Squarespace hosts over 2 million websites worldwide. It’s ideal for beautiful, visually heavy websites and is considered the most “Instagram-ready” website builder available on the market today.
However, as people, brands, and small businesses increasingly seek more from their website, building a beautiful, yet static one only makes less and less sense.
Never before has there been more demand to launch an ecommerce store, add online courses, offer membership benefits and paid member subscriptions, or simply run a community on your own website under your own brand and make it instantly available on every platform–web, iOS, and Android.
Which is why you’re not alone in exploring Squarespace alternatives.
In this article, we’ll share with you the changing nature of website builders and which platforms offer the best alternatives to Squarespace in different categories.
The changing landscape of website builders
When Squarespace launched in 2003, it was impossible to launch your own visually heavy website without knowing how to code or needing to set up your own server to run it. Before Squarespace, or Squarespace alternatives like Wix or Weebly, you could only create a website if you were a developer who knew how to code HTML. But even then, it would take a team of designers and developers who were experts not just in HTML but in CSS to make that website beautiful, elegant, and fresh looking for a modern consumer.
Squarespace was a revelation to photographers, musicians, designers, restaurants, and new consumer businesses that wanted to make their brands stand out with a younger audience who cared about aesthetics.
Fast forward to 2021, though, and while the visual design of a website (and its companion mobile apps) remain important, the problem is that the static websites offered by Squarespace don’t do much else.
The sad truth is that with a static website, most people visit your site once and never come back.
Meanwhile, our digital habits have been forever changed by social media, mobile apps, ecommerce, chat and direct messaging, online courses, and video chat.
This fundamental change in the way we consume information has had a profound impact on what we need from a website builder, creating more and more demand for dramatically more “feature-rich” website builders that are an alternative to Squarespace.
To this end, there are a few different categories of Squarespace alternatives:
- A Squarespace alternative that offers memberships, community, and online courses. This is the newest category of website builders that enable a person or business to offer membership benefits and paid subscriptions, launch online courses, or add a community all in one place, all under their own brand, and instantly available on every platform (web, iPhone, iPad, and Android).
- A Squarespace alternative that you can actually code and make custom. While Squarespace has over 100 different website templates across all sorts of categories, if you want to add more features or want to truly customize your website, there are better alternatives to Squarespace that fall into this category.
- A Squarespace alternative that offers an ecommerce store. The next category of website builder is one that delivers a world-class ecommerce store that lets you sell physical products. Squarespace offers an ecommerce option, but there are other Squarespace alternatives in the ecommerce category worth evaluating seriously.
- A Squarespace alternative that offers similar functionality but just isn’t Squarespace. Lastly, you might be looking for something that’s not too different from Squarespace and still offers the ability to create a static website from beautiful templates. There are plenty of options here, too.
We researched and reviewed a dozen different alternatives to Squarespace across these categories and picked a winner for each one. Here are the results.
Squarespace alternative #1 – Mighty Networks: The winner for memberships, online courses, and community
If you want a website builder with membership benefits and paid subscriptions, content and online courses, and even a Facebook group alternative built in (which gives you the ability to offer your content and a community on the same platform under your brand), Mighty Network is by far the most sophisticated option available.
While a Mighty Network offers some features you’d expect from a website builder – like domain mapping and a beautiful design – the similarities to Squarespace stop there.
A Mighty Network offers the highest level of ongoing user engagement and is by far the most “sticky” of Squarespace alternatives. It offers the broadest choice of features, including the option to publish visually-stunning blog articles, events, interactive polls and questions, and even the ability for members to add “quick posts” (similar to a Tweet or Facebook post).
Unlike any other website builder, on a Mighty Network, you also have the option to create and sell online courses as well as run paid groups. You can just flip a switch to expand your website with new offerings and membership tiers without moving platforms or doing custom development.
Every Mighty Network is accessible via the Mighty Networks mobile apps on iOS and Android. And Mighty Networks’ enterprise offering, “Mighty Pro,” allows you to launch your own mobile apps directly on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
And while you won’t find the same set of templates on a Mighty Network that you’ll find on Squarespace, its flexibility, interactivity, and rich features more than make up for what it lacks in visual presentation options.
Squarespace alternative #2 – WordPress: The winner for coding and customization options
WordPress is the best Squarespace alternative to explore for websites that don’t easily fit into a category. As of 2020, WordPress powers 35% of all websites on the Internet and is by far the most widely used “content management system” or CMS on the market.
Today, WordPress and its ecosystem offers the largest marketplace of plug-ins and features, along with the most designers and developers who specialize in building WordPress sites for just about any need you could imagine.
WordPress launched in 2003 as an open source platform that developers could download, customize, and run on their own servers. Today, WordPress also offers a hosted version with templates similar to Squarespace, but with most customization options and superior search engine optimization, or how well your website is discoverable by Google.
Historically, WordPress has been used to build content-focused websites like blogs, paid membership sites, ecommerce sites, and even custom online course websites. More recently, though, new website builder platforms have emerged that offer a best-of-breed solution for each of these use cases. This provides not just an alternative to Squarespace, but to WordPress, and removes the need for expensive website development projects.
If you’re building a website that needs a wide variety of customization options, WordPress is the winner.
Squarespace alternative #3 – Shopify: The winner for an ecommerce store
If ecommerce is your primary focus in looking for alternatives to Squarespace, then Shopify is for you. It’s the dominant ecommerce platform for both small merchants and larger retailers, processing over $61 billion dollars (!!!) across over one million merchant websites today.
Shopify makes it easy to set up a new store and offers a marketplace with a fantastic set of apps that expand its feature set. Most of these apps focus on inventory management and physical ecommerce, (so don’t expect many options for digital products or community).
Shopify is the ecommerce leader for a reason.
Squarespace alternative #4 – Wix: The winner for a similar service that just isn’t Squarespace
If you’re still sold on the idea of a simple and static website that still looks professional but isn’t Squarespace, then look no further than Wix.
Wix powers over 3.8 million websites worldwide. With simple, easy-to-use, and professional-looking templates, Wix offers first rate websites across a number of categories, including business, ecommerce, photography, music, design, restaurant, and events
When Wix is put head-to-head against Squarespace, it shines with a broader set of templates, more apps in its marketplace, and an easier set up than Squarespace. If you need a Squarespace alternative that isn’t Squarespace, Wix is the winner.
There’s a Squarespace Alternative That’s Right for You
Whether you’re looking to offer memberships and paid subscriptions, launch online courses, or run an ecommerce store, there’s a Squarespace alternative that won’t force you to compromise on visual presentation while giving you more features and options that are in the most demand today.