You need a website, and you need it now. But you’re not a coder – you don’t know HTML, CSS, Wordpress, Java, or any of those other buzzwords thrown around by tech gurus. Luckily, the web is now full of cheap, easy ways to make websites. Perfect, you think, or maybe this seems too good to be true. And honestly, it might be.
The internet is bursting with basic drag and drop content management systems, like Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly. These systems aren’t terrible– they provide an easy way to get a website running without any coding knowledge – but they’re not a solution for everyone. Systems like this are geared towards companies with basic sites and a low-pressure online presence. So what do you do? How do you know what’s the best fit for your website?
The benefits of Squarespace and company
Summed up, Squarespace (and Wix, Weebly, etc.) is easy. Setup is minimal and can be done by anyone with a computer. You don’t need specialized skills or a degree in web design, and for some people, that’s perfect. They don’t need a site with sophisticated functionality, and using a Squarespace template means half the battle is won before they’ve even started.
Squarespace is also cheap. Their plans range from $12 to $40 a month, a fee easily affordable by even personal bloggers and basement start-ups. Wix has plans from $10 to $25, with cheap add-ons starting as low as $5. For many, this is all they can– or are willing to– pay for web hosting.
When you shouldn’t use Squarespace
Squarespace is great for basic functionality– blogs, photo galleries, even some very simple e-commerce offerings– but like all templates, there are limits. Below are some of the ways Squarespace falls short in comparison to more complex systems like Wordpress.
Loading time is incredibly important. Think back on your own experience: how often have you clicked out of a site because it took too long to load? Unless a company has a monopoly on a market, users quickly turn to the competition when pages load slowly.
In 2014, Web Site Tool Tester ran a short experiment using a Google Page Speed Test comparing the loading time of various templates for eight web providers. Google ranks page speed from 0 to 100, with an 85 indicating the page is performing well. Yet the results showed that Squarespace only received a 70 on desktop (and a 47 on mobile), Wix got a 75 (desktop) and 55 (mobile) Weebly received an 81 (desktop) and 66 (mobile).
Just using a Wordpress site doesn’t guarantee that you’re site will load quickly, but that content management system gives developers more control over improvements.
SEO– or search engine optimization– is the order your site is listed in on search engine results page. When ranking, Google puts websites with a slower page speed lower than those that can load pages quickly. This is true for both mobile and desktop servers. You can pay to promote your site, but the higher your site can get organically, the better (to learn more about SEO, you can read one of our previous posts “Why Does SEO Matter?”). Using a template with a long loading time puts you at an disadvantage immediately. A lower search rank means less clicks and users – and ultimately, fewer paying customers.
There are hundreds of ways to market your site or business online. Some are obvious, like including share buttons to social media on your pages, and some tactics are more hidden.
For example, as discussed earlier, good SEO is a great way to make sure people find your site when looking through Google, as discussed by ShivraWeb during in their updated Squarespace review, the SEO options in Squarespace are severely limited. Other tools, like Google Analytics require digging to find and implement, meaning you need a good knowledge of both the Squarespace system and the importance of such features for them to be implemented properly.
Squarespace is a one-size-fits all web builder. The problem is that not all websites are one size. If you’re looking for a basic site that can fit into a template, Squarespace might work for you. But if you want something with more customizable e-commerce, and that has the potential for advanced marketing techniques, think carefully before settling for a drag and drop system.