Squarespace review: The best out there?
June 12, 2015 4:55 pm
With Squarespace 7, the gang at Squarespace have taken the website-building space up a notch. Easy to use, intuitive, and endlessly customizable – it makes building beautiful websites an absolute cinch.
Squarespace has a wide range of templates, from grid-style galleries to templates with striking full-page homepage images, to personal, blog-style templates. They’re all sharp, and gorgeously designed, and all lean heavily towards strong visuals. All of them are responsive, so they look great on mobile.
When you sign up, you’re presented with a few questions, to better tailor your site to your needs. You’re offered the option of filling in your business’s address, so your site can be indexed locally by Google Maps.
With a free account, you’re offered a Squarespace domain, but it’s easy to connect a third-party domain – just click on ‘Settings’ in the sidebar, and click ‘Domains’, then ”Connect a Third-Party Domain’.
Once you’ve chosen your theme, you’re taken to a site editing screen. Amazingly, all of your site edits happen in real time. You’re presented with a sidebar containing a list of site pages and sections – just click through the pages to edit them in the main section. To edit any ‘block’ in a page, just click on it, and an ‘Edit’ button pops up.
To change how your website looks, just click on ‘Design’ and then click on ‘Style’. This will let you set everything from your site title font, to your theme’s color, to your link fonts and colors. In fact, every single element of your website can be individually styled with just a click, allowing an incredible level of personalization. If you’re not sure of the name of a page element, you can just click around on the page – and options for resizing, and changing color or font will automatically show up in the sidebar. It’s incredibly thoughtfully designed, and ridiculously easy to use.
Editing the content of individual pages takes place on the page – not in the back-end. Just click on the content block you want to edit, and get to work! No more toggling back and forth between back-end and front-end previews. If you want to change the function of the content block – let’s say in the demo it’s a text block, but you’d like to put a gallery in that position instead – then just click the balloon on the edge of the content block, and you’ll be offered a selection of content types to choose from. You can add a gallery, audio, video, an image, a calendar, even a food menu… the list is pretty long. You can also change the style of the content block. To resize a content block, just drag it on the page.
If you click ‘Add new’ (using the + button) in the sidebar, you’re given a set of options as to the kind of page you might want to create. If you select ‘Product’, you’re given a further list of options, below:
Adding a product is easy – just upload an image, and input a number of fields, like price, weight, color (if applicable), size, and so on. Once you hit ‘Save and Publish’, you’re done! It’s important to note, however, that with the free Squarespace plan you’re limited to just the one product – so if you’re planning on using Squarespace for selling online, you’ll need to upgrade to a Professional plan, or consider using one of Squarespace’s e-commerce solutions. (See our Squarespace e-commerce review here.)
For blog posts, you’re offered a standard WYSIWYG editor, but as a bonus, with Squarespace you get access to a library of Getty images that you can license if you have a paid Squarespace subscription. With the free account, you can just upload your own images. You can also add a location to your blog posts, which is incredibly useful for local SEO. You can also configure the settings such that blog posts are automatically pushed out across your social media accounts. You can add tags and categories, and set the number of blog posts to show up on the blog landing page.
Images and Galleries
One thing that Squarespace is particularly good at is at handling images. Every image you upload to Squarespace is saved into several scaled versions. Squarespace then serves a different version of the image depending on whether the visitor is on a desktop, mobile or has a retina display. This is a particularly smart way of saving webmasters the trouble of trying to find the sweet spot between images that are small enough to load quickly on mobile, but big enough to look impressive on high definition monitors. Squarespace does it for you!
Creating something like an image gallery is an absolute piece of cake – just upload the images, and Squarespace will arrange and align them for you perfectly. Pop-outs are fully integrated into galleries, so there’s no messing around with plugins to enlarge the thumbnails or to get them to show up properly.
All in all, Squarespace is a deeply impressive website builder. It’s entirely intuitive, you can see changes as you make them, every element is customizable, and it boasts an impressive array of content types. Integration with e-commerce is easy, and the themes are beautiful. Where other website builders take some work to get used to, Squarespace does all the work for you. Is it the best website builder out there? Probably.