It’s been a while since I’ve taken a look at Squarespace. The last time I looked at Squarespace I didn’t think that it was as easy to use. Recently however Squarespace introduced their latest version 7.1 which makes some big improvements to the ease of use.
With the introduction of version 7.1 all templates are equal. Previously the look of your site and the features it has was tightly controlled by the template. If you wanted a specific blog page style, home page first section or navigation style it was all about deciding on the right template.
Now with the introduction of version 7.1 all templates are starting points for designing your website. You can select different blog, gallery and navigation style no mater what template you choose.
This takes away a lot of the frustration I found with older versions of Squarespace.
So what is Squarespace like to use now? Let’s take a look!
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Signing up for Squarespace
When you sign up for Squarespace they ask you some questions to try to get an idea of the kind of website you are looking to build.
This takes you to the template page where they suggest the template category for the type of website you are looking to produce.
Each of these templates are really there for inspiration and to give you a place to start. You have a lot of control over adding different content and section types to any of the templates.
Styling your website
I like website builders that give you global control over the colors, fonts and key styling elements like buttons all in one place.
Having one place to adjust these settings that effects your website globally helps you keep your design consistent and makes it faster for you to build your pages. You aren’t constantly needing to choose the right font or color it will show up for you automatically as you add new content.
One thing that I found odd is that when choosing your colors with squarespace they don’t use the standard hexadecimal website color code. Instead using HSL. Using the standard web colors would make more sense.
There are several different options for the layout of you header / menu section as well as for the footer of your website. It’s nice to have these options with all templates and not have the header determined by the template that you choose.
Pre-made layouts and layout starting points.
One of the features that I have liked in many of the website builders that I have tested is the pre-made section designs. If your not a designer, or if you want to be able to build your websites faster. Having pre designed section layouts can really help you get the look that you want.
Some of the pre-made section styles like the restaurant menu style were a bit confusing to use. With most text fields in Squarespace you just click on it and start editing. With the Squarespace restaurant menu content block, changing the menu text works differently. When you edit the restaurant menu block it opens up a separate window where you add your menu items. There is a very specific way to add content here. It works, but I think that it could be easier.
Building your pages
Building your pages is straight forward. To add a new section to your page you just look for the plus icon that appears between sections. This opens up a menu with all of the different types of pre-designed content blocks that you can add. You can also see previews of all of the different types so that makes it really easy to find a nice design to start editing.
To add content inside a webpage section you look for the little bubbles and lines that appear as you move your mouse around the design.
This is similar to many of the other website builders. However I found the Squarespace implementation of adding new content and moving it around a section to be a bit more frustrating that some of the other website builders. In particular attempting to add more then 3 columns to a section I found to get quite frustrating at times.
There doesn’t seem to be an auto save function with Squarespace. Before leaving a page you have edited remember to save!
Squarespace does offer keyboard shortcuts in-particular for formatting your text. Like text or heading size. There are also keyboard shortcuts for undo and redo. I found that they only worked for text sections so if you deleted or added text that you wanted to undo. If you moved content in your layout and wanted to undo that the keyboard short cuts did not seem to work. This is frustrating especially since at time moving content around the builder didn’t work as smoothly as it does with other website building platforms
I had a couple of questions for customer support and I was able to get to an agent via chat quickly and easily and they were able to answer my questions. I do like it when easy to use platforms offer fast and responsive customer support. Especially platforms like Squarespace that are aimed at helping people easily make a website having fast access to tech support is a big plus.
Squarespace is ok for blogging and it is better than many of the other easy to use website builders that I have tested.
The main blog page feed is pretty simple and you do get a couple of design options for how the feed will look.
You can add a block above your main blog feed with text or you could create links to your other blog categories. You can’t control the design of your category pages.
You also have very limited control over the design of your blog posts with no sidebars or places to put additional links or ads. Squarespace is ok for limited blogging.
It seems that for serious blogging WordPress is still the best. My favorite WordPresss theme, Divi gives you extensive control over the design of your site including individual blog posts, category pages and the over all design of your blog.
WordPress takes more to set up and a lot more to maintain, but if blogging is your main interest that pain might be worth it.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization can be an important part of helping your website get found. Increasingly however Google and other search engines are focusing more on great content, but there are other tweaks that you can make to aspects of your site. Squarespace does offer some good options to help you get the most out of your search engine optimization.
You an manage and control the url of your pages, you can change the titles of your pages and you can easily change and modify the meta description that will show up in search engine results.
One of the features that I really like is the ability to control the social image, or the image that will appear when you link to a page on various different social media platforms.
Another important feature of is adding Alt tags to your images. This is basically where you can add a short description of what the image is. Many of the builders I have looked at have this setting as part of the image upload process.
Squarespace uses the caption for the Alt tag. So it’s important to always add a caption to your images and then just decide if you want that caption to be visible or not.
Responsive and Mobile ready design
Squarespace does have a responsive design. The pages you create will automatically conform to the window or device screen size. This is good, but you don’t get to fine tune the look on different devices.
Google has found that most website views are now coming from mobile devices, so being able to tune your design for mobile devices specifically is really important and it’s just not something that you can do with Squarespace right now.
Connecting To your own domain
Owning your own domain name is really important if you build your website yourself, or have someone else build it for you.
I recently also tested out Hover a domain registrar. If you registrar a domain name with Hover it is incredibly easy to connect that domain to your Squarespace website.
You can also have your domain registered directly with Squarespace. Which is the easiest way to connect your domain to your Squarespace website.
What I like about using an external register like Hover is that it will make it much easier for you to change website building platforms in the future if you decide to do that.
Squarespace has made some really good improvements to usability since my last review.
They have removed their confusing template system, where different templates offered different functionality. Now all templates offer the same functionality and are starting points for building your website.
I like the ability to globally control the styling of your site from one place. This helps you to keep the design of your site consistent which is important for creating a professional looking website. It would be nice if there was an easy way to change the color and fonts for specific words or text lines.
Building your pages is fairly easy, however in some cases like adding additional columns to a section I found Squarespace to be more frustrating then other website builders.
There is some blogging functionality. Enough if you only occasionally blog and it’s not the core of the reason for building your website. If blogging is your main activity WordPress is still the best platform.
Easy to access customer support will help people new to building their websites get their sites up and running quickly.
Squarespace is a solid option for building a website, but you should check out my top recommended website builder review to see if there is another option better suited to the type of website that you are looking to build.