Krima is a multi-skilled journalist and writer with extensive print, broadcast, online, and digital experience.
A Closer Look At Webflow vs. Squarespace
Pretty much any type of business requires a website nowadays. Years ago, making a website used to be expensive and time-consuming. This was because every website was built by one or more specialists that charged large amounts of money for their services.
Luckily, this is no longer the case. Starting in 2004, when Squarespace was launched, creating a website no longer required advanced technical skills or coding knowledge.
Online website builders are now common and relatively affordable. However, the sheer amount of possible choices can confuse digital marketers who need to build their online presence. The two main options that are currently available have key differences that can make or break a business.
Today, we’ll go over each of the services and establish who exactly will get the most out of each one. We will also look where each one falls short.
What Are Website Builders?
Generally speaking, website builders are online tools that can be used to create websites. Different builders use different building techniques, however, the ones mentioned above both use a modular drag and drop design. In other words, the user experience will be largely similar as far as the actual building of the web pages is concerned.
When it comes to pricing and usage fees, some platforms offer trial versions and allow users to use all of their tools for a certain amount of time, while others allow individuals to only design the website and place the export, hosting, and domain acquisitions behind paywalls.
This brings us to another characteristic of website builders. Most of these services also offer hosting and domains, making them a one-stop shop for those who need a website as fast as possible. While it is possible for users to use their domains or to opt for different hosting services, the ones offered by website builders are, for the most part, surprisingly affordable.
Website builders can be used to build web pages, entire websites, set up eCommerce stores, add content to the websites, modify the content (through image and video editors), and publish everything online. The main aspects that separate different website builders are the amount of freedom they give the user when it comes to customizability and the efficiency of the tools that they offer.
At the moment, the two most popular choices when it comes to website builders are Squarespace and Webflow. Both of them have been around for enough time to prove their worth, however, what most do not know is that each of these platforms is targeting a different audience.
Pricing and Features
Both platforms offer free and paid subscription plans, however, the free plans are extremely limited and only give users access to a portion of the tools that are available through premium deals. Both platforms offer different features.
Here is how the two compare.
What Is Webflow?
Webflow is, in many ways, just as popular as Squarespace; however, it focuses more on advanced features and technical customizability. The company itself was launched in 2013 by Vlad Magdalin, Sergie Magdalin, and Bryant Chou, through the Y Combinatory Start-up Accelerator. Since then, it has been constantly updated and has received new tools with every new iteration.
Webflow is currently one of the few professionally oriented website builders in the world and has integrations with a large number of popular apps and services.
While the platform does have a clean and intuitive interface, it is usually preferred by professionals because it enables users to tweak each and every detail of their website until they get exactly what they want.
One of the main differences between Webflow and Squarespace is the fact that the former also allows users to work with HTML/CSS to add any custom features that they might need.
Webflow's Main Features
Unlike Squarespace, Webflow focuses more on the DIY side of things. As a result, it gives users much more freedom than other platforms, allowing them to tweak and customize virtually any element or section of the page. While the user interface is intuitive and easy to navigate, the features and tools integrated into the builder may be too advanced for the average consumer.
Webflow does offer a wide array of templates and presets that users can choose from, however, it also allows them to modify them completely. Furthermore, the platform allows those who have the programming knowledge to modify their websites using HTML/CSS. Generally speaking, Webflow seems to have been designed as the more advanced and complex version of Squarespace.
While some may not like this, the platform does seem to cater to the needs of both beginners as well as programmers.
Webflow's Website Builder
Webflow offers a drag-and-drop website builder and a large number of templates that are designed for blogs, business and personal websites, eCommerce stores, and others. There is also a wide assortment of modules and plug-ins to choose from, each of them being able to expand the functionality of the website.
However, unlike other similar platforms, Webflow offers much more freedom when it comes to customizing the templates and even allows users to modify the modules and plug-ins.
Webflow's SEO Services
Webflow automatically performs SEO optimization on all of the eCommerce websites that are designed through it. This increases the chances that the online stores will rank higher in search engine results pages, and makes it easier to drive traffic to them.
Where most builders only allow users to customize the metadata, create image alt text, and target keywords, Webflow automatically generates sitemaps, as well as customizable 301 redirects. These are invaluable for power users and individuals who want to perfectly optimize their websites.
Webflow's Marketing Services
The platform offers great integration with all the major social media websites and enables users to sync their products to the ones on their other online stores, such as the Instagram shop.
Webflow's Commerce Services
Webflow offers a large number of templates that can be used for a wide variety of online stores and commercial websites. However, the star of the show is the fact that the platform has an integrated eCommerce engine.
Services such as MailChimp, Zapier, QuickBooks, and others, are already a part of the platform, and setting up an online store is extremely easy.
Webflow is more complex than Squarespace. This is true when it comes to the features that it offers, but also in terms of pricing. This is a complex website builder that offers a large number of features. There are so many tools included in it that separating them into multiple types of plans has become necessary.
As a result, users can choose from:
- Basic ($12): Great for simple websites that do not require CMS.
- CMS ($16): Designed for blogs and websites that revolve around posting content.
- Business ($36): For professional, high-traffic blogs.
- Standard ($29): For basic company websites.
- Plus ($74): Great for company websites that require unbranded emails and additional staff accounts.
- Advanced ($212): A subscription for advanced websites that can scale as a company develops. Great for online stores.
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There are also Enterprise plans that do not have a set price and require a company representative to contact Webflow to discuss the details of an agreement.
What I Like About Webflow
- High level of customizability. Webflow allows users to modify each and every aspect of their websites, with or without using code.
- HTML/CSS embedding option. The ability to embed user-made code into the website can be an invaluable tool for those with coding skills.
- Versatile payment options. The platform offers multiple payment plans for several categories. These are Site Plans, eCommerce Plans, Individual Plans, and Team Plans. Each of these categories offers three different levels for users to choose from.
What I Didn't Like About Webflow
- Not for beginners. While the platform does offer many templates and presets, the sheer number of tools and possible modifications make it too complex for casual users who want to create their first website.
- Can be expensive. The prices of most of the business-oriented plans are considerably higher than those from other platforms. While Webflow does have a lot to offer, most of it comes at a premium price that may not be suited for individuals who are starting their first online business.
What Is Squarespace?
Squarespace has been around for a very long time. The platform was released in 2004 and is one of the first commercially available online website builders. It initially started as a blog-hosting service and did not feature any modern website-building capabilities.
The drag-and-drop features, along with e-commerce tools and domain name services were integrated in 2011 when the platform was upgraded to version 6. Since then, Squarespace has refined its tools and has added several others, through various partnerships. These include logo creators, a mobile app, Google apps integration, Getty Images, and others.
From a functional point of view, Squarespace offers all the tools that are needed to create websites and web pages. The user interface is designed to be as easy to use as possible and caters to newbies who are not experienced with this type of service. All the tools are seamlessly integrated with the platform to make them as easy to use as possible. I’ve actually loved how clean and crisp the Squarespace interface is.
Using the platform does not require the user to know any technical terms or have programming and web design skills. Squarespace is, for all intents and purposes, a service designed for beginners and individuals who are not technically inclined.
Squarespace's Main Features
As mentioned above, Squarespace focuses on user experience. The interface and the design of the features cater to the needs of individuals who are not necessarily technically inclined. As a result, all the features are straightforward, easy to access, and somewhat restrictive.
However, there are over 40 tools to choose from, which should be more than enough for the average consumer. It is also worth mentioning that Squarespace, having a simpler design, enables users to get a website up and running much faster than other services, especially when using one of the included templates.
Squarespace's Website Builder
The website and webpage building features are designed around a drag-and-drop concept that allows individuals who do not have any programming skills to simply insert modules into a page and then move them around.
The builder also comes with a large number of templates that can be modified in order to suit the user’s purposes.
Squarespace's SEO Services
Squarespace guides users through the entire SEO process, from on-page optimization to finding relevant keywords and integrating them into the content.
The platform also offers a detailed metrics system that enables individuals to understand their audiences by looking at visitor geography, on-page time, etc.
Squarespace's Marketing Services
When it comes to marketing, the platform does offer analytics that shows how a marketing campaign is going and enables the user to compare it with the performance of the website. Squarespace also gives users access to email templates that can be modified to suit any audience.
A notable tool when it comes to marketing is the tool that allows paying users to set up automatic emails.
Squarespace's Commerce Services
Squarespace also offers features that are relevant for eCommerce purposes. There are dozens of store templates that come with zoom-in and quick-view functions.
Furthermore, users can import products from other stores that they might already have, such as Shopify or Etsy.
Squarespace offers a 14-day free trial, however, it only has 4 subscription levels. These are Personal ($12), Business ($18), Basic Commerce ($26), and Advanced Commerce ($40). The different tiers are priced appropriately when considering the amount of feature that they offer.
Generally speaking, at $26 for a Basic Commerce subscription, Squarespace is one of the most affordable website builders currently on the market. In addition to this, users have 14 days during which they can play with all the features offered by the platform.
Both the pricing, as well as the marketing that the website builder uses is targeted to individuals who do not have coding skills and who do not want to spend time learning them. Squarespace is priced like a quality online toolset that gets the job done without too much hassle.
Just like how the features and the design of the platform cater to casual users and beginners, so do the prices.
What I Liked About Squarespace
Squarespace’s popularity is a result of the platform’s accessible design. This is a website builder that anyone can use as long as they have a basic understanding of how computers work. The essential features are easy to understand and the more complex ones come with walkthroughs or detailed descriptions.
For the most part, using the features is intuitive. It is clear that the whole website builder was designed to cater to casual users. It is also worth mentioning that, in many aspects, Squarespace is extremely affordable, with monthly plans starting at only $12.
It would be safe to say that Squarespace is much easier to use than Webflow.
What I Didn't Like About Squarespace
For all of its popularity, Squarespace does have areas where it falls short. While the following might not be considered disadvantages by the average consumer, they are certain limitations that make the platform less efficient than other website builders.
- Restrictive features. While the platform does offer a large number of features, they are simplified to make them as easy to use as possible. This, unfortunately, can be very restrictive, especially for individuals who have the technical skills to customize their websites to a greater degree.
- No integrated eCommerce engine. Squarespace offers features that are related to eCommerce, such as templates, however, it does not have any form of integration with an eCommerce engine. In other words, the platform offers very limited integration with externals tool that is important for eCommerce purposes, such as MailChimp, ShipStation, and others, especially when compared to platforms such as Webflow.
Final Thoughts on Which Website Builder Is Better
Looking at the two platforms, it is clear that Squarespace is designed to be used by average users who want to build their first website, while Webflow caters to the needs of a more professional, business-oriented userbase. As mentioned above, both platform also offers free subscription plans, but these only give users access to a small number of features.
Both website builders are extremely popular and efficient. This having been said, choosing between them is not a matter of functionality, as both of them can be used easily to create great websites. Instead, deciding between the two boils down to how much control users want.
Squarespace is designed to make website building as simple as possible and automates many of its more complex functions.
On the other hand, Webflow gives individuals total freedom over the design process. From building the website itself to modifying modules, plug-ins, and even adding custom code, Webflow is not a builder for beginners. Its numerous features reflect this, as do its pricing schemes.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.