Format and Squarespace are well-known platforms for building beautiful and original portfolios for artists, designers, Creators, and photographers. However, while Format primarily caters to photographers and allows setting up only portfolio sites, Squarespace is a versatile website builder great for all types of sites. It’s a perfect solution for small businesses and individuals searching for fantastic website aesthetics with a limited budget.
At a pretty low price, Squarespace provides access to a broad selection of best-in-class templates, a straightforward and clear interface, and a range of simple but effective selling tools for monetizing a website.
On the other hand, Format can be a better option if you are interested in creating a professional-looking portfolio website without going much into the building process or using coding. The solution offers amazing mobile-optimized templates for photographers and artists with modern layouts created by awarded designers.
Overview of Format and Squarespace
Format and Squarespace are two popular website-building platforms, each with distinct features and focuses. Their initial implication and features differ a lot, which is explained by the general specialization of systems. Let’s review each of them in details now.
Format is primarily geared towards photographers and creative professionals, offering a specialized set of tools and templates for showcasing portfolios. Its features are tailored for visual-centric websites, with an emphasis on image presentation and gallery layouts.
The website builder is particularly favored by photographers and artists for its strong focus on portfolio presentation. It offers customizable templates specifically designed to showcase visual work effectively. The platform also provides client proofing functionalities, which are essential for photographers.
Squarespace, on the other hand, is a more versatile platform suitable for a wider range of website types. It’s known for its sleek designs, ease of use, and a comprehensive set of features that cater to various website needs beyond just portfolios.
The system is initially known for its elegant and modern template designs, caters to a broader audience, including small businesses, bloggers, and online stores. It also stands out for its all-in-one platform capabilities, offering not just website building, but also domain registration, eCommerce solutions and marketing tools.Read also: Squarespace Review
Both Format and Squarespace prioritize design aesthetics and user experience, but their core audiences and specific feature sets differ, making them suitable for different types of users and purposes.
Ease of Use
Both Format and Squarespace are known for their ease of use, but they cater to different user needs. To decide which system works best for you, it makes sense to closer review them from the point of view of simplicity.
Format: Simple Portfolio Building Solution
The Format is an easy-to-use portfolio-building solution. It all goes as simple as uploading images to set up a gallery, designing a brand new site, and choosing one from several templates meeting your professional needs. You can also add a blog section or even a store to the website’s main menu. Even if you have no experience creating a website, Format will appear pretty straightforward and comprehensible from the first click.
Furthermore, Format comes with inbuilt hosting and offers either connecting your custom third-party domain with the help of the service’s professional support team (you can as well do it manually through the Domain & Email setting section) or using a free domain for one year as long as you are an annual subscriber of Pro or Plus tiers.
On the other hand, Format’s simplicity is based on the number of accessible settings. You won’t find many technical items floating around your work area, which is great for beginners but limiting for advanced users.
Squarespace: Easy DIY Website Builder
Squarespace is a user-friendly product, too. It features a slick and straightforward interface, while the handy tutorial pops up when you first get started. This and the checklist make the platform simple regardless of your experience level.
The website builder features a WYSIWYG drag-and-drop editor, which doesn’t allow you to drop the chosen element anywhere you wish. It’s rather section-based to keep the overall site design clean and tidy. However, users craving more design freedom will especially appreciate the latest addition, Fluid Engine, which enables them to move elements around the site without any limitations.
However, what may disappoint you about Squarespace is that it doesn’t allow switching templates. If you need to recreate the look and feel of another template, you have to revamp all the design settings. This may not be difficult, but time-consuming. If the template switch option is still a priority to you, consider using one of the best Squarespace alternatives here.
Design and Templates
Design customization approach differs in both platforms as well. Again, this is explained by the distinctions in the systems’ implication, goals and main features. Let’s focus on the template choice and customization now.
Format Designs and Customization Features
Format boasts a range of premium quality templates, all designed for artists and photographers, yet neatly categorized into sections like Architecture, model, illustration, fashion, wedding, etc. Furthermore, you can filter the suggested template by their galleries: tiled, horizontal scrolling, vertical scrolling, slideshow, and fullscreen options are available.
The entire selection looks impressive and unique. They are sleek and elegant, perfectly catered to any artist’s expectations in terms of aesthetics. What makes working with Format great is that you can easily switch between templates during the design process. Every theme has a preview option and an accurate description with all included features and elements.
However, creative users will face limitations in terms of design flexibility. Surely, adding a new section is only a click away, just editing page content, adjusting the website menu position, height, and alignment, as well as modifying custom pages, collection pages, store sections, and client galleries. Booth desktop and mobile previews are available on every phase of the site customization.
However, compared to more advanced and versatile website builders like Squarespace or Wix (review), the customization options of Format are still restricted.
Squarespace Templates and Customization Tools
As for Squarespace, this is one of the best website builders when it comes to designing a top-notch quality site. With over 150 mobile-responsive and fully customizable templates to choose from, you will find the perfect fit for your site, regardless of your niche. All themes feature stylish, sleek, modern designs while delivering superior performance.
Squarespace makes it possible to perfectly represent your brand vision and style through the chosen template since all themes are highly flexible and customizable. You can replace images, insert text, add and delete sections and manage multiple pages simultaneously. And suppose previously Squarespace allowed drag-and-drop elements only to predetermined areas. In that case, the company’s latest addition Fluid Engine has changed the rules of the game: now you have complete creative control over your site design.
Nevertheless, note that to make the most of Squarespace templates, which owe their impressive look mostly to large image blocks, the photos you upload must exceptionally be of high resolution. Otherwise, the chosen template won’t have the polished look it should do. If the user doesn’t have their own quality, the partnership between Squarespace and Getty Images provides a huge array of stock images available to any Squarespace user. Although not all images are free, they are worth every penny.
To get further with your website customization, Squarespace allows applying coding. With respective knowledge and skills, you can tailor colors, fonts, and backgrounds to create a truly one-of-a-kind website design. The same array of adjustments is possible to complete without coding, too.
So, in terms of templates, both Format and Squarespace provide stunning options. But once the customization spectrum is discussed, Squarespace is an extra mile ahead.
Features and Functionality
Format and Squarespace cannot boast powerful external integrations yet the systems make it possible to add a number of features and apps to enhance their project functionality.
Format primarily focuses on integrations that enhance the portfolios of photographers and creative professionals. It includes features like client proofing, allowing clients to review and select images directly on the site. Additionally, Format integrates with Lightroom, enabling seamless photo management and uploads. This specialization, however, means it might have fewer third-party integrations compared to more general website builders.
Squarespace, catering to a broader user base, offers a wide array of integrations. This includes eСommerce platforms like Shopify, social media integration for platforms like Instagram and Twitter and marketing tools such as Mailchimp for email campaigns. Its extensive range of integrations makes it highly adaptable for various business needs, from online retail to digital marketing.
It should also be mentioned that Squarespace does not have a standalone app store. This is the major reason for the limited app choice it offers. Along with built-in apps, the website builder grants access to third-party integrations. These include Google Analytics, Google Maps, Acuity Scheduling platform, Unfold App etc.
A recent innovation Squarespace has introduced to its clients is the Video Studio App. It makes it possible to create professional video presentations without any programming background.
Format and Squarespace both do not offer multiple integrations yet those that are available in their collections are enough to enhance the performance of websites created with the systems.
Pricing and Costs
Format and Squarespace don’t offer a free plan like most other website builders. Instead, they provide a 14-day trial period, after which you have to choose one of the available pricing plans. To find out other pricing details, explore the info below.
- 24/7 customer support,
- free mobile app, Lightroom and Capture One integration,
- 15 website pages,
- 100 high-res images,
- professional branded email at $72/year,
- SSL security,
- powerful SEO tools,
- social integration,
- copyright protection,
- mobile optimization,
- starter themes,
- CRM Light,
- gallery password protection,
- 10 client galleries etc.
- all themes,
- unlimited pages,
- 1500 high-res images,
- 15 hosted video minutes,
- unlimited contacts,
- 15% Format marketplace commission,
- 3 products,
- 100GB photo storage,
- free custom domain,
- custom code editor etc.
- priority support,
- unlimited high-res images,
- 120 hosted video minutes,
- 5% Format marketplace commission,
- 1000 products,
- 1TB photo storage,
- premium design features,
- email subscriber form etc.
Format’s pricing tiers are Basic, Pro, or Pro Plus, priced at $10, $16 and $26 per month if billed annually. While all plans provide unlimited pages and unlimited bandwidth so important for loading lots of images, the introductory Basic plan includes 100 hi-resolution images, 2 GB file transfers, 10 Client galleries, CRM Light, round-the-clock customer support, client contracts, custom domain name priced at $20 per year. Workflow is now included with all plans for free.
- free custom domain registration for the first year,
- SSL security,
- unlimited bandwidth and storage,
- SEO features for site visibility,
- basic website metrics.
- all the features of the Personal plan,
- premium integrations and blocks,
- advanced website analytics,
- professional email from Google.
- Business plan features,
- secure online payments,
- customer account creation for faster checkouts,
- order management,
- no transaction fees for Squarespace transactions
- features of the Basic Commerce plan,
- abandoned cart recovery,
- subscription selling capabilities,
- advanced shipping and discounts,
- more robust analytics for commerce insights.
Squarespace introduces four plans – Personal, Business, Commerce Basic, and Commerce Advanced at $16, $23, $27, and $49 per month, respectively. The Personal introductory plan involves a free custom domain for a year, SEO features, 30 minutes of video storage, the drag-and-drop editor, SSL security, audience management, video maker, custom merch, unlimited bandwidth, mobile-optimized site building possibility, etc.
As you can see, Format is more affordable than Squarespace, though the latter has far more advanced functionality.
SEO and Marketing
The first impression a website makes on a visitor is its appearance. However, to make it appealing, effective, and productive at the same time, the functionality lying behind the website matters a lot. This also concerns Search Engine Optimization.
Format SEO Features
In terms of search engine optimization, Format introduces two options – Global and Content settings. The former allows optimizing the homepage, while the latter gives access to individual page SEO adjustments. For instance, you can optimize titles and descriptions with keywords for all digital products, Blogs, galleries, and collections. Moreover, Format generates sitemaps to be connected with the search console to index individual site pages. Also, with this portfolio builder, you can connect your Google Analytics.
Squarespace SEO Tools
Squarespace is well-optimized for search engines and blogging, too. It provides such basic SEO settings as editing titles, descriptions, keywords, automatic sitemaps, multiple domain redirections, AMP pages and inbuilt tags.
The website builder also grants access to integrated tools for basic SEO strategies, such as customizable page titles, meta descriptions, URLs as well as hassle-free integration with Google Analytics and Search Console.
Summing it all up, Format offers basic SEO tailored to visual content. Squarespace, suitable for a wider range of users, offers more versatile and comprehensive SEO tools. Both are user-friendly, but Squarespace’s extensive features make it more adaptable for diverse website needs beyond portfolios.
Performance and Speed
In terms of performance and speed, both Format and Squarespace are optimized to offer good user experiences, but they differ in certain aspects.
Format Performance and Speed Settings
Format’s performance and speed settings are specifically tailored for high-quality image portfolios. The platform optimizes image loading times without sacrificing visual quality, which is essential for photographers and artists who need to showcase their work online. Format’s efficient handling of large visual files ensures that websites remain responsive and fast, providing a smooth browsing experience for visitors. This optimization is key to maintaining both the aesthetic appeal and the functionality of professional portfolios on the platform.
Squarespace Performance Options
Squarespace is designed to balance high-quality visuals with good website performance and speed. It automatically optimizes images for the web, reducing file sizes to enhance load times without noticeably compromising image quality.
Squarespace sites also benefit from global content delivery networks, ensuring faster loading times regardless of the visitor’s location. However, since Squarespace offers more complex site functionalities and diverse features, the overall performance can vary based on the specific design choices, number of integrations, and volume of content on each site. Users have some control over these variables to optimize their site’s performance.
In terms of performance and speed factors, both platforms continually update to optimize speed and performance, keeping in mind the different needs of their user bases. Squarespace, however, has more extensive settings due to its all-in-one web design approach.
Website security is crucial for protecting user data and maintaining trust. Format and Squarespace, as website building platforms, prioritize security but implement it differently.
Format Security Measures
Format focuses on security tailored for portfolio websites, ensuring secure data transmission and protection of user-uploaded content. This may include SSL certificates, regular software updates, and secure hosting environments.
Squarespace Safety Parameters
Squarespace offers robust security features suitable for a variety of websites, including eCommerce. Its security measures likely encompass SSL certificates, secure payment gateways for e-commerce, and consistent updates to safeguard against vulnerabilities.
Both Format and Squarespace provide solid security foundations. The choice between them depends on the user’s specific needs – Format for image-heavy portfolio sites and Squarespace for more diverse, potentially commerce-oriented sites.
Support and Community
Support and community engagement are crucial for website builders. They provide users with the necessary resources for troubleshooting, learning, and making the most out of the platform.
Format Community and Support Options
Format is geared towards creative professionals, offering specialized support tailored to their needs. This includes direct customer support and a community forum where users can exchange ideas and solutions, particularly valuable for photographers and artists.
Squarespace Support Solutions
Squarespace offers extensive support options, including 24/7 customer support through email, live chat, and a comprehensive help center. Their community forums and regular webinars provide additional learning and engagement opportunities for a broad range of users.
Thus, website builders provide strong support, but their approaches reflect their target audiences. Format offers more niche, community-focused support, while Squarespace provides broader and more varied support resources.
Most website owners aim to monetize their offspring. For this, it’s essential to ensure the website builder provides the necessary eCommerce and marketing functionalities. In our case, Format and Squarespace allow selling products and services through the website. However, the available functionality differs from one solution to another.
Setting Up a Web Store with Format
The Format enables its eCommerce tools only for users of the Pro and Plus plans, with the latter allowing selling up to a thousand products. Format lets you sell physical and digital products and adjust product visibility, description, stock, SEO, and shipping.
However, Format users are limited only to the PayPal payment option. So, with Format, selling only a few products is possible. If you prioritize the presence of a more complex online store, you’d better look for a more extensive platform.
Additionally, the website builder comes with the basic blogging functionalities (adding blog title and images, adjusting its visibility and blog homepage style, adding social sharing links on posts, allowing commenting, and hiding published on date). This also makes Format a good solution as long as you don’t expect advanced tools.
Launching a Web Store with Squarespace
Squarespace is a more advanced online store builder, making it a great choice for small-to-medium businesses. The platform offers a small inventory to sell digital and physical products with amazing eCommerce-specific designs, built-in analytics, email campaigns, integrations with online tools like PayPal and G Suite, targeted SEO tools, abandoned cart recovery, etc.
Furthermore, if you pair the Squarespace Commerce app with your account, you can start selling offline, syncing the whole store in one place. This way, you get even more payment methods (via credit cards) available besides the available PayPal, Apple Pay, and Square, while your sales will sync with your online inventory automatically.
Also, you can offer your customers subscriptions and organize donations, enhance your site eCommerce functionality through the pretty extended App Store. All this makes Squarespace an incomparably better platform for selling online.
As for blogging functionality, tons of in-built tools are at Squarespace users’ disposal here. Particularly, the platform supports multiple contributors, syncing, and sharing on social media, while the Blog App lets you manage the blog section from your mobile device.
Summing it all up, Squarespace is a more multifaceted solution for web store creation as it offers more built-in tools and features needed for this process. As a beginner, you will find Squarespace more convenient and easier to use. Format works better for selling works of art or other items presented in your portfolio. However, if you expect deeper flexibility, Format won’t let you make use of advanced settings.
Making Your Decision
As you see, Format and Squarespace differ a lot in multiple parameters – starting with their initial implication and up to integrated feature set, pricing policy, eCommerce settings etc. It’s high time to summarize their major functionality to simplify the choice.
Considerations for Choosing Format
When considering Format as your website-building platform, especially for photographers and artists, here are some key features to keep in mind:
- Portfolio-Focused Design: Optimized templates for showcasing visual work.
- Image-Centric Tools: Enhanced features for displaying high-quality images.
- Lightroom Integration: Streamlines photo uploads and management.
- Client Proofing: Convenient for client interactions and feedback.
- Customizable Layouts: Tailored to individual artistic styles.
- SEO for Visual Content: Specific tools to improve search engine visibility of images.
These features make Format particularly appealing for those in visually creative professions.
Considerations for Choosing Squarespace
Choosing Squarespace for your website needs involves considering its broad range of features:
- Versatile Templates: Wide variety of modern and sleek design templates.
- Drag-and-Drop Interface: User-friendly for easy customization.
- E-Commerce Capabilities: Robust tools for online store management.
- SEO Tools: Comprehensive options for improving search engine ranking.
- Marketing Integrations: Tools for email campaigns, social media, and more.
- Analytics: Detailed insights into website traffic and user behavior.
Squarespace’s features make it a versatile choice for businesses, bloggers, artists, and online retailers.
The systems are quite different and, thus, they should be used for different purposes. Consider their major advantages to pick the software that actually fits your requirements and needs.
Conclusion: Final Thoughts on Format vs Squarespace
While both Format and Squarespace are popular names in the site building market, with the former suiting only for portfolio creation, they offer a different level of website customization and functionalities. And although which to choose depends primarily on your project and purposes, Squarespace is definitely a more powerful option of the two.
Suppose you have a tight budget for your project and aim to set up a portfolio site or sell a small number of imagery products without going much into site adjustments. In that case, Format is worth choosing over Squarespace. And yet, if you prioritize more creative freedom over your website design and need advanced functionalities to turn your website into a powerful source of income, Squarespace wins over Format undoubtedly.