Squarespace interface changes, new templates & prices
What you get for each subscription level, and how to choose the right plan
Please note this post is from 2015 and does not reflect recent price/plan changes
Updated on 10 May 2016 to reflect ability to sell unlimited products on the Personal and Business plans
Last month Squarespace released a set of changes to their website building platform, meaning the interface you use and the options you have now vary a little depending on which subscription plan you are using. The prices have also changed, so if you are an existing Squarespace user, or you're considering signing up, this post can help ensure you choose the right plan for your needs and that you don't pay more than you need to. Lastly, they also launched a few new templates at the same time (including the Brine template shown above), optimised for use with eCommerce.
Squarespace now offers three different types of subscription, each of which has a specific purpose in mind and an associated cost... although there are multiple levels within some of the subscription types, so it's really more like 5 levels. Plus, the names and what you get for each are a little confusing, so I thought I'd break everything down here to make it easier to understand. Please note that I'm not going into the nitty-gritty detail of every single thing you get with the different plans, just the major points that apply to most people. If you want to see each molecule of difference, check out the Squarespace pricing page.
The main subscription types are:
- Cover Page - simple, single page sites (scroll down to read more)
- Website - the most popular type of subscription, in two flavours
- Commerce - suitable for high-volume online sales, in two flavours
Price**: $5 per month
A minimalist, single page website. This can be a party invite, a landing page for a campaign, a 'Coming Soon' page if you need something simple up quickly, or can even be your entire website if you don't have much to say - for example, if you rely on social media or other channels as your primary communication methods.
Who it's for:
- Musicians, freelancers, consultants, artists or anyone who just needs the online equivalent of a business card/flyer.
- Any type of business that needs a simple holding page up until they have time to make their main website.
- Brands or companies that need an attractive landing page with its own domain for a specific campaign.
- Announcements or invitations to parties, weddings, or other events (including taking RSVPs).
You can only use one of the 28 Cover Page layouts (templates). You can't use any of the main/standard templates, or any of the Commerce templates. See my post here for more about Cover Pages, including pictures of all the layouts.
Because you have limited space for content in a Cover Page, you can't expect to have a lot of content on the page. And of course, you can't have any other pages, although you can include a form for data capture.
Cover Pages do not work like normal Squarespace pages, so you can't change their layouts using the drag & drop LayoutEngine like you can on normal pages, nor can you add additional Content Blocks to a Cover Page. You are restricted to the space, size, shape and location of elements that are set by the Cover Page layout (unless you know how to use custom CSS code, but even then, you are pretty limited).
If you are on the Cover Page subscription plan, you can't access the main templates, so if you are using your Cover Page as a 'Coming Soon' holding page, you will need to upgrade to a Website subscription in order to be able to work on your multi-page website behind the scenes.
Cover Pages are designed for maximum visual impact, so they usually feature large images/video/slides as the background. Certain Cover Page layouts include specific features, such as showing a Twitter feed or embedding an audio player or map, so you'll need to choose your layout based on the primary goal of your page. I'll be covering the features of all the individual Cover Page layouts in a future post in early 2016, so sign up to my newsletter if you'd like to be informed.
When you log in, instead of the standard menu panel, the system loads with the menu specifically for managing the Cover Page, and has all the other bits clustered at the bottom. See pic on the right.
This subscription type comes in two flavours: Personal and Business.
$8 per month for the Personal plan which limits you to 20 pages, or $18 per month for Business which gives you unlimited pages.
If selling or taking donations online, Squarespace will take a 2% transaction fee if you're on the Personal plan, and 3% transaction fee if you're on the Business plan (there are no transaction fees on any of the Commerce level plans - see below). You can sell unlimited products or services with either of these plans.
The most common type of subscription, suitable for most businesses. You can use any of the Squarespace page types: Page, Blog, Album, Gallery, Product, Events. You can use any of the Squarespace Content Blocks (text, form, video, gallery, map, etc) within your pages, and change the layouts of those pages using Squarespace's drag & drop tool called LayoutEngine.
You can also incorporate a Cover Page into your normal website, too. See my post on Squarespace Cover Pages for more details and ideas on why you might want to incorporate a Cover Page into a website.
Somewhat confusingly, you can actually use Squarespace Commerce with a Personal or Business subscription, so you don't need to automatically go for one of the special Commerce subscriptions if you only have limited needs for selling goods/services online and don't mind paying a small transaction fee.
Who it's for:
- Anyone who needs a multi-page website.
- Anyone who needs a single-page website with more content than allowable in a simple Cover Page (this includes long scrolling pages made up of multiple sections).
- Businesses who want an online shop and don't mind paying a bit to Squarespace for every sale, especially those without the need for highly detailed images of the products / services.
- Charities / non-profits that want to take direct donations online, without the need for 3rd parties such as JustGiving (though you can still use those services, too).
You can use any of the 29 standard Squarespace templates, and adapt them to your heart's content. See my Squarespace template comparison chart to compare features of the different templates.
Since you can use any of the core Squarespace page types and all of the different types of Content Blocks, you can create pretty much any type of layout and function for your pages.
You can also use any of the 24 Cover Page layouts (templates) for your Cover Page(s), should you choose to incorporate Cover Page(s) into your website. You can use more than one Cover Page in your website, and you can use a different layout for each Cover Page.
You cannot use any of the 6 special Commerce-only templates.
The main restrictions are based on the subscription level you choose - see Price above for details. You also get a couple of extras on the Business plan that you don't get on the Personal one: a year's free Google Apps for one email address, and $100 Google Adwords credit.
Otherwise, the only other restrictions are to do with the Commerce side of things. You don't get to use any of the Commerce templates, which include snazzy things like having product Quick View or zoom on product images. You also don't get to use the Commerce-optimised interface, though you can still access all of the same tools - they're just nested under the Commerce heading. Lastly, you don't get to use Advanced Commerce features, though those are probably just 'nice to haves' for small shops, anyway.
Since you have access to all the core system features, the only 'special' features will be based on the template. Some templates have a special page type called an Index Page, and others have fancy ways of displaying content on certain pages such as the homepage. Have a look at my Squarespace 7 template comparison chart to see what each template offers.
The standard Squarespace interface is what you see when you log in - see pic. If you are using any Cover Pages in your website, you will still be able to access the Cover Page interface to make design and content adjustments to those pages. You'll see the Cover Page interface when you click on that page's Settings.
This subscription type comes in two flavours: Basic and Advanced.
$26 per month for the Basic plan which gives you everything you would get on the Business plan, but with unlimited products and no transaction fees; or $70 per month for Advanced which gives you the same as Basic, but with a couple of added extras: Abandoned Checkout Recovery and Real Time Carrier Shipping.
Important: the latter of these two is only for US-based companies, so if you're not based in the USA and aren't that fussed about sending automatic emails to people who don't complete their shopping cart, then there's no real value in going for the Advanced plan.
Who it's for:
- The Basic Commerce plan is best for businesses who sell a lot of goods/services online, or for any businesses who sell goods/services online and want to have the nice extra features available in the special Commerce templates.
- The Advanced Commerce plan is best for US-based businesses who ship a lot of real-world goods to a primarily domestic market, using USPS or FedEx.
You get all the features of the Business Website plan, and a few extra template options. Your interface is also streamlined to put all the main online shop management tools at the first point of login. And, there are no transaction fees charged by Squarespace.
You can use any of the 29 standard templates, as well as any of the 6 Commerce-only templates, including the 4 newly released "Commerce Booster" templates: Brine, Hyde, Marta and Thorne (Brine link takes you to my analysis this template family). See below for a summary of what you get with these special "Commerce-Booster" templates.
You can also incorporate Cover Page(s) into your website, so you can use any of the 24 Cover Page layouts, just like on the Personal or Business Website subscription.
There aren't really any restrictions, since these are the two highest levels of subscription. See the Price section for the differences between Basic and Advanced.
The 4 new Commerce-Booster templates have extra features optimised for online shops, such as product Quick View, zooming in on product images, and hover effects (remember that hover effects don't happen on touchscreen devices). But, you don't have to use these templates if you don't need those features. And I'd argue that if you don't need those features and don't have more than 25 products, then you should consider downgrading to the cheaper Business plan.
The interface for Commerce users is streamlined to have the main functions related to managing your online shop available right away when you first log in. See pic.
** Important Notes About Prices
Prices shown are based on paying for an annual subscription. If you pay month-to-month, the prices are 13% - 30% ($2 - $10) higher per month, depending on your subscription plan level.
It's worth noting that you can switch subscriptions at any time, so if you're in a hurry to get something up, you may want to start off with the Cover Page plan and then upgrade later when you need it. Similarly, if you're a small business with just a few services or products, you can start with the Business plan and only upgrade to the Basic or Advanced Commerce plan if/when you need those extra features. If you switch subscription plans, you'll only be charged at a pro-rated rate or you'll get a refund for the difference in cost, so you can safely switch at any time without losing out on the cost side of things.