Regarding the Replacement of the Squarespace Specialists List with 99designs

Update 2/20: Today Squarespace began to take action against their longtime Specialists by removing their backlinks to our sites, effectively destroying our authority-based SEO. It’s hard not to see the correlation between us speaking out about their outsourcing to 99designs & this move. We are so saddened to see this come to pass, as we spent many months attempting to educate Squarespace about the potential damage they would do if they took this action.

Our company has been a long-time member of Squarespace’s experts directory, known as Squarespace Specialists. 

This past week, Squarespace chose to replace their vetted experts with 99designs, a company known for design contests and auction-based project bidding. The only qualification for being labeled a “Squarespace Expert” is starting a certain number of paid accounts on the Squarespace platform—there are no other requirements. Squarespace and 99designs will now receive a percentage of project fees from participants and designers will compete on price and are subject to abusive terms enforced by 99designs. 99designs is harmful to both designers and clients, and we cannot tie our brand to a company such as that.

We opted out of both the beta and final release of the Squarespace-99designs partnership.

Many other longtime Squarespace Specialists, who do high level work, also refused to participate and many of us tried to educate the team at Squarespace about why this move was harmful to designers, clients and Squarespace’s brand. We recommended the solution of an improved Specialists directory, opening it up to new, vetted experts and removing companies who no longer work on the platform. Sadly, they were uninterested in hearing our feedback.

We know the elimination of the real Squarespace experts directory will harm our SEO and that’s completely okay.

We’ve long been “platform agnostic,” with most of our custom work over the last year being on WordPress, as our clients needs expanded beyond what Squarespace can handle. Squarespace is still the appropriate solution for our Design in a Day™ clients at this time.

We’re happy to continue supporting our past, present and future clients for whom Squarespace is the best solution.

I’d love to chat with you over email about whether or not Squarespace is the right solution for you! You can reach me at hello@sarahmoon.net (please include a subject line with your question, so I spot it), or, if your questions are complex, you can book a one-hour strategy session to dig into the question of whether or not Squarespace is right for you.

2 Responses

  1. I love that you’re speaking out about this! Once our traffic completely dropped, we had no choice but to accept the 99Designs laurel. You’ll be happy to know, that after five straight months on the plan, and submitting over 40 gorgeous proposals, we have absolutely ZERO client projects that have come from the arrangement. We had ONE WordPress engagement that fell apart. Tons of wasted effort.
    — Alan Houser, Squareflair.com

    1. I’m so sad to hear this, Alan! Even though I won’t participate in these types of marketplaces, I always want folks to succeed. The reality is that auction style markets are the worst way to find a consultant, and I bet a lot of those clients have a mismatch because they used price as the only metric, not fit.

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