I can't believe the number of people who still look down their noses at Squarespace. Eye rolling, haughty chuckling, bursts of forced laughter – the whole nine yards.
In reality, Squarespace is amazing for small businesses, nonprofits, personal portfolios, wedding sites, restaurants, blogs, and more, because it offers great value and – most importantly – its backend is so user-friendly.
If I had a nickel for every time clients have come to us completely unable to update anything on their existing site because the backend is too complicated for them to manage... I'd have a mountain of nickels.
My mind is always blown when businesses haven't been able to update their site information, change out their images, or create new content by themselves at all. It breaks my heart to think of the fees and hassle they must have been dealing with for simple updates 💔. NOT COOL!
This is never a problem with Squarespace customers. If you can use a mouse and keyboard, you can make all the updates you'll need.
In addition to being incredibly easy to use, all Squarespace sites are entirely mobile responsive. Affordable hosting is built into Squarespace pricing plans. The customer service is great. And Squarespace templates are beautiful from the get-go.
Who is it that's still looking down on Squarespace, then?
It's largely web designers and designer-developers I'm talking about here.
Why? Because while Squarespace is amazing from a client's point of use, it makes lots of web designers and developers feel that their skill set is threatened.
But they shouldn't be. Instead, web designers, you should be embracing Squarespace's features and functionality. And small businesses, nonprofits, bloggers: don't let someone talk you into something that's more complicated to manage, more expensive to build, and less convenient for you and your customers.
So shoutout to all the web designers hating on Squarespace! This one's for you.
I'm going to tell you why you need to reverse your thinking. Right now.
Any good designer should be a pro at taking constructive criticism, but the moment we feel our work being undermined... It's a different story. There's a little panic switch in the back of every designer's mind that flips the instant we feel we could be replaced. Squarespace's whole pitch is that it allows anyone to create a beautiful site.
A web designer-developer who feels threatened by what Squarespace can offer may try to talk clients out of choosing Squarespace with a few facts: Squarespace website design is less flexible than built-from-scratch site designs; Squarespace hosting costs slightly more than the cheapest hosting options out there; Squarespace is privately owned rather than open-source (like Wordpress). All of these are true and valid points.
And it's also true that large organizations with specialized, complicated web needs and large budgets to invest – like hospitals, for example – do need custom-developed sites with more flexibility and completely custom-built features. For those clients, Squarespace is not the way to go. But for most small organizations, Squarespace is a great option.
Business owners AND designers must keep in mind what a client's needs really require and what their budget can really afford.
And it should go without saying that designers should be open and honest about the best fit for clients' needs and price range.
Let's break DOWN CLIENTS' WEB NEEDS & SQUARESPACE'S CAPABILITIES:
- NEED: Clients need to be able to update content easily. And updating content on a Squarespace site is fast, flexible, easy-to-use and intuitive, and requires no coding familiarity whatsoever (not even HTML). Which means?
- Clients: With Squarespace, YOU HAVE THE POWER! Switch out your header images, update your hours of operation, upload your new products – Yaaaaassssss.
- Designers: Rejoice! No more giving on-the-spot crash courses in HTML, no more line-by-line text changes, no more constant emails back and forth about revisions and approvals on frustratingly minute details.
- Verdict: Win-win situation.
- NEED: E-commerce? Check. Blogging capabilities? Check. Newsletter signups, pop-up boxes, custom questionnaire forms, image and gallery displays? Check, check, check, check, check and more checks. All of these features are built into Squarespace, along with a whole lot more.
- Clients: Yep, all of those features are just as intuitive to use as the drag-and-drop text editor. You still don't need any technical knowledge or experience at all. Score.
- Designers: In Squarespace, you'll face no more plugin updates, crashed apps or incompatibilities. Total win. Make sure your client knows the myriad of content block options they've got available through Squarespace, match their needs with the appropriate block, make sure you've done your job getting everything set up. Then one walkthrough session and BOOM – 90% of the time clients will be able to take it from there. Teach a person to fish, huh?
- Verdict: Win-win situation again.
- NEED: Strong, coherent, consistent brand presence.
- Clients: Squarespace is very visually customizable, so you're going to have a beautifully on-brand site – but you're ONLY going to get professional-level brand integration if you're working with a designer with a background in branding strategy and web design to develop your site. Don't believe me? Check out our post on why you need a pro designer to build your Squarespace site (hint: templates are templates, and professional-quality design is professional-quality design).
- Designers: Squarespace has wonderful customization features built in that offer a huge amount of control. You'll be able to tweak and adjust to your very high level of perfection using Squarespace's built-in functionality – I completely guarantee it. And if there's ever an area in which you need more control, you have the option to integrate custom CSS for even MORE control. You've still got complete control of a site's aesthetic appearance even though you're building off of an existing template that can start out a bit boring – don't worry.
- Verdict: Win-win situation.
- BUDGET: Squarespace's pricing plans include far more than just web hosting: world-class customer service, site security, analytics reports, and all the features of the Squarespace editor and content blocks (as well as seamless integration with essential business solutions like Google Analytics, mailing services, and more) in addition to web hosting.
- Clients: You're getting an amazingly affordable and comprehensive hosting and support package.
- Designers: You'll be able to sleep easier knowing you'll never have to constantly update clients' sites for security ever again. And you can take a HUGE breather knowing that you'll be able to redirect any issues to 24/7 customer service – who we've had nothing but positive experiences with.
- Verdict: Win-win situation three times in a row.
- BUDGET: Choosing Squarespace site development with professional branding and design will cost much less than from-scratch site development or a custom-developed Wordpress theme.
- Clients: You're saving a HUGE amount of money by choosing a Squarespace solution – we're talking what can be half the price. Hiring a designer to create your Squarespace site is far cheaper than paying for from-scratch website design and implementation. Why? Because we start from a solid base every single time! There's no reason to reinvent the wheel, and there's no reason to shell out for feature you can't use and don't need.
- Designers: This is what freaks you out, right? The price point. Well, DON'T FREAK OUT. Trust me, this is a win-win for you, too: come on down to the next paragraph.
- Verdict: Win-win. Not kidding.
Designers, while Squarespace may, at first glance, feel threatening, it really represents new, expanded opportunities for you.
Yes: new opportunities.
Just like $50 logo templates haven't brought down the field of graphic design, the advent of computerized spreadsheets hasn't sealed the fate of highly skilled accountants, and boxed cake mix hasn't put professional bakers out of business, Squarespace hasn't and won't replace the need for skilled web designer-developers.
You already know this point: High-need, larger-budget clients – those who truly need a host of custom-built features – are still going to need your development skills as much as ever. You can still count on hitting your optimal price range with those clients.
Instead, where you're going to benefit with Squarespace is with clients who already recognize the essential importance of designers' skills: businesses with straightforward website needs, bloggers invested in their brand, nonprofits, local restaurants, and the like.
Many of these people are likely already your branding and design clients: They're motivated to invest in their brand but don't have the budget or the need for a custom-coded site. You may have even turned down creating websites for these small business clients in the past because they weren't able to afford the price.
Squarespace snobs, I hope you see where this is going:
If you embrace Squarespace capabilities instead of turning your nose up, you've got an entirely new market segment to reach.
So while it's true that these customers will be at a budget that's too low to afford your typical development costs, take a look back at those bullet points of benefits above and reevaluate if you still don't think working with these customers is worth it.
The skills these clients are going to need from you? The things you love working with: Your professional eye and advanced branding and design experience. The demands and skills these clients won't need from you at all? Hand-holding HTML coaching, site security responsibilities, site updates, making minute changes to content when clients can't handle it, optimizing your code for every single browser and interface by hand, and configuring and integrating a million haphazard plugins. All of the things that can make your life terrible: no longer on your plate.
To sum the whole discussion up:
Offering custom Squarespace design gives us – we, designers – the chance to achieve all the things we love about web design without the drawbacks that suck.
And it gives clients the power to make their own content updates and changes on a professional, flawless site without paying unnecessary development costs.
And finally, it gives customers a fully branded, fully responsive web experience.
Despite my earnest evangelizing efforts, it's the same with Squarespace as it is with everything in life: Haters gonna hate. Keep on hatin' on if you're an irrational Squarespace hater.
But if you're a rational human being who's completely unswayed by my arguments and still a Squarespace hater? Please let me know how ridiculously wrong I am and why.
Peace out haters,
Hoot Design Co. is a marketing, branding, and design agency located in Columbia, MO. We specialize in creating a custom and comprehensive marketing strategy centered around your business's unique strengths and educating you with the tools you need from day one. From logo design to brand identity, website design and execution, and social media marketing strategies in-person and through online courses, we're focused on your business success every step of the way.