SOS: Squarespace vs. Shopify!? Allow Me To Help.
There’s a reason these two are the biggest players in the website-makin’ game. The biggest reasons I work exclusively with them are pretty akin to why I’m an Apple person ⏤
To me, Wordpress is the PC equivalent in Website Platform World; it’s too open source for its own good. Sure, developers love it - but it’s unstable af. “Katie, the site is down!” messages at midnight from my boss? $150/hr developers to change the colour of something? Clunky design? Nope, cya, bye.
Committing to a platform is a bloody big choice and making the wrong one could mean re-platforming after a year (I’ve seen it too much, trés depresso).
Let's compare them by features. I won’t mince my words, lol.
① Design Stuff
Squarespace has always been known for it's superior design features, but now both have 'section' based, building block style design editors which are super user-friendly.
Shopify used to be pretty crap in this department, however it's come leaps and bounds since it released '2.0' themes.
Both platforms get you to start with a theme, but premium ones are always better. Shopify free ones will be very limited design-wise, but it's also necessary to choose premium ones wisely - they're all made independently with very different features. I also made one!
Left: COSMO Template for Squarespace
Right: MANIFEST Theme for Shopify
Shopify is literally built for selling stuff and on Squarespace, it’s more of an afterthought - it does the trick, but there’s always roadblocks.
If you sell physical products, Shopify is 100% for you. If you sell digital ones, this is where it gets murky! A lot of coaches, course creators and practitioners will go with Squarespace and have a 3rd party platform to take bookings (Acuity) or payments for stuff (ThriveCart is popular).
New to selling products or don’t plan on making it more than 50% of your business for the next 2 years? Squarespace will likely be fine for you.
Inventory management is basic with Squarespace and sophisticated on Shopify, plus it integrates directly with tonnes of 3rd party apps.
You’re spoilt for choice on Shopify when it comes to payment methods to offer your customers. With the rise of BNPL, this has become a mega consideration! It’s also really important to mention that Shopify’s true multi-currency is a game-changer: customers can browse, checkout and be charged in their own currency, but Shopify will pay you in your own currency. On this front, it’s a big *womp womp* for Squarespace.
Squarespace offers built-in subscription options, Shopify is best using apps like ReCharge and PayWhirl.
By default, both platforms have hideous transactional emails (new order, abandoned cart, etc). Squarespace is particularly bad because they refuse to give you a workaround via another app!
As a designer, the options here are SO limited - I recommend you do your best with image blocks too add custom font text or cuteness to jazz it up a little. Shopify is great in this regard when you utilise OrderlyEmails to make sure they’re all perfectly branded.
Both integrate with Instagram and Facebook Shopping. Shopify has ‘sales channels’ which provide direct and easy setup feeds to all social channels and marketplaces like Amazon.
Hands down, Squarespace is amazing for content creators. The Shopify blogging platform is notoriously awful and unfortunately missed out in the big 2.0 upgrade. As a workaround, I recommend apps like Bloggle for building block-based post designs - this post was created using it!
Being really stable platforms with built-in design standards especially around mobile compatibility, out of the box, both are going to give you an SEO lift. Just make sure each page, collection, product etc has the SEO title and description filled out with keywords and human sounding copy! That alone will be more than most people even remember to do.
Squarespace doesn’t have that many apps that integrate directly with it - Zapier is your best friend here. Check to see if it can play nice with your current tech stack.
With 8,000+ apps, Shopify wins this round - it’s once of the biggest reasons people make the switch. Automation is the godsend for any small biz!
RE: Your brand
✓ Shopify, 100%
Content or service-based
✓ Squarespace, 100%
✓ Shopify if it’s more than 50% of your biz.
✓ Otherwise, Squarespace is good to start on until that side of your business grows. Link out to ThriveCart for payments if you sell time-based offers, educational content or use any other funnel-based marketing.
Bonus: My platform journey!
Did you decide?? Stuck?? DM me!
Who wrote this?
Hi, I'm Katie
I make shit-hot websites (imo) for Mill-Z solopreneurs and startups who want to stand out from everyone else, without having to sell a kidney.
I’ve been doing this stuff on my many Macbooks for 10 years now, so I know some stuff and it gives me a kick to share it. I want you guys to make your biz dreams a reality (...then fill your bank account and enjoy the possibilties).