This post has been a long time coming. I've been writing this out in separate emails to clients for over a year, but I believe in this platform so much that it's time to share with the world. I've been dabbling in Squarespace for a couple of years now. I began using it after frustrations with Wordpress led me to pursue other content management systems. The ones I found initially, like Wix and Weebly, left a lot to be desired and created more problems than they solved. As I've mentioned before, I do think Wordpress is an amazingly powerful CMS, but I think it packs more punch than most people need, and maintaining it can be costly if you aren't able to take care of it yourself. My philosophy is all about making things easier for my clients so they can focus on what they really love to do, not all the back-end stuff.
I'm an advocate of Blogger because you can spend $15 to $50 on a pre-made template and manage it yourself fairly easily. Alternatively, you could choose to pay a designer to whip you up a custom one if you are willing to pay fees in the neighborhood of $150 to $500. This option still allows you to manage it yourself fairly easily. The number of times you'll need to go back to your designer or developer should be pretty minimal. Blogger is straightforward, handling most things on its own end (even domain names these days).
Squarespace is the Blogger of the website world, though I'd argue it has a more respected reputation. Although I love Blogger and will sing its praises forever, many people think you haven't made it as a blogger until you're on Wordpress. I disagree with every fiber of my being, but I digress. That's for another time. Squarespace is used by so many these days, including big names like Target, GQ, Volvo and Sony. I don't think it's lacking in the respect department.
EASE OF USE
Squarespace is so easy to use; I really believe anyone can do it. It's a drag-and-drop style system, so you don't have to dig into the code to make aesthetic changes. Use its style editor to set fonts and colors, drag elements around and easily add widgets (think Wordpress plug-ins, but better). Add a blog to your site easily, and use the tools within the blog section to make blogging the easiest experience you'll ever have. Unlike other platforms, Squarespace is super intuitive. We'll be launching a few video tutorials here in the coming weeks to walk you through setting it up, but many people can jump right on and do it without a tutorial of any kind. It just makes sense.
Squarespace templates are gorgeous right out of the box. If you're into minimal design (which is what's trending these days), you'll be thrilled. They don't have hundreds of templates to choose from, but the ones they have are great. And I think we all suffer from Choice Overload anyway, so I see this as a positive. I've been so impressed with how well they keep up with current design trends. As a developer, I can edit the code to customize it beyond the standard Squarespace templates offered, which is important to me. But it's certainly not necessary. If you're not handy with HTML or CSS and you'd like to customize yours a little more, you can hire a developer or designer to design your site for you. And in the end, you'll still come out ahead since you should be able to manage it on your own afterward. If you're just starting out and don't have the financial buffer to hire a designer yet, no other platform can offer you such a beautiful website straight out of the gate. Even if you don't have the funds to hire a designer now, you can start on this platform and pay someone down the road when your business is a little more established. You won't lose any of your content.
AN ALL-IN-ONE SYSTEM
My favorite part of Squarespace has to be all the add-ons. For the business owner or blogger with so much on his or her plate, this is the platform you'll want to use.
With Squarespace, gone are the days of having to find one company to host your site and another for your domain name. You'll pay a monthly fee ranging from $8 to $30 to Squarespace. You can secure your domain through Squarespace, which means they'll get it all hooked up for you on their end. If you purchase an annual plan, you'll get a free domain for the first year - no more needing to keep track of various log-ins and subscriptions.
Squarespace integrates with Getty images. If you have the funds to pay for stock images, you can click one little button to search Getty for stock images to purchase for your blog posts or content.
Google Apps integration
Register your domain with Squarespace and create multiple email addresses with Google Apps (think firstname.lastname@example.org). If you haven't checked out Google Apps lately, I encourage you to do so. They offer a wealth of tools to simplify life for entrepreneurs.
Squarespace has baked-in analytics that I really love. From visitor data to prediction charts, the analytics/metrics tools have been really helpful for me since launching my website on Squarespace almost two years ago.
Mail Chimp Integration
Easily add forms to your blog or site with the click of a button, and hook those forms up to Mail Chimp (or Google Docs, if you prefer).
Xero & Shipstation Integration
If you want to run an e-commerce site on Squarespace, which is a breeze with their templates, they integrate with Xero for accounting services and Shipstation for easy, click-of-a-button shipping, making selling goods as hassle-free as possible.
The security risks I've talked about in the past with Wordpress are not really a concern on Squarespace. You won't need to make continual updates to ensure your site is secure. You won't fear that plug-ins developed by people across the globe might pose a security risk to your site. The "plug-ins" that Squarespace has are developed by Squarespace and baked into Squarespace. And the coolest part? Squarespace monitors popular Wordpress plug-ins to make sure they have the same widgets to offer. Squarespace keeps up with security, giving you one less (HUGE) thing to worry about.
Making sure your site is mobile responsive (AKA mobile-friendly) is incredibly important for a number of reasons. Your readers may click right out of your site if it's clunky to use on a mobile device. I don't want to have to scroll over to see the whole blog post (or in some cases, seeing the entire post is impossible from a phone - eek!), and your reader doesn't, either. Also, Google rolled out its new ranking system recently, meaning that if your site isn't mobile-friendly, it won't be ranked as highly in search results on mobile devices. Squarespace automatically takes care of this with all of their templates, no need to even switch a button. Their sites all translate beautifully on mobile devices.
They offer 24/7 customer support. You can't beat that! Additionally, they have forums where you can ask specific questions of your own.
If you have more questions about Squarespace, stay tuned! We'll be rolling out more posts over the next couple of months, as well as one or two video tutorials. If you're afraid you might forget, you can subscribe to the Squarespace series here.
I'd love to know if you use Squarespace, too! Leave a link to your site if you do.