A Well-rounded Look at SquareSpace

  • Advanced looking blogs for the beginner
  • Paid hosted service
  • WordPress alternative

SquareSpace Logo

There are two types of people in the world. Those who just want to blog, and those who don’t. For those who do, but don’t have any technical background and can’t stand the thought of trying to find a web hosting company just so that you can toil away attempting to build your own blog, there’s an elegant and simple solution available that combines basic hosting with drag-and-drop WYSIWYG customization; it’s called Squarespace. This review will go over, mainly, who will benefit from this product, as well as who won’t.

Simple Bloggers who May or May Not Care about Looks

Whether you know your web coding or not, if you just want to blog and nothing else, why bother with managing web host accounts with a blog platform installed on them? Squarespace allows you to cut straight to the point and just start blogging, hosting included. If you want to go the extra step to have your own domain, it supports it, but it’s not necessary.

For those who care about the way the blog looks, everything visual is customizable. Not only that, but it uses a point-and-click and drag-and-drop style editing that makes it easy for anyone to customize their own blog. Change the colors with no problems, change the layout seamlessly, add a custom header image painlessly, and make countless other changes through simple, intuitive menus.

And, just in case the level of customization still isn’t enough for you, you can use a custom CSS file to tweak even the most minute details.

Verdict: Blog your heart out!

Those who Want a Content Website with User Tracking

Do you want to become the next online journalist in your area? Do you want people to subscribe to your content and login to view the best parts? Do you want to know for certain that people are looking at your content? Squarespace can do that.

Squarespace provides you with the tools necessary to have private content, or even publicly editable content, through it’s membership and permissions systems. It can also manage sending emails to users who are following particular pages whenever those pages change. All of this can be utilized to keep your members interested and active.

But, on top of that, it automatically has full tracking included. You can know exactly how many people viewed your newly published article. You can even see how many people took a look at it in the past half hour since the statistics only take 30 seconds to update. Real-time statistics is something that usually costs extra, and Google Analytics, the best free option for stat tracking, doesn’t even offer it.

Verdict: Publish your content and get some visitors!

Blog Forum Combo Users

Right after blogs, the most common type of site is a forum where users can post ideas, comments, or questions so that other users can respond. But, it is typical for a forum to be an addition to a different type of site rather than a standalone site. This is where Squarespace can come in.

Squarespace includes an integrated forum, should you choose to use it. This should allow you to use all the features of the service in both your blog and your forum, making it your one stop shop for the two types of sites together.

Verdict: Get out there and get some interaction going!

The Easy SEO Website Wanter

You might not have expected this one, but Squarespace is surprisingly SEO friendly with little to no work from the user, so if you are a “wanter” of a website that good SEO principles backed right in, this service might be for you.

But what makes it SEO friendly? Largely by being valid XHTML code. Most WordPress sites can’t claim that, usually due to the customized themes or plugins being used. This means that all the links and content are practically guaranteed to be properly readable by the search engines. This doesn’t mean that websites that don’t have valid XHTML can’t be search engine friendly, of course, but it would be downright difficult to make an XHTML valid website that couldn’t be read well by search engines.

But it doesn’t stop there. One of the most impressive aspects of the SEO is how it handles image links that contain text below the image. Most people that look into SEO know that the text of the link plays a large part in what Google believes the linked to page is about, but one thing is commonly overlooked. Search engines tend to place the most weight on the first link visible in the code if there is more than one link to the same URL. Squarespace makes sure that the first link is the higher value text-based link, even when the image is visually above the text link. This requires some tricky CSS manipulation to do yourself, but Squarespace handles it all quite nicely for you.

Verdict: Start getting visitors from Google, Yahoo, Bing, and more!

SquareSpace Sample

The Repurposer

This is the one area that Squarespace just doesn’t hold up. Some people like to take a tool and rework it so that it does something entirely new and novel. For example, some people have taken WordPress and turned it into price comparison engine, something that takes extra knowledge and custom programming skills to accomplish.

Squarespace does not give you this kind of access. You cannot modify the root functions of the service to create brand new functionality. If you want to add custom ratings to the bottom of each of your posts and you want people to be able to report bad commenters with a single click, if Squarespace doesn’t provide a module for it, you can’t do it. Of course, they strive to give you everything you need, but they can’t possibly anticipate or facilitate every new idea that their users might come up with. So, if you want to add custom functionality to your website, then you may want to look elsewhere. You might be able to modify the visuals all you want, but the functionality itself is not 100% customizable.

Verdict: Take your coding to a more receptive platform.

Overall

Assuming you would be interested in what Squarespace has to offer, you might wonder how good it is overall. Well, it’s quite good. It’s flexible, powerful, and easy to use. But ease of use always comes at a price, and that price is custom functionality. If you don’t need custom functionality, then Squarespace, for as low as $12 per month, is well worth the cost compared to the time it will save you designing and building your site. Keep in mind, though, that design is still design, and poor visual designs can be made just as easily as good ones. Practice some restraint on your design ideas, and you should be fine!

Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating

Steve Miller

Steve's interests lie mostly in Japanese games. He imports Japanese games and reviews them on his Japanese Game site Kuromatsuri.com. Check out a review: Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep Review

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