Since the early days of the internet there has been a desire for easy-to-build websites. We’ve come a long way from that horrendous code and early generators.
Today, people have many options of website builder tools to choose from. To be honest, Squarespace makes one of the better arguments for using such a platform. Don’t get me wrong, their product is pretty good for individuals seeking to have a slick website that they can easily edit and maintain. But let’s really consider how such a product works for a small business trying to grow and succeed in a very competitive webspace. What are you really getting for the price, and what are you missing out on when you bypass web designers and developers?
Squarespace uses the famous good, better, and best model for pricing. These three plans increase in cost and functionality as your site grows, pretty cool.
- Personal Plan – $96/yr or $10/mo
- Professional Plan – $192/yr or $20/mo
- Businesses Plan – $288/yr or $30/mo
Let’s focus on that last plan, as this article is about small businesses using Squarespace. The Business Plan pretty much gives you unlimited pages, products, galleries, and so on. Squarespace also handles the domain registration and web hosting. Where is the downside to all of this? You are locked in at that price FOREVER. Unless of course your business ceases to exist or you move on to another host. Sure, some hosts are expensive but the old saying, “you get what you pay for” really applies here. When you go with Squarespace you are being squeezed into a web server with their other sites, these web servers likely were purchased and priced to make a profit, right? So in reality you are getting a budget server which prohibits a business site from growing while maintaining speed. Which is bad news for successful businesses, as they will inevitably get more traffic. Also included in SS, are some neat integrations like Stripe for E-Commerce transactions, Xerox Accounting integration, and more. Impressive? Perhaps, but you’re locked into their partnerships and lose the ability to shop around. Chances are there is probably something out there that would better suit your specific needs.
Planning on running an e-commerce store through Squarespace? Well I hope you are married to the Stripe Payment Gateway. Don’t get me wrong, we love Stripe here at HitchHiker but we also like options. Recently we saw Simplify Commerce enter the payment gateway market bringing with it the lowest per transaction cost in the industry. Something a SS site will not have access to. The lack of options also makes itself apparent when trying to customize the user experience, including the actual act of making a purchase. You have only what they give you.
A lot of Squarespace users love the ability to quickly and easily add content to their sites, as they should! However it is a bit misleading. A lot of other Content Management Systems (CMS) have such options. Check out what CMS we prefer here at HitchHiker for some insight into WordPress, our personal favorite. Within WordPress we have several different add-ons or plugins at our disposal. A really popular solution is the Visual Composer by WPBakery. Case and point, don’t get too caught up in the drag ‘n drop functionality of Squarespace. There is a whole marketplace for customizable applications within the WordPress framework.
Squarespace boasts a pretty impressive selection of design templates, giving your business a starting point for the visual layout of your site. But that’s all it is, a starting point. Designing and developing a website requires a plan, and at least one individual with experience developing websites. There are some truly awful looking Squarespace sites due to users inexperience and lack of knowledge. If you are not a designer, or lack fundamental knowledge of design, your site may not be visually appealing to your audience. That is, in my opinion, the worst part about Squarespace. Design is not really something that can be templated with much success. Sure it can be expensive to have a website created for your business, but the investment can be very much worth it. Do not undervalue your businesses website.
A simple Google search can show that Squarespace is known for widespread speed issues. With site speed being a big SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ranking factor these days it seems more logical to purchase quality hosting. Providing your business with a fast site that has the ability be scaled to millions of visitors should be a big factor in your decision. When working outside of Squarespace, there are a ton of great hosting options that ultimately save you money and help ensure your future success. Here at HitchHiker Creative we work with two hosting companies, MediaTemple and WPEngine. MediaTemple acts as a starting point for a small websites with light traffic. As a site grows and requires a more powerful server to run, we can move the site over to our WPEngine server which gives our clients enterprise level power for less than your monthly Squarespace bill.
Once again, do not undervalue your business. Choosing a service like Squarespace may seem like a good cost saver, and for some that might hold true. For many businesses that is just not enough. Take pride in your business and hire a professional to help you build your website correctly so that it is able to convert visitors into customers, and first-time customers into repeat business. After all, with a monthly fee, eventually the cost of Squarespace will catch up to any custome site’s initial investment anyway.