Although I'm a big fan of Squarespace, it's no secret that there's a frustrating shortage of Squarespace plugins. However, that might be about to change.
If you aren't already familiar with it, Squarespace is a popular website builder with a focus on elegant website design. It was originally geared towards photographers, although it now caters to many other industries.
As far as customization is concerned, Squarespace users have traditionally been confined to the native website builder and whatever code they could muster up (Squarespace allows you to insert custom code).
Squarespace Plugins on the other hand, were nowhere to be seen – until now.
I recently came across Square Plugins, a website dedicated to producing Squarespace Plugins.
They have over 200 Squarespace plugins to date, including plugins that deal with:
They even offer a handful of freebies to help bolster your Squarespace website. Not too shabby.
I had a short chat with Tom Bull, the Founder of Square Plugins, about how his project came about:
We've been building websites on Squarespace for years now, and have become increasingly aware of the platform's limitations as well as its benefits. Building a basic, beautiful site is wonderfully easy with Squarespace, but integrating additional features or designs that are not included in the platform's offering is very challenging.
Just over a year ago we launched an online plugin store with over 200 coded plugins that Squarespace users can add to their site's with ease. Our vision is to help ambitious Squarespace users take their websites to the next level, both in individuality and ‘wow' factor.
Our code is now live on over 8,000 Squarespace websites, and we're adding to our range of plugins every week.
To add a plugin to your Squarespace website, Square Plugins send you the code, along with detailed instructions on how to add it from your Squarespace admin panel.
The prices start from $6, which isn't too bad, although some of their better plugins (like the plugin which allows for video backgrounds) cost as much as $59 – which isn't very reasonable.
Don't get me wrong, I'm thoroughly impressed by Square Plugins – but I'd like to see Squarespace dishing out their own plugins, too.
A flourishing third-party plugin market is a good thing (just look at how well the WordPress community handles its own plugin needs), but not all Squarespace users will want to wander outside the safety of the official Squarespace website.
Plus, the need to manually insert code into your Squarespace website isn't ideal. In fact, the need to handle code will only alienate novice webmasters – a key demographic within the Squarespace community.
This prolonged alienation from plugins leads to a problem which I feel is growing within the website builder market as a whole:
If you take a sample of websites built by Squarespace, you'll see that they end up delivering minimal functionality with similar design elements, making them look and feel very similar (particularly if they use the same templates). Squarespace plugins by Squarespace, would change that.
I will refer once again to WordPress to illustrate my point here. The WordPress Jetpack plugin was developed by Automattic – the company behind WordPress – as a free all-in-one solution to boost functionality, visibility, and security for WordPress.org websites.
It provides features like automatic social sharing, website speed tweaks, image galleries, related content widgets, and much more.
I'd personally love to see a Squarespace equivalent to what Automattic have produced for WordPress (Squarespace Jetpack, anyone?). That, followed by a steady release of additional plugins, would open up a whole new world of possibilities for the Squarespace community.
For now though, it's good to see third-parties like Square Plugins stepping up the the plate.