Simple but powerful website building and hosting with Squarespace

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October 26, 2011
Create a blog with Squarespace[Editor’s note: This is a sponsored review for Squarespace]

Whether you want to create a blog, a brochure site, or something more involved, the platform you choose to create it on is important. There are a lot of blog and website building and hosting platforms out there, some free and some paid. There’s also a huge variation in the quality of the services these sites have to offer. Some are reminiscent of the old Angelfire and Geocities websites of the 90s and early 2000s, with little storage space, hideous stock templates, non-existent support, and very limited control. Others include enterprise-level hosting, attractive templates, full control over look and function, and business-class support. Squarespace definitely falls firmly in the latter of these two categories. While website builders and hosting services of this kind aren’t always appropriate for designers and developers, when they are, you want to work with a company that understands what you want as a creative professional and gives you the control you need.

The structure behind Squarespace

One of the biggest complaints that often accompanies hosted website solutions is that there’s little information given about the actual hosting. While your average Joe with a low-traffic personal site might not care about the hosting platform, designers, developers, and those with popular websites need to know that their sites won’t go down just because they landed on the front page of Digg.  Squarespace offers up plenty of information about the infrastructure behind their sites. First, they offer real cloud hosting: a single server going down has minimal effect on the websites hosted with Squarespace. Their servers have 24-hour-a-day monitoring by real people, and it’s all located in a Tier 1 data center. The other great thing a lot of designers and developers will appreciate is that you don’t need to worry about maintenance and software updates with Squarespace. All of that is taken care of for you, automatically. And they offer 247 support in case you run into any trouble. This kind of infrastructure should leave most developers and designers feel safe about trusting their hosting to Squarespace.

Squarespace for website owners

Squarespace has a ton of great features for those who aren’t developers and designers. Whether you want to create a photography website, a personal blog, a business site, or some other kind of site, the last thing you want to do is spend hours pouring over code, trying to get the simplest things to work the way you want them to, while also ending up with a professional-looking site. Squarespace’s website builder is among the easiest to use I’ve seen. Even better: the templates they have built-in are all attractive and well-designed. That’s something very few website builders like this can claim. Almost every template has multiple skins, and from there it’s easy to further customize the look of a template by customizing the banner, navigation, colors, and fonts.  Adding functionality to the site is done through a drag-and-drop interface that lets you add a variety of widgets and otherwise customize your content. Widgets include Text/​HTML, Search, Tag Cloud, Change Tracker, Links, Journal Index, Amazon Item List, Powered By Squarespace link, Syndicate RSS, Form, Send Email, and Social Links, as well as social widgets. You can also add a variety of new pages with a single click, and select from pre-made templates: Journal, Picture Gallery, HTML, Amazon Item List, Tag Cloud, Search, Journal Index, Change Tracker, File Storage, Single Link, Links, Map, Discussion, Login Prompt, Guestbook, Syndicate RSS, Drop Box, FAQ, and more. Editing content is done right from the front-end of the site, with either a WYSIWYG or HTML editor. You can add photos, video, and slideshows right from the content editor, too. Squarespace is seriously one of the easiest website builders to use out there, and working with their stock templates is almost certainly going to guarantee that you end up with an attractive and functional website.

Squarespace for designers and developers

So we’ve established that Squarespace is great for the non-tech-savvy user, but what about designers and developers who have their own ideas about exactly how they want their site to look and function. That’s where most website builders break down entirely.  Not so with Squarespace. You can start out with any of their stock templates and customize from there (including full control over the CSS). Or, you can start with their Developer” template, which is effectively a style-less framework to build a completely custom design. You still get all the quick drag-and-drop functionality to make setup quick and painless, but can completely control the site’s CSS. This is what makes Squarespace a great option for designers. Another perk for designers is their developer discount program. If you’re hosting multiple sites with Squarespace, you get a discount off their normal price. Host 2 – 5 sites, and you get 15% off the regular price. Host 6 – 10 sites and you get 20% off. And if you host 11 or more sites, you get a 25% discount. You have the option to either pass the discount along to your clients, or keep the difference.

What if I already have a blog or website?

Squarespace offers seamless importing of your WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, or Movable Type site, including importing over your posts, comments, photos, video, and author information. This can be one of the biggest hassles of switching to a new CMS, and Squarespace makes it easy. Regardless of whether you’re a designer, developer, or simply a creative pro who needs a website that’s easy to update and maintain, Squarespace is definitely worth checking out! [Disclaimer: This post is a sponsored post for Squarespace. The opinions expressed in the article are the author’s only.]

Cameron Chapman

Cameron Chapman is a freelance writer and designer from New England. You can visit her site or follow her on Twitter.

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