We previously blogged about using Blogger to host a business website. After a bit of jiggery-pokery, we got it looking passably professional. But let's be honest: the main reason we picked Blogger as a business CMS was price. It is hard to beat free.
To be fair, we tried Wordpress before and have found it too complex. We are a technical business and we still find it complex. We've hosted Wordpress blogs since and while they are powerful, they require quite a few plugins to really get going. And to prevent getting hacked.
So after hearing the umpteenth podcast advertisement for Squarespace, we decided to take another look at it. It's ease of use had us recommending and implementing it as a platform for some clients' websites, so we thought we really should eat our own dog food.
Here's what we've found.
1. The templates really are beautiful
It took quite a bit of research and work to get the old Blogger-based site up to scratch and we were hoping to get some of this time back moving to Squarespace. And he haven't been disappointed. Sticking to prefabricated templates can pay dividends in many business applications - MS Powerpoint and Word come to mind - and we've tried to stay faithful to the Squarespace templates where possible.
The style editor provides many handy tweaks and we haven't had to implement too many CSS code workarounds. We'd call that a win.
2. It is surprisingly comprehensive
We accepted from the get-go that we might lose out on some features, especially in comparison to the Wordpress options we'd been looking at. But the compromises have been surprisingly few.
We've added Google Analytics with relative ease. Google Ads, too (though not on this particular site). Forms and storage for building email lists are in here too, including support for exchanging contact details in return for free digital product. Content blocks make it easy to create interesting layouts with interesting content. URL redirection is handy enough and the way that Squarespace handles images - in particular the selectable focus / centre and in-app editing - remains eye opening.
3. It's not that comprehensive
SEO is ok, but it could be better - in particular some elements of Squarespace SEO are tied in with presentation elements and it would be nice if these were decoupled. And word count and keyword support would be nice.
The blog part of any Squarespace site has to have some part of the url denoting it's a blog - so '.../blog/article-name' is valid but '.../article-name' is not. We like to make out URLs as short as possible.
4. The templates can be a little buggy on mobile
We use the Five template and have found that if we flip our phones from portrait to landscape sometimes our banner pictures don't expand to fill the banner space. And sometimes the site title appears off centre. We can't explain why.
These aren't deal breakers. They're just a little embarrassing.
5. There is a learning curve
It took us a while to learn exactly how to move things around the WYSIWYG environment. We think we are on top of it now, though the odd thing happens from time to time.
To be clear, though, for quickly hacking together layouts and content, WYSIWYG takes some beating.
6. We'd really like the cover pages to have more features
Cover pages are just ace. Super quick to knock together landing and other specialty pages which are light on verbiage and heavy on impact and action.
But it would be nice to be able to put come more verbiage after the first page break. You know ... features and benefits and some testimonials would be great inclusions. Think Unbounce and the like.
7. There is lots of help online
Not necessarily official help - though the offical docs are pretty good - but discussion boards and a couple of Squarespace-centric blogs have been really handy.
Anyway, it's early days for us but we're happy enough thus far. And we're hoping that using Squarespace as our CMS platform will buy us more time do some other things we think are important.
Like write more blog posts.