Squarespace: The Apple iPhone of web hosting has its limitations

Seventeen-year-old New York-based internet hosting business Squarespace has been dubbed by a person Wall Road inventory analyst “the Apple iphone of internet hosting.” 

That description is apt in a lot more methods than a person. 

Like the Apple iphone, there is a slick high quality to a lot of features of Squarespace that is person welcoming, specially to individuals with constrained specialized acumen, these types of as buying pleasing templates for running a blog that supply an quickly eye-catching visual really feel.

And equivalent to Apple items, the veneer of simplicity can produce a wrong sense of stability. There are moments when Squarespace would not functionality the way you’d would like, and when it can trigger annoyance with functions that abruptly break, with small recourse apart from to be affected individual until it truly is remedied.


And much like Apple, Squarespace is anything of a walled yard. The company tends to concentrate on a curated checklist of characteristics, for which customization and enlargement by means of third functions are seriously constrained. 

Given those pluses and minuses, Squarespace is a device for those who want principally simplicity of use for a basic blog site or commerce internet site but who are a lot more adept than an absolute beginner to offer with the unavoidable gaps and shortcomings.

What follows is the first-hand knowledge as a person of Squarespace for just about a year in the development of the technologies shares blog site The Know-how Letter, which is hosted on Squarespace.

Who it truly is for

Squarespace is for the semi-specialized person who can grasp and get the job done with some principles of how to established up a blog site or a keep. For instance, you may well need to have to familiarize your self with how to established up a domain, website link that domain from a registrar, these types of as GoDaddy or Network Methods, to Squarespace’s domain configurations, even though Squarespace does supply integration with GoDaddy, Google, and Namecheap whereby you can increase a domain without the need of acquiring to tweak configurations.

It does enable to know the ins and outs of controlling articles webpages, template configurations, and social media engagement to get the most of the company. 

Every a person of those features delivers its own head aches, so Squarespace is by no implies a press-button affair. At the identical time, scaling up a internet site implies jogging into some restrictions to progress, these types of as the lack of a central database from which to pull many articles merchandise in a reusable fashion. 

Squarespace has particular attraction for those who want to open up a storefront to offer providers, like personalized coaching, or offer bodily goods or digital downloads. Payment processing is straightforward to increase, as are shipping and delivery functions. And the a lot more expensive Commerce offer features in depth analytics about searching cart use and how shoppers stream by way of the funnel of getting.

One Wall Road analyst covering Squarespace’s inventory, Christopher Merwin of Goldman Sachs, who has dubbed the platform the Apple iphone of internet hosting, notes that Squarespace is a walled yard. The platform “managed relatively number of integrations with third-celebration vendors of other software program and providers.” For instance, Squarespace “features 24 extensions on its web site,” notes Merwin, “as compared to Wix, which features 250+ extensions.” 

For instance, Squarespace at a person time made available social share buttons to enable individuals send out your write-up to Twitter and the like. At some stage, the corporation did absent with that, forcing users to use header code injection from third functions these types of as Shareaholic and Sharethis.

The Squarespace experience 

Most of your time with Squarespace will be spent in the Dashboard, a basic column of menus including internet site configurations. At the leading of that column of sections is the Webpages Panel, which is the place you may your time making your site’s webpages. All of this has a clean, basic glance to it, so it truly is relatively straightforward to navigate into and out of the different locations of the Dashboard, and to get the job done inside the Webpages Panel.


The Webpages Panel is the place you deal with your site’s features.

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The Webpages Panel is further broken into three sections. What is referred to as the Primary Navigation, at the leading of the panel, is the team of webpages that usually clearly show up in the internet site navigation links on the property website page and on each other website page that you set in this team. 

Additional down, you will find a portion for unlinked webpages if you want to make a website page publicly obtainable but have it not clearly show up in the internet site navigation. And if you buy an increase-on feature referred to as Member Regions to offer individuals subscriptions, you may see a third portion of the Webpages Panel for those member webpages. The member webpages also do not look in the internet site navigation unless of course you deliberately develop a website link in the Primary Navigation team to website link to those member webpages.  

The best aspect about Squarespace is the concentrate on building from templates and blocks of articles. By default, webpages, including catalog webpages for item listings, and blog site webpages, are quite handsome templates with a modicum of modifiable font and layout choices. You can effortlessly get a quite specialist glance and really feel with any of these.

There are two most important forms of webpages, “layout webpages” and “collections webpages.” Layouts are relatively absolutely free-variety, the place you are typically assembling blocks of articles as you like. Collections, including blogs and item catalogs, are pre-crafted to team with each other merchandise, these types of as blog site posts. 


Composing webpages is a system of incorporating articles blocks from the menu that seems when you hover above a portion and see the small in addition indicator.

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Irrespective of which you select, building and revising webpages is about incorporating blocks of articles, these types of as a text block, which is a rectangle with a text editor to input and format text, or an impression container that reveals an impression picker. You increase every single a person by clicking a in addition button that reveals up on mouse-above, and you can drag these merchandise all over the website page. The way blocks snap with each other is quite slick. 

All enhancing by default is WYSIWYG. If you want to do HTML markup, you can select from a purposeful block referred to as a markdown block rather of the WYSIWYG text block. You can also alter your configurations to make the markup your default. In internet site configurations, inside the advanced portion, you alter your default text editor to the “Markdown Editor.” 

Blocks of articles are also available for e mail indicator-ups. If you indicator up for Squarespace’s e mail campaigns, you can established up what’s referred to as an “automation” to send out every single person who signals up a stick to-on e mail affirmation, which you can tailor in terms of articles and overall look. You can also get ready e mail “blasts,” a concept to an complete mailing checklist, these types of as, for instance, a every day e-newsletter of articles. 

Like building webpages in the Webpages Panel, e mail automatons and blasts are well prepared with a WYSIWYG, drag-and-fall method in the Marketing and advertising portion you access from the Dashboard. Squarespace has accomplished a pleasant work of building it straightforward to construct from the identical articles blocks you use while also building it probable to select out blog site posts from a menu if you want to make them aspect of your e mail. 

A quite in depth established of hyperlinked documentation in Squarespace’s Knowledge Foundation does a superior work of conveying the many characteristics, including phase-by-phase instructions and video guides.


You can get an exquisite glance for a blog site website page, say, just by buying a template.

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A concentrate on selling 

Outside the house of the slick UI for enhancing, the most important differentiator of Squarespace is the emphasis on offering factors. The basic website page templates are equipped to be established up for offering providers, either on a pay out-for each-use or a membership foundation offering bodily goods, with catalog layouts for item pricing and descriptions or digital articles, these types of as information, for download. A fourth alternative is the Member Regions mentioned above, by which a person can offer password-safeguarded locations of articles.

To take payments, a person can switch on equally PayPal and Stripe, the latter for the function of having credit score cards. The Dashboard has a website link to those providers to established up or increase an current account.

Squarespace also enables a person to combine with Square’s card reader to take payments at the stage of sale (POS), which are then integrated into the Squarespace account utilizing a individual iOS or Android application for Commerce. (In case you were being thinking, there is no link between Sq. and Squarespace, they are entirely individual businesses.)

Squarespace supplies a number of details factors to keep track of how shoppers move by way of the searching funnel in the Analytics portion of the Dashboard, setting up with how a lot of individuals frequented, who seen a item, who added anything to a cart, and who purchased.

There is also in depth information on exclusive guests and visits, time spent on particular articles, internet site search keywords and phrases, and the number of RSS subscribers. 

Even if you are not offering stuff, you can still use analytics on Squarespace to see your visitors ranges. There is certainly also integration with Google Analytics for a deeper dive into your quantities utilizing Google’s own internet site crawling. In observe, Google’s analytics are inclined to update a lot more routinely, while Squarespace’s crafted-in crawling can have a delay of an hour or a lot more.

E-mail blasts also occur with their own analytics, demonstrating how a lot of individuals opened an e mail and how a lot of clicked on a website link in an e mail.

Although perfectly believed out, the curated checklist of business characteristics feels to some degree lacking for the most aspect. For instance, there are not capabilities for characteristics these types of as chat or boards or any other interactive features. Integration with a third celebration for these types of capabilities would be a welcome addition. 


E-mail blasts will report metrics of how a lot of individuals opened an e-mail and how a lot of of them clicked on a website link.  

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Options and pricing

Squarespace has 4 programs, with increase-ons for extra capabilities. The basic system begins at $sixteen for each month, or $twelve if you pay out for the year up-front. Enterprise programs increase a lot more in depth analytics tools and factors these types of as marketing pop-up capabilities for your internet site and other “top quality” characteristics.

There are then two variations of the Commerce system, the Standard and Highly developed, at $35 and $54. You have to have a person of these if you want the capacity to give internet site guests their own shopper account login. 

An instance of the variations between the two consists of the capacity, with the Highly developed system, to routinely compute shipping and delivery charges by means of UPS or FedEx for shopper orders and to send out an computerized e mail reminder to a shopper when they have deserted the checkout processor their searching cart.

In addition to the 4 programs, you may pay out extra to increase member locations if you want to offer password-safeguarded articles, setting up at $ten a month and escalating in selling price as you increase a lot more member locations. Sending e mail campaigns, as an alternative to, say, Mailchimp, charges extra as perfectly. Prices begin at $7 and rise to $68 for each month depending on the number of e mail campaigns you want to send out and how a lot of recipients.


Squarespace has a pleasingly basic solution to pricing. Bear in head that factors these types of as e-mail campaigns and password-safeguarded member locations will occur with extra every month expenses. 


Squarespace limits

Driving the simplicity of use and the perfectly believed out areas of Squarespace, there are limits that a person will have to contend with on a every day foundation.

Support for WYSIWYG enhancing is uneven between desktop and cellular. For instance, drag-and-fall features of website page style and design, the many text and impression blocks, are not able to be dragged in cellular browsers, only on the desktop. The constrained layout is probable in terms of incorporating or deleting blocks. 

That implies the website page layout has to be confined to the desktop. 

Squarespace has its own iOS and Android application, which has uneven overall performance. For a lot of basic responsibilities, the application is high-quality, including some website page development, mailing checklist upkeep and internet site visitors analytics. 

Nonetheless, holes crop up quickly. For instance, when enhancing text in any common text area on a website page in the application, the formatting pop-ups that look on the World wide web website page model are absent, forcing a person to go again to the World wide web to do formatting.

Among the the critical limits advanced users will run into is that articles features, these types of as blog site posts, are tied to the webpages with which they’re produced. There is no way to, for instance, has a blog site article be joined throughout various webpages. The identical goes for item listings they reside inside the container of the website page in which they were being fashioned. 

That is a lot less than best, and a person begins to would like for what you may well connect with a database, in other words and phrases, a repository from which to draw features as you like for any provided presentation website page. 

A workaround is to style and design a collections website page, these types of as a blog site website page that is not joined to the most important navigation, and then use a articles area on the most important website page that is referred to as a “summary” area. That summary area can be populated with merchandise from the collections website page, these types of as the blog site posts. The collection website page turns into the underlying database, and the summary area turns into a form of Choose assertion in SQL.  

The lack of a database of articles is specially putting thinking of the architecture of articles blocks. In theory, articles blocks should really be not only templates but also stateful objections that can be repurposed. If, for instance, a blog site creator produces a text block on a provided blog site article, it truly is conceivable the creator may well would like to re-use that articles block, not the template, but the precise custom block, somewhere else on the internet site. In its place, you have bought to scrape what you can, these types of as the text articles, and re-develop the exertion in a new object.

Squarespace’s again-end articles management has glitches. One can face on any provided day various mistake messages on Squarespace when committing a alter to a blog site article, say, or an e mail campaign draft, and when you see the mistake concept just after clicking conserve, the outcome is ordinarily a hung website page, and the need to have to reload the website page, which ordinarily clears the most new adjustments made. 

The outcome is that in some cases a person can really feel like a person is walking on eggshells, managing a quite fragile CMS. Although not a offer-breaker, possibly, be mindful to conserve your get the job done generally when producing components of your internet site or even when you are updating a blog site article so that you will not end up shedding your get the job done.

Much more critical mistakes manifest when factors will not connect. For instance, when planning an e mail campaign, a person may well want to website link to an current blog site article. That procedure is made quite straightforward, with the identical purposeful blocks that can be combined and matched in either an e mail template or in a blank World wide web website page. 

Nonetheless, it can all occur crashing down when the most recent blog site article abruptly will not look in the blog site article picker from inside the e mail draft. Appeals to assist may well be satisfied the solution that the problem is unclear, and further analysis is required. This, naturally, can shut down the complete marketing functionality for a World wide web internet site that relies on e mail blasts. 

That is the place it pays to be a lot less dependent on Squarespace’s slick templates, or, at the very least, to fully grasp that dependency. When a blog site article fails to clearly show in the blog site article picker in the e mail campaigns draft, a person can still retrieve that blog site article by merely building the e mail draft from scratch, and assembling text and impression and then attaching the URL for the blog site article. 

In other words and phrases, there are moments when you may have to forego some of the pre-crafted conveniences you ordinarily depend on.

Finally, the curated checklist of characteristics on Squarespace, and the lack of a lot more in depth integration with third functions, implies that you may well have to depend on code injection in World wide web website page headers. That’s high-quality, apart from that it can multiply the head aches.

If, for instance, a problem will come up with some facet of one’s internet site, these types of as when blog site posts would not load in an e mail blast blog site picker, Squarespace assist will request custom header code be taken off briefly while they look into the problem. The rationale is that adjustments to Squarespace’s platform can trigger custom header code that had been functioning high-quality to abruptly not get the job done high-quality, and so the custom code needs to be quarantined in order to isolate the problem. 

The outcome is a tug of war, with users seeking to insert code to make up for Squarespace’s deficiencies but Squarespace acquiring to press again from time to time on code they are not able to control. 

Support is available by means of e mail and by means of chat, the latter becoming in the course of ordinary the period 4 am to 8 pm, Japanese time, Monday by way of Friday. In general, the assist crew manning these chats will commit time having a glance at the problem and are quite knowledgeable about the company. Nonetheless, when bugs crop up, these types of as the e mail blast troubles mentioned above, the resolution will ordinarily take some time, sometimes 24 to forty eight hours, to resolve. 

The most egregious assist situation is that the concentrate on characteristics by Squarespace in some cases implies that basic capabilities are still left as a secondary priority. 

For instance, early in my development of The Know-how Letter, blog site article URLs, which are meant to mirror the title of a article, rather appeared as strings of rubbish characters.  That’s bad if you want URLs that clearly show up nicely in, say, a tweet. I notified Squarespace and was told that they understood the situation, but that resolution would have to hold out as there was a great deal of other get the job done to be accomplished. 

My workaround was to make guaranteed to manually edit the URL of each article in the configurations panel for the article. Squarespace lastly mounted the situation, but it wasn’t till months afterwards.

In summary

In summary, if you have a modicum of specialized capacity and you want to quickly set up a store or a blog site that appears to be like superior for not much dollars, Squarespace is a superior choice. 

Be well prepared, nonetheless, to have to get the job done all over a lot of limits, possibly shortly just after you go reside and on a perpetual foundation. That consists of equally the purposeful limits and also the repeated company gotchas that merely have to be endured.