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
- Mobile-optimized options and easy-to-use setup wizards
- 100s of professionally designed, customizable themes
- FREE online store, shopping cart, and blogging platform
- Get +75% off your first month
- Get started on iPage now.
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 with NGINX and PHP 7
- FREE SSL certificate and unlimited bandwidth
- Optional automatic plugin, theme, and core updates
- Features a FREE drag-and-drop WP page editor
- Premium themes and plugin subscriptions
- Get started on InMotion now.
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
- Up to $300-worth of ad credits
- Access to 1,000s of templates and additional tools in the App Market
- Get started on Wix now.
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 chat
- Recommended by WordPress as a top WordPress host
- Ideal for business email hosting, with 99.9% uptime
- Get started on SiteGround now.
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.