It’s a hard thing to decide on, right? Especially if you’re not in this design/website world & don’t know the terminology or what any of it actually means.
Maybe Squarespace is a platform that you’ve never even heard of.
Maybe you have heard of it but know it’s a website thing and just blew it off because you don’t know anything about websites & assumed those ads aren’t meant for people like you.
Maybe you’ve talked to designers before about about building a website & they’re using terminology you don’t know or understand. Do you find yourself nodding along, but thinking something like ‘I don’t know what any of this really means; how does this apply to me?’
Or ‘What is hosting & a domain?’
Or ‘What do you mean I’ll be able to edit my own website when you’re done with the design stuff? That sounds scary & overwhelming!’
In the beginning of a website project I always list the wonderful reasons why I use Squarespace for my own website & for my clients as well, especially to the folks who aren’t up to date & don’t know what a “Square Space” is. 😉
The key here is, I try to explain all of this in layman’s terms of how it applies to YOU and what the value is for YOU or YOUR BUSINESS.
Like anything, there is a learning curve, but I believe it’s a small one. Most people find Squarespace very easy to use.
Squarespace is built to simplify things as much as possible, and pretty much everything is where you’d expect it to be (something I hear from clients a lot, especially those who have switched from another platform).
After my part is done, if it’s possible to plan an in-person meeting with my client for a Squarespace Training session, I’ll set that up. If I’m too far away for an in-person meeting, I plan a video call walk-through or I send a link to pre-recorded video trainings I have setup online (specific to your website because each Squarespace template can act a little different) and you can refer to those instead.
Paying annually for Squarespace can seem expensive, especially when compared to companies that use Wordpress (because their hosting is free, but putting a site on Wordpress can be expensive, depending on who you are & remember –quality comes with a price).
The reason why Squarespace charges so much for our use of their platform is because so much is included that they handle FOR you or that is built in. Not to mention your ability to edit the site yourself in an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop platform (from content to commerce, calendars, customizations, contributors with differing permissions, email campaigns (new), popups, announcement bars, and more).
All of the following comes with the monthly or yearly Squarespace hosting plan fees (not in any particular order):
1. A secured website
That's a website that uses "https:" rather than "http:" in the prefix before your custom URL.
That additional letter ‘s’ in the prefix just means the data is encrypted, which makes it more safe & secure for everyone who uses your secure website!
Squarespace has a fantastic support staff, should you ever need help beyond what I can provide. I don’t need to use their support much, but when I have there is always someone available, that’s super friendly, to answer my questions.
They’re available by email 24/7 and live chat during regular support hours (4am to 8pm EST, last I checked).
I’ve never had a poor experience with any of their representatives & that in itself is very nice!
They also have a helpful support forum where you can browse questions people have already asked or ask your own to see who responds (Squarespace Answers).
3. Unlimited Contributors
Do you have a team of people (or just more than you) that you’d want to help you keep up with your new website?
With Squarespace, your team can have their own access to the site with differing levels of permissions and you can control their access as you see fit.
That means if you want Jane to be able to add new Blog posts, but not see the Billing info, that’s something you can control.
4. Online Shop
You can sell an unlimited amount of products in your shop and accept donations.
On the Basic Online Store plan, these specific features are also available:
label printing with Ship Station
(print your own shipping labels in-house)
accounting integration with Xero’s cloud-based platform
(only available in the US)
secure checkout on your domain
(when buyers click to Check Out from your Shop, they stay on www.yourdomainexample.com, rather than being re-routed to something like www.checkout.squarespace.com)
(allows customers to create an account on your website, so that checking out next time is simpler & you have a record of their information on file, as it pertains to their sale)
connect your Squarespace shop products to your Instagram account
(allows you to add a product from your shop to an Instagram post, where viewers can click through to your shop item if they want to purchase)
5. Mobile & Tablet-friendly websites
First I need to explain size differences & how this works:
Desktops have a larger screen than a tablet, so there are more pixels that make up that screen image. Pixels are the tiny pieces that make up images on our screens; the higher your screen resolution, the more pixels it has to create the clear image you see there. Tablets are smaller & have fewer pixels, and mobile devices have even less than Tablets.
With the mobile & tablet friendly versions of those sites, your device tells your browser app (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc.) that the screen size is different, so the layout will adjust accordingly to fit all the content into that screen size’s boundaries.
The only reason the site layout can adjust is because that information is built into the template on the backend by the website developer. The info is in the code that you don’t see & don’t know is there, while you are looking at the pretty part. That code tells the computer to adjust the layout at different break points based on average device sizes (like iPhone vs. iPad vs. iMac screen sizes).
For example: a mobile break point might be 480 pixels or less, a tablet might be 1024 pixels or less, and desktop might be anything over 1025 pixels wide.
If you’ve ever visited a website that is’t mobile friendly, you know it right away. Everything is too small and you have to zoom in and pan around with your fingers to find the stuff you’re looking for & click on the buttons you want.
Formatting for Mobile, Desktop and Tablet is included with every template and mobile formatting is NOT a separate design, unlike with the Wix platform.
As you edit your website, you can toggle on or off the Mobile, Tablet or Desktop views to see how your page layout will change on those screen sizes. That allows you to adjust your overall design so that it will look nice on all versions.
One design, with different layouts that automatically adjust for each size.
No duplicate content or redundant processes.
6. Integrated popups & an announcement bar
Popups are annoying, …but they actually still work.
So, if your business is having a promotional sale to get new customers & services are discounted, OR if your shop is having a sale & products are marked down, you can use a Pop Up to let visitors know about it!
You can also use an Announcement bar. That’s a differently colored bar across the top of your page, which is usually above the main navigation area. You can put text there and a link to something if you want.
Example: TODAY ONLY: 50% OFF EVERYTHING!
(and a link might be included that takes visitors to your shop)
Another simpler use of either a Popup or Announcement bar is to draw attention to your newsletter signup, so you can get more people on your email marketing list.
7. Online Forms
Forms can be especially useful if you get creative, and they are super easy to build on Squarespace! You can use them for things like:
a basic contact form
a booking information form
they can choose a date, pick which service they need, and give you their contact & billing address before you even talk to them!
send a link to your website page where you’ve placed a survey, sent out to past clients to find out how their experience was!
Form surveys allow answers on a sliding scale, so you can ask a question like, “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?” and they can choose their answer from unlikely to most likely on a that sliding scale.
contest information submissions
Let’s say you need some help coming up with a new product name, build a form & send it out to your clients or customers. Give 1-3 people the opportunity to win a prize with their form submission so you can get feedback from them!
very basic appointment requests
A place for someone to pick a potential date & time they’d like to meet with you, tell you what the appointment is for (choose a service from a list or give them a free response area to explain)
A place for someone to pick elements that they need so you can send them a quote/estimate.
A basic inquiry for your services, where you can ask guided questions to see if they are a good fit.
8. Simple landing pages
These are called Cover Pages in Squarespace. They are built-in & available on each plan.
Cover Pages (can) have different styling than the rest of your website, so you can use them for a lot of different things.
I use them for thank you pages, and freebie signups. To see an example, you can see mine at any of these links:
Trello - My Bookmarks Swipe File (all my favorite bookmarked resources, in one spot!)
Unearth Your Brand workbook (an 8 page workbook to help you figure things out, before you hire a designer)
Illustrator Key Command Cheatsheet (basic key commands that make working in Ai more efficient)
Color Reference Guide (what is RGB, CMYK, Pantone & Hex colors?)
File Format Checklist (see which file types are used for different situations)
Font Pairing Guide (a 1 page guide to pair fonts like a Pro)
Basic Thank you page (my form submission thank you page)
Freebie Thank You page (thank you page for downloading my freebie)
These pages can be a one page ad for something specific that you offer, or it can be a very basic info landing page. Cover pages don’t have a main navigation, they don’t have a footer, and they only have limited content availability. It’s way-simplified for specific types of uses.
9. Basic Email Campaigns
Simplistic Email Campaigns are now built in (very simple email marketing tools).
Right now this feature is free to use in Beta, but I imagine it will likely (eventually) be an additional fee that’s tacked onto your Squarespace invoice.
This feature is nowhere near as robust as what you could get from apps like MailerLite, MailChimp, ConvertKit, Constant Contact, Ontraport, and more like it. But if all you need are bare bones basics, and in a simple, straight-forward setup, then this could be a good start for you!
10. Regular Updates
The Squarespace Developer team updates their templates constantly, making sure any quirks are fixed (usually before I’ve noticed they even exist), security features are updated, etc.
On other platforms like Wordpress, this is something you’d need to keep track of yourself. Updating your template & plugins, and since each may be from a different company or developer, you’d also need to make sure that updating one doesn’t poorly effect the other stuff that makes up your site, or it could go down (making your site unusable).
That’s not to say that Wordpress is a bad platform (not at all), but there is a huge learning curve, and it’s not for the faint of heart. If you don’t want something complex, then Wordpress won’t be a good fit for you.
11. New Features
Like their recent release of the Email Campaigns, before that was the PopUp feature. Now recurring invoices is also a feature in the works for some higher plans.
The Squarespace team is always thinking of what they can do to make their platform better, and they deliver on that pretty frequently.
12. Facebook Pixel
If you market your business using ads on Facebook, it’s good to know that Squarespace has an easy integration with the Facebook Pixel.
What is a Facebook Pixel? Essentially it places a tag on your site that follows your site visitors, so you can more accurately market to them online & to other people like them.
Disclaimer: I do not handle Facebook marketing & do not claim to be an expert in that field.
Ever look at something on Amazon then notice it shows up in ads elsewhere on the web? That’s because of the Facebook Pixel and other marketing strategies like it.
The integration is easy; it’s simply a field where you paste in your Pixel ID number and with your site connected to your Facebook account (for the purposes of linking that Facebook icon to your business page), it really could not be easier to connect!
Squarespace also has a built-in Analytics, feature, making your stats easy to understand. You’ll be able to see which pages are the most popular, how many people visit your site, how many total pages were viewed, and see where people are coming from (how they find you).
My favorite feature in Analytics is to see what people are searching for before they reach my site. Essentially what are they Googling in order to find me?
Their Analytics app is very similar (though less detailed & a little less accurate) to Google Analytics. If that extra detail & accuracy is important to you, then you’re in luck because Squarespace integrates with Google Analytics too!
That Google integration is also very easy & has a similar setup process as the Facebook Pixel integration. You just paste in your Google Analytics ID number and done! No pasting code to install it on your site. Whew!
If you want to use BOTH, that’s not a problem. Using Squarespace’s Analytics doesn’t keep you from using Google’s.
The best part? You will have the freedom to edit, update & change nearly anything you want without waiting for your designer or developer to do it for you.
Once the design is done, the layout is perfected & quirks are fixed (by me, the designer) I hand off site ownership to you. That allows you to have your own log in to YOUR site, and gives you full editing capabilities.
Want to add some new photos? Edit your email address on the contact page? Don’t like how your about page is worded? Change prices on your Services page or edit/add products in your shop?
Go right ahead! You can do all of that & more yourself, and there’s no coding required. Just enter edit mode, make your changes & click Save (it publishes the changes immediately).
Feel like you messed something up? No worries! You can give me Admin permissions at any time, so I can go in (using my own account) and fix whatever you feel like you messed up.
Accidentally delete a page? No worries. Can’t figure out how to add a link to a new button? I got you! 😁
I typically remain an Admin on your site for 30 days after your site launch, so I can help quickly if we come across any issues after going live. After that, you can revoke or provide Admin access at any time.
After the 30 day support period, and if I’m remaining as an Admin to your site for as-needed support purposes, this is how that works:
I log into your site, only when asked, and only bill for time worked at my hourly rate. Typically these sessions are quick fixes, but if the request takes more than an hour, I’d let you know so there are no surprises on your invoice. Bills are always due within 30 days of the work being completed, with a 10% late fee added for each month the bill is not paid.
15. Website backups
Site backups are done by Squarespace, and they do this frequently, so you shouldn’t need to worry about losing your content if something bad happens.
Manual backups are possible and here are links that describe that process in two ways:
Should you ever choose to leave the platform & move to Wordpress, there is also an Export feature specific to the Wordpress platform.
Rest easy that your online hub is well protected & saved frequently!
16. Growing Businesses
The Squarespace platform is still okay to use, whether you’re a one-(wo)man show, a small, fast-growing or large-scale business, depending on what your business needs are (specifically dependent on what you use the website for).
I know of at least one entrepreneur I follow that makes seven figures, has hundreds of thousands of visitors monthly (or more) & still uses Squarespace for their website platform.
If you intend for your website to be content-heavy (less focus on retail & shopping, with more focus on blogging, service info, events & business information), then Squarespace will be a great choice for you.
While Squarespace does offer the ability to run an online store, if you plan to make all or most of your business revenue with it, then Squarespace is not the best option for you. Not that you couldn’t use Squarespace for that, but it wouldn’t be as efficient as other choices.
If you intend for your website to be retail-heavy (less focused on content like blogging & service related info, with your online shop as your #1 goal for bringing in revenue), then Shopify may be a better platform choice for you.
Shopify is a fantastic platform for online shops (Ruggable.com uses them, I believe, and so does my favorite legal template shop that I’m also an affiliate for, the Contract Shop*), but it’s not great at content design. I’ve setup one shop on that platform to date and I can say from experience that it is easy to use, but not as design-friendly as Squarespace.
Their shop interface on the backend, for the shop owners, has tons of great features like automatic order confirmations and the ability to print & ship labels with an automatic shipping email going out to the customer with the tracking number. They also have easily editable product info, editing in bulk, and tons of options that “just work” better than Squarespace’s eCommerce platform.
Squarespace is very reliable. Since they have their own team working on making it better all the time, it rarely breaks down.
I am currently an admin on about a dozen separate websites, whether for as-needed maintenance only or full setup & design, and have been steadily & exclusively using the Squarespace platform for almost 3 years now.
In all that time I’ve only ever seen a site “go down” (become unavailable for editing or viewing) for a short time during one day while they were fixing some security issue. Whatever the problem was, it was fixed ASAP and things returned to normal pretty quickly later that day.
Wordpress users will always argue that it’s a more reliable platform because the designer/developer controls that him/herself. It’s also not owned by another company, so it won’t ever go out of business & disappear without notice, and so your website won’t either.
Maybe I’m naive, but Squarespace has been around since 2003, and as fast as they are now growing I don’t see their platform disappearing any time soon. By the time they may be less popular, we’d need to update our websites anyway to keep up with trends & new technology.
Not to mention that if they ever were to go out of business, I’d imagine they’d email all of their account holders to let us know in time for us to export the site contents in preparation for moving the site to a new platform.
In summary, this argument made by Wordpress users, is not something that keeps me up at night.
The built in Calendar system allows you to post new events like posting a new blog. You can also schedule an event ahead of time, and tell the Squarespace platform when to publish that event posting, so that it’s only live (& viewable by site visitors) when you want it to be.
If you have an event coming up in 8 months, but you aren’t quite ready to let people know about it yet, schedule the event to post 3 months ahead of time, instead of right when you create the event post.
It’s super easy to keep up with & they also allow categorization & tagging, for organizational purposes. This also allows them to be searchable within your website.
– If you tag all events that are Kid-Friendly with a Kid Friendly tag, then someone can search your website for kid friendly and see the list of events filtering only those which are kid-friendly. A nice touch!
– If you have events where alcohol is served, you can tag those events or categorize them as such, so that viewers can search for things like alcohol, beer, wine, etc. and get a filtered list of events that serve those things.
You can also add images, content (information about the event itself), and list the day/time/place, including the addition of adding the physical address so people can click to get directions to it.
The time/day even allows viewers to add the event to their personal calendar via Google Calendar or Apple’s iCal format.
And on top of that, you can tell Squarespace to “push” that post to your social media pages, like Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter and it does so for you (in a limited format - no custom captions per post; sorry!).
IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE:
Squarespace also works with Acuity Scheduling to give Squarespace users the Emerging Entrepreneur plan FOR FREE (a $15/month value, as of time of posting).
Acuity is a great platform for online scheduling, which also allows you to match your branding colors & use similar fonts, build basic forms that ask each person that schedules questions related to the appointment type, allow different appointment types & lengths, take payments when scheduling, send automatic appointment reminders, and even allow people to cancel or reschedule without even involving you directly in that process.
What’s more is the scheduler can be embedded on your website, so that it doesn’t have to be (but it can be) a link to an outside page where your viewers schedule with you. How cool is that! Viewers never have to leave your site to make an appointment with you!
How is this different than using Squarespace’s Forms feature?
Acuity takes the appointment & actually puts it in your calendar, blocking off those times so that no one else can schedule during that appointment. It also automatically handles lots of things related to the scheduling process.
If you use Squarespace forms to schedule appointments, the information submitted in the form will either be emailed to you, or added to a Google Sheets document, where you will have to implement that data yourself. Nothing is automatic there. You will have to enter the appointment in your calendar; you will have to send your own reminder email, no payments can be taken at the exact time of scheduling, etc.
Now, I should mention here that this only works with the Business plan & higher, because it requires some light code for installation (which I would do for you as I setup & design your site) to embed the scheduler on the page(s) and some extra technical steps to connect your Squarespace website to your Acuity account. (That means, this would not work on Squarespace’s lowest paid plan, because custom coding is not allowed on those plans, unless you selected that plan before that rule was implemented.)
• To learn more about Acuity, visit their site here.
• To see what’s included in their paid plans, including the Emerging Entrepreneur plan that you get for FREE with your Squarespace plan, visit that page here.
These work much like the Calendar system, with most of the same features, like scheduling ahead, adding customized content to each post (images, text, links, buttons, videos, etc.), tagging & categorization, and of course “pushing” the post link to your social media pages (if you want).
The one downside to blogging on Squarespace (which is easily fixed during the design setup), is that Squarespace’s home blog page (the main landing page for your website’s blog) is lackluster with little design customizability.
I fix that by creating a new page, which I design like an Archives page, so that users can search through the content by category, title, or thumbnail image. Visit my designed blog page here, and my template’s home blog page here, to see the huge difference.
If that’s something I do for your project, no one would have the link to that original un-designed blog page, and it wouldn’t be linked in any of your navigation, so very few people would use it. I would instead link to the designed blog page (as my main navigation does), so we can control which version viewers are seeing.
To see why businesses should blog, you can read all about why Google likes blogging here.
20. How to get 20% OFF your 1st year of Squarespace
If you work with a Squarespace designer that is a Squarespace Circle member, like myself, you also get 20% off your first annual payment to Squarespace!
I design your website on a free trial that is up to 6 months long. That gives us plenty of time to complete the design before you’d need to pay to publish & make your website live.
Because the site started as a free trial on my own account, when I transfer ownership to you, the discount will apply automatically, no coupon code needed. Easy peasy!
That’s the basic roundup of features & reasons why I use Squarespace, both for myself & for my clients.