In this post, I am going to put forward some opinions on why I feel small to medium-size businesses should consider creating their websites using Squarespace.
Before we begin, I want to be clear that I have no affiliation with Squarespace and the contents of this post are purely one of opinion.
I hope you find the information within this post to be helpful and aid you in making an informed decision when deciding on a platform to manage your website.
There is a fair bit of information in the blog post so to make things a little bit easier you can use the links below to jump to an area of interest or for the whole picture you can start reading from the beginning:
Website platforms in the modern world
A website platform sometimes referred to a Content Management System or CMS for short is some software that can be used to create and manage the content of website pages. You don't have to build a website using one of these platforms and can opt for what we call in the industry a 'static website' instead, but these platforms will in most cases make using your website faster and easier. These days most sites that you see on the internet are using a CMS platform to deliver website pages to users.
There are many websites platforms available. Some are free and some you have to pay to use. Some are self-hosted and require a separate host, some are hosted and do not, and some are both.
Website design and creation today
In truth, these days Its is not particularly difficult to build a website for a business, and many people can and do it with some invested time and practice. New technologies such as WordPress, Squarespace and many others allow people to create a site for themselves and control it in its entirety.
The steps required for setting up a website platform does depend on the platform (and version of that platform) you decide to use along with what kind of hosting the platform needs. With all that said the most popular platforms all have very detailed documentation and resources which gives users a set of step by step instructions covering how to install and set them up.
All of this all might be a bit daunting at first, and some platforms make this process more straight forward than others, but with a little study and practice most website platforms are reasonably straightforward to set up and use.
Hiring a professional
So with all these newer technologies and platforms available when is it necessary or the right time to hire a professional to build your business website?
As stated before with some practice and training almost anyone can build a website for their business; however, it ultimately comes down to whether a non-professional can develop and produce a competent, professional site that is going to deliver on their online business goals and marketing objectives.
Here are a few reasons why you might want to hire a professional to help you create a website for your business.
A website design professional can build and launch your websites in a matter of days or weeks rather than weeks and months allowing you to get your site up and running quickly and start benefiting from it.
A qualified and trained designer
A qualified and trained design professional with years of experience will be able to create a vastly more professional website than an amateur. They will be able to create custom graphics, infographics, icons and imagery that harmonises with your companies visual identity and brand. A professionally created design will help your site to communicate more effectively with its target audience and build trust with new site visitors.
User Interface Design
A professional will have a working knowledge of UI Design (User Interface Design) and be able to design and create an interface that your users will be able to navigate with ease.
User experience Design
A professional will have a proper understanding of UX Design (User Experience Design) and will be able to organise your site, and it's content appropriately for your target audience.
Digital marketing and search engines
A website professional can give you advice and teach you best practices for SEO (search engine optimisation), digital marketing, copywriting and where to get further help with these services. After all, a website is just the base foundation for your content. The quality and structure of this content will be what ultimately determines the success of your site.
If you are moving your site from another platform, a professional will be able to help you do this while having the least negative impact possible on your current search engine listings and rankings.
Help and support
You will get help, support and training from someone who is already very experienced in the platform that you are using for your website. You will be able to reduce the amount of time needed to get up to speed training yourself, and you will have a seasoned professional on a convenient standby if you need to acquire help or further knowledge.
Which platform do I choose and which is the best one?
With all that in mind whether you decide to use a professional designer or go it alone, you still do need to decide on what website platform (if any) you are going to use to create and manage your business website.
Now, this is the tricky bit as there are many platforms available that all work in their unique way. If you are taking advice from a professional designer or developer chances are they will be biased towards one or two of these platforms or a particular way to run, manage and serve your website. Not to say their solution won't work and isn't right for your needs but I think it is better to keep all options on the table and consider everything where possible.
I have been a website designer for a very long time. Throughout my career, to date, I have used many types of website platform including creating my own.
The idea that one website platform is better than another seems like a strange notion to me although this appears to be the rationale of many website designers working today.
In truth, all website platforms are different, and therefore all website platforms have strengths and weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages. The trick is choosing the right website platform that is going to be appropriate for the tasks and the goals of the business website; it will help to maintain and manage.
Your website platform is irrelevant!
In reality, the platform you use is irrelevant. Why? Because your goal is not to create a website on a specific platform. Your goal is to drive relevant traffic to your site, convert prospects into customers and make money for your business. To do this, you will need to use the best Digital Marketing practices for your company which of course has nothing to do with your choice of website platform.
A slight backtrack...
However, saying all that, the platform is relevant when it comes to day to day running of your website and having your site built on a reliable and stable platform that is easy to use and one that makes managing your website a breeze is very relevant indeed!
For me, this is where Squarespace comes in, as in my opinion for the average business owner and website user Squarespace does offer them a very frustration free, empowering and simple way to work with their website.
A website for a small to medium-sized business
I am not different from a lot of website designers out there in that I am too biased (slightly) towards a few preferred website platforms.
It is no secret that I am a big fan of Squarespace (and Shopify and ExpressionEngine but that's another story). However, I like to think that there is a rational reason for my love of Squarespace when it comes to building websites for small to medium-sized businesses.
Note that I explicitly used the term "small to medium-sized business" because that is, in my opinion, the type and size of business that is well suited to using Squarespace as it's chosen website platform.
So why Squarespace for small to medium-sized business websites?
Third party software and plugins
Squarespace is naturally suited for smaller to medium-sized businesses because it can do a lot of the day to day things that smaller businesses require right out of the box without the need to install additional software or as sometimes referred to 'plugins'.
Platforms such as WordPress rely heavily on plugins to give it much of its functionality and although this is not always a bad thing often these plugins are created and supported by third parties which can lead to difficulties. While reasonably rare if a plugin you are using with your website ceases to be updated or supported by its developer your site might stop working as you intended or be vulnerable to outside attacks from hackers and all this can happen without any warning or indication something is wrong.
Because Squarespace does not use any third party software whatsoever and Squarespace creates all software used with the platform specifically for Squarespace, you will not ever run into these kinds of difficulties. Your website, as a result, is more stable and secure and I like the fact I can go to bed at night knowing my site will be there running, as usual, the next day.
In truth, successful attacks on a website are not all that common, but when they do happen, they can cost a lot of time and sometimes a lot of money to put right (especially if you have to pay a website professional to sort it all for you). Plus the time your site is down can also be costly if you are losing new business enquiries or physical product sales.
These often unexpected costs can have a significant impact on a typical small to medium-sized business who might already be pushing their finances to the max. Using a platform such as Squarespace does remove this concern entirely.
Website servers and hosting
Squarespace is known as a hosted website platform which means that it does not require a separate computer or host to work.
Not needing a separate host can have its advantages and disadvantages depending on the kind of website you are going to run but for the typical small to medium-sized businesses, in my opinion, the pros definitely outway any cons.
So, for example. Like the plugins and third-party software we just discussed not using a separate hosting service removes any issues that can be created by that host which would in many cases be run by a different company than the one that created your website platform.
Again although reasonably rare a hosting company may make changes to it's hosting systems or servers and very much depending on how good of a company they are they might not warn you or tell you of these changes beforehand. As a result, you could wake up one morning to find your site not functioning as you expect or worse still, not working at all.
With your website hosted on a dedicated web server created exclusively for Squarespace and by Squarespace your site will not run into any of these kinds of problems and as mentioned before when we were discussing plugins avoid any time or financial implications brought about by your website being down or needing maintenance from a paid professional.
An issue that some business run into with their website is maintenance. Some platforms (WordPress is a good example) need more TLC than others to keep functioning correctly, and of course, this maintenance and upkeep can cost your own time or leave you having to pay someone (usually a website designer/provider) to do this upkeep for you. All, of course, costs your business money. Squarespace, on the other hand, requires no maintenance whatsoever, not a sausage. The folks at Squarespace manage the upkeep of your website behind the scenes for you doing all the necessary security updates, fixes and backups needed to keep your site safe and running at it's best.
For many business owners who are used to the other way of doing things, this can be a real relief, which brings me on to my following point nicely and my next reason for using Squarespace for a small to medium-sized business.
If you are lucky enough to have a reliable and responsible website designer who takes care of your website maintenance for you maintenance as we discussed in the previous section might not necessarily be a problem for your business. You as a business owner might also be happy to pay for additional services for maintenance and upkeep for your business website.
However, if you are employing a small possibly local business to manage your site, you need to make sure that the company can offer all the support you need. With the best intentions, a small business or individual freelance website provider won't be able to provide you with round the clock support when things go wrong. There is nothing worse than your website going down and on calling you website provider finding out that they are on holiday and unable to help you for a week. Again and not to keep repeating myself. Your time and money wasted.
We have already established that Squarespace does not need the kind of maintenance and upkeep that platforms like WordPress do which can be a big relief to many business owners. However, it gets better. Squarespace gives you 24/7 award-winning customer support as part of your standard hosting plan with them, and if you do contact them with an issue, they are brilliantly helpful and incredibly supportive. As a business owner, this means even if you call your website designer up and they are on holiday and unable to help you with your problem you have a good alternative.
Time & Money
In my experience, it is unusual for any small to medium-sized business to require a completely bespoke and hand-coded website solution and create their own CMS (Content Management System). Most companies these days opt for an already built solution such as WordPress, Joomla, ExpressionEngine, Squarespace etc...
Using Squarespace (unless you use developer mode), you won't need to spend as much time coding website pages from the ground up and if the creation of your website is appropriately planned the whole process can be very time efficient and therefore cost effective. Working with Squarespace in this way also means throughout the project there can be more focus on design, user experience, search engine optimisation and content rather than working on server-side aspects of your build.
If you experience issues with your website as a result of plugin/software or hosting issues, these can be very costly for your business. You can spend time trying to sort and fix these issues which will cost you your own time and therefore money. You might have to pay a professional to fix your problem which again can also cost you money. Also, anytime your website is down you could be losing enquires or physical sales. It's nice to know that a platform like Squarespace is far less likely to run into any of the problems with plugins/software and hosting as discussed previously. It's also nice to know that in the unlikely event you do experience some website problems with your Squarespace website you have access to free 24/7 customer support as part of your standard Squarespace hosting plan.
Lastly, having a Squarespace website can empower business owners and encourage them to add regular content to their website. Now, as mentioned earlier I did list out some of the reasons why you should consider hiring a professional to create a site for you, and I would always recommend this approach if you wish to create a unique and professional website for your business or brand. However, the built-in drag and drop system within Squarespace does make managing and updating website pages a breeze and does give business owners the ability to edit and add new content quickly and efficiently to their website without the need to contact or liaise with their website design professional.
Finally, I would like to finish off with dispelling some of the myths that exist out there on the interwebs regarding Squarespace.
In all honesty, there are a few, but here are the three main ones.
1. Squarespace performs poorly in search engines and does not produce search engine optimised (SEO) website pages, right?
This one is a complete myth and one of the biggest mistruths that sometimes surfaces in discussions regarding Squarespace.
The truth is quite the opposite as Squarespace is set up right out of the box with the best and most up to date SEO practices. Also, the folks at Squarespace are continually working and monitoring the platform to make sure it is performing at the best it can and inline with best SEO practices.
Of course, you have to play your part too. There indeed is a right way and wrong way to work with Squarespace with it comes to SEO but the good news is there is lots of brilliant information and courses out there on the internet regarding this subject.
2. You don't own your content if you use Squarespace.
Again, not correct in the slightest. You do own all of your content that you add to Squarespace and if you don't believe me just read Squarespace terms of service which clearly states this. Here's an excerpt from the Squarespace Terms of Service:
"When you upload content to Squarespace, you still own it. You do, however, give us permission to use it in ways necessary to provide, improve, promote and protect our services. For example, when you upload a photo, you give us the right to save it and display it on your site at your direction. We also may promote or feature your site, but you can opt out if you don’t want us to do that".
3. You can't design with Squarespace, and your website will end up looking like everyone else's?
For me, the content and financial performance of your website are far more important considerations than the design or style of your site.
Of course, website design and presentation if competently achieved can go along way to convincing the viewer that you are a professional and trustworthy business.
The designers out there will be pleased to know that you can make a Squarespace website look pretty much however you want!
Though you will need to understand and be able to write website coding languages, and as discussed earlier in this blog post, this is one of the reasons that you might want to consider hiring a professional to create your website for you.
Briefly, there are three ways to customise your Squarespace website, and each has its connotations which I won't go into now.
- Using the built-in Squarespace 'Style Editor'.
- Using the Squarespace Developer Platform and starting with a template or building your site from scratch.
Summary (Squarespace for small to medium-sized business)
In summary, using Squarespace can help avoid website issues, wasted time and subsequent unexpected financial costs by eliminating all the third-party, software and plugins that often come with free software such as WordPress.
Squarespace requires less day to day TLC than some other website platforms saving a business time or the need to employ a company to manage and monitor their website for them.
Squarespace will not need a separate hosting service, and the website-hosting it does use is supplied, designed and configured for Squarespace only.
Squarespace is managed and monitored, and by Squarespace behind the scenes, so you never have to worry about your site and its content. Squarespace also provides excellent 24/7 customer support via online chat and email which is easily accessible directly within your the Squarespace control panel.
Squarespace makes it easier for businesses to run their website in its entirety and empowers business owners to take back more control of the day to day things they want to do with their website.
Squarespace has all the tools built in that enables businesses to use their website as a profitable marketing tool. With the right training and support, users can squeeze as much value as possible out of their website and convert website traffic into sales.
Many thanks for taking the time to read this post and we hope it helped to shine some light on Squarespace.
I want to mention again that I have no affiliation with Squarespace and the contents of this post are purely one of opinion.
If you are any questions or a project you need some help with, please feel free to get in touch. We are always happy to give help and advice where we can.
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About the authors
Michael James Collett and Rachel Willett specialise in Identity Design, Website Design and Digital Marketing. We help businesses communicate more effectively with their customers through creating beautiful, strategic and crafted brand identities and websites.