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This review focuses on Squarespace, a well-established brand among website builders and publishers. According to Wikipedia, Anthony Casalena created Squarespace while a student at the University of Maryland. As is the case with a lot of blog platforms, it was created for his personal use, which led to sharing with friends and family, and which eventually was made available to the public in 2003.
Although Squarespace started out as a blog platform, it rather quickly moved onto to becoming a platform to build websites.
Fresh, modern…how do I get my blog to look like this?
Easy to get started, with options to either go through the list of templates, OR tell them what you are looking for and they pull up suggested templates to suit your site needs. Bottom line, your options are many and if you can actually pick a template after all the choices, you’re golden.
So I choose to tell them my needs (a blog), and they pull up a rolling list of template suggestions. I scroll through the suggested options on the right, find one that works for today.
Click the Get Started button and give it a whirl…
I click the Get Started button and am asked to create an account. Thankfully you can either make one with an email or with social media, which is nice when you don’t feel like linking your SM to the blog.
There is a 14-day free trial that does NOT require a credit card (thank goodness), and for a personal site you can either pay US$16 a month or sign up for the whole year at the discounted rate of US$12 a month. There is separate pricing for business sites, but for our purpose, we will stick to the personal rates.
Pick your theme, set up an account and voila! You are ready to get started. Your Dashboard pulls up on the left, making it relatively easy to figure out where you are going or what you need to do. This reduces your learning time, making it easy to get to work.
Options I Felt Were Noteworthy
Your menu to work from is on the left, with the typical click to open for additional features – no brainer.
Moving your mouse across the template revealed pop ups, indicating where you could edit. What made it even more fun was a click on the EDIT button took you to that specific menu. Basically, making adjustments, updates and such became not only easy but almost effortless.
Overall, a very elegant and user friendly experience here.
Anyway, so here we are on the PAGES area of my account, and it seems pretty straight forward: click the plus sign to add something, a little trash can to dump unwanted work and a settings gear to adjust what it is happening on that specific page.
More to the latter point, under settings, you can determine such things as which image will pop up on a social media share, or adjust SEO titles and descriptions of that specific page. Handy feature.
Initially I didn’t see why this mattered, but I have since changed my mind as it makes sense you’d tweak each page as you work on it making the immediate access almost a must.
Image and Video
For those of us who wish to use pics and video in our blogs, the image and video gallery allows for a variety of layout and text placement options. Stock photos are available for use as well as a create your own image gallery.
My only frustration in all this was figuring out what to do and how. There are a lot of choices even for the basic themes, so, not gonna lie to ya, I was a little overwhelmed.
Squarespace compensates with their menu overlap on the template, but like all things new, initially my brain didn’t want to deal with so many options. The little ‘extras’ are fun, however. For example, to view your page, there is a little arrow on the upper left of your template that you click to expand. This hides your menu, giving you a preview of the page you’re working on – a quick click on the same arrow puts you back into work mode.
It’s not a necessity, but little things show the care and detail going on at the backend AND makes it a more enjoyable experience on the front.
Three Things I Like about Squarespace
1) Fresh layouts, manageable options and easy to use
Squarespace makes you believe you can have the most amazing blog in the world. I like that. When you are on their page, you’re in love and you WANT to blog. They guide you well into their service and make it relatively painless to set up and run a nice looking blog. Videos, imagery, galleries, etc, all easy to figure out and drop in, making it low on the stress end and pretty fun to use.
2) Strong Help Section
I’m going to be honest, I hate using help sections. They tend to be annoying, boring and half baked. But the video series here are legit and covers anything from Getting Started to Accounts and Billing. They also send out emails on relevant topics such as SEO, branding and marketing. What’s even more wonderful, you can ACTUALLY find their help/contact space without weeding through a ton of links (yeah, I’m looking at you, WIX).
3) Website and Blogging Options
Some of us want a site for selling product, with the blog as a supportive part of the site. Some of us only want to blog. Squarespace makes it easy for those who blog about product awareness, but don’t want that to be the focal point of the site. But don’t worry, if you are only looking to blog, the platform doesn’t leave you hanging, providing lots of themes the typical blogger will enjoy.
Three Things I Am Not Crazy about on Squarespace
For some, US$16 a month is more than manageable. For some, not so much. This especially comes into play if you are new to blogging and aren’t sure how committed you will be. While it isn’t outrageous, it does make me think twice before jumping on board.
2) Options, Options, Options
Not gonna lie, there are a lot of options. I mean, it’s not WordPress level, but it’s up there, and for the average blogger, I have a hard time seeing how they will be utilized at the current price point. For those of you looking to have a hand in a lot of different pots, but not TOO many pots, Squarespace is probably ‘your space’. But those of you who are looking to handle the basics of a blog and keep it simple everywhere else, you might want to try something else. There aren’t too many out there anymore, but they are around (Svbtle maybe or Silvrback).
3) Lack of Community
Some of the nice things about the bigger names in blogging are the decided feel of community. Forums where readers engage and help people discover solutions is something that makes blogging fun and encourages accountability. Communities aren’t for everyone, but it is something that could be missed by those of us who find staying on point with the blog a little more challenging.
And That’s a Wrap
I like Squarespace. It’s fresh, has good street cred and makes creating a great looking blog an enjoyable experience. For those of us who are interested in having more control over the backend and visual presentation of our blog, it is a platform that gets you there.
However, if you are just starting out or are looking for a simpler blogging experience, you may find this space to be a bit much. Either way, if you do decide to give the 14-day free trial a go, go online here at BPR and let us know what you think!
Lena is a graphic designer and a WAHM who, besides creating awesome design work, spends a lot of time pretending to know how to raise her 4, 3 and 1 year old kiddos in the cornfields of Nebraska.