Squarespace Review

Squarespace
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I’ve never been big on “static website builders.

Squarespace is quickly changing my mind.

My Squarespace Experience

My first impression when arriving at squarespace.com is that these people know design and user experience. But will their content management system be as clean and useful?

This is what you see when you first sign-up for Squarespace:

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squarespace naviation Squarespace ReviewClick around the main administrative tabs and it’s quickly obvious that there’s not much that the squarespace folks haven’t thought of in terms of designing and launching a website quickly and easily.

The preview tab lets you quickly preview your site as you’re building it. The content manager tab provides a nice interface for managing site content and navigation. The activity tab reveals site traffic, referring sites, your most popular content and even search engine queries. The settings tab controls overall site settings including site title, description, templates, social account integration and more. Finally, there’s also a commerce tab for selling “stuff” on your site.

With these 5 simple tabs, you can do just about anything you could want in terms building your website or blog.

Squarespace General Settings

Under the general settings tab, Squarespace makes it very easy to add your Google Analytics account, Typekit ID (for custom fonts) and even Disqus.

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Mobile First

Squarespace is especially unique in its commitment to mobile first. Every Squarespace template is designed to adapt to the device on which it is being viewed.

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If you like to tweak your site or publish on the move, there’s a Squarespace Manager App for iPhone

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Squarespace & SEO

Rand endorses Squarespace.
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And that’s a pretty good endorsement. However, Squarespace does show up on the SEOmoz Pro Perks page. Does that give less credibility to the endorsement? I leave it you to decide (I have no idea what, if any, benefits SEOmoz gets from Pro Perks companies).

Josh Braaten provides a lot of Squarespace SEO content, but he’s “a friend of the company.”

For my part, it’s clear that Squarespace has given attention to SEO in terms of URLs, titles and meta information. The code for the example site that I built looks pretty clean.

Importing from other Platforms

Squarespace has a convenient import function to import your existing content from WordPress, Tumblr, Posterous, Blogger, etc. However, I haven’t used it. In my experience, automated platform migration never goes 100% as intended. When we migrate platforms, we prefer to use developers. You can run into all sorts of interesting problems, some of which, can cause major problems with search engines and site usability. Be careful out there.

Squarespace Pricing

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Not terrible. And this includes hosting and support. If you sign-up for a year, it also includes free custom domain registration, which is nice.

Squarespace vs. WordPress

Some might accuse me of being a WordPress fan boy. And I would have to concede that there are few circumstances in which I wouldn’t recommend WordPress. But based on my experience with Squarespace so far, it might just be the first true “WordPress-killer.”

Of course, it’s important to keep some perspective. WordPress is open-source built by hundreds of community volunteers. It’s released under the GPLv2 (or later) license. Squarespace is proprietary:

1. Stuff We Own

All material and services available on the Site, and all material and services provided by or through Squarespace, its affiliates, subsidiaries, employees, agents, licensors or other commercial partners including, but not limited to, software, all informational text, software documentation, design of and “look and feel,” layout, photographs, graphics, audio, video, messages, interactive and instant messaging, design and functions, files, documents, images, or other materials, whether publicly posted or privately transmitted as well as all derivative works thereof (collectively, the “Materials”), are owned by us or other parties that have licensed their material or provided services to us, and are protected by copyright, trademark, trade secret and other intellectual property laws.

Is that, by itself, a reason to choose WordPress over Squarespace? Maybe. Being beholden to a proprietary content management system is never “a good thing.” You build your site, put a lot of time into developing your content, etc and then the CMS makes a change to their platform, service or pricing, and you’ve become a hostage.

Sure, you can always export and migrate to another platform, but it’s not always that easy and will likely cost you money.

Squarespace for Lawyer Websites

If you’re looking for a really easy way to get online, you’re not tech-savvy enough to install and configure WordPress (and you’re too cheap to pay someone to) and you’re scared of using a proprietary CMS, Squarespace might be your best option in terms of website builder tools.

You’re going to be able to get up-and-running pretty quickly and your site is going to look good. You won’t need any coding or development background at all.

If you intend that visitors be able to contact you via web form, and you’re not using a third-party form tool, you should probably choose the Business Plan.

More Squarespace Reviews

If you’re considering Squarespace, check out what others have to say. Most of the reviews I was able to find were generally positive. However, many of the most thorough were also provided by Squarespace affiliates. You can decide for yourself how much weight to give them (you should also check out comments on the reviews). Here are a few worth checking out:

SiteBuilderReport.com has a nice Squarespace review (but read affiliate disclaimer). Website Planet does a pretty thorough Squarespace review (also an affiliate). Here’s a review from Style Factory.

If you search around, you’ll be able to find some negative reviews. However, from the ones that I was able to find, most them referred to much earlier versions of Squarespace.

There’s been some Squarespace discussion in The Lab (my comment was on a much earlier version of Squarespace). Chris Bradley thinks Squarespace is, “pretty neat-o.”

To me, if you’re choosing a static website builder, you’re placing easy-of-use and avoidance of headaches above all else. Personally, I’m a bit reluctant to rely on proprietary content management systems. If you’re going to use a static website builder, Squarespace gets my vote, for now.

Squarespace Website Builder
Reviewed by Gyi Tsakalakis on

Are you using Squarespace? How’s it working? Any Squarespace horror stories? Share ‘em.

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  • kld

    I’ve used Squarespace for a couple of years and I’ve very happy with their product. Although their answers aren’t always amazingly detailed or exact, customer service responds to emailed questions with remarkable speed. I think the interface is easy to use and the template designs look great. Too bad Squarespace can’t help with content… I know I still need to put more time and effort into improving my website.

  • Preston Clark

    I’ve used SquareSpace since 2008. It was my WordPress with training wheels. I still maintain a couple of blogs there and always love the UI. That being said, it’s hard to compete with so many widgets and plugins offered by WordPress 3rd party designers. Then again, I’m not sure I’ve taken a very deep look into a SquareSpace in a couple of years. Looks like it could be time revisit it. Great post.

  • http://www.sitebuilderreport.com Steve Benjamins

    Thanks for the shout-out to SiteBuilderReport.com Gyi!

    You make a fair point about affiliate review sites- I do try to address this issue (http://www.sitebuilderreport.com/p/how-does-this-site-make-money) but transparency is a challenge I’m continually working on.

  • http://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/squarespace-review/ Jeremy Wong

    Good intro to Squarespace Gyi! I absolutely agree that Squarespace’s emphasis on themes and design. Their themes are professional and pleasing to the eyes, and they also give you extensive styling options that a lot of other website builder don’t. The best part is that with their control panel, you don’t have to tinker with any codes (unless you’re some sort of lawyer + coding ninja). You can tell that Squarespace has put a lot of emphasis on design, which is one of most impressive part about their platform.

    In terms of Squarespace vs WordPress, it’s a tough one. I think it all depends on how hands on you want to be in maintaining your website, which takes time. WP definitely gives you a lot more flexibility, including add a lot of plugins, but you do need to take an active role in managing and maintaining it (unless you hire someone). With Squarespace, it is managed platform where they deal with all the techie things so you can focus on other more important tasks at hand, but it is not as flexible as WP.

    So in my mind, time and resources are the 2 key critical considerations you should weigh in your decision making process. I’d like to share this post where I’ve laid out my thoughts of WordPress vs Squarespace – http://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/squarespace-vs-wordpress/ – hope all the readers enjoy it! (Disclosure – the links in the article to Squarespace are affiliate links)

  • http://carliart.com/ Rob

    Worst customer service ever. Canceled the account and was still charged for countless months! Impossible to reach via the phone. No choice but to file CC dispute. They suck big time!!

    • Ajay Rana

      Hey Rob, why don’t you try http://www.pixpa.com. Its great indeed. Excellent customer service, superb designs, easy admin panel. Try it out

  • http://samglover.net/ Sam Glover

    Check this law firm website out: http://faregrange.com/

    I just had coffee with the women who built it. Great example of what you can do with a little design sense.