Squarespace vs Cargo (2020): Which Website Builder Is Better For Artists?

For artists and creative professionals, having a website is necessary. It’s arguably the most effective platform for showcasing your work, and managing your brand. But isn’t launching a website hard? The truth is, it has never been easier to create your personal website than it is today. You don’t even need to be well-versed in web hosting or coding.

Website builders like Squarespace take care of the basics, so all you need to do is choose from one of their templates and customize them as you see fit. There are also more specialized platforms like Cargo that have been developed by artists for artists. Now, if you’re a creative professional, which of the two is better? Read our comparison below to find out.

Squarespace vs Cargo Comparison Chart

NameSquarespaceCargo
 
Price Check Price at SquarespaceCheck Price at Cargo
Best Known ForProfessionally-designed templates and e-commerce toolsWebsite builder for artists
Hosted PlatformYesYes
Customizable TemplatesYesYes
Mobile ResponsiveYesYes
CSS EditorYesYes
Custom HTMLYesYes
Third-Part DomainSupportedSupported
IntegrationsExtensiveLimited to Google integrations
Commerce ExtensiveStandard
Built-In Email Marketing Tool YesNo
Customer Support24/7 email support, chat support, help center, community answersOnline support/resource center, chat support

Website Templates

Squarespace’s templates are minimalist and professional-looking whereas Cargo’s designs are more unorthodox and highly-stylized.

Here’s a look at Cargo’s True Studio template.

Squarespace and Cargo take largely different approaches in designing a website. A quick look at Squarespace’s templates reveals a platform that puts a premium on clean designs, refined typography, and a streamlined visitor’s experience.

While some themes boast vivid color palettes and eye-catching visual headers, they are all deeply anchored on a minimalist aesthetic. Yes, they’re beautiful — but they’re also safe. If you want a professional-looking website, then you’ll probably be happy with what Squarespace has to offer.

Cargo’s templates, on the other hand, are more eclectic. In terms of layout, the designs are either single-image landing pages or basic grids that lend well for showcasing a portfolio of work. There’s also a strong emphasis on the eccentric or quirky when it comes to visual elements.

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True Studio, for instance, is a template derivative of a MacBook desktop, complete with app icons and a menu bar. Meanwhile, the Bricks theme is a kitschy throwback to when the Internet was still new. Indeed, some of the designs are unexpected, if not, an acquired taste. Compared to Squarespace, Cargo’s templates are less formal — unafraid to look imperfect, asymmetrical, and maybe even unprofessional.

Ease of Use and Customization

Building a website on Squarespace is easier compared to Cargo.

Squarespace’s dashboard is organized and intuitive.

When it comes to building an actual website, Squarespace feels a lot more intuitive to use. Registering for an account is uncomplicated and all the tools you need are readily available. In addition, the platform’s drag-and-drop feature makes it easy to move content where you want to.

Squarespace also allows users to customize page configurations even without writing a single line of code. From font styles and sets to page colors and social media URLs, there is plenty of room to make a template your own with a few clicks here and there. Plus, the dashboard is quite organized, so editing one section to another doesn’t entail too much of a learning curve.

Cargo also offers simple and accessible tools to make any one of its templates your own. However, the platform’s editing interface is cumbersome for first-time users compared to Squarespace’s. Yes, you can also edit the layout, site elements, font, and even image animations but it does take a while to get the hang of it. Plus, the drag-and-drop features can be confusing, as you’re not quite sure where a content block will clip in the page’s grid.

If you’d like more advanced customizations, you’ll be pleased to know that Squarespace and Cargo support custom HTML, and comes with built-in CSS editors. All the basics are taken care of like web hosting and SSL encryption. Both platforms also feature domain registration and management.

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Features

Unlike Cargo, there’s more room to scale your business in Squarespace.

Squarespace makes it easy to start mobile-responsive websites with e-commerce functionality.

Although Squarespace is great for starting a personal website, most of its features are geared towards growing your digital real estate. You will find, for instance, a slew of web and social media integrations to market your online presence. There is also a plethora of SEO tools available to help drive traffic to your site.

If you’re planning to open an online store, Squarespace seems built for it, too. The platform offers advanced checkout options, shipping and tax calculations, and inventory management among others. You can also engage with customers through its built-in email marketing campaign service. Suffice to say, the platform is an all-in-one business option.

Cargo is no pushover but it does have fewer features compared to Squarespace. Nonetheless, if you’re looking to add online store functionality to your site, then Cargo Commerce is still quite robust. Through it, you can list physical and digital products, manage orders, and create checkout customizations. PayPal can also be set up, while through Stripe you can accept credit card payments.

Some basic third-party embeds are also available including Twitter and YouTube. There’s also Google Analytics integrations for tracking the performance of your website.

Pricing

Squarespace offers four paid plans whereas Cargo simply charges for website upgrades.

Cargo offers unique templates that are fully customizable.

Cargo is free to use and try. However, the free version does have limited image storage options and a cap on the projects you can share. If you want unlimited bandwidth and need custom HTML, you’ll need to upgrade your account. The standard site upgrade costs $99 per year or $13 per month. You can also try Cargo Commerce features but to receive payments, you’ll have to pay an extra $66 per year or $9 per month. Suffice to say, you’ll save more if you opt to be billed annually.

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You’ll have a few more options with Squarespace although the platform doesn’t come with a free version. Squarespace’s Personal plan starts at $16 per month, with its most popular package, Business, offered at $26 per month. You also have two Commerce options to choose from — Basic Commerce at $33 per month and Advanced Commerce at $46. You can enjoy up to 30% on discounts if you pay annually, depending on your plan.

Cargo doesn’t charge any transaction fees even when you’ve upgraded your site. Squarespace, on the other hand, charges 3% transaction fees but only for its Business plan. Nonetheless, you get unlimited bandwidth and storage for all four packages offered by Squarespace.

Verdict

Squarespace is your traditional website builder whereas Cargo is decidedly an artistic alternative.

Squarespace

Best for professional websites

Cargo

Best for unique, standout websites

If Squarespace is your mainstream website builder, Cargo is your alternative, hipster-esque platform. Choosing between the two will largely depend on your objectives for building a website, as well as your aesthetic preferences. Squarespace offers modern templates that are backed by a plethora of e-commerce tools and features. Meanwhile, Cargo revels in its quirky and innovative themes, affording users a venue to stand out in a sea of minimalist-looking sites.

Artists and creative professionals may find themselves drawn to Squarespace if they plan to expand their business in the future. There are more plans to choose from, too. But for those who want to carve a niche where they can showcase their work, Cargo is the way to go. While it doesn’t have as extensive e-commerce features as Squarespace, its online store functionality is pretty solid. Building a website in Cargo does require a bit of technical knowledge but it’s something most artists will probably be willing to learn.

FAQs

📌 What’s the main difference between Squarespace and Cargo?

Squarespace is a website hosting platform that offers professionally-designed templates and extensive marketing and commerce features. Meanwhile, Cargo is a website builder developed by artists for artists, offering unique designs and creative layouts.

📌 Can you set up an email using a Cargo domain?

Cargo does not host emails, so you’ll need to rely on third-party services that offer this service.

📌 Does Squarespace offer gift cards?

Yes, Squarespace’s online store functionality includes gift cards which can be redeemed by your customers.

📌 What fonts are available on Cargo?

Cargo’s extensive catalog of premium fonts is courtesy of their partnership with Type Network.