built to make the hosting experience as stress-free as possible.
SiteGround has engineered an in-house chat software that allows users to select and rate thoroughly vetted customer service agents with whom they've worked previously. They've written their own ticketing system as well, which is comprised of an algorithm designed to select appropriate technical support representatives for specific tasks.
In-House Solutions: Shared, WordPress, Cloud, & Dedicated
They've taken their preference for in-house software solutions for customer support and applied it to their entire business. "All of our infrastructure and all of our code beds are done internally," Tenko said.
For their shared hosting service, they've conceived a one-of-a-kind server isolation system that prevents vulnerable servers from taking down entire networks. In place of VPS hosting, they've built their own cloud container platform, featuring thousands of containers and top-notch scalability and security. All SiteGround hosting service users benefit from their unique downtime prevention mechanism, which has helped SiteGround develop their reputation for uptime rates: 99.996% annually and 99.999% monthly.
Other Unique Perks: SuperCacher and In-House Backups
In the cases of caching and backups, customers have access to SiteGround's in-house SuperCacher, with a flexible range of options to meet any and all page load needs at optimum speeds. Their custom backup software improves upon technology off the shelf, which often takes up to a day to run. Instead, SiteGround customers receive daily backups from a system that only takes about an hour.
Final Word: Unmatched User Experience with SiteGround
SiteGround is, without a doubt, an esteemed leader in customer service within the hosting industry. They've emphasized that commitment to quality with the unique, custom solutions they've built. On the development side, they devote a tremendous amount of time to UX testing, epitomizing their commitment to the user experience.collapse info -
5. Are You Ready for Real Hosting? Cancel Squarespace Anytime
Once you get comfortable with Squarespace, you’ll probably find how the feature limitations will restrict your site or creativity. Canceling your Squarespace subscription can be a challenge, but you can access your cancellation options by going to the Settings menu and clicking:
- Billing & Account
From there, you can either uncheck the auto-renew option or click the Cancel Website Subscription button. If you have separate subscriptions for your domain name or emails, you will have to cancel them manually.
A shared hosting plan is the natural next step for your website, and even low-budget plans will include more computing power and intuitive tools for eCommerce, site building, analytics, email, and security than one-size-fits-all site builders. When you’re ready to sign up for big-girl web hosting, consider checking out our recommendations for hosts with the best website builders.