Building a website involves many decisions, including selecting a content platform and hosting. You can use Squarespace.com(affiliate link)to both host and build your website. Today's post is a brief history of Big Picture Web's interest in Squarespace and an honest, (mostly) objective review.
(Update: Since joining Squarespace, I've gone on to write the 101 Reasons to Build a Squarespace Website or Blog, and a new Mega Squarespace Review, featuring the thoughts of a dozen Squarespace customers.)
This Week In Tech, Brought to You by Squarespace
It's been nearly two months since I changed my website hosting to Squarespace, the hosting/content management system (CMS) upon which Big Picture Web is built. Podcast host Leo Laporte introduced me to Squarespace in an ad spot on his weekly show, This Week in Tech. Laporte has a philosophy where he'll only accept advertisers if he truly believes in the product. I was immediately interested when he plugged Squarespace. I went to their site, took the tour and ended up signing up for two week free trial. I haven't looked back since.
Create Content, Not Code
I started Big Picture Web using Drupal, another very customizable CMS. Its open source platform made virtually anything possible with the right amount knowledge and skill. But in the end, Drupal's versatility was its downfall. I found it took me way too long to add, configure and customize all the necessary modules to make my site run. Squarespace has allowed me to focus more on creating content than on creating my website.
If you go to their site, you'll see tons of videos and resources about how easy Squarespace is and how stunning some of their templates are. I agree with them completely. In addition, I've come up with three of my own reasons to go with Squarespace and one suggestion for improvement.
Three Pro's of Squarespace
- Accessibility. It's vital that your web pages load quickly for visitors. A lot of folks will hit the back button if a web page hasn't loaded in under a second. Squarespace's infrastructure appears to be much cleaner and lighter than what I had put together on the Drupal framework. Just look what happened to my site load time since moving to Squarespace (courtesy of Google Webmaster Tools):
- Time-to-Market. Creating entire sites takes a fraction of the time it used to. There are no modules to download or install. Everything is intuitively integrated into the Squarespace administrative controls. And while there is a learning curve to any CMS, I think Squarespace would be relatively easy to learn for most. You won't be able to customize some areas completely to your liking but this will be offset by the time you save using the plug-and-play tools in most cases.
- Constant Updates. Squarespace is constantly releasing new tools to maintain your blog/site. I can post new blog entries (including photos) from my iPhone thanks to their relatively new app. Also, you can see that my search engine traffic is back in full force now that I've been able to set up my 301 server redirects from my Drupal-era url structure (courtesy of Google Analytics):
One Piece of Feedback for Squarespace
- Comments. While most of the Squarespace's features are near-flawlessly implemented, I think their comments area needs a little rework. Best practices are pretty much in place with systems like Disqus, where you're notified of comments posted and you can reply to particular comments. Being able to engage with your community is vital in this era of the social web. I can't wait to see any improvements Squarespace rolls out in this area.
The Final Squarespace Review
Your website hosting and platform should always be selected only after carefully reviewing your business goals. Review the ones that meet your requirements and ultimately go with the one that delivers the best value. If you're planning a blog or a website for your small/medium business, be sure to check out Squarespace in your review process. It's certainly been a positive experience so far for us here at Big Picture Web.
Update: If you want to know more about my thoughts on Squarespace, check out these posts:
- Twitter, Flickr and Squarespace: Social Media Widgets are Live!
- Squarespace Vs. Wordpress: Both Sides of the Story
What's your review of Squarespace? Are you a fan or are they over-rated? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.