In the past 6 years of running my web design business, I’ve worked on 6 different platforms: Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, BigCommerce, WordPress, and now Showit. And after this many years of experimenting, I’ve realized the truth: There’s no “perfect website platform.”.
As a designer more than a developer, I was always looking for that “perfect” website builder that could combine ultimate creative freedom with functionality and ease of use. It’s always a balance between trying to find something that my clients can maintain after launch and something that’s fun and easy for me to build on.
Wix was pretty close to freedom, but their blogging platform was bad and I was tired of things floating around the page unexpectedly. So I switched to Squarespace, which was beautiful and easy to use, but a little too s-l-o-w and I couldn’t cope with the changes they’re making to their new 7.1 platform. Shopify and BigCommerce each have their place in E-commerce, and WordPress with Elementor is definitely doable.
Then a dear reader suggested Showit and while I’d heard of the platform, I hadn’t looked into it greatly because… another website platform to learn? But over time, I kept reading more and more articles on why Showit “is the new Squarespace”, so I finally tried it for myself (spoiler alert: I’m now working on Showit, too!).
If you’re trying to decide between Squarespace and Showit for your blog or business, read on as I go in-depth about the pros and cons of using each platform, touch on some of the most popular work-arounds, and give you my humble opinion on which platform you might like depending on your business type.
Inside, we’ll be covering:
- Looks (Design)
- Ease of Use
Righty-o, let’s get started to see which is the better website platform for your business.
Design (The Looks)
Do you value lots of white space and large, gorgeous images sprawling across your site? Do you want access to tons of pro fonts without having to buy and try them first? You might like Squarespace thanks to its treasure trove of stylish templates and modern fonts. You can pick any template, pop in your content, and look amazing all within a matter of a few hours (or days, depending on how well you know the platform). However, the template-based method also comes with drawbacks, as you’ll have to really know the platform or invest in a designer template or use CSS (code) to create something out-of-the-box.
With Showit, you’ll have greater design freedom because you can customize most things without code. One downside, however, is that you don’t have access to premium fonts. You can use any free Google font or you can upload your own purchased fonts (which is kind of OK, since you’ll have to purchase fonts to extend your branding to other mediums, anyway, right?)
For templates, you’ll be spoilt for choice. You can start from one of a dozen free Showit templates, but you could also choose a more built-out paid template from a Showit designer.
And finally, there’s no one “look” that identifies the Showit platform because you can customize your website so well. But overall, you can think of looks that cater to female entrepreneurs, coaches, photographers, bloggers, and other service-based business owners.
Results: Both websites have beautiful templates, but Showit gives you more creative freedom and it’s easier to customize the design of your website without using code.
Ease of Use
I’ve worked with a lot of clients who first tried to DIY their Squarespace sites before giving up and getting help. Though it’s marketed as an easy-to-use website builder, there’s actually a steep learning curve to Squarespace. First of all, you have to learn which blocks do what (galleries vs. summaries, for example), how to position them properly on-page (fighting against wilful spacers that can resize things in unnatural ways), and set up about 10 different site style color palette options.
BUT, once you figure all that out, you can change up pages the way you like and create modern, streamlined layouts that *look* effortless. Unless, again, you need something special that you can’t get through their editor. Say, for example, that you want a hamburger menu instead or a blog sidebar. You’ll have to use code to get there. (I know, bummer!)
But with Showit, what you see is what you get. There’s no coding involved to do things like create pop-out menus on pages, restyle text blocks (different font, different color here? No problem!), or add images anywhere on-page. Yes, there’s still a learning curve, as there is with any website platform. You just don’t also have to learn code along with it!
After using both platforms, I would have to say that Showit is essentially easier to use, but there are a few more technical pieces to master. For example, getting your images to stretch correctly at different desktop screen resolutions. You have to figure out whether you should lock an image all the way to the side, stretch-lock it to the side, full-width lock it, or not lock it at all? You’ll also have to go through your design and check every little element before you hit publish, whereas with Squarespace, once you drop your blocks into place, it’s done!
Results: I give Squarespace the most stars for having everything just work with minimal effort, but Showit more stars for being able to create the unique look without knowing code.
This is where Squarespace really shines! It truly is a platform that you can use to do everything from run a simple business to a blog or a small- to medium- e-commerce or subscription site. On Squarespace, you insert content with different “blocks” for text, photos, scheduling, menus, buttons, galleries, events… you name it. Squarespace has been working hard on its e-commerce features this past year and I think it’s now a viable option to run a small e-commerce store, or service site and online shop from one place. (More on e-commerce later.)
Showit’s pride is in simplicity, as it gives you just enough to create a beautiful, functional service site. You can insert text, images, galleries, and rectangles. Not even buttons. And there’s no built-in e-commerce. (Sounds disappointing? It’s actually not because there are simple work-arounds for these things. More on that later.)
But, on the plus side, you can build things like mega menus and bloating side bars without code on Showit, whereas you’ll have to buy plugins or code your way to happiness for many modern design features in Squarespace.
Another major win for Showit is the fact that you can create a completely customized mobile experience, which you can’t within Squarespace. You can show or hide anything, change the color of anything on mobile, and use different images than on your desktop site. These tweaks can make your site much prettier, more memorable, and faster-loading on mobile — which is a good thing, since Google now indexes mobile sites first and a slow mobile site can get you a Pagespeed Warning Badge.
Finally, I want to mention that you can embed third-party tools on Showit and Squarespace, so you can integrate your email marketing service, CRM contact form, or whatever else you need to run your business. Oh, and yes, you can integrate e-commerce in Showit, which is what we’ll touch on next.
I’m talking about e-commerce before blogging now because many small business owners are looking to create passive income with an online shop attached to their service site. With a Business Plan and above, you can sell unlimited products, offer gift cards, and accept donations. But, there’s a 3% transaction fee, so if you’re serious about e-commerce you should be on a Squarespace Commerce Plan. The Advanced Plan lets you sell subscriptions, create advanced discounts, has abandoned cart recovery, and no transaction fees!
Showit is not made for e-commerce, but you can create a store on Showit and use Shopify Lite or Thrivecart for your checkout. This is best for stores with an easily-manageable amount of products, like maybe under 20, since you’ll have to update everything manually. If going this route, I suggest starting with a pre-built Showit store template as you’ll save a lot of time trying to design every element yourself. Another option is to keep your blog or service site on Showit and link out to a separate Shopify store (via your navigation, for example).
If you’re purely an e-commerce site, you can still work it on Squarespace, but it might be easier to run your business from Shopify instead. Just know that you have options.
Results: For running an online store with more than 20 products, it’s Squarespace all the way.
Many famous blogs and businesses have started out on Squarespace and become famous in their niches. Some have moved on to WordPress where you can extensively customize your blog with plugins, but others, like Decor8 and Create & Cultivate, still blog from Squarespace! It just goes to show you that the quality of your content, publishing frequency, and business sense are just as important as (if not more than!) your platform.
That said… If you’re really serious about using your blog to grow your business, the hands-down winner is… WordPress! And why is this related? Because Showit uses a WordPress blog, so you get all the SEO goodies, plugins, and extensions, and simple editing of WordPress alongside a beautiful, super simple page builder like Showit. And this is the real reason that most people switch to Showit: for blogging.
Showit comes with 3 pricing tiers and you’ll have to be on tier 2 or 3 to run a blog with your site. While both blogging plans include basic WordPress plugins like Yoast SEO and smush image optimization, Plan 3 is ideal for those who want to further customize their blog with endless plugins. Yes, you will still need to manage your WordPress plugin updates, but your blog is hosted on WordPress Engine, meaning that it’s faster and possibly more secure than if you were hosting it on your own.
As I mentioned at the start, it’s very possible to create a popular blog on Squarespace, but blogging with its new platform is a little less intuitive and more stripped-down than in version 7.0. What I love most about Squarspace’s bblogging platform is that it’s really easy to style and publish your content. You can edit a blog post just like any page: add in your text and images, gallery blocks, and more. Drag in spacers to position things in an interesting way, and you’re done! Well, kind of. If you want to know all the differences, you can learn more about blogging in Squarespace vs. WordPress in this post.
To sum it up, let’s say that if you’re a beginner blogger and you want to just focus on creating content instead of back-end maintenance, Squarespace might work. But, if you know that blogging is your thing or you’re planning on growing big someday, save your future self some headaches and use a platform like Showit (or straight up WordPress) from the get-go.
Results: Showit is better than Squarespace for blogging because it connects your site to a WordPress blog.
Did you know that 75% of people never scroll past the first page in Google Search results (Hubspot)? And that 93% of online activities start with a search? (Search Engine Land). I guess you can understand then why SEO is so important for your business.
SEO means “search engine optimization”, and it’s all the technical things you can do to increase your site’s visibility in search results.
There is always a debate surrounding which is the best platform for creating a search-optimized website and most people usually point to WordPress as the winner because it’s a fully customizable platform built for promoting content. Showit incorporates a WordPress blog, meaning that all of your blog’s fresh-pressed SEO juice will directly benefit your rankings. And Showit also has its own suite of tools that let you customize things like the html tags for your text and your image titles and descriptions, some of the places to use keywords to help your ranking.
Squarespace has its own SEO tools and you can assign text different heading or paragraph tags, set meta descriptions, name images, etc. However, some people criticise the way that Squarespace handles images because — as you can see when you right-click-save an image — the image name is a string of letters and numbers, meaning that’s how the search engines “read” the image.
So instead of “your-name-entrepreneur” or whatever you’ve named your image, you might see something like “984567934Jr0&3” instead. And this is bad for SEO.
Other factors to consider include site speed, backlinks, no-follow links, etc. And Showit (and WordPress) are better at all of these things. So…
Results: Showit is the clear winner in the SEO category, provided that you follow basic SEO best practices*
Want to learn more about getting the most SEO benefit for your site? Read this post >
Help and Support
And finally, if you’re committed enough to making the right choice, I leave you with the topic of help and support.
Both Showit and Squarespace offer live chat help and support. There are also support documents, video resources, and community to help you out.
Since Squarespace is a larger company, they obviously have more resources at their disposal. But, I’ve had far better experience with Showit’s support team. Because they’re still smaller, some of the main staff personally respond to your inquiries, there are helpful Facebook Groups for both Showit users and Showti designers, and I’ve always had my questions answered within a day or two.
Results: I hands up appreciate Showit’s support team and have always had a very pleasant experience getting help 🙂
Wrapping It Up
I hope you’ve learned a lot about the differences between Squarespace and Showit. Both serve their purposes well, in different ways.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one website platform that lets you “drag and drop” or “plug and play”, Squarespace is a great choice. But if you want an easy-to-use platform where you can customize the look on your own and blogging is going to be a big part of your business, I would suggest Showit.
Here’s a handy run-down:
Showit is best for:
- Service providers
- Creative professionals
- Serious Bloggers
Squarespace is best for:
- Small businesses or service providers
- Creative professionals
- Hobby bloggers
- Online stores (OK)
Where Showit shines over Squarespace:
- Easy to design anything you want with easy drag-and-drop
- Media library easy to access and update
- Blogging – Power of WordPress and ability to add custom plugins on the highest plan
- Responsiveness – Ability to design separate views for desktop and mobile (not tablet)
- SEO – Can adjust SEO settings, plus get WordPress Yoast SEO plugin free to help your blog; images are indexed properly (instead of as a string of numbers like in SS)?
- Speed- no comparison
Where it lacks:
- Responsiveness – Designs don’t automatically snap into place on different screen sizes; you have to adjust settings for each element
- Limited integrations – lacking basic contact form
- Design – Limited elements and galleries,
- Ecommerce – you have to use a third-party solution such as WooCommerce or Shopify lite
Where Squarespace shines over Showit
- Features: Like the grow-your-business-in-a-box kind
- E-commerce: you can run a swanky, easy-to-customize online store or subscription site alongside your service site
- Peace of mind: It just works
Where it Lacks
- Responsiveness – You currently can’t customize the mobile view
- Load speed – Squarespace sites are notoriously on the slow end
- Features – Many of the best features from SS 7.0 are not in version 7.1 yet
- Ease of use – It’s not so simple as drag-and-drop. You’ll need code to do more advanced things.
So is it time for you to jump the Squarespace ship and learn a newer, faster, more designer-friendly platform? If so, see my new Showit templates to get your site up and running within a week.
Leave your thoughts in the comments below.