I’ve had a couple of clients ask my thoughts on Squarespace and why I create work in Webflow instead. My answer is I like Webflow and have always written off something like Squarespace as a Wix type platform. Was wondering if anyone out there has used both platforms and can give me some better idea of what Webflow offers over something like Squarespace. Thanks
I run the Squarespace Guru blog (google Squarespace Guru and you’ll find my Squarespace stuff) and have been a big Squarespace evangelist over the past few years. But I now prefer Webflow to Squarespace and spend a lot of time preaching the Webflow gospel to clients and potential clients who come to me for Squarespace services.
For a quick response to your question, Squarespace is a fabulous platform and is far more polished than Wix, Weebly, Webydo, 1and1, etc. and shouldn’t be written off. Personally I use Webflow for all client projects, but for non-web professionals aiming to build a website on their own, I still recommend Squarespace.
If you are looking for the full story, here’s a very detailed blog post I wrote: “Webflow vs Squarespace”. But if you want the cliff notes version, here ya go:
Squarespace advantages over Webflow:
- No prior knowledge of html & css needed
- Ecommerce built-in with fabulous Stripe integration
- Decent mobile apps for managing blog posts, comments, keeping up with traffic and sales, ecommerce inventory management, gallery content management
- Seamless Google Apps integration
- Seamless domain registration and configuration (no need to touch DNS records or anything techie)
- More pre-built/pre-formatted content blocks (instagram, opentable, etc)
- Multiple Contributor/Admins possible with varying levels of access
- Switching templates is a breeze
- Tons of Google Fonts & TypeKit fonts are automatically included without any extra steps needed
- Multiple ways to add content to collections (CMS web based entry, custom email addresses, mobile apps)
- Google Drive form data storage
- Ability to upload audio files - great audio player
- Automatic RSS feed generated for all collections pages
Webflow advantages over Squarespace:
- Complete freedom to design to exact specifications (PSD to Webflow is a reality, while on Squarespace it’s a nightmare)
- No limitations with design.
- Interactions (main reason I looked into Webflow several months back)
- Ability to publish to a Webflow sub-domain without publishing to custom domain (great for showing clients updates without pushing live to the world)
- Webflow employees are so much more interactive/in-touch with users (Squarespace possesses this holier-than-thou attitude that isn’t necessary)
- Webflow employees are willing to talk about the product roadmap and discuss openly feature releases
- Create reusable templates (and sell them on the Webflow marketplace)
- Create reusable symbols (awesome!!!)
- The ability to control responsive design (Squarespace websites are responsive, but the designer doesn’t have control over the breaks or how things get shuffled around without CSS hacking)
- Impossible for client to ‘break’ the site when editing content or posting blog posts
- Generates insanely beautiful code
- Generates true backups of the site
- Ability to export code
- Webflow doesn’t use the outdated YUI library like Squarespace (it’s crazy hard to target content on Squarespace websites to apply a custom CSS style, because the class name changes with each page refresh *maddening)
- Tons of little things that just aren’t possible on Squarespace without the arduous process of using a browser inspector, digging through the code to locate crazy selectors, copy/paste from browser inspector to custom CSS menu
- The Webflow interface is snappy and easy on the processor (Squarespace 7 works your computer too hard and lags so much. I’m not a hardware expert, but my macbook pro fans spin up to max and my machine stays at around 140ºF when working on Squarespace sites.
- Send form submission data to any email newsletter provider lists
- Use .svg images
- Ability to reference the same media assets from multiple places throughout the site
- Settings for hidpi images (perfect for retina and super HD displays)
Areas both Squarespace and Webflow still need polishing:
- billing is a conundrum trying to figure out which charges apply to which website. When you have just one website it’s easy to manage, but when you have 100…things get hairy real fast.
- true white-labeling is not possible
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but just what I’ve put together so far.
Admittedly all the Webflow advantages can technically be achieved through the Squarespace developers platform…but the SS dev platform requires insanely complicated Git or FTP configurations and convoluted developer workflows. And the designer would still need to code all the styles from scratch using CSS, which gets super complicated with LESS CSS and compiling. For this reason alone it’s worth the effort of transitioning away from Squarespace to Webflow.
So what’s the takeaway from this? From the perspective of a regular small business owner wanting to build a website without the help of a professional, Squarespace is the way to go. From the perspective of a professional web designer doing client work, Webflow is the way to go…unless it’s an ecommerce project with thousands of sku’s…then probably Shopify would be best.
Ultimately for those of us offering web design services to clients, Webflow is the way to go! If you find yourself getting stuck with Webflow, try taking some courses on HTML and CSS first, and then give it another spin. While you don’t necessarily have to know how to code using HTML and CSS…the knowledge will help you out tremendously in understanding the interface and toolset.
I tell clients that I can charge less for website services when I use Webflow as compared to other platforms like Squarespace. With Squarespace, so much of what clients want require lots of CSS hacking. Stuff that would take me 5-10 hours hacking away on Squarespace is done within just a few minutes on Webflow. (interactions, modal popups, etc)
To add another layer to this…Squarespace hates the pro user. I honestly believe that. Squarespace only cares about the DIY user that is content working within the constraints of their pre-designed templates, and the pro user that needs to extend the platform is just a big headache. Webflow loves us pro designers, and they are doing such a rocking job at creating a killer platform for us to build our businesses around.
Once I explain things like this to clients wanting Squarespace…they are usually satisfied.
Don’t get me wrong…I still love Squarespace, but I run all my new client projects through Webflow because it makes my life better.
Sweet post! Loads of thanks for that one!
Great post @gksargent .
I couldn’t agree more with your last statement. It’s about having a better work life, and life.
Have a great day.
That was a great read @gksargent!
I’ll start sending this to clients who ask for a list of advantages and disadvantages.
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