Recently two different people spoke to me about building websites using Squarespace. It’s been awhile since anyone has mentioned the subscription CMS platform and it was surprising to be asked about the product on two occasions.
Squarespace gained market share and popularity by advertising on NPR and public radio stations like WNYC*.
Working to design within the Squarespace platform is like trying to paint a bedroom through the door keyhole. The CSS can only be accessed through Squarespace’s proprietary user interface. The proprietary user interface is kept locked away because Squarespace charges subscription-based fees and the way to charge the fee is to insert a roadblock to thwart web development.
Many Internet-based services such as Squarespace are designed to insert themselves into the service in order to extract money from the transaction or work. A common example of that business model is LinkedIn, where users upload their personal contacts. LinkedIn’s business model is to make it difficult for users to access their own data unless a fee is paid. Trolls build bridges and extract payment to cross. Working with Squarespace is a little like that.
The first person needed to publish sales content for a third party startup. Using an off-the-shelf Squarespace template might be good enough for this purpose. Editing the front-end design or maintaining the website are not concerns. The website will probably not need to exist in six months.
The second person who asked about Squarespace already has a mammoth website built using WordPress. The WordPress website is the primary marketing hub for the client’s entire business.
The WordPress website, built over a fifteen year period, has rambling content, a lack of cohesive brand development and an unplanned site architecture. None of these faults require a technical solution.
The website utilizes multiple custom plugins and consists of many different types of content. It is hard to imagine porting the existing content successfully to Squarespace.
WordPress is utilized for some 25% of websites worldwide. WordPress has a wide and deep technical ecosystem; most of it is public sourced (free to use). WordPress website maintainers are able to access the website from within the user interface and from without, as long as access to the site host location is available.
If there is a strong need to redevelop the website, there are many much better options to use than Squarespace. What the second client really needs is to invest in knowledgable web developers to maintain and develop the website. Lacking that, switching to Squarespace will not solve problems. It will increase them.
* Here’s a little marketing secret: If you have a mediocre Internet technology that you want to foist onto consumers be sure to advertise on public radio. Public radio stations are advertising hungry and will promote anything, without question or testing for quality; and listeners will suck it up, also without any further investigation.