You are looking for a new website, should you hire a designer or just go with Squarespace? We are writing this article to give you our perspective as we have built websites with Squarespace, and now primarily do custom work.
This post will help you make the right decision, as a lot of times this can be an overwhelming and tough decision to make. It’s all good, we got your back. 🙂
Before we move forward in this post, we want to make sure we write this out loud: We are not bashing Squarespace in any way, and think it is an excellent fit for the right people. This post is primarily to give you our perspective and experience, showing the benefits of using either one.
The Cost Factor
Let’s start with your most prominent factor, the dinero. Budget is one of the most significant considerations that drive decisions on who to hire or what platform to use. So let’s talk about it first.
Squarespace starts you off with a $12/month package. One of the cool perks is that they give you SSL right off the bat. SSL is security and whenever you go to a website that collects your information or go buy something you will see SSL. Squarespace has other small perks like email and hosting. You could go for their top-of-the-line $40/month plan, which gives you a lot more and is geared towards e-commerce. You also get free Google AD words.
When you hire a designer, you will be paying for everything upfront, unless you have them on a retainer after to maintain your website (if needed). Multi-page websites that are done well cost anywhere from $3000 on up and usually don’t come with added perks like square space offers. You will need to purchase those on your own. We noticed with Squarespace that they don’t talk much about what kind of server they are using, how you can do advanced SEO, or use additional tools for speeding up your website. We use WordPress when we build our websites and utilize a lot of free tools to try to maximize website speed and SEO. We also advise you on the best web hosting provider to use, and what options they give you. We think that an advantage of going the custom route is that your specific needs are heard, and accommodated.
Making a decision based on cost alone, Squarespace is a no-brainer, at least in the short term. The one factor you have to think about is what will the price look like long term when you actually have to build the thing yourself? The website will not build itself, we haven’t gotten to the AI age quite yet. You will be taking a theme, and inputting content, creating graphics, and testing on devices. All by yourself.
How much is your time worth per hour?
Can you build a web site that communicates your brand with massive impact?
Do you have the ability to make custom graphics?
Is your content tailored to match a themes design?
Do you have a resource to back you up, if things go sideways?
Can you do it alone or do you need help?
Communicating your story is more important than cost, in our opinion. When trying to make the decision of going with Squarespace or hiring a designer, here is a question you have to ask yourself:
“Do I know my story and can I tell it with impact on a website, alone?”
When using Squarespace, you have no one but yourself who is going to get the work done. Part of the higher costs of hiring a designer is that it is their job to listen to your story, understand your goals and dreams, and design an experience that communicates your brand with impact.
When working with Squarespace and you decide on the theme to use, you need to make sure that the content you have and how you’re trying to communicate your brand lines up with the existing theme’s design. We noticed that if you create your own layouts, things can go sideways fast. Sometimes you will need to bring in outside help to fix any issues. Once you start bringing in outside help, going the Squarespace route now gets a lot more expensive than hiring a designer from the start. Another consideration is how you’re telling your story on mobile. Squarespace does an excellent job of creating themes that span across multiple devices really well, as long as you stick with the themes original design. When you start to vary from the initial design or building your own unique layouts, things can get broken pretty quick on other devices.
What is your time worth to you?
What are your goals with a website?
What are you trying to communicate?
Perks of Squarespace
Great themes, with great design potential
Robust options for a monthly fee
Cheaper short term – may be
If you have the right content, then building could go smooth and fast
Perks of a designer
Can tell your brand story with massive impact
Can develop illustrations and custom imagery just for your company
Can be a partner with you in your business
Does the building and implementation of the website for you
Can give you an excellent design that you might not be able to create on your own
Building The Website
If you have never made a website before then, you would not know that there is a massive amount of time to devote. When you build your site with a Squarespace solution, you are in charge of getting your content created, and put into the website, and making sure it looks fantastic everywhere. We talked with one former client who used Squarespace before coming to us and said they ended up spending close to 100 hours building their previous website. One of the reasons it took them so long is that they thought they had their content ready, and when they put it on their site, it was bland. They really had no vision for what they wanted their brand communication to be. So they ended up researching what other companies like they were doing, and also how to make graphics that created impact. They also needed to spend time pairing down their content for effect. Another element that ate up a lot of their time was the building itself. Squarespace gives you a page builder, but you still need to drag stuff onto the screen and come up with compelling layouts outside of the stock design. To the point we talked about earlier, if you vary too much from the themes original design, things can get complicated or broken.
Do I have 100* hours that I want to invest in building a website?
Do I have the capacity to take the time to make something awesome?
Do I want to spend way less time hiring a designer to create something truly awesome?
*100 hours may be on the extreme side
A designers role when they are building your website is they are in charge of the build, the framework, and getting everything beautiful across all devices for you. As designers, we can’t allow ourselves to settle. Our job is to make something awesome that communicates with impact. That is why the cost is more significant, this is a service.
We talked about one of our clients who had used Squarespace before coming to us. They had estimated they spent around 100 hours in getting their website built, and at the end of the day, they weren’t entirely happy. Some of the issues they ran across was trying to create an impact in design even with a theme provided by Squarespace. They noticed that when they created layouts that were not part of the themes original design, they had to spend a lot of time in getting that layout to work well across all devices. When they came to a roadblock, they found that they needed to hire outside help, which is the time you still need to spend in managing this outside help and telling them what is wrong.
This next story is one of success using Squarespace. This person we talked to told us that their priority was utilizing e-commerce, and getting something done quickly. The advantage they had was that they had minimal content and had collected great imagery, which aligned with their vision. Their brand was in a good place. Because they didn’t have much content and strong images, they had done the work of really trying to figure out what story they were telling. Because they had their content and vision nailed down, Squarespace made it easy and fast to build their website. We think that is great, and we’re glad to hear of a success story.
At The End Of The Day
We think that if you are severely constrained with a budget, but have your content and brand vision super flushed out Squarespace might be for you. Do you have a good chunk of time set aside in case things go sideways? Squarespace might be for you.
We think that if you can expand your budget, find a designer that you connect with. A designer that you feel like can be a partner to your brand, then hiring a designer is for you. The advantage of what a designer brings to the table with their years of experience, and the service that they’re offering – will always outweigh going with Squarespace. It is so crucial to have another perspective of your brand voice creating your visual experience. Beautiful things usually happen from an outside force.
At the end of the day, it’s your call, and you should trust your gut. We feel confident that you know what is best for you and your company, and we hope this post has helped you take another step forward in making that decision. With whatever decision you make, just do the best you can, and try to have a little fun.