As a website developer who primarily builds content management system websites on established CMS platforms, I always had a bad feeling about Squarespace, Wix, Weebly and other "do it yourself" website tools. I'd wonder, "Will these services eventually take over the small business market? Will I lose business to these guys?"
My experience with other website builders that came with hosting packages was reassuring, since they were not very intuitive, and they didn't have many features. If you didn't have some experience with graphics, or design, your website would usually look mashed together using these tools, even if you spent weeks learning, tweaking, or using trial and error to make something remotely presentable.
So I continued to ignore the new guys based on the prejudices I had built up in past. I was better than they were, and if a business wanted a website built on a platform like that, then I didn't want to do work for them anyway. That led me to eventually turning down work for smaller businesses or non-profits that I didn't think could afford a "real" website. It got to a point where I wouldn't consider doing smaller sites, which was okay. I had plenty of work via word of mouth to keep busy and be happy.
"Sometimes it's better to embrace competition instead of ignoring it."
Then I had the opportunity to work with a new client that needed, among other things, consultation regarding their website which was built by another company. The site was built on Squarespace, so I was forced to give it a try. I didn't see it coming, and I didn't expect it, but I liked it. It was somewhat intuitive, and more user friendly than the old website builders I had tried. If you stuck to their script, and you had moderate computer experience, you could create a decent site. There are certainly drawbacks, but that's to be expected for the market they're targeting.
So I wound up working in Squarespace to fix some issues with the new client's site, and quickly learned the structure and features. Around the same time, a small non-profit, with several of my friends serving as board members, contacted me about building a new site. In the past, I would have turned them down. But I told them I'd love to take the job to help support their cause and I would do the job for a substantially discounted rate from my normal fees. I recommended to them that we build the site on Squarespace so they could save money on development time and ongoing maintenance fees.
I'm done with that site, and I've already completed a Squarespace site for another small non-profit while working on the first site. And I just finished a third Squarespace job for a restaurant that wanted a simple web presence. So that's three jobs I would not have taken on in the past, that I did relatively quickly. Now I know, "sometimes it's better to embrace competition instead of ignoring it."
Both of the non-profits are raising money to fight cancer, one breast cancer, and one for childhood cancer illnesses. It's been very rewarding working with both, and I'm happy to be contributing to such worthy causes. The restaurant, Rocky & Carlo's, is an area institution that's been around since 1965. I'm glad I was able to overcome my prejudices, and find a way to build beautiful, functional websites for all of these new clients.
I suspect I'll be building several more Squarespace websites in the future for small businesses that don't need a lot of custom features or custom layouts.
So back to the original question—can I build a sufficient business website on Squarespace? You may be able to. But with a little help from a professional and some custom coding, you can build a really nice, professional website on Squarespace. And it won't take forever to get it done.
View the Squarespace websites here: