I used to think Squarespace was a decent alternative for people who need a website but maybe feel a little intimated. Now I think they exist in an awkward, nearing unethical gray area. Too complicated and lacking in documentation for an inexperienced web user, but too simplified and lacking in basic functionality for a more experienced web builder.
My WordPress gods were taking a nap this month so I ended up with 3 separate Squarespace site builds on my to-do list. All were clients that set out to create a website on their own for the first time, but once started, decided it would be less stressful to pay me to build it for them.
I generally build in WordPress, using Divi page builder for most of my projects. So going into a Squarespace build, I expected to run into rough edges and brick walls keeping me from my usual work flow and layout style.
What I did not expect was a drastically more confusing system of menus and options that not only made bad design decisions for me, but also made it incredibly tedious to fix. Below are my main gripes/red flags I think make Squarespace the wrong choice for most website owners.
Color Selections and Theming
So convoluted! Just give me global colors and let me be.
- Color palettes can only be 5 colors, no more, no less.
- Squarespace will automatically create 10(!) ‘themes’ based on my palette.
- Each of those 10 themes contains the color settings for every type of object you could possibly put on a page.
- Which means each theme has approx. 200 color options
- If Squarespace deems the darkest color in the palette to be not dark enough to be used as text, it may set all of your text in a theme to flat black.
- The only way to fix it is to modify your palette until Squarespace agrees that your dark brown really can work on your pastel pink, or to manually adjust every text color option and select your palette color again.
Shop Product Import
Yeah, it exists but that’s the only neutral thing I have to say about it.
Bad things I have to say about Squarespace’s Product Import system:
- Importing takes forever
- There is hardly any documentation for how to set up your import spreadsheet and their own example .csv is incomplete
- You cannot bulk import Product Variants with attached images
- There isn’t any bulk product editing built in to the site
- You cannot view your products more or less than 50 at a time
- If you are forced to delete lots of products because of a faulty import, you can select all 50 products on the first page with just a couple clicks, but nearly every time Squarespace updates your list of products, the first page has 16 or fewer products. This is a major slow down if you are having to delete hundreds or thousands of products.
- You must define your Product categories BEFORE importing, otherwise the product will not get the category applied. (Tags do not need to be created before import and will be created automatically if they don’t already exist)
- There is no Category bulk import or editing
- You must give each product a url, rather than just using the product name as the url if one isn’t specified
Squarespace’s website says that you can import up to 10,000 products in 7.1 but I can’t fathom the person who wants to manage 10,000 products in this system.
If you are fighting to get your import spreadsheet set up correctly for import, I recommend using the built in export functionality to reverse engineer how a specific product should look. This is how I discovered that Product Variants won’t import their own images, and multiple images for a product have to be manually associated with the correct variant after import.
Missing Layout Options
Apparently someone at Squarespace hates borders and box shadows cause they do not exist in Squarespace. Since I work with a block builder (Divi) so often, I’m accustomed to the high customizability that usually comes from such a system.
- There is no way to group blocks
- Which means there is no way to move a Header, Subheader and Button all together to a different Section
- You can’t duplicate specific blocks, only entire Sections
- You can’t define the number of columns in a row except by dragging a block up next to an existing block
- You can’t define a specific width for a column except by dragging the invisible line between columns to get somewhere close
- I know a lot of people who would just flip the table if they were told to eyeball the perfect center of a layout.
- Line-Spacing, Squarespace never heard of it
- You can’t add classes or ids to specific blocks, so in order to create a jump link you have to add a “code” block and input a HTML div with a class applied.
So. Many. Clicks.
Basically every task in Squarespace takes 3-5 more clicks than I think it should. This may sound like a small annoyance but when you’re building a whole site or managing a bunch of products those precious seconds start to add up. Maybe someday I’ll do a full click audit of some of the most core layout tasks in Squarespace vs Divi, but I know Divi would win and I’d rather spend my afternoon playing Minecraft.
Obviously this is a matter of opinion but I’ve always found Squarespace sites to have too much white space and not enough hierarchy. I can usually spot a Divi site a mile away based on the loading animations, but I can spot a Squarespace site from everything-about-it and from a design standpoint I can’t be ok with that.
My rates for a Squarespace build are now higher than a WordPress build, and I offer basic training and ongoing support for WordPress sites.