If you are setting up your own Ecommerce website or marketplace, you have a lot of options. We have already looked into Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce. All very useful Ecommerce platforms with a lot of functionality.
But this week we look at Squarespace. Squarespace is usually not mentioned in the same breath as platforms like Shopify or Magento. But it is a very popular web development that could be a great fit for some businesses.
We will also look at why Squarespace might not be a good fit for your business. What barriers hold it back and why it may not be the best choice for your company long term.
Let’s dig into the pros & cons of Squarespace.
What Is Squarespace?
Squarespace has been around for a lot longer than most people think.
In 2003, Anthony Casalena founded Squarespace. But back then Squarespace was a blog hosting service.
Squarespace grew over the years. There are now different membership plans, with different benefits.
Squarespace (as of 2021) now has over three million customers and powers 2.1% of all websites on the internet.
Pros & Cons of Squarespace – The Pros List
Squarespace is popular, with a long history and it’s said that 1746 companies use it in their tech stacks. This number includes heavy hitters like HBO, Accenture and UberEats.
Here are some of the “pros” for Squarespace.
Easy To Use
One of the main benefits of Squarespace is its ease of use. Even if you do not know anything about building websites, Squarespace’s interface makes it easy. You can drag-and-drop and even if you lack design skills, you can still create a great looking website.
No-code (sort of)
The term “no code” gets thrown around a lot.
Squarespace does have one of the best “no code” interfaces around. It helps anyone, regardless of experience or knowledge, create a good looking website.
So it is possible to build a site without writing a single line of code on Squarespace. But if you do have some coding knowledge, you can take things much further. The “no code” interface makes some jobs much quicker, giving you time to focus on more complicated tasks if you have design and coding knowledge.
Squarespace has a large library of well designed, premade website templates. This can help you to get an Ecommerce store off the ground quickly. Or produce rapid experiments to validate ideas.
This does not, for example, undermine the importance of good UX knowledge or design principles. But it does help you to get things moving.
Everything In One Place
Even on the lowest pricing plan, Squarespace customers can get quite a lot. You can expect unlimited bandwidth, a free SSl certificate and a free custom domain. Even with the basic tier.
Squarespace is a service where you get everything in one place. If you lack a bit of technical knowledge, having everything “under one roof” can make a lot of sense.
But it is important to note that this is the most basic of plans. For more advanced features, you need to pay. Which brings us to the next part of our look at Squarespace…
Pros & Cons of Squarespace – The Cons List
So you like the look of the templates and lots of Squarespace sites are very well designed. But hold on a minute! This is a list that includes “cons” as well as “pros”. It’s time to look at those “cons”.
Lack Of Customization
Often in life, your greatest strength can also be your greatest weakness. This is definitely true with Squarespace’s templates and interface.
The ease-of-use of Squarespace leads right to Squarespace’s biggest weakness. Which is its lack of customization options.
Customizing the templates that Squarespace provides is not easy. Also the customization options that Squarespace presents are not as comprehensive as, say, WordPress.
If your project is small and relies on speed, Squarespace is a great fit. But for something more complicated, you might have some problems.
Squarespace’s basic pricing tier offers a lot of great options to anyone who wants to put a website up quickly.
The problems start when you move beyond the basics.
Pricing starts with the personal tier. This starts at $23 per month (which works out at $16 per month if you pay yearly). This tier is fine if you just want to throw a website up. But if you want to conduct any sort of Ecommerce you will need the business tier. The Business tier starts at $33 per month ($23 per month with a yearly payment). This also includes a 3% transaction fee, on top of the cost. It also does not include “checkout on your domain” functionality.
The basic “Commerce” package costs $36 per month ($27 per month with a yearly payment). With this tier of membership there are no transaction fees. You also get checkout and merchandising functionality. The advanced tier of the “Commerce” package includes all of the above. It costs $65 per month ($49 p/m with a yearly plan) but it gives you more shipping and discounting options. It also includes functionality to help you sell “subscriptions”.
Most features that are necessary for building an Ecommerce website only start on the “business” tier. So, you have to factor this into your plans. On the flipside the lack of transaction fees can be a big plus.
It is important to mention that Squarespace has made some big leaps when it comes to SEO. A few years ago there were serious oversights. But now, if you are a small business who wants to rank on Google in your niche, Squarespace is fine.
However this is the “con” list. So there is a “but” here.
The lack of flexibility on Squarespace can still cause SEO issues as you scale. You do not get the same flexibility as you would with, say, Magento.
Squarespace will be just fine for a lot of people. But for big Ecommerce players it lacks the flexibility you need over time to adapt to changes in search.
Lack Of Plugins
Some of the lack of flexibility mentioned could be overcome with plugins. But, Squarespace does fall down in this area.
The workarounds that exist in say Shopify, WooCommerce and WordPress do not exist on Squarespace. So bear that in mind if you need something that is not included on the membership tiers mentioned above.
We will be adding to this pros & cons of Squarespace list over time. But it is important to note that Squarespace can be great. Especially if you are an individual with no design/dev knowledge who wants to get started online.
Talk to MAQE
Looking for a better Ecommerce platform for your existing operation? Talk to MAQE. We have years of experience in commerce. Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Need help starting an Ecommerce business? Or conducting rapid tests on your ideas? Visit paretonow.com.