Why I have moved away from Squarespace and so should you.

Website Platforms

Christopher Wray

Several years ago, when I started a small not for profit fair trade company, I wanted to build a website for the company, but I knew I didn’t have the money to hire a web development company to do it for me. I started doing some research on how I could build my own website after a friend suggested that maybe I build the website myself. I soon found Squarespace. To be honest with you, I fell in love with the app as soon as I started using it. I quickly built a good looking, responsive website and didn’t have to pay anything out of pocket to build it. I used a simple template and it was easy to set up and maintain.  

Fast forward five years, and I get the chance to build a website for my Dad’s tree nursery. I decided that Squarespace would be the platform of choice, and again I quickly built a site for him with most of the features they needed.

To be fair, I have to admit that they make it easy and fun to build a site for people who know little to nothing about code or website design. It really isn’t design since you are using pre built templates, but they make you feel like you are designing with giving clients the chance to “tweak” the template styles.

After almost a year of using Squarespace for the Nurseries website, as well as building two other clients websites on Squarespace, I started to see the problems with the platform. These problems started to frustrate me more as time went on and I wanted to build more unique, client-specific websites with SolTech.

Below I’ll outline a few of the issues that made me move my clients sites off of Squarespace and why I think you should too.

Forms are next to impossible to integrate.

Now, Squarespace forms are pretty good looking. I will give them kudos on that, but they are next to impossible to integrate with any other platform other than MailChimp, the leading email marketing platform. They now offer Zapier integrations to send form submissions elsewhere, but if you want to integrate their forms with a marketing software like Infusionsoft, you will have to pay another monthly fee to Zapier to be able to send form submissions there, or deal with embedding their terrible looking forms. Quite frankly, it is not a smart move to pay an extra 20 bucks a month to create yet another level of complexity to your site.

Email Signup form on Squarespace.
Screenshot of an email signup form on Squarespace.

Your Site isn’t (really) your site.

When you build a website, you put all of the work into making it a reality and you want your website to be yours, kind of like a business store front. You need the bargaining power to be able to move your site to another hosting provider in case your hosting provider has a problem with security or their pricing raises too much. Not so with Squarespace. When you build a site with Squarespace, the only content you can export out in case you want to move your hosting is your content. That means you will NOT be able to move your site to WordPress without designing your site fresh again from the ground up. Maybe you are okay with that, but to be honest, this gives Squarespace a lot of power over you. They can decide to raise prices on current customers easily because they’ve purposely made it such a challenge to move off of the platform.

Forget designing something unique.

One plus of the software is the many really good looking templates available to download, but in truth they are all really similar. There are a few odd ducks, but they have their issues of their own. Your site will look pretty much like everybody else’s on the web. Maybe you are okay with that, but that was a major downside for us.

Changing design styles (tweaking) doesn’t make your site look nice.

When you tweak your styles in a Squarespace site, Squarespace uses JavaScript to make the styles change, AFTER the site has started to load! That means when a user first visits your site, they will see the original styles first for a half of a second, then your tweaks will show. This creates a terrible effect that really makes your whole website unprofessional looking. You want your fonts and styles to load properly at the first glance, because the first glance is the best chance you have of capturing your audience’s attention.

Some Squarespace templates are built quite terribly for SEO.

The most popular template on Squarespace is Bedford. It is also the most used template as well. This template is actually a terrible template. The reason why is that Bedford uses the META Description to populate the header photo on each web page! Why is this terrible? Well to be frank, a meta description needs to be what users see as a plain sentence when they are searching for on Google. This is what will attract them to your web link and what results in a higher search engine ranking. This is not where I would want to put a long descriptive sentence on the web page, it just looks weird. Header photos work best with one or two short, catchy phrases that will draw the readers in. Not a long, spelled out sentence that describes the entirety of the content. 

There are many more reasons why I will never build a site on Squarespace again, and I might write another blog about it, but I figured I should put it out there just in case some of you are thinking about going with them. It is a bad decision. My best advice to you is to pay a web developer to build your website. It may be hard to bite the bullet, but you’ll be happier with the results in the end.

February 27, 2019

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