Website Designer or Squarespace: Which is Better?
As a website design team, we are always asked, “What do you think about Squarespace?!” The truth is, in very limited situations, Squarespace is awesome. You can actually stop reading this article if your website will need to exist less than one year, will display minimal information, and will not need to be found on search engines. If your site satisfies all three of these requirements, then you are the perfect Squarespace customer. If your site does not satisfy all three of these requirements, then Squarespace is probably a terrible idea for you. Thus, you should hire a website designer.
Squarespace is a Web-Builder
Squarespace is a web-builder which means that it supports basic functions. Such support gives off the facade that the websites are customizable, but they are far from custom. This is because web-builders are platforms that simplify fundamental coding so that someone who is not a computer wiz can still be able to perform basic tasks. Fundamental coding consists, primarily, of: (1) adding/deleting text; (2) changing colors of items on the page; (3) adding/ deleting media; (4) creating sections of content.
By virtue of this simplification process, only basic tasks are available as “customization” options. This means that anyone can create a Squarespace account and use a prebuilt template to add his or her own text with preloaded fonts. They can also click and drag videos and images onto their webpage. Basically, a web-builder is the same thing as a tv-dinner. You can doctor it, but you can never make it taste just like from-scratch, homemade cooking.
A web-builder is great for limited uses: (1) Wedding websites; (2) Seasonal products (e.g. Pumpkin Patch websites/ Christmas Tree Farm websites); (3) Portfolios and/or eResumes. Web-builders are not great for businesses that seek longevity for their online branding.
Website Designers Build Custom Websites
Building a custom site with a web designer means that you have full control over the look and feel of your website. You can change the way that everything behaves from page load behavior down to button behavior. For example, if you want the font to change from Times New Roman to a cursive font when a mouse hovers over a certain button, you can add this function. Color combinations, spacing of objects, unlimited font types, videos, images, and the ability to streamline your business into your site are also huge advantages of custom web builds. We will discuss streamlining in detail under the heading “Site Efficiency.”
Squarespace Pricing & Features
The service ranges between $144-552 per year, not including transaction fees. At the lowest price, you are receiving limited user capabilities and the following website hosting features: (1) storage and bandwidth; (2) SSL; (3) Free Custom Domain; and (4) 24/7 Customer support. (If you are unsure what website hosting is, we will graze over it in this article but we explain more thoroughly in the “What is Website Hosting” article.)
Squarespace allows the user to input very basic SEO data. By the way, if you don’t know how SEO works, you are probably making huge mistakes with your website.
Squarespace sites are also mobile optimized – meaning the layout of the site changes to fit the screen of your phone, tablet or computer.
Lastly, analytics graphs are embedded into the site. Analytics are statistics that tell you detailed information about your website traffic and unique visitors.
Website Designers Pricing & Features
It can be as low as $60 per year to maintain the hosting and domain name for your site. However, the more visitors your site attracts, the more expensive your hosting plan will become. Getting more traffic should also become easier with a custom web build because your designer can perform tasks that will help search engines read your site better. This is referred to as SEO (search engine optimization).
You can place advanced SEO on each page of your site – allowing Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. to understand the big picture of what your site is used for, page by page. The better understanding these search engines have, the more likely they are to suggest your site to a person searching for terms that are relevant to your website.
Furthermore, the web design standard is to make every site mobile optimized. With a good website designer, you can even design your website to look drastically different on a desktop versus a mobile device, which promotes user friendliness. For example, our website looks very different on a desktop computer compared to a mobile device.
Lastly, analytics can easily be embedded into the site as well as advertising scripts. If you plan on growing your business exponentially, you will have to spend up to 90% of your time marketing your products and services. The best way to understand your audience is through data. Such data can be collected via the analytics and advertising scripts that you place on your website.
But, there are also awesome features that your website designer can add to your website that show details like (1) what buttons your users clicked on when they came to your homepage or (2) whether they scrolled to the bottom of a page or exited out. (Before you ask, the answer is, “Neither of these two features are available on Squarespace.”)
Let’s break it down further…
If you are building a website for a business, this section is especially for you. If you don’t have the budget to create a premium website, it is presumably true that you intend to dedicate the majority of your time towards making your business profitable.
That is the main reason that you should be streamlining your entire business through your website. You don’t have time to do tedious tasks that take chunks of hours out of your day.
For example, drafting contracts. Let’s say you are a photographer who needs each client to sign a photo-release form, a fitness trainer who wants your client to sign a waiver form, or a business owner who would like new employees to sign entrance paperwork. Your website should have the ability to automatically generate contracts using data that is filled out in a form. (If this doesn’t make sense to you, click here to try out our automatic contract generator that we use on our website.)
Streamlining options like these are not available on Squarespace.
While there are a few third-party tools that can be integrated into your Squarespace for functions like booking & scheduling or simple contact forms, these tools are extremely limited and Squarespace has flooded their website with warning labels that the tools may not work properly. That is not a chance you want to take with your business! Streamlining features save you time and energy, and out of more than one million of them, less than 7 are available be used on Squarespace.
Thus, placing a growing business on a web builder will appear to save you money through low installment payments, but will keep you from being able to scale your business via smart technology.
This is exactly why no growing business should have a website built on a web builder.
If you plan to own your website longer than a year, you should think about cost like a business owner. At the lowest end for Squarespace, you are looking at spending $248 with them over the course of two years. This is money that goes solely to “renting their equipment.” After that two years is up, if you want to find a less expensive host to migrate your website to, you won’t be able to move the site files because Squarespace owns the properties of your website. Meaning…”you ain’t taking that website anywhere!”
The higher end website package that Squarespace offers will leave you out of $1,104. So that beautiful blog that you spent months on, is gone like it never existed after you cancel your account. Meanwhile, a basic website done by a web designer may be a one time investment as low as $499. But you own your entire site and the properties!
Meaning, if you hypothetically decide to travel the world for 6 months, you can cancel your hosting plan, zip up your website and save it onto your computer. When you get back home, just activate hosting with whatever company you want, and upload your site back onto the internet!
The difference in costs between a $248 website and a $499 website is not much when you consider the beauty of owning your work. Not to mention, after you invest that one time fee of $499 you can have the same site for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, without paying your web designer ever again. After 5 years with even the cheapest Squarespace Package, you have spent $720, and with a premium Squarespace site you have spent over $5k. That’s a ton of money you will throw away!
Although Squarespace has the essential SEO fields, SEO relies heavily on keywords and meta data that is unique to each page of your website. A good SEO strategy requires hours of research and a website designer to spend at least 10-20 minutes on each page’s meta tags. If you aren’t able to implement a custom SEO Strategy into your site, you may run into a few tragic problems.
For example, you may never know if your site passes the “Flesch Readability test” or if your descriptions are being properly read by Google. So if you are personally in charge of SEO – which is the case with Squarespace, and you aren’t a web designer, there may be a lot of neat niche related nuggets you are missing out that result in search engines missing you!
A Web Designer does web design.
Last but certainly not least, a web designer builds with the audience in mind. Do you offer a service or product? Can another person offer that service or product to himself without paying you? Probably. Will you do a better job than him if he was to hire you? Definitely.
A professional web designer knows a ton more about websites that the average joe. A web designer is going to be well versed on digital trends, awesome effects that will wow your viewers, how to make your site make more money, how to create credibility through content placement, how to drive traffic to your website, and most importantly how to convert visitors from website peruser status to potential client status. To explain what I mean more thoroughly, I have created a short quiz that you should try passing in order to determine how much of a webdesigner you are: take the quiz.
Lastly, In a world where presentation is everything, why would you not want someone who is a professional to work on a site that will act as the first representation of you to millions of people? Yes, you can create a decent website on Squarespace, but you can also eat a decent tv dinner. Not the same as having a home cooked meal, and you certainly wouldn’t take a business lead out to lunch and feed them tv dinner. So, why feed them an instant-website?
Making the decision to go either route may take some time. But feel free to really examine your site ideas with a web designer that you trust. Also, be sure to download the “web design plan” worksheet we have created so that you can self assess whether you should go with Squarespace or a web designer, and If you have any questions about your web design plans feel free to contact our team at pureconceptions.com/contact.