Squarespace Website Builder Review: Most Beautiful Templates 2022?
How many times have you visited a site and thought "Oh, they must have used Squarespace!"? Pages created using the New York-based website builder have a very unique look: elegant, clean, perhaps even sterile, but unmistakably Squarespace. The style is so popular that some of its competitors have tried imitating it, albeit with varying degrees of success. We'll look at whether Squarespace is all show, or if there's substance beyond the hype.
What Is Squarespace?
Squarespace is a website builder and e-commerce platform that makes creating a website or online store simple, even without any programming experience. Founded as a blog service in 2004 by Anthony Casalena (who was a student at the time), Squarespace has grown into one of the most popular site-building tools out there, launching an IPO in 2021.
So far as appearances are concerned, Squarespace seems to be a classic American success story, however, glory has a notorious tendency to fade quickly. For that reason, and to provide the best assessment of the platform possible, we've examined it here.
Pros and Cons
Easy to use
Good help center and customer support via live chat
Lacking a true app marketplace, few extensions available
Comparably expensive subscription prices, no full free version
Templates too similar to one another
Configuration and Usability
Squarespace doesn't offer a free version of its platform, however, users can try it for two weeks at no charge. Prior to selecting a template, you'll need to answer a few questions pertaining to your project, such as your website's subject area and purpose.
After that, choose a template from one of the topics and types. The former include "Professional Services" and "Entertainment", while "Online Store", "Portfolio", Memberships", "Blog", "Scheduling", and "One Page" are the options for the latter.
By answering a few questions, you'll help Squarespace suggest suitable design templates for your website or store.
You'll only have to create a Squarespace account after selecting a design template (which will be automatically filled with demo content). Once you've given your website a name, a brief tutorial walks you through the basics of using the platform.
Name your website.
By the time you gain access to Squarespace's editor, the platform will have already created a fully functional website for you, which you'll only have to fill with content.
The user dashboard is divided into two halves: To the left is the navigation menu, through which you can access the page menu and design options, as well as settings for the e-commerce, marketing, and statistic sections. To the right, a preview of your finished homepage is displayed, which you can edit directly in the window by clicking on the "Edit" button in the upper left.
By the time you get to your website's dashboard, all you have to do is load it with unique content.
Building block by block
If you move your cursor over a section, a menu bar opens, with which you can copy, move, delete, or format the entire section. Between sections, you'll notice an "Add section" button, which is used to insert new content blocks. These are separated into clear categories (contact forms, newsletters, calendars, or simple image galleries) and leave little to be desired.
You can fill your website with content by adding sections to it.
To make more significant alterations to your website, such as how its menus are structured, you'll need to go up to the page administration level. By clicking on "Pages", you'll be able to edit menus and add new sub-pages. For the latter, you can select from blank pages, layouts, or ready-made ones like a blog or a store.
You can specify how many and what kind of sub-pages your website should have.
We liked how Squarespace divides functions and tools between its dashboard and editor. In the former, you can make more wide-ranging changes to your website and consult a live, fully-functional preview of it. In the latter, you're given the ability to make adjustments to individual pages or elements.
Even though you're afforded less drag and drop freedom than with Wix and have to work within rather constrained templates, it's possible to thoroughly modify a website without giving up any of that Squarespace 'elegance'. The smart editor plays a major role in this, ensuring that all images and content blocks are aesthetically formatted and neatly aligned.
Build on the go with the mobile app
Those who enjoy site-building or tinkering on the go, or who want to keep an eye on things at all times, can download the smartphone app from Squarespace. With it, you're able to stay up-to-date on your orders and visitors. In addition, it's possible to open the editor and update your site from anywhere.
You can manage your website from anywhere with Squarespace's mobile app.
Score: 5 / 5
Squarespace's user-friendliness is in large part attributable to its editor being a closed system. This all-in-one approach means that you're provided with everything you need (according to Squarespace), and as such, shouldn't need any third-party integrations.
As of the time of writing, Squarespace continues to lack a true app market, such as that which is essentially a part of Wix's editor. At the same time, since 2019, third-party apps have been offered as so-called "Extensions", which pertain in large part to e-commerce, providing assistance in order management, rebates, and dropshipping.
With Squarespace's "Extensions", it's possible to integrate some third-party apps into your website.
To add a third-party app to your website, select one from the list of "Extensions" and click on the "Connect to Site" button. In comparison to most of Squarespace's competitors, the variety of apps available is underwhelming and their integration isn't anywhere near as seamless.
Decent features even without an app market
As surprising as it may seem, the lack of an app center doesn't actually detract too much from Squarespace, since its feature package is well-developed and robust. This starts with its content blocks, which, although being more limited in scope than those of Wix, for example, are perfectly sufficient to meet the needs of most users. In addition to the usual types of blocks, there are also some for specific businesses, such as restaurant menus.
Squarespace offers quite a nice selection of ready-made content types, such as restaurant menus, team sections, or appointment booking.
Good blogging platform with few downsides
With Squarespace, blog management is divided between two levels: Blog pages (i.e. the landing page of your blog) and individual blog entries. You can add a blog page to your website through the main navigation menu to the left of the editor. Clicking on this will take you to the blog menu, where you can create new entries or edit existing ones.
Blog entries are chronologically sorted, with an integrated search also provided.
In the blog editor, you'll find all of the usual features: You can add text, images, videos, as well as integrate ready-made content blocks. It's possible to save drafts and schedule the publication of your posts. The only shortcomings we noticed were that progress isn't automatically saved in the blog editor and changes to already-published entries can't be saved as drafts, but need to be directly published.
Clicking on the kebab or three-dot menu allows you to access additional settings for your blog entries. Here, you're provided with a number of other options, such as configuring search engine optimization (SEO), adding authors, and linking entries to social media channels. Squarespace also supports geo-tagging and user-defined URLs. Beware though, switching to HTML mode isn't possible, and you will have to make do without previewing your blog entry.
Another nice feature is the ability to add tags and categories to entries.
Under blog settings, you can toggle comments on or off for each entry.
Taken together, Squarespace provides a nice range of features for amateur bloggers or enthusiasts. Only professional bloggers are likely to miss a feature or two here and there.
A sizable selection of media with stock image integrations
Should you want to adorn your website with visual content, you can thanks to the stock photo integrations from Unsplash and Getty Images, both of which offer free and paid content. To peruse their offerings, click on "Search Agency Images" in the upload menu. Unfortunately, the search is less accurate than if you undertook your efforts on each agency's database, however, the integration is nifty.
To provide users with stock photos, Squarespace has partnered with Unsplash and Getty Images.
Creating websites in more than one language is possible, however, Squarespace makes doing so more complicated than necessary, showcasing a weakness when set alongside how its competitors handle this issue. Instead of being able to add languages in a dedicated menu, you need to insert each language as a folder in the navigation menu, and then include pages, filling them with the desired content.
Should this be too tedious, you can resort to third-party tools like Weglot, however, other site builders from our sample provide more elegant and integrated solutions for creating multiple language localizations of a website.
Although Squarespace doesn't have an app center comparable to those of its competitors, owing to the variety of features that the service offers, this isn't too dear of a loss. In this way, the provider also guarantees a certain standard of quality through its apps, which can be readily integrated into Squarespace's closed system.
Score: 4.7 / 5
Templates & Design
Squarespace's templates are, almost without exception, breathtaking, thanks to their modern and elegant appearance. As of the time of writing 122 different design templates are on offer, divided into the six types mentioned above.
Squarespace offers more than 100 different templates to choose from.
Quality > Quantity
In comparison to WordPress or Wix, the variety of templates offered by Squarespace is somewhat less impressive, with the inability to integrate third-party designs frustrating. All the same, the high quality of what Squarespace serves up makes each template a real winner.
Weighing the "Squarespace look" of your site against the lack of variety in terms of templates and themes available with the platform is a decision that each (potential) user should consider carefully.
By clicking on "Website Style" in the main navigation menu's design area (or, alternatively, the brush symbol in the editor), you can slightly customize your template by changing fonts, colors, text sizes, and animations. In general, changes made here will be applied across your website. Should you only want to adjust the appearance of specific areas, you'll need to do this in the appropriate section of the editor.
In the style menu to the right, you can adjust your entire website's appearance.
Lacking 'true' drag and drop functionality
While Squarespace's design tools are decent, it remains difficult to break out of the Squarespace mold, should you want to do this. This is in large part owing to the editor's lack of 'true' drag and functionality, hampering creative freedom as a result. You can arrange on-screen elements to a certain degree, however, the template and designs determine where exactly buttons, images, or text can be placed.
It isn't possible to freely arrange elements in Squarespace, with users instead limited to fixed placement parameters.
As we noted at the beginning of this section, all of Squarespace's templates are well-made, with it coming as little surprise that the website builder has made such a significant and positive impression on the Internet. For anyone who isn't persuaded by the service's aesthetic qualities, it becomes readily apparent that Squarespace suffers from a lack of variety that cannot be rectified or personalized through waving a magic wand.
Nevertheless, we're certain that there's something for everybody among the platform's templates, particularly if you're in the market for clean, image-, or video-based designs.
Score: 4 / 5
E-Commerce, Marketing & SEO
You can create an online shop with Squarespace using the same main menu as for other kinds of sites. Start by selecting a store page template, upon which you'd like to see your wares marketed. After that, you can get to work adding (or importing) products or services. Digital products that your customers can purchase downloads of, or subscriptions with recurring payments, can also be offered.
Squarespace supports the sale of physical and digital products, as well as services and subscriptions.
Comprehensive e-commerce features
With Squarespace, your options for selling are wide-ranging: You can tag products, group them into categories, or even add variations of individual items. In the product menu, it's possible to add images, set prices and in-stock quantities, or input SKUs. Product reviews can be integrated, and you'll have the ability to create user-defined coupons.
You can manage your entire store, including orders, inventory, ongoing rebates, as well as payment and shipping options in the platform's e-commerce area. Among payment providers, Squarespace supports PayPal, Stripe, and in the US, Square. For shipping options, integrations for FedEx and UPS are offered. Since the platform doesn't support multiple currencies, you'll have to select one for your store.
You can manage your entire store in the e-commerce menu.
Marketing your store
In the marketing area, you'll find a versatile e-mail marketing tool, which you can use to promote your store and keep your customers up-to-date. A nice selection of ready-made templates is on offer, such as sales or event announcements, as well as follow-up emails for ongoing campaigns.
Squarespace also creates a profile for each customer in your store, which you can later view and manage in the similarly-named menu option. In this way, it's possible to gain greater insight into who is shopping in your store, and organize them into segments based on the size of their orders, or even their purchase of specific items. With the help of Facebook and Instagram integrations, you can directly hawk your wares on social networks, tagging yourself in blog entries or Instagram stories.
Taken together, Squarespace impresses with its multi-faceted e-commerce features, which are integrated perfectly into the platform's interface.
Squarespace provides everything you need to promote your store.
Analytics & SEO
Squarespace provides ready access to basic SEO settings, making it easy to add titles and descriptions to every page or blog entry on your site. Integrating social media is also easily accomplished, going far in helping improve its ranking. Under Marketing > SEO, you'll find an SEO checklist, which helps to settle on and adhere to a strategy for optimizing how your website is found by search engines. Should you need it, it's also possible to hire an SEO experte from Squarespace.
We missed a practical SEO plugin like Yoast, which greatly simplifies SEO on platforms such as WordPress.
Squarespace provides access to the most important SEO settings.
By clicking on "Analytics" in the menu, you can access stats for your Squarespace site. You shouldn't underestimate the power of these, since they provide information about traffic, such as where visitors originate from, as well as what content is the most popular. The latter of these is particularly helpful since it can aid in significantly improving your site. Of course, if desired, you can also embed Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel.
Factoring everything in, Squarespace impresses with its powerful e-commerce and marketing features, even if the absence of some plugins and apps, which would enhance the platform's capabilities even further, is frustrating.
Score: 4.3 / 5
In Squarespace's help center you can become better acquainted with the platform and its features through a variety of tutorials, some of which are offered in video format. There is also a forum and Squarespace hosts regular webinars, both of which impart users with greater knowledge of the service.
Squarespace scores thanks to its excellent selection of support content.
Should you be unable to find an answer in the help center, the possibility exists to directly contact customer support. Squarespace provides a live chat Mondays to Fridays (4 AM to 8 PM US EST). If you have an issue outside of these times you can send an email to support. During testing, we received an answer to our query within a bit more than 24 hours.
We really don't have much to complain about in terms of Squarespace's support: Static support is plentiful and informative, while live support via chat or email is available promptly.
Score: 4.7 / 5
Squarespace offers four different pricing plans - two for regular websites (Personal and Business) and two for online shops, which it refers to as Commerce (Basic and Advanced). You can purchase the service on a monthly or yearly basis, the latter of which comes with a discount.
To avoid these, you'll need to upgrade to one of the two e-commerce plans. As might be expected, the Advanced plan offers the most features, including subscriptions, as well as expanded delivery and sales options, and e-commerce APIs.
A full free version of Squarespace isn't available. Below, we've provided an overview of the platform's current pricing plans:
|Effective monthly price||from $14.00||from $23.00||from $27.00|
|Contract period (months)||1 - 12||1 - 12||1 - 12|
|Free of ads|
And how does Squarespace fare against its competitors in terms of price? In the table below, we compared the most affordable pricing plan from each provider in our sample which included a unique domain and was free of ads. According to this, Squarespace was (regrettably) one of the most expensive site builders:
You can try Squarespace for free for 14 days without having to input any payment details.
And in case you want your money back after signing up, you'll have two weeks (14 days) to do so, but only for the annual subscription, as no refunds are offered to monthly subscribers.
Deciding whether you want to use Squarespace or not largely boils down to a single question: Do you like the "Squarespace look"? Lots of site owners enjoy the sleek and minimalistic service, and for good reason: Squarespace makes it incredibly easy to create an elegant website in just a few steps. Of course, since Squarespace sites can be discerned from quite a way off, some are less inclined to use them, whereas, for others, it's a mark of pride, like name-brand clothing.
Highly intuitive and well-stocked with versatile features and comprehensive e-commerce tools, Squarespace definitely offers a nice package for anyone looking to set up a web presence, either for themselves or their business. Should you be among the latter, the platform is pricier than other comparable services. That is to say, you'll pay more to be unable to access an app marketplace or use a 'true' drag and drop editor. All the same, Squarespace is one of the best site builders out there.
In order to find out how site builders are received by their users, it pays to browse online review portals. To make this easier for you, we gathered ratings from a number of such sites and can state that Squarespace is considered "good" overall. On Trustpilot, the platform's customer service was criticized.
Squarespace is a direct competitor to Wix, Weebly, and WordPress, three of the most popular website builders/CMSs. For anyone interested in harnessing the power of third-party extensions or add-ons, we don't recommend Squarespace. The "Squarespace look" can only be had with Squarespace, even if others have attempted to imitate it. You can check out reviews of other website builders in our exhaustive comparison. In our Squarespace vs. Wix article, you'll find out which popular service bested the other.
More of the best alternatives to Squarespace can be found here: