by Kseniia Goldovska

Last modified: August 23, 2021

Hi, I’m Kseniia and I’m here to guide you through the tools that may be helpful for your business. Having 8 years of development and start up experience I always try to find new ways of getting things done with less effort and cost. Looking forward to your comments (especially negative ones :D)!

SmugMug vs Squarespace: a comprehensive comparison of website constructors

Today, we’ll take a look at 2 popular website constructors: SmugMug and Squarespace

SmugMug is a photo-sharing platform, popular among designers and professional photographers.

Squarespace, in turn, is widely used among small businesses and companies. It might be a solution if the company doesn’t have a webmaster in a team.

In this review, we’ll check up and estimate the following characteristics:

  • ease of use;
  • templates;
  • social media integration;
  • SEO;
  • safety of use;
  • pricing plans;
  • support.

At the end of this article, they’ll be turned into a table. It’ll help to compare the functionality of both platforms and choose the most effective one for your project.

Before we go further, here are some similar articles you can be interested in:

Squarespace comparisons:

Squarespace vs Webflow

Adobe Portfolio vs Squarespace

Squarespace vs Godaddy

Format vs Squarespace

Zenfolio vs Squarespace

Squarespace Review & Pricing [2021]

Do you want to know more? If so, then make yourself comfortable and scroll down. We begin.

Comparison

Ease of use

SmugMug

Starting working with this builder is fast.

It’d be convenient for those, who aren’t experienced in website building or short of time. You don’t have to add payment details from the start.

Instead of answering a long list of questions, you’re offered to do the following:

  1. fill in a short form; 
  2. decide if you’re going to sell your work;
  3. upload photos. 
Page with the first 6 offered templates.
Template selection page. Source: SmugMug (registration required)

This platform offers a default template. It’s good-looking, but not so perfect. First of all, because of the content blocks. They can’t be resized. You can’t change the position of the pictures inside them as well. You have to scale them according to the template. 

Squarespace

Its interface is minimalist and modern. The functionality of the builder is significantly larger than SmugMug has. For example, after clicking the “Contact” button, you won’t be redirected there immediately. Instead, you’ll be offered several contact options to choose from.

That’s why it’s recommended to check up guides or help articles before you start.

However, the platform becomes easier to use over time as you get accustomed to its laconic menu.

Menu with choosing the type, topic of your project, and best template matches.
Page with choosing the type and topic of your website. Source: Squarespace

The good news is that Squarespace has a drag-and-drop editor. But it’s section-based, so you’re not free in dragging elements anywhere you want.
Also, it’s a “What You See Is What You Get” editor. It means you can observe the look of your future website in the editor as it’ll be after publishing. All changes you add display immediately.

Verdict

SmugMug:

Squarespace:

Templates

SmugMug

The platform offers a significantly fewer number of templates than Squarespace. There are 26 of them. 

Also, if you subscribe to the cheapest pricing plan after a trial period, the number of templates will decrease to 6. 

However, all of them are perfectly formed and you don’t have to search from a vast library. 
Each template can ideally match a certain photo category.

Template "Sierra": waterfall among the rocks.
Template“Sierra” for high-resolution photos. Source: SmugMug

Customization of templates may be a little bit knotty if you decide to change the location of template blocks. To solve this, you may get a pricier plan that implies a code editor.

Squarespace

The platform offers about 113 templates. It’s notably more than SmugMug has. They’re highly usable, modern, stylish. The builder divides templates into separate categories with their own sets of features and layouts.

Template "Crosby": indoor plants in square pots.
Template “CROSBY”, best for online store or blogging. Source: Squarespace

Thus, it’s easier for users to navigate and find the right one.

Users can adapt and edit templates quickly and painlessly. You’re allowed to replace photos, change text, modify sections, design settings, or manage a lot of pages straight away. Along with that, it’s not considered a 100% drag-and-drop website constructor.

But there’s the rub: most templates were created with large image blocks. It means they require high-resolution pictures to look perfect. If you don’t have them—there may be a problem.

And the solution is the same as in the case of SmugMug: usage of coding. But you’d be careful, because the serious changes in layout structure may lead to incorrect display of your project or website crash. In this case, even a support team won’t be able to help you.

Verdict

SmugMug:

Squarespace:

Social media interaction

SmugMug

This platform is an effortless option for sharing your work with the audience. It’s integrated with popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter. You can easily add your content to the channel you use. 

And there may be not only separate pictures but the whole photo galleries

If you worry about safety, you can put a watermark on your work before publishing.

Squarespace

The builder offers to show up with your work on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest. There may be products, different events, blog posts, galleries, or album tracks. 

All listed social networks have their own limitations. More information you can find here.

Squarespace offers to organize and manage podcasts too. It’s possible due to the integrated RSS option.

Squarespace's knowledge base with step-by-step instruction about podcasting.
Step-by-step instruction for posting a podcast. Source: Squarespace

Verdict

SmugMug:

Squarespace:

SEO

SmugMug

Using this platform, it’s much easier to manage and change SEO options, unlike Squarespace. Most functions are automated, and modifying requires a few clicks. 

The platform offers the following functions to make your content relevant:

  • site maps;
  • homepage meta description;
  • homepage meta keywords;
  • folder meta description, and meta keywords;
  • the bar for title page; 
  • gallery descriptions, titles, and meta keywords;
  • titles, captions, and keywords;
  • creating and carrying on an informative blog.

Here you can find more.

Squarespace

This platform provides you with much more impressive functionality. 

Nevertheless, the platform requires either experience in building websites or a painstaking study of guides and manuals.

This is the list of offered SEO functionality. For more information—here is the link.

  • site map;
  • SSL certificates;
  • clean HTML Markup;
  • static URLs;
  • automatic tagging and redirects;
  • Search engine and page descriptions;
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages;
  • Google rich image search for products;
  • integrated mobile optimization and meta tags;
  • structured data.

Verdict

SmugMug:

Squarespace:

Security

SmugMug

The platform takes the privacy and safety of your works seriously. Its security options include the following:

Individual secure controlsThere are no problems with controlling the publicity of your projects. Users are provided with privacy settings and a password for any picture they want. It works with the whole web pages, folders, or even galleries.
Cloud technologiesYour projects are safe no matter where physically you’re. It has numerous data centers all around the globe. Strictly speaking, your photos are secured 24/7 and you have access to them anytime.
WatermarksThis option helps prevent the theft of your intellectual property. It’s worth noting that the constructor provides an option to disable right-clicking.
Data secureThe policy is clear in this regard: the platform never takes, uses, or sells any of your projects or their parts.
Backup functionThe platform offers an automatic backup for your photos. It works with desktop applications, as well as mobile. All information gets in the cloud and can be taken from there anytime.

Squarespace

The staff devotes a lot of attention to keep the data of both companies and customers safe.

Also, Squarespace has an information security program that includes the following:

Data Center, Cloud Providers, and Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery–        its data centers and cloud service providers offer to use special techniques and procedures to manage, scan, and record access to resources;
–        it has geographically unrelated data centers to provide the continuity of data access;
–        the platform has applied tools for defense from DDoS attacks and comes with recovery plans.
EncryptionThe website builder offers a Secure Sockets Layer certificate (to encrypt data flow between the user, website, customers) and HTTP Strict Transport Security (it encrypts information processed between sessions).
Application-Level SecurityIt offers:
–        two-factor authentication;
–        Web Application Firewall;
–        a permanent intrusion testing.
Incident ResponseIf the problem is identified, then the command promptly responds proportionately to the threat.
Building and Network AccessLocal company networks are closed, and physical access to offices is highly controlled.
Systems Access ControlYou cannot access the Squarespace system; it’s controlled by appropriate staff.

Verdict

SmugMug:

Squarespace:

Features 

SmugMugSquarespace
JavaScript+
Drag and drop editor++
HTML/CSS++
Duplicating pages and content +
Blog implementation+
Fonts and color themes customization++
Multi-image arrangements (slideshows and carousels)++
Mobile editing++
Previewing++

Verdict

SmugMug:

Squarespace:

Pricing

SmugMug

The website builder offers 4 plans. We’ll figure out the main differences below, but if you need full data—click here.

Basic plan ($8 monthly). By purchasing it, you get secure galleries, applications for web and mobile devices. This is a suitable option for beginners.

Power plan ($13 monthly). The same functionality, plus the large-scale security controls, ability to customize your website (20 extra templates), and get a custom domain name.

Portfolio plan ($32 monthly). The following is added: e-commerce functionality, ability to sell your works, and add watermarks.Pro plan ($49 monthly). It’s the full package where you additionally get: the ability to set specific gallery and photo pricing, to use coupons and packages for promotion. Also, it provides you with a client proofing option.

Squarespace

The platform offers 4 plans as well as SmugMug. It should be mentioned that the first and all-purpose plan (in terms of functionality) for beginners is almost twice as expensive.

For more—follow the link.

Personal ($16 monthly). Here you get unlimited storage for your works, standard website analytics, the ability to customize your domain, and encryption of all your info with help of Secure Sockets Layer certificate. It’s a choice for beginners.

Business ($26 monthly). Besides, you get advanced website analytics, professional email, electronic commerce, full customization, premium integrations. It may be an option for small businesses.

Basic commerce ($30 monthly). In this plan, over and above you have: no limits on the number of products, powerful commerce analytics, your label printing, no fees for transactions, and an ability to create accounts by your customers (to boost sales).

Advanced commerce ($46 monthly). This is the full package and it includes gift cards,  discounts, advanced shipping, and an ability to recover an abandoned cart. This option is suitable for online stores with ambitions for growth.

Verdict

SmugMug:

Squarespace:

Support

SmugMug

The platform has an extensive database that helps to find answers to the questions on the following topics:

  • account and content management;
  • buying prints;
  • privacy and security;
  • personalizing;
  • sharing your works;
  • selling prints.

You’re welcome to use video lessons from the platform’s YouTube channel or get tips from SmugMug School. Also, you may visit a partner site “The Photographer Academy” for more instructions and inspiration.

SmugMug School homepage with the most popular topics.
Page with photo tips on the SmugMug School. Source: SmugMug

SmugMug offers emailing support. The option is available 24/7. At the same time, there is no possibility of one-to-one communication. It may be a drawback if you have to solve a problem quickly.

Squarespace

Its support system provides thorough guides. There, you can find any information starting with how to manage your account and ending with extensions. 

Also, video tutorials, community forums, and webinars are at your disposal. 

The other support options are:

  • live chat on Monday to Friday (live chat hours may be different from time to time. Here you can find the current schedule);
  • 24/7 support via email and Twitter.
Choosing the topic on the Squarespace's Customer Support page
Contact customer support page. Source: Squarespace

Verdict

SmugMug:

Squarespace:

Pros and cons 

SmugMug

Pros

  • excellent server uptime and high level of performance;
  • cheaper pricing plans have significant functionality that makes them competitive;
  • overall security. 

Cons

  • the website builder doesn’t offer a free plan;
  • Basic plan doesn’t include a personalized domain name. You can get it after purchasing a “Power” plan or higher;
  • inflexible template customization.

Squarespace

Pros

  • highly-customizable templates;
  • it offers a wide range of third-party tools to integrate with;
  • intelligible and deep website analytics.

Cons

  • it offers only 2 payment options: Stripe and Paypal;
  • pages and posts can’t be autosaved;
  • it doesn’t have an autosave function. 

FAQ

What’s the difference between “folder” and “gallery” on SmugMug platform?

Folders provide a certain hierarchy and structure your data. The gallery is the last destination point where your photos are located.

How many photos can I add to my gallery on SmugMug?

Users can upload up to 5000 photos in any gallery. The number of galleries is unlimited.

Does SmugMug support video files uploading?

Yes, the platform provides you with such an option. But there are limitations: video should be no longer than 20 minutes and no larger than 3 GB.

What types of files does SmugMug support?

Users are free to work with the following formats: JPEG, PNG, HEIC, GIF.

When I can get paid from SmugMug?

You’ll automatically get money the following month. For this, you must have at least $500 of unpaid profit on your account. 

Why can’t I detach the footer on SmugMug

SmugMug advises its users to add their name in the website footer on purpose to protect their copyright. 

Does SmugMug support JavaScript for customization?

This option is unavailable because using JavaScript leads to an incorrect display of your work after each site’s improvement.

Is it possible to transfer my domain to Squarespace if it was registered elsewhere?

Yes, it’s possible. Plus, you can control and change its settings and billing from your Squarespace account.

Can I use video files on Squarespace from third-party resources?

Yes, you can add a video (you can embed a file, uploading isn’t a must) to different parts of your website.

Does Squarespace support data synchronization with another platform?

No, it’s impossible. But you can make a copy of your content from another resource and add it to Squarespace.

How can I get donations on Squarespace?

This option is premium and available for the Business plan or higher.

Are there any limits in the number of websites I can make with Squarespace?

There are no such limits. The platform provides you with an option to create multiple websites.

What is the pricing if I have more than 1 website on Squarespace? 

There are no special discounts for multiple websites and you pay for them separately. However, you may choose different plans for each website.

Should I wait if I use a new domain name on Squarespace?

In this case, changes in the Domain Name System can take from 24 to 72 hours. 

Summing-up

Сonsidering the functionality and a set of tools of each platform, it can be stated, that:

SmugMug is more like a niche, photography-focused platform. It was created as a place, where you can share, host, and sell your video/photo works. It makes it a perfect solution for photographers, designers, and all those whose activities are related to selling or showing their visual projects.

Squarespace hits not only artists but a wider audience. The platform offers full SEO functionality, deep website metrics, broad customization, and e-commerce abilities. It makes it appealing in terms of promotion and sales for representatives of small and medium businesses.

Now let’s take a look at how many scores each of the platforms got:

SmugMugSquarespace
Ease of use44
Tools
–        templates45
–        social media integration45
–        SEO45
–        security55
–        pricing54
–        support44
–        features45
In total3437

Despite a small gap in scores, Squarespace becomes a leader in the comparison. 

Being an all-in-one builder, Squarespace meets the needs of a broad audience and used for a variety of businesses: 

  • its comprehensive functionality allows you to customize the website in detail or create it from scratch;
  • various SEO options help to take the top place in the search results;
  • marketing tools provide a fast promotion and effective trading of your product or service.