Cale Byers

My Mission to Destroy Squarespace

November 7, 2017

I'm starting a mission to destroy Squarespace (SS) websites. I will slowly clone sites and make them better. A lot of businesses use SS because it's easy and looks good. But the truth is that SS is lame, and you don't have control over your content. You don't have enough freedom, and SS has way too much power over your site.

In terms of design, the websites are pretty much all faux-minimalist. They're too big and dumb. I don't like the aesthetic, either. Huge photos, negative space, tiny buttons, hamburger menus, parallax scrolling, AMP blog posts, etc. Pretty much every horrid trend of the last 5 years. Gross.

So I'm going to convince businesses to use an actually simple site that isn't stupid. Clean, no dumb script dependencies, no blank white failure pages, no hamburger menus. Okay maybe there will be one. But hopefully not. Ew. And I'm not even vegan, I just don't like the way they're used by default instead of carefully considering the needs of the page.

Hopefully won't be using jQuery or other large codebases. Gross. Hardest part will be payment stuff, contact forms, and verifying that bandwidth won't be an issue. Doubt most sites would have issues, ESPECIALLY if their sites were tiny and optimized. Cool if they host themselves, but it's also nice to host it via CDNs everywhere. Wonder what latency is from Oregon to rest of world. Honestly probably good enough if people would stop making pages > 0.5 MB.

Primary goals

  • Reduce JS
  • Simplify CSS
  • Encrypt
  • Limit embedded iframes (no FB widgets or tweets)
  • No Google Analytics. None.
  • Nice mobile display. Not too small type. Gross!
  • External fonts are evil. Who thought they were a good idea? Show me a case where it actually makes a difference and is justified.
  • Easy to contact and locate business (ex, with tel: links or mailto:)
  • No TripAdvisor links (evil company that dismissed sexual assault claims)

Anyway, the main issue I have with SS is that their design is not functional. You have to enable lots of JS and CSS to even see content, and that's just stupid. There should be a decent fallback, so you can at least see if you are on a relevant website with good content. Wix is even worse in terms of page bloat. But the larger, philosophical issue is that they host your content and can arbitrarily decide to shut you down. You are dependent upon their service. It's like how Facebook can just shut down your account or delete your content. You don't control it. They have everything of yours, and you're powerless. SS is dangerous, and I will never use them.

It's lazy designing and part of the trend of sacrificing freedom for the apperance of beauty and convenience. And the sad thing is that webdevs who use SS are making it harder for their own industry. Those biz customers are going to pay $150+/year for as long as they use SS, but I bet some devs charge more for long term support. Why not just sell someone an actual website they control and own? You're basically renting yourr website with SS. You don't own it. You don't have any control. It's a bad investment over time. Easy to get started, and maybe it's good in a pinch, but you shouldn't depend on it.

Granted, I have spent many hours working on my site. From reading about html to blogging and making changes, I've spent a lot of time. Easily more than the $150 it costs per year to use Squarepace. But with SS, you have to deal with their bloated frameworks and don't have enough flexibility. And ultimataely, you don't control your content. I like doing this and making simple pages. This works for me, and eventually I'll be good enough with design to convince others to ditch SS.