Squarespace: Could It Make Web Designers Redundant?

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Squarespace is a commercial content management system (CMS), which allows users to quickly and easily build dynamic web sites, photo galleries, forums or blogs. It contains a number of core modules packed with features and functionality. Unlike WordPress, there are no downloads as all software and data is located on servers owned and run by Squarespace.

The idea here is that a user can create a web site using drag and drop functionality. Using WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) implementation, Web pages and blog posts can be set up without knowing the first thing about HTML or CSS. Or, if you’re a web master or mistress, you can use Markdown and write your own CSS. Menus and navigation, as expected are looked after by the CMS.

The core modules and their respective features include;

  • Blog/Journal – pretty much every feature you can think of is included here: RSS support, permalinks, comments, full archiving and more.
  • Photo Gallery – automated image resizing, RSS and lightbox integration.
  • Form Builder – add contact or query forms.
  • File Storage – lets users download files.
  • Forum – build community.
  • Change Tracker – looks after changes you’ve made on the site.
  • Google Maps – easily add maps to the site.
  • Amazon Items – add books or music as a list.
  • Search – adds search functionality to the site.

Each of these modules are added literally with a click of a button.

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Design

There are a large number of professionally designed templates which you can apply to the entire site. The templates themselves are extremely flexible, with the ability to choose how many columns, the width, banner images, colours, fonts, and also the option to add your own custom CSS.

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The Cost

And here’s the downside …
The basic package costs $8 per month, which includes hosting, 1GB of storage and 75 GB/mo Bandwidth. There are five packages available with prices going up to $50 per month for a “Community Package”.

I’ve used the trial for a couple of days and it is a really good app, and very well put together. I don’t think designers need to lose too much sleep over it making them redundant (I was just being a drama queen), but depending on how popular it becomes, setting up a Squarespace site may be something we need to add to our skillset.

Have you used Squarespace? Do you think this could become a serious rival to the Open Source, WordPress?

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  • JamesFarrell

    Dang, just when I was getting the hang of it ;o)

  • Sophia Browne

    With the debate on going as to how much a website should cost, SquareSpace definitely may make some people rethink paying $1500 and up for a custom blog design. However, some people will still prefer the fully customised solutions using such systems as WordPress Expression Engine, Drupal etc and may still turn to designers to conceptualise and design a SquareSpace website or as you pointed out, have a designer set up a SquareSpace website for them to manage.

    No matter what happens, web designers will need to adapt to continually enhance their skillset. I for one intend to demo it to see the features AND the limitations cause all systems have their limitations and that is part of what will also help to determine how much of a rival it will be.

  • mike

    Definitely not an issue, sure squarespace is cool but lacks any true ability to create business logic. Goodbarry does way more if your into managed solutions but again most of my projects require extending basic systems. Obselete’ shoot, IT guys still have jobs, when they go maybe it’s a concern! Ha!

  • Tim

    Interesting there are no ecommerce/product templates. I also think it needs to be freely available if it’s going to take on WordPress.

  • Terri

    It sounds like a good service, and I’ve heard some buzz about it in other places as well. My concern would be, though, that the sites are hosted on their servers. So, if their servers go down, so does your site. Or at least, it’s ability to function. Or did I understand that wrong?

    Terri Orlowski
    beyondtheoffice.com

  • Agora

    No it will not remove WordPress or Drupal and unfortunately not even Joomla.

  • coldestsanta

    This certaintly looks like a good web-based WYSIWYG editor. However, it’s not exactly revolutionary; do a quick google search, you’ll find quite a few others…

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk TomBradshaw

    I certainly think it has a place. But I think clients want a personal experience and a uniquely designed website by someone who knows about design, usability and SEO which is so important for many many clients. I wouldn’t be too worried.

  • http://www.iiicreative.com bholli

    Let’s face it…if someone is searching the internet for SquareSpace, then they probably weren’t a suitable candidate for a custom solution from the start – they were going to do it themselves anyway.

    SquareSpace isn’t inviting enough to non-designers and non-developers to even pose a threat to web.com, wix, and homestead.
    However, I, being a designer/developer, am impressed with the ease and quality of SquareSpace.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with @bholli – There are different markets and the ones going to blogspot, wordpress.com, or squarespace are not ready for a professional commercial site or don’t know enough to realize that they are looking in the wrong place.

    I recently had a client who had a squarespace site so I had the chance to look around and found it painful to use from a designer/programmer side.

    One MAJOR drawback of squarespace is that they will NOT get rid of your mydomain.squarespace.com URL. Even when you setup your domain to point there, their mydomain.squarescpace.com shows up in search results – even to the point that this one client’s site had their own domain practically invisible on google, while theirdomain.squarespace was #4 – when searching for their domain!

    I contacted support at squarespace to see how to hide it – wordpress.com lets you hide it, blogspot lets you hide it, everyone lets you hide it. Not squarespace. They said they don’t do that. Kind of shocking.

    It just comes back to what you need it for. Perfectly okay for amateur, not okay for pro.

  • http://martythornley.com MartyThornley

    That was me above talking about the domains – not sure why it sent it in as anonymous – oops.

  • Anthony Casalena

    “One MAJOR drawback of squarespace is that they will NOT get rid of your mydomain.squarespace.com URL. Even when you setup your domain to point there, their mydomain.squarescpace.com shows up in search results”

    To call out this point — this is actually not true. Google my name — which is a Squarespace site. The proper custom domain shows up in Google. Many, many extremely large sites are on Squarespace, and all have proper domain masking (it’s real masking as well, and isn’t simply some sort of frame or redirect).

    If you have a look at the examples section — you can get an idea of the sorts of businesses Squarespace supports — it ranges from small personal sites all the way up to billion dollar companies.

    Hope this helps!

  • leisure forte

    my site is very professional all done on squarespace. http://leisureforte.com p.s they have awesome customer service, thanx

  • Dave

    I find this extremely intriguing. As a startup design/development firm we get an off the shelf solution that will enable us to charge the same and devote more time to marketing and client guidance than building the site. A big win, as most of our clients are small businesses (we wish to retain that focus) with small budgets. The further we can stretch that budget the more the client wins. When i client is a winner, firm is a winner in referrals.

    Top work Anthony and team. I have been concerned with the lack of SEO support from some low cost and open source systems we have trialed. This will let us punch out good-looking functional websites for our clients.

    I have to agree with ‘bholli’. Many small businesses don’t want to know how to do it, for many the fact that they are getting a site is a big milestone. They couldn’t care about the CMS choice – they want it to work. As agencies we need to deliver results, not re-invent the wheel.

  • rustybuddy

    My problem with ‘cookie cutter’ solutions such as squarespace and other cms’s like goodbarry…

    Sure you can have a functional site up VERY quickly and have it look real nice too…. however… in a year or two when the client asks you to improve upon the site in some way (read: add custom functionality), I’ve found myself spending massive amounts of time trying to figure out, or hacking a way to do something that would have been rather simple on my own server.

    My opinion is that I’d rather roll my own for my clients, but when dealing with smaller clients with smaller budgets this isn’t always feasable for them, and I understand that these cookie cutter cms’s have a very valid place in the world of web design.

    Another issue I have is with their fee schedules. I have some sites rolling in 1-5 TB of traffic a month, if they were on one of these cms’s I would have either been booted or I would be paying out the yazoo in monthly fees.

    Anyhow, just my opinion on the issue.

  • http://www.drselkirk.com/ David Selkirk

    I have been using Squarespace for about 3 years now and I used to think that there was all sorts of trickery involved in making your site stand out with custom functionality.

    I haven’t found one thing that I haven’t been able to do yet as long as I start with the developer template. Javascript and CSS can be put inline in any of the WYSIWYGs and adjusting the CSS across the site is just like any other website from scratch. I recently wrote a detailed article on the basic HTML structure of Squarespace and provided the CSS to make the widths be 100%, here: http://www.drselkirk.com/sneazy-blog/2011/8/13/getting-down-on-squarespace-v5-developer-template-css-for-10.html

    I’m really into Joomla! but for portfolios and blogs I always recommend Squarespace.