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Friday
Jun292007

Review: Squarespace.com

You can find a list of other reviews I have completed and links to the products and resources I use to run my businesses in the Resources Section of this website.

Review: Squarespace.com - Dynamic web sites

Blogging Evolved

Name: SquareSpace
URL: www.squarespace.com
Purpose: Dynamic web sites, blogs, content management for laymen.
 

Let me start by saying that my personal experience to date with Squarespace has been 100% satisfactory. I have never had a complaint the system has always done what I wanted it to do. I’ve been blogging for the last four years and have switched all of my blogs from hosting systems like Wordpress or Blogger, and my static sites (I still have one) to squarespace.com.

Your web site is the most important part of your online presence. How it looks. How it acts. And more importantly, how easy it is to change, are of prime importance in making a decision on what kind of system to use.

What are your options?

 

Static Sites:

By far the most common choice are static sites. Of course it's not really by choice, they were simply the only available choice until recently. If you have a site, it's probably static, meaning that it's not easily updatable and you can't to it yourself unless your pretty technically inclined.

Pros: You already have one.
Cons: Hard to build. Expensive. Search engines hate them. No traffic.
Cost: Expensive to build and host.

Blogging Software:

Extremely uncommon for medical businesses in the current market. Wordpress , Blogger, Typepad... these were the first attempts at making dynamic sites that are easily updatable and they work as far as they go. Their somewhat technical and again you'll have to hire someone if you'd like to customize your site and offer more than a standard template. 

Pros: Relatively easy to set up. Inexpensive or free. Search engines love them if regularly updated.
Cons: Hard to customize. Limited function. Still need some tech savvy to implement.
Cost: Cheap. From little to free depending on configuration.

Dynamic Sites:

Squarespace.com is the next generation of content management systems that go far beyond what's previously been available. Squarespace has built a system that takes absolutely no knowledge of html, css, or other geek speak and it's built from the ground up for ease of use. If you can use Word, you can use squarespace.

Pros: Easiest to use and setup. Completely functional with advanced features like built in RSS feeds. You can try it for free.
Cons: None, if you don't mind the price tag.
Cost: About what a static site costs: From $7 to $25 a month.

The Bad.
I always like to get the bad news out of the way so here it is... I used to have here that I couldn't think of anything but I've since stumbled across some shortcomings. Here it is:
Squarespace is not open source so they don't have nearly as many members or or growth as Wordpress has. While it means that squarespace provides detailed support (which is excellent I might ad) it also means that they don't have nearly the footprint or developer time that Wordpress does. So, squarespace does not support at least one of the options that I would like to use on my blog. Text Link Ads uses server side scripts. Since squarespace is hosted, they don't allow you to install server side scripts and so I can't use one of methods I'd like to monetize my traffic. Text Link Ads doesn't offer a scripted solution yet so I'm SOL on this one.
I emailed Anthony about this and he responded that if they felt any platform gained enough of a foothold they would start supporting it. I would expect this negative to resolve itself and I certainly can't consider it as anything but a note but I thought I'd include it since I it is something I would like.

How I found Squarespace.
Blogging Evolved

Back in 1999 I started to need web sites. So I learned how to write and code so I could build them the way I wanted.

As usual I conducted extensive due diligence before deciding to use squarespace. (As a guy the definition of horror is finding out later that there was a better choice I could have made.). I read forums and surfed around the web. I talked to my geek coder friends. I quickly came to realize that squarespace different from everything else available. It was clean, it was customizable, and most of all, it just worked perfectly and had everything I could want and nothing I didn't. The fact that they were charging actually made it an easier decision for me since it convinced me that they were going to make money and actually stay in business, making it easier to get help and service rather than have to research and do everything on my own with a 'free' service.

Now I'm inherently nervous about putting all of my eggs in one basket, so I started a new site in order to test squarespace and find out if it was as good as I hoped. 

To be honest I have very little confidence that squarespace would live up to my expectations. I've been more than pleasantly surprised. In fact, every site but one (Surface Medical Spas) has been built or switched to squarespace. Here's the list:

There are some others that I've helped my friends set up as well but I don't own them.

Why choose Squarespace over a free blog site?

You can get a blog up and running for free as on Wordpress or Blogger. It's a valid solution and I've done just that in the past. (Squarespace also has a 30 day trial period that's free.) There are a number of things to take into account:

  1.  I've found the 'free services' to be something of a misnomer since there is either:
    • Significant time involved that could better be spent elsewhere so you're, in effect, paying yourself 50cents an hour.
    • You end up having to pay someone to do it for you anyway.
  2. Starting at $7 a month squarespace is a steal. In most cases if you're really running a site you're going to be responsible for hosting it anyway. (My virtual server for Surface Medical Spas runs about $49 a month.)

  3. Since Squarespace is a paid service, they offer a host of support features and technical support. Since switching all of the blogs I run to Squarespace I've opened up around 35 support tickets. In every case the problem has been resolved and the tech support has been phenomenal with same day turnaround.

  4. Squarespace comes with some really great features standard:
    • Search: Where Google's site search works great, Squarespace blows the doors off.
    • FAQ builder: If you've ever tried to build a FAQ (as I first did here: Medspa FAQ) The new FAQ feature stomps any other solution I've seen.
    • Drag & Drop: Moving stuff around on a whim.
    • RSS: No longer any need to configure your RSS feeds. It's already done.
    • SEO: Snap. Everything is valild and optimized so people can find you.
    • Build forms and capture information from your visitors. You've truly got to see this in action to believe it.
    • I could go on ad nauseum but here's the Squarespace feature set.
Building a dynamic business site that actually works the way it's supposed to.

If you're building a business site these day's it's easier than every. You no longer need to know HTML or CSS or any geek speak. However, and this is important, building a site that no one goes to is a waste of time. There are literally billions of web pages and your tiny spot on the web had better be easy to find.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of using Squarespace is the ease of use. While I'm writing this on the site, I've got spellcheck and the rest of the editing tools that everyone takes for granted. If my front desk needs to offer a special at a certain location, they just log in and do it... The don't have to call me, get the IT guys involved, or shed a tear. It's so easy that my daughters site at Pony Tail Club is run completely by my wife and daughter who have zero, zilch, nada, snake-eyes, by way of geek training. 

If that isn't the tipping point I don't know what is. 

Reader Comments (3)

Brilliant!!!!

I've been searching and searching for reviews about squarespace and FINALLY I stumbled onto your site and here it is!!

I can't thank you enough!!!
In fact I discovered squarespace about a year or so ago but didn't get my feet wet until I knew for certain what direction I wanted to take regarding Blog Content first, which was about several months ago.

I did the research thing via google blogger as well as wordpress but none of them didn't quite pass my smell test especially when I started sniffing around about this whole geek code speak thing. I said enough already, I don't write code, I write content --- good content --- I just didn't want to find myself in between a rock and a hard place just because I can't write code.

Plus let's face it, any time and effort spent posting words on my soon to be blog had better turn out to be visual media art gallery where I can do the design or least have 100% control with how my blog should look and feel .... Who wants to go to another boring blog of words without the bells and whistles --- I know I don't nor will anyone else.

Tonight was the night to make a final a decision once and for all and just to keep things simple I used google blog search for 'squarespace reviews' ..... Enough said!!!

I don't have my blog up but when I do I will definitely give you a shout to see if you'd be willing to post a comment --- I hear that's another beast in of itself to stay alive in blog-land oooohh I forgot in blog-a-sphere?.... No I don't do geek speak maybe will move up a couple of pegs but for now content and visual design and that widget thing is a must ----

One thing I noticed but couldn't find does squarespace do widgets? I couldn't find it on their site but if you know of any info I would love to get your feedback if you have the time!!

Thanks again for a wonderful review -
U Sold it!!!!
Mela

Writelinx@aol.com

I have been using Squarespace.com for the past 2 months and I have to say that it is awesome. I had my site built well before my trial was expired, in fact I signed up with them just after the first week of my trial. They have plenty of "how to" articles in the online Squarespace manual. Also saved 10% by listening to the "Lightsource" podcast over on itunes. Lightsource is a podcast about studio lighting. They usually mention the current promo code within the 1st 10 seconds of the podcast. It's 10% off every month of service, not just one month. Anyways that's my two cents.

Nate

Check out my Squarespace site at:
www.wonderlandpresets.com

11.29 | Unregistered Commenternate

Hi, I'm seriously considering commiting the money and time(6~8 months) to be able to learn how to make a clean website using squarespace.

Can you advise on what sort of things I need to learn to be able to make clean sites? CSS?

Thank you!

12.11 | Unregistered CommenterChris

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