Before Squarespace, building a website was not for the faint of heart.
You could build a WordPress website and probably do okay if you found a user friendly theme and were willing to learn all the ins and outs of its backend. Or, you coud hire a developer to build your site on WordPress or any of the other "developer-friendly" platforms out there.
Squarespace changed the entire landscape of website building by introducing a platform that lets entrepreneurs build their own site without hiring a developer or fighting a migraine. Their marketing was on point and their platform was perfect for getting a budding business digitally off the ground.
And it still is.
Since Squarespace came on the scene, plenty of other companies have followed their example. Wix, Weebly, GoDaddy; the list goes on. This is great for people who want to compare prices and features when creating their website, but there are two problems. First, most businesses will eventually outgrow this simplified model. Second, the next “tier” of websites are either really expensive, difficult to edit or require tons of ongoing maintenance to keep them secure and running smoothly.
For everyone who needs to up their game without blowing their budget or hiring a website design expert, there’s a new player on the field that fills the gap between Squarespace and expensive competitors: the HubSpot CMS Starter.
Wait, What’s HubSpot?
HubSpot has been in the marketing game for a while. Its first big break was with its powerful marketing automation platform. After experiencing significant success, they quickly expanded into sales and service platforms and a robust content management system (aka a website platform) that was priced at $300 per month.
That’s really expensive for almost any small business and, frankly, not worth it.
But these times they are changing, and now small business owners can rejoice because HubSpot just released a new version of their platform for just $25/month, and I have to say, it’s pretty robust for that price point.
Here’s what you get, and why it might be the best Squarespace alternative.
No More Managing Updates
With other website builders like WordPress, a common “next step” platform for Squarespace users, the work of updating plugins and the theme falls to the business owner or the agency they’ve hired. And as much as agencies like us love being hired to do things, it’s an unnecessary cost to the business. With HubSpot, they keep the platform up to date for you. You don’t ever have to worry about it.
I love not having to worry about things like software.
Customizable Without Coding
Honestly, no one wants to hire a web developer every time they need an image switched out or content updated on their website. Ease of use has always been Squarespace's main focus, and they've done really well with their drag-and-drop editor. But now, HubSpot has it too.
In HubSpot’s marketplace you can find a “theme” you like and then adjust the web design to fit your branding without ever having to code. Think of themes as more robust templates that also allow you to make design changes across the entire website instead of only to a single page.
There are plenty of free themes you can start with, and most of the awesome paid ones still cost less than $1000.
Here are a few of the top themes to check out:
It should be noted that although themes do have a lot of customization options, they still have limitations, and you can only change them so much. Agencies can be hired to customize or even just set up a theme for you, and you'll still be left with all the flexibility and customization that is provided by HubSpot.
Built-in CRM and Email Marketing
Now on to the very best part. When you get HubSpot’s CMS Starter, you also get access to HubSpot’s CRM. This means you can gather and manage contacts through HubSpot’s forms and track each user's customer journey, all in the same place.
You also get HubSpot’s email marketing tool, so you can build and send up to 2,000 emails per month. When I heard that, I immediately thought of all the businesses I’ve worked with that could save money by combining their email and website platform into one cost per month.
Room to Grow
I don’t know about you but the idea of migrating all my stuff to a new platform or set of platforms immediately gives me a headache. The nice thing about getting into the HubSpot CMS Starter is that you can easily upgrade your subscription or add on their Sales, Marketing or Service “Hubs” whenever your business requires more functionality. All your data and content can stay in the same place and you don’t have to go through the pain of moving it around to different platforms as you scale.
HubSpot also has integrations with a host of third-party apps, making it easy to add specialized functionality or to integrate with existing platforms your team uses.
Customer Support Included
If you're responsible for maintaining your own website, it can bring peace of mind to know that if something goes wrong, you have someone on call who could help fix the problem right away.
To me, this is one of the biggest upsides of HubSpot for a small business. They have a helpful support team that is available through email or chat to assist you with issues you might encounter in your HubSpot portal.
They also have a ton of support articles and tutorials posted to address 90% of the problems or questions you might have. All you have to do is Google "HubSpot" followed by your question and I guarantee you'll get 2-3 knowledgebase articles on the subject.
When is HubSpot NOT the Best Alternative to SquareSpace?
As much as we love HubSpot, it's not the best choice in all cases. For e-commerce businesses opening an online store, you just can't beat Shopify's e-commerce features. Shopify was built around its e-commerce functionality, and it's still the go-to if you're just starting out. Circle back to HubSpot when you start to expand your marketing and sales funnels. Shopify does a great job as a store, but their other tools aren't quite as robust as HubSpot's.
When you do circle back, HubSpot has integrations with e-commerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce that make it easy to link up your store and marketing efforts.
What About WordPress?
I mentioned WordPress briefly at the start of this article and I want to make sure I give it the recognition it deserves.
WordPress has always been and will probably always be popular for bloggers. But they are also a go-to platform for website building, even among people who don't know how to code. Because they've been around for so long and because of the way their platform is built (it's "open-source"), some things are a lot more customizable in WordPress.
But it can get really messy, really quick because there aren't many guardrails on what you can and can't do. That might sound fun, but we both know boundaries are a good thing. HubSpot offers a lot of customizability while still providing some guardrails that make it more difficult to break things.
Making the Leap from Squarespace to HubSpot
Squarespace offers business owners a way to create a beautiful, cost-effective website. HubSpot's new CMS product and competitive pricing offer the opportunity to kick it up a notch while leaving lots of headroom for future growth.
If Squarespace has served you well but you're looking for more functionality and some marketing tools, HubSpot's CMS Starter is a great place to look.
👉 Check out our Quick-Launch Package (it comes with a free year of HubSpot).