People love WordPress for a good reason: it’s so user friendly that basically anyone can use it. Making a new blog post is as easy as logging in and pressing ‘Add new’. With such a wide variety of free and premium plug-ins, most users wouldn’t see a reason to not go with WordPress when starting a new blog. I too thought this, and was really happy running my personal blog on a self-hosted WordPress install. But this all changed a few months ago when I was given an opportunity to test Squarespace.
If you don’t already know, Squarespace is a relatively new service which we’ve reviewed before. And while a lot of things remain the same, many improvements have been made to the service over the years, including better pricing and added features. In this review, I will be going over what I think of Squarespace, and the features that stand out the most to me and that matter to most users.
Squarespace Site Builder
The Squarespace site builder is pretty awesome. When you first start building your Sqaurespace site, you’ll be prompted to choose a theme for your site. Squarepspace offers hundreds of cool themes which should meet anyone’s personality. More advanced users can tweak the CSS code of the theme, which is really awesome, especially for a hosted blogging service. Also, say goodbye to having to pay for themes. Since you pay monthly for Squarespace, the themes are “all you can eat”, so feel free to experiment and have fun with your site.
Adding content to your site is also super simple. Everything about Squarespace is WYSIWYG, so if you want to add a plug-in to your site, you can simply drag it in and configure the settings from the plug-in itself, no programming required. The same goes for designing contact forms as well as full webpages.
When creating your Squarespace site, one of the first things you will notice is the three different development modes that Squarespace offers. These development modes go under the names “style”, “structure”, and “content”. When in the “style” mode, you can can choose your website’s template and edit the CSS code if desired. You can also edit the navigation bars, fonts and the icon set.
Things get interesting in the “structure” menu. When in this menu, you can add widgets, rearrange content and add your own HTML boxes. Some of Squarespace’s “widgets” include forms, social buttons and a beautifully made tag cloud widget. While these widgets are great, I wish Squarespace would open up to third-party developers as all widgets are currently developed by Squarespace. While this may be good as all widgets are extremely high quality, there isn’t much selection.
Finally, the “content” mode allows you to add text, pictures and other pieces of content to your Squarespace site. For example, in the screenshot above I’m in editing mode on my Squarespace site’s. I can choose to modify my links or remove them altogether from this window. Content mode changes from page to page too. For example, if you’re on your photo album page, you can use content mode to upload photos to your album.
Squarespace for Blogging
So, now that you have your Squarespace site up and running, how do you use it as a blog? First you have to add a new page to your site. When you do this, make sure you select “journal” as the type of page you would like to create. After you’ve named your blog, scroll down a bit. You will see an example blog post which you can use to rearrange your post display configuration. For instance, if you’d like the author name to go above the title of your post, simple click and drag it there.
After you’re done configuring your post display preferences, scroll down a bit more. You will see a header labeled “Presentation Options”. Under this header you will be able to configure other blog settings such as commenting, post grouping as well as other subtle options. You can also set the commenting permissions by looking under the header labeled “Commenting/Permission options”. From here you can choose who you would like to let comment and reference (linking to the commentor’s blog) on your blog posts.
If you keep on scrolling down you will find more advanced options like XML-RPC Ping options and XML syndication. These features are only recommended to be configured by users who really know what they’re doing.
Ready to write a blog post? Switch to editing mode, look towards the top of your blog’s page, and click on the button labeled “post new entry”. You will now be brought to Squarespace’s text editor where you can write your blog posts. While this editor may seem pretty simple at first glance, there are many features under the hood which really make it shine.
First off is the fact that you can write posts in a number of different markup languages. Currently, Squarespace allows you to write blog posts using Raw HTML, Textile, Markdown or WYSIWYG if you feel like being simple. To change your markup language, click on the drop down menu which is located under the righthand side of the “title” bar.
Like most blogging platforms, Squarespace allows you to add hyperlinks, photos and tags to your posts. The editor is pretty easy to figure out, so feel free to dive right in. If you click on the button labeled “Options” at the bottom of the post editor page, you can schedule your posts, send trackbacks and set RSS enclosures for your content.
All in all, I think Squarespace is a great blogging platform for new and experienced bloggers, as advanced options are available to use but are not necessary to publish a quick blog post. I really like how Squarespace’s editor is laid out. This is because Squarespace neatly organizes the more advanced options to the point where it’s still accessible, but not in your face. I also like how Squarespace lets you use almost all of the major markup languages to write your posts so there is a language for almost everyone.
Squarespace Hosting Plans
Since the Squarespace platform is closed source, it’s tied to Squarespace’s hosting plans. While most people would think that this is a major downside to Squarespace, I actually find it a major upside to the service Why, you may ask? Because the hosting plans are actually pretty attractive. Currently, Squarespace offers two different plans: “Standard” and “Unlimited”. Both of these plans include Squarespace’s core features and a free domain, but the similarities end there.
The Standard package will run you $8 per month and includes all of Squarespace’s core features like the blog editor and website builder. This package also includes 2GB of storage and 500GB of bandwidth per month which makes the Standard package perfect for smaller blogs or small businesses just starting out.
The Unlimited plan is where Squarespace gets really awesome. For just $16 per month Squarespace will give you unlimited storage, bandwidth and pages as well as a bunch of extra features on top of Squarespace’s core features such as multiple editor and user registration. If you would like to view more information on Squarespace’s pricing, check out the direct comparison on Squarespace’s website.
One of my major gripes with WordPress would have to be its mobile app. I love to blog with my iPad and iPhone, but hate the WordPress mobile app with a passion. However, Squarespace has an absolutely amazing mobile application for iOS. The interface is clean and the app is very stable when running on my iPhone 4S and new iPad. As of now, Android and other platforms are not supported.
All in all, I think Squarespace is perfect for anyone who wants to create an awesome looking website or blog without going through the trouble of coding it from the ground up. Current users of WordPress will also enjoy Squarespace because of its premium feel and amazing hosting options.
If you’re a current Squarespace, let us know what you think of the service in the comments box below this post. We’d love to hear if you started a new Squarespace site or switched from WordPress.
Squarespace is a relatively new blogging/content management service which offers WYSIWYG simplicity while still allowing you to have full control over your CSS styling. Whether you're building a blog or other type of website, Squarespace has a customizable template and hosting plan to fit your needs!8