SquareSpace the Perfect fit for your Website

Before we start I need to add a little disclosure that the below are my personal subjective thoughts around the SquareSpace platform. All of the content contained within the below is based on my personal experiences over the years.

Being upfront from the start is important to Get Leads. I’ve built several SquareSpace, Wix DIY sites but far more Drupal and WordPress in the 20 years I’ve been in the industry. I do believe there’s a perfect customer for SquareSpace and that customer looks a little bit like this and I’d tick all boxes below before i consider it an option:

  • It’s a mum/dad business startup operating on a budget
  • They wants to do minor updates every now and then themselves
  • Don’t want to spend money on a trained professional to do updates it’s all DIY
  • They have lots of spare time they think about building and tweaking their website
  • Don’t mind if their site looks similar to everybody else’s as longs got their logo. Also make it big.
  • Doesn’t want the hassle of having to maintain their own website security.
  • Doesn’t really care if they rank on Google or have a chance in the SEO game for keywords.
  • Happy to spend money out of town building up the DIY website builder empire even in the USA.
  • Don’t see value in content strategy or take into consideration that it’s valuable. Templates are good.
  • Don’t actually see much value in a web designer at all, other than picking colours and doing a logo

Ok, if you’re a “web designer” reading this then you’re probably upset I burst your bubble and yes, you may have some design skills or you’re able to craft a strategy and put together compelling content. Well done you.

Is this what your customer wants you to do? Is there enough money in the budget to do it properly?

SquareSpace attracts budget customers for a reason.

Do you think in the night it takes you to build a site in SquareSpace you should charge your customer just as much as the 60+ hours it takes a professional team puts together something that’s going to outrank and outlast your SquareSpace site. As long as you stick to the hours you actually spend I have no problems with you trying to make a living and also making SquareSpace a living while your going. (not that they need you)

It’s annoying when professionals in the industry see backyard web designers picking up tools like this and leading customers to drink their no-code coo-lade.

I don’t do SquareSpace websites. I’ll never do them, even if it turns out to be the best builder in the world. Their business model sucks and sucks the life out of people trying to create sustainable businesses and small mums and dads paying good money for websites.

As a designer If this is your route to a business that gives you freedom you are absolutely kidding yourself. Your a salve to the DIY builders and the enterprises behind them.

At this point the SquareSpace designers thinking they’re just providing the best product possible despite the tech. I agree it’s important to provide the best possible product despite the tech. Clearly our opinions on what the best product is differs.

I don’t deny, customers don’t care less what the tech is, they care about results.

Sorry they also don’t care about the fact it’s easy to use but it’s a great way to sell a DIY platform when it looks easy to use.

I have worked with over 200 clients many of them have used SquareSpace or should I say don’t use SquareSpace even if that’s the site which was built for them. More times than not a customer will hand over the edits to a designer who will do the edits for them. Why did they choose SquareSpace again? To be fair the same can be said with WordPress and other self hosted solutions but I just find it funny that the main selling point for SquareSpace is something most customers of web designers don’t actually end up using.

I don’t deny SquareSpace has come a long way and it has it’s advantages. Experience has lead me to an understanding about the easy to use platform that is often lost on the DIY designer.

The ease of use only goes so far and when you hit the wall you’ll hit it so fricken hard you’ll wonder what you were thinking. For those of you who have used SquareSpace you’ll find choosing a theme, layout, adding text, colours, text a breeze. It has predefined layouts and pattern libraries that make putting something together rather quick and easy. I’ve been 70% of the way there plenty of times with SquareSpace and then gone the 30% of the rest of the way is a lot of hand coded css work in a clumsy textbox with classnames that make absolutely no sense and no way I’m understanding if I was to come back months later. The end result — it takes me 3 times longer than if I was to do it with WordPress Bricks. Therefore it’s going to cost the client more in the long run.

One thing I do like about SquareSpace is it’s fade in effects. I of couse can get the same thing ticking a box with a WordPress Oxygen or Bricks site but hey it’s nice!

Search Engine Optimisation

When SquareSpace first came out I was a little nervous it was going to be my Uber to my taxi. Then a little agency started in our local town of Wagga Wagga. She built SquareSpace sites “yay” and people joined up in droves. She was cheaper than us and could be because it wasn’t a comparable product. Needless to say that little agency thrived for a while. But today it doesn’t exist anymore the empire she built websites for sure does. Designers are lining up to serve their new master.

A common SEO story

The cookie crumbles, ok, so you spend 3k on a SquareSpace website, I’m being generous with 3k. 3 months goes by and you don’t see it even appear on Google. 6 months goes by and you ask for some extra SEO services from your SquareSpace designer. 12 months goes by and again your asking for more advanced SEO work and yet you may not even be on the front page for your domain name.

You sack your designer and you take it to the WordPress guys down the road that do advanced SEO. The WordPress guys have a go but eventually say “You’re going to need to spend money on a new site”

First mistake was doing the site in SquareSpace, second mistake was thinking that someone who relies on a DIY web builder aimed at ameteurs could do some advanced SEO work for you.

More Website Performance Problems

I know SquareSpace is getting better at SEO and they certainly try to market themselves this way more and more to burst the techie’s bubble. Even now though I’ll do a test using GT Metrix with a new site and it comes out with a “D” grade rating with a 36% score. That’s the start, as you unpack the problems more and more you find things that will be outside of your control to do anything about.

Go check out the “common.min.en-US.js” file that’s about 10 times in size what it needs to be. It’s a highly efficient builder with it’s eyes on optimisation and performance clearly.

Then theirs the initial response or TTFB, my sites load generally in less than 40ms with Litespeed server. Some of the ones I’ve seen on SquareSpace are 218ms.

I know, who cares about the numbers it’s all about the content and good content is king says the brave designer who loves SquareSpace.

What about your limited layout and customisation options? Are you really a designer or an 18 year old out of school trying to start a web design business with a DIY platform.

In the past SquareSpace didn’t have Alt tags for images helping to describe what the image is to Google. It’s new builder finally caught up after 25 years, well done SquareSpace. I think this was something introduced to me at uni in 1997.

Where else does it fall down when it comes to SEO and ranking then. If the page eventually loads surely it will be structured in such a way as Google reads it effectively and brings me customers.

In the past and even now I find it often embarrassing that there’s no heading 1 defined. It’s not all, but quite alot of squareSpace websites are built without H1 tags. I have absolutely no idea why. It’s just the themes they had or the theme builders fault.

What about my support?

Best of luck with that, you pay them a monthly fee and I’m sure there’s someone somewhere or maybe it’s a bot ready to answer your questions or let you do the self serve thing to get the answers your after. I can feel the customer tapping out even as I’m writing. You don’t expect your web designer to help you with that technical problem do you?

What about the good stuff.

Everything till now seems super negative and “I just don’t like it” as one of our very special Australian politicians would say. No, I’m actually a fan. There’s some good when it comes to letting squaresapce looking after the hosting and maybe it starts out cheaper.

Some final DIY Square Thoughts

I’m not saying every website builder is perfect, most have their strengths and weaknesses but this one in particular is bad because it sucks young designers dry and is the worst. While I’ve put together a list of bad things I’m sure the list of good things would also be impressive.

Don’t take my word for it Google “Disadvantages of SquareSpace” and checkout the results.

Wagga Web Desgin

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