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:
Click 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.
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.
If you like to tweak your site or publish on the move, there’s a Squarespace Manager App for iPhone
Squarespace & SEO
Rand endorses Squarespace.
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).
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.
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.”
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:
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.
Reviewed by Gyi Tsakalakis on
Are you using Squarespace? How’s it working? Any Squarespace horror stories? Share ’em.