Part 3: What website platform is right for you? Squarespace
This is part two of a three-part series where I look at how to choose the right website platform for your business. In this post, I'll discuss the pros and cons of choosing Wix. You can also read Part 1 on Wordpress. here. and Part 2 on Wix here.
By all accounts, Squarespace seems like the perfect platform. It has the drag and drop features of Wix, without being mired in the sordid history of bad technology moves. But it has the sophistication and beauty of Wordpress.
Even famous people use Squarespace.
Some web designers have made their careers out of designing sites on Squarespace. It offers and array of beautiful starter themes but then gives the ability to customize with code.
If you use and love Squarespace, more power to you. I do think it can be a good option for soloprenuers or small businesses who want the ease of drag and drop features on a solid platform.
Speaking from personal preference, it is the worst of both the Wix and Wordpress worlds.
I personally don’t find it particularly user-friendly, which is the selling point of drag and drop. You are stuck within modules that don’t give you that much flexibility (unless, of course, you can code).
And if you can code, why not use Wordpress, which has a lot more powerful options for customization?
Truth be told, of the three, this is the one I use the least. So my opinions may just be in part because I’m not as used to the structure of the platform. But part of why I don’t use it often is because it drove me mad when I did test it.
If I am using a drag and drop platform, I want to be able to drag, drop, expand, move around elements simply with the click of my mouse. But in Squarespace, I didn’t find it that simple. It operates on a grid system that constrains how you can move around or resize items. Often making simple changing takes some manipulation. I can figure it out with time, but if I’m looking for easy-to-use platforms to hand off to a client who is not tech savvy, I don’t want to give them anything that is cumbersome.
The last time I used it, you had to switch back and forth between the editor and preview mode to see your changes. I understand they have updated it to be able to edit your content live. However, the changes you make to your site are immediately live, so there is no “hiding” updates until they are completely finished, like there is in Wix or Wordpress.
This next part might cause some gasps. Early on, Squarespace established itself as a leader among drag and drop platforms in search engine optimization (SEO), as Wix struggled with criticism in this area . Since then, Wix came back and make some major improvements, allowing users the control on pages and blog posts and offering some higher-level technical options. While you can edit page titles and meta-descriptions in Squarespace, which is what shows up in google when someone does a query, it doesn't allow you to tweak SEO for blog articles and product pages. This is a big deal. You are losing out on the ability to customize SEO for these important areas of your site.
Some people might be shocked to hear this: But Wix has better SEO.
Another downside to Squarespace is that it doesn’t have the apps available that other platforms do. To add an app or “plug-in,” which gives your site a specialized function such as a booking option or a calendar, you will need to inject code into your website.
At the same time, it is more expensive compared with Wix, Weebly and some of the other drag and drop options. And you only get a two-week free trial to try it out before you need to sign up for one of its plans (unless you repeatedly ask for extensions). With Wix, you can stay on the free version without a domain attached as long as you want, and only upgrade when your site is final.
However, Squarespace has a solid blogging platform, a beautiful array of templates to start from that probably outshine Wix’s options, while still being somewhat approachable for a non-developer. I hear it also has great tech support and a live chat that is usually available.
If you aren’t planning on modifying a theme too dramatically, or if you have a designer/developer design your site and then hand it off to you, it could be a good option. It is a little harder to inadvertently mess up than with Wix or Wordpress.
It is also a responsive site builder, so you can be confident your website will translate well to mobile phones. And it has a feature that boosts mobile page load time, which is a nice advantage.
Obviously I am biased toward Wix in the battle of drag and drop site builder. But aside from some of the technical drawbacks, Squarespace still is a force to compete with in the the drag and drop sector. Some of the differences come down to personal preference and how your brain works. If you try it out and find you like the way the editor, it could be a great option for you. It still think it outshines many of the other drag and drop site builders, such as Weebly. (Just not Wix in my mind).
Verdict on Squarespace
Looks good on mobile phones and tablets without any work on your part
It’s mobile versions load quickly and smoothly
Flexible and feature rich blogging platform (with the exception of SEO)
A vast array of professional-looking themes available
Hundreds of fonts available
Good tech support available
Security is taken care of for you so it’s not as prone to hacking as Wordpress sites
No apps available inline (you have to inject code to add them)
The editor is a little clunky and not intuitive to learn
The ability to customize your SEO is lacking on blogs and store products
It’s more expensive than Wix or Wordpress
Does not keep a history of changes of your site, so there is no going back to a previous version
Limited to two levels of navigation, so not suitable for very large or complex sites
No autosave function on pages or posts
Limited integrations (the ability to connect with third-party apps)
Great for: Small e-commerce stores, businesses who need an online portfolio or bloggers who aren’t too reliant on SEO. If you are a small business owner who wants to manage your own site and you like the way the platform functions, it could be a good fit.
Not so great for: Fast-growing businesses who need large or complex sites with multiple levels of navigation. Someone who doesn’t have a little bit of technical savvy or wants a lot of freedom to customize their site without knowing code.