Platform, Market Share
- WordPress, 39%
- Shopify, 3.1%
- Wix, 1.5%
- Squarespace, 1.4%
- Bitrix, 1.0%
Sure, Squarespace websites can look clean and pretty, but you need more than that to survive in today’s competitive online world.
We’ll dive into all the reasons we think Squarespace is all too often a lousy idea. These aren’t just based on our opinions, mind you. They’re based on our personal experience with the platform versus other content management systems.
And we promise that a whole bunch of other web designers and marketers feel the same way we do (just Google “problems with Squarespace” for proof).
- 1 What is Squarespace?
- 2 Why Shouldn’t I Build My Website on Squarespace?
- 3 What Should I Use Instead?
- 4 When You Should Consider Using Squarespace
- 5 Squarespace is Dead. Long Live WordPress!
What is Squarespace?
Squarespace is a platform designed to help users, primarily small businesses, build websites quickly and easily. You don’t have any web design or coding skills, you say? Not a problem. You don’t need many skills to set up and edit a site on this CMS – complete with ecommerce features and analytics.
Grab a template from the library and pop in your logo, images, and copy. Voila! You’ll have your website set up in no time – hosted on Squarespace itself. And you’ll only be out like 30 or 45 buckeroos.
Just don’t try to get too creative in there. Because you can’t.
Why Shouldn’t I Build My Website on Squarespace?
Squarespace isn’t all bad by any means. We don’t mean to paint a terribly bleak picture of the platform on here. We just don’t recommend using it if you want to create a unique website for your serious, established business – especially if you care about SEO and intend to use your website to its full potential.
Well, we don’t mean to be sarcastic either (maybe a little). If you scroll to the bottom, though, you’ll see a list of scenarios where we encourage you to use Squarespace. Really!
But first, we’re going to dive into the negative side of things. Negatives can be viewed as positives, though, in the right light. Sometimes…
1. Speed (or Lack Thereof)
Squarespace websites aren’t as fast as they could be. That’s because when you use a pre-built template, you’ll have unnecessary scripts loaded into your website, bogging it down. This is particularly true for ecommerce sites that require extra functionality.
If you have a more extensive website, lots of images, loads of fonts, or special functionality, your site can become bloated and slow. Even if your website is small and simple and you use one of Squarespace’s templates, it could still be slower than you want and lead to a poor user experience.
Squarespace automatically assigns you a “built-in” domain when you sign up for a website (www.exampleurl.squarespace.com). Then you can go in and create a custom domain (www.exampleurl.com).
Sounds great, right? The truth is, this can create a pretty serious problem. When you switch to a custom domain, Squarespace creates a duplicate of your website. Duplicate content = bad. We all know this.
Fortunately, Google will tag your custom domain as the preferred domain. Unfortunately, your “unpreferable” domain could still show up in search results, sometimes instead of your custom domain. You’re already competing with millions of other websites. Now you have to compete with yourself, too.
3. Little Control
The whole point of Squarespace is to help you build a basic website. Emphasis on BASIC. Going in, you need to know that you won’t have many options as far as functionality is concerned. Your customization options are minimal as well.
You may be able to mess with the code a teensy bit under specific plans. But if you need help along the way, you may not get it from the Squarespace support team because it’ll be considered an “advanced modification.”
On the positive side, many of the templates are attractive and modern. But a lot of them look pretty similar, which means your website will look like other Squarespace sites out there. You won’t be unique.
4. Bad SEO Settings (Like, Really Bad)
One of the main reasons you’re building a website is to attract an online audience and generate quality leads, right? Then SEO should be at the top of your priorities list.
Website builders using pre-built templates often write source code poorly. It can lack essential elements that allow your site to rank well on Google and other search engines. Not all templates are built this way, but many are.
Some templates also lack page hierarchy in terms of headings and subheadings, which are essential to optimize your site for search successfully. Some don’t even have built-in H1 tags or proper schema markup. That’s not a good foundation to build a business on.
5. Lack of Ownership
With Squarespace, you don’t own your website. Not really. If you stop making payments, you lose access. This lack of control scares many businesses away from this type of platform.
It’s also vital for business websites to migrate smoothly from one platform to another if necessary. Let’s say your hosting provider suddenly skyrockets its pricing, and you want to switch to something more affordable.
With Squarespace, you don’t have that option. Like we mentioned already, Squarespace is your host. You can export your content, but that’s about it. Your design, functionality, formatting, layouts, etc., will all be gone.
Woosh. Just like that, you’re almost starting back at ground zero.
Squarespace allows you to add multiple blogs to your website if you want, along with many other features other platforms provide. However, keep in mind that it doesn’t allow you to archive old versions of blog posts.
There’s no autosave feature, either. If you want to edit a blog post that’s already published, you don’t have the option of working on a draft version. You have to update the live post.
Squarespace is definitely more appropriate for smaller sites than large ones. Part of that is due to its navigation limits. You can only have up to two navigation levels (or one sub-navigation), and you can’t click on parent pages with dropdown menus containing subpages (unless you manually update the code).
8. No Autosave Function
Autosave isn’t a thing in Squarespace, so if you forget to push the magic save button, you could lose hours of work. As they say, it only needs to happen once, and you’ll never forget again. Well, on other platforms, you don’t have to worry about it at all.
What Should I Use Instead?
We recommend an open-source company (versus a private one) like WordPress. Squarespace is closed source – or proprietary – meaning only their in-house team can access or alter their software. Open-source software is open to the public, so it’s continually updated and improved.
WordPress now powers 39% of the internet and is by far the largest CMS in the world. It offers you much more control, customization options, and support. Check out our last article for a deep dive into what WordPress has to offer businesses of all shapes and sizes.
If you want to build an ecommerce business, consider Shopify – especially if you’re planning to grow a lot in the future. Shopify is built specifically for selling products online. It’s user friendly, easy to set up, and has an excellent support team to help you solve any problems you face. It does a pretty dope job of powering over one million businesses in 175+ countries around the globe, too.
When You Should Consider Using Squarespace
Okay, we promised we’d offer you some instances when it’s okay – even a great idea – to use Squarespace. If you fall into any of these categories, go ahead and give it a shot!
- Your website is for personal use only.
- You have a hobby blog.
- You’re a freelancer who needs a simple website.
- You own a micro business.
- You need a slick portfolio with basic functionality.
Squarespace is Dead. Long Live WordPress!
Maybe that’s taking it a step too far… Squarespace is still alive and kickin’. But here at Fingerprint Marketing, we only build custom WordPress websites, because that’s what keeps our clients happy and their businesses healthy.
We’re a Seattle-based web design and digital marketing agency. If you’re interested in building a custom website for your unique business, we’d love to work with you. Our lovely team of designers, developers, writers, and strategists can’t wait to bring your once and future king, excuse me, dreams to life.
Ready to chat with the team? Schedule a short discovery call with us!