Recently Liz took on a project to build a new website with Squarespace. Today she and Sandro go over the pros and some of the challenges of working with this website builder.
Pros & Cons of Squarespace
Sandro: [00:00:02] Welcome back to Liz and Sandro’s Marketing Podcast for the podcast that helps your small business growth through all things digital marketing including web design, SEO, email marketing & so much more. Today Liz and I are going to discuss the pros and cons of Squarespace.
Liz: [00:00:20] Yeah we did a comparison episode of I believe it was Wix, Weebly, not ‘Squeebly’. Wix, Weebly and Squarespace a couple months ago and I thought it’d be good to do a deep dive on Squarespace.
Sandro: [00:00:34] And why is that? Do you have a new client with the Squarespace?
Liz: [00:00:37] We have done some work on Squarespace and if you are a regular listener of the show you know that ultimately I’ve gone all in on WordPress and the DIVI builder. I just love it so much. So yeah working on Squarespace has been a challenge.
Sandro: [00:00:54] Is it your first time working w Squarespace?
Liz: [00:00:56] Well so our original podcast website was on Squarespace and so I did play around with with that one but, we’re now on WordPress. And I’m thrilled about it. So let me jump in with some of the cons so Sandro can finish with the pros and end the episode on a high note.
Sandro: [00:01:15] Some of the challenges.
Liz: [00:01:16] Yes. So a couple issues I have with Squarespace. The biggest one being you know there’s no staging site and that really irks me because now we’re live. And if I want to play around with some things you’re playing around with the live site and that just always makes me really nervous.
Liz: [00:01:34] Yeah you can set up some hidden pages and the client can view them and you know from that sense you know you can get around it. But I’m just a huge fan of having a staging site and a live site. A little bit more imperative when you do have WordPress and plugins need updated you definitely want your testing area to work through all of that. But yeah. No staging site.
Liz: [00:01:56] The other thing that I don’t love and this is specifically during the building process, it’s really hard to see how it’s going to look on a tablet and mobile. And they have a little dropdown at the top of the screen where you can click mobile or tablet, and it shrinks down for you. And you kind of get a sense of what it’s going to look like. But it’s it’s just not the same as being able to see it in an environment that really demonstrates the responsiveness and the functionality. So that was really, really irking me.
Sandro: [00:02:27] Which DIVI does.
Liz: [00:02:28] Well that’s not a specific feature of DIVI per se. That’s more of a WordPress feature and I guess. Yeah and how we have a staging environment that functions just as it will in the live environment. Now with this particular site that we just launched I’m actually really happy with how it looks on mobile. Generally speaking so worked out okay. But it’s just it’s frustrating. Like if you feel like you’re launching something and you don’t know exactly how it’s going to perform on mobile that that always makes me a little nervous.
Liz: [00:02:58] My second con would be the limited ability to edit various SEO elements for the site. If you do a little digging you find out that, well first of all, Squarespace has different templates that are grouped among families then these different families have different capabilities. And some of these templates. You can’t. . . I think the one we actually chose it says, you know “No description edits available.” We just can’t even do what I would typically do for SEO for a site. So that’s incredibly frustrating and you know I would really if you’re a site that wants to be well optimized and put yourself out there I would be very cautious about what template you choose on Squarespace.
Sandro: [00:03:46] Unfortunately that does limit you. And you can only use their templates you can’t code a whole new website on Squarespace. Correct?
Liz: [00:03:53] Correct. Correct. My third con has to do with the interface and the different things you need to do to get in and add sections move things around. It’s just not intuitive and I feel like I have to move my mouse in the exact right location to be able to see the manage sections. . . To see the Manage sections and drag and drop in. Sometimes you want to get into a site and make a quick change and if you have to spend 30 seconds hovering your mouse you know at a certain location that just it just gets frustrating. And as I was doing some research for this episode to see what other people have said, that was a con that’s that’s out there. That the interface and the building process is not all that intuitive. So . . .
Sandro: [00:04:39] Yes I have heard people complain about where they have to move their mouse to create a new block or to move block or to move it kind of halfway over. I have experienced that too. So to be fair all of your challenges all the things you’re finding challenging about Squarespace. . .
Liz: [00:04:52] They’re legitimate.
Sandro: [00:04:53] . . . are legitimate.
Liz: [00:04:54] Good.
Sandro: [00:04:57] Yes. However on the flip side some of the pros to Squarespace, & I’ve built at least a half dozen. A) they have beautiful templates out of all the Wix, Weebly and Squarespace, they have the most beautiful templates there.
Liz: [00:05:10] Yeah you can end up with a site that doesn’t look like it was built by a 12 year old, If you use Squarespace. You know, Wix/Weebly could be a little suspect.
Sandro: [00:05:19] Big time so they do have some beautiful templates and for that they are the most expensive of those 3. I believe per month. Some of the other pros are A) you don’t have to pay for hosting.
Liz: [00:05:33] Right. Which we’ve talked at length about and I can’t really speak to Squarespace hosting.
Sandro: [00:05:40] It seems pretty good it’s not the fastest it’s not your $60, $50 dollar a month World Press hosting but it’s not slow either. And to the best of my knowledge they rarely go down if ever so their uptime is pretty great.
Sandro: [00:05:54] Next they do do backups. It is pretty much backed up automatically so your websites backed up. However that could be a con also because we back up a lot of our sites to third party things. Even with WordPress you can even back up to your Dropbox, a free Dropbox account. So just in case the host goes down then even your backup will go down so that would be bad. Squarespace went down your backup would be down and there’s no way to back up to a third party unfortunately.
Liz: [00:06:24] And that I mean some of the things you just rattled off in terms of like security backups. If you have a wordpress site you have to take ownership of that or delegate it to someone that you trust. So it is nice the Squarespace does that for you.
Sandro: [00:06:36] Correct. It also includes a domain so the domain is included and it’s secure. So each site is HTTPS as you don’t to fiddle around with it. Everything set up correctly. SEO: The SEO has gotten so much better from when I started I believe I started with Squarespace 5.0. I think they’re up to 7.0, they may even be up to 8.0. It is a lot better now. There’s so much more you can adjust you can change. They used to default to these things and you couldn’t change them at all. I know some templates. I think they’re older templates, that you cannot change the title tags just like Liz mentioned. But it does seem that everything new that’s coming out from them is legitimately editable.
Liz: [00:07:14] So they’re moving towards becoming more SEO friendly.
Sandro: [00:07:19] Yes.
Liz: [00:07:19] That’s good.
Sandro: [00:07:20] If you look at their message boards from two years ago lots of SEOs are complaining “why can’t I change this?” “Why do I have to?” “Why am I stuck with this?” “This is horrible.” Things like that. So, and they listened. And they’ve really made some good changes towards that front.
Liz: [00:07:34] Actually while you were talking a pro just popped into my head. I know right? I will say that their help section is awesome. There were a couple times where I had some questions and it took two seconds to find the answer so that I do appreciate that.
Liz: [00:07:50] The other thing I was gonna say was I find that Squarespace websites, after a while they all kinda look the same. And being in web development I notice these things. I’m sure the typical consumer pays no attention but I just I feel like you look in. You know I’m looking out and about on the internet. “Oh that’s clearly a Squarespace template. Oh there’s another one.” You know you just start to see them after a while and I think they’re great for certain businesses and certain industries. But some you know depending on your product or services it may not work.
Sandro: [00:08:23] Correct. And if you happen to be in northeast Ohio looking up restaurants I will guarantee you at least two thirds of the websites for restaurants you look up are all built on Squarespace. After a while you start to realize “Oh this is a Squarespace site. Oh this is Squarespace site.” And yeah they’re beautiful but you’re right they are a kind of cookie cutter in some ways. In many ways. And one of the things I saw on Twitter today was a big talk at MozCon that you don’t even need a website anymore. Google is your website. It’s like. . .
Liz: [00:08:49] Well you could definitely make that argument. We have only scratched the surface in terms like talking on this podcast about all the different tools that Google offers and ways that you can improve your visibility. I mean we’ve talked about the big ones Google My Business and Questions and we’ve talked about Google Sites but there’s so much more there’s so much more. And yeah I mean you really kind of have to ask yourself with the Rise of No-Click searches, how how much effort and energy do you really need to be putting into a website?
Sandro: [00:09:19] The person today on Twitter was saying the only reason to build a Web site is so that Google will read it, repurpose it, and display that to people.
Liz: [00:09:27] There you go.
Sandro: [00:09:29] Is that an episode all by itself?
Liz: [00:09:30] I do think that is an entire episode. Yes so let me take a look at that tweet that you saw and we can probably do a whole episode on this.
Sandro: [00:09:38] Finally one other pro to Squarespace is you don’t worry about plugins. You don’t have to worry about updating plugins. “Will this plugin break?” Everything that’s on Squarespace was approved or made by Squarespace and you just know it’ll work. So you don’t to worry and you don’t to update things. Or go in there & pay people to update or, it’s just going to work.
Sandro: [00:09:57] So overall I think the bottom line is while it’s less flexible it’s basically simplicity for all the people that don’t want the WordPress baggage or the coding baggage. There’s no CSS areas really there to code. So you get the simplicity you get the beauty. Get the ease you can probably knock a site out. . . If you got four or five great pictures you can knock a site out, and some good content, you can probably knock a site out in a day or two to be honest with you.
Liz: [00:10:22] Probably. Yeah.
Sandro: [00:10:23] Yeah.
Liz: [00:10:25] So I’m glad you mentioned pictures by the way because the site that we just launched it is all about the photography. And the client we work with she has invested in some stunning photography of her. You know to accurately communicate what it is she brings to the table. So that that’s why I think the site turned out so well. Of course I will say that also could have been achieved in WordPress but whatever.
Sandro: [00:10:50] So you’re basically trading in simplicity for flexibility or for customization or true customization that you can on a WordPress. But that’s OK. Sometimes you just want a website, a simple website and knock it out there.
Sandro: [00:11:02] So, that will do it for us. If you have any questions please shoot them our way, Squarespace questions or WordPress questions. We’ll give you a shout out in a link to your site. You’ll also find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And if you like what you hear we’d love a review. You’ll find this on iTunes and Google podcast. Thanks again for joining us. We’ll see you next time.