Squarespace vs. Custom: 5 reasons Why a Custom-Built Site is the Way to Go

Feb 19, 2020

As someone who lives on the account and project management sides of a web development shop, I often run into clients who are wondering if they need a custom-designed site or if they should put together a ‘quick-and-dirty’ Squarespace site. Every time, my answer is the same, “The answer depends entirely on your needs.”

Before you decide what type of website is right for your company, you need to decide what you need your website to do for you. After all, it is a marketing tool. What kind of business do you have? How do you plan to use the site?  What would you like clients to be able to do on your website? Are users simply getting contact information or can they book appointments, purchase items, or picking seats at an event? The possibilities are endless and thinking about all the details ahead of time will ensure that the selected solution meets the need.

Stout Heart is a custom branding and web design agency so you probably assume that we are vehemently against the Squarespaces of the world. When in reality, that isn’t the case at all. The web is always evolving and we know how essential it is for businesses of all sizes to have a presence online. If you’re a small business who is just looking to “get something up there” the templated-Squarespace, do-it-yourself approach can be incredibly cost-effective and valuable.

That said, as soon as you start talking about custom functionality, it’s time to find a development team to have on your side.

Here are 5 reasons why a custom-build is the way to go:

    1. Custom-built websites aren’t limited by templates. Your world is your oyster and a site’s look isn’t dictated by what you can, or can’t, do within the confines of the template. Want custom parallax scrolling on the homepage? How about off-set imagery, or dynamic blog integration throughout the site?
    2. Custom-build allows you to utilize a mobile-first design strategy. More and more users are using their mobile devices to access the web. Inherently, Squarespace templates and designed for desktop. They are mobile responsive (props to them for being mobile responsive way before Wix!) but, if you are looking for the best possible mobile experience, you’re going to be out of luck. You can’t control which content blocks stack on top of which. You just have to go with what the template gives you.
    3. You can see changes before you push them live. Some of the most overlooked tools that custom shops use are called staging sites or multi-dev environments. These tools allow changes to be made, approvals to be met and adjustments to be integrated before anything gets pushed out for the rest of the world to see. Yes, on Squarespace you can see what the site will look like but as soon as you hit “Save” it goes out to the rest of the world. Custom-shops are working on so many details that it’s really nice to see exactly how the site will look/function before pushing it out to the rest of the world.
    4. Custom integrations with just about anything. If a service has an API (Application Programming Interface) custom websites can integrate them. Squarespace does have a few of the basic integrations – at the time when I’m writing this –  but, again, you’re limited to the generic look-and-feel and what the template does/doesn’t allow. For example, if you have custom loading functionality that you are dropping in via a code block on Squarespace, you can’t have AJAX loading enabled because it will interfere with the API. This is a limitation within the template.
    5. Custom-built websites are built to scale. You may not need a bunch of complicated functionality now but what is your business going to look like in 5-10 years? How are you planning to grow? Is your website functionality going to evolve? It’s hard to plan ahead but it can save you time and money in the long run.

There are many other reasons why a custom-build is the right way to go including unique scrolling functionality, custom calendar integrations, custom mapping functionality and more. It comes down to why and how a business is planning to use its website, now and in the future.

Not sure what the net step is for your website? We’re happy to chat. Reach out!