Using Squarespace to Build your Profile Online
Squarespace has been around for a decade, it’s not a recent development.
But just before you pass it on as being yet another website builder, think again. Squarespace does pack some punches when it comes to actual design conveniences. Its templates, from the recent version 6 upgrade are sleeker and certainly resembles the style and feel that we are accustomed to seeing from Apple’s products.
Squarespace has always been popular with professional photographers. It kind of seems like tailor made for online portfolio websites.
With the launch of an integrated e-commerce solution for selling prints and other products, Squarespace now is a complete solution for photographers.
However, there is a caveat, Squarespace does not accept PayPal at this time. What a shame! They only support Stripe payments. You could hard code PayPal checkout buttons on to your website but when your customers pay on PayPal there is no way to update the cart on Squarespace.
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Squarespace design engine is essentially a combination of three different editors.
- LayoutEngine is the intuitive interface for building the meat of the pages.
- Next is the Edit Mode which primarily handles the headers, footers and sidebars styling.
- The third is the Style Mode which is concerned with the overall aesthetics of the website including but not limited to fonts and color schemes.
While there are distinct advantages of having three separate editing interfaces, as it allows the user to focus on one aspect of the website at a given time, there are also a number of disadvantages.
- First, three different editors mean you have to move back and forth for fine tuning. Though during the initial design phases you will not require moving too much between the three editors, but as you get closer to the finalization stages of the design this will no doubt create a problem. This is the time when you will need to move back and forth between the editors quite a lot.
- Additionally, when you are in the LayoutEngine, working on the main content area of the website, you will not be able to see the effect of the changes you make on the web page. Though the platform automatically creates versions of the website conforming to screen sizes of various devices, there is no way to preview them from within the platform. You will need to open the completed website from the device you wish to check the layout.
A look into the LayoutEngine – A simple drag and drop interface
Squarespace’s design engine is essentially a drag and drop tool.
The new LayoutEngine 2 makes it that much easy to insert new page and new content or move around already existing content on a page. Need to create a new page? Simply click on the ‘Add Page’ link under content manager and click ‘Page’. A new page template opens up. Enter a name for the new page and save it before starting to input content.
The key things are very easy to handle. The template is clean and allows you to type in new content or paste already written content from another document in plain text mode. Adding images or additional blocks of text is also easy.
The whole layout has been designed to give visual indicators such as insert points and line markers that makes it easy to insert new content blocks and or move existing content blocks within the page.
Squarespace Review: Handling images
No doubt the whole website builder package is exemplary and it handles extremely well but special word of appreciation goes out for the image handling features.
Image uploading to the website builder interface is as simple a dragging and dropping them onto the browser. In this regard, it is similar to attaching image files as an attachment in Gmail.
And just not uploading, Squarespace designers built a very smart image loader as well keeping in mind the needs of users with different devices and screen sizes.
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When images are uploaded, several scaled sizes of the same are automatically created and the respective image is loaded when devices with a specific screen size are detected.
Squarespace integrates a very easy to use image editing app called Aviary. You can crop, resize, adjust brightness, contrast and exposure, add effects and improve the sharpness of your images all within this smart app.
Related Article: PhotoShelter Review
Who should the Squarespace website builder appeal to?
Anyone who needs a website designed really. Despite the handicaps and the non-availability of PayPal integration, Squarespace is still a decent enough website builder that promises easy intuitive designing.
The templates give you an easy platform to get started which most amateurs with no coding experience wants.
But having said that, if you are an advanced user looking for a platform where you can design a website from the ground up, you will not enjoy Squarespace. There is simply not enough option to by-pass one of the default templates and start designing something from scratch.
Also, users who absolutely want PayPal support will find its absence unacceptable. In spite of the many complaints that online e-commerce owners sometimes have about PayPal service quality, it is by far the largest and one of the most widely identified brands on the internet. Customers love the convenience and the simplicity and not to mention the security that comes with the label.
A lot of users have complained that some popular third party widgets don’t work as expected on Squarespace platform. This is one of the prime reasons why a lot of users prefer to stay on open-source platforms like WordPress rather than content management systems like Squarespace. A vast number of third party widgets can be easily integrated with these open source content management systems, apart from the fact that a wide range of checkout gateways can also be integrated.
Squarespace currently has three packages.
All prices are based on annual billing (month to months costs significantly more). Prices have been updated on May 2, 2016:
- The Cover Page option is a single page website priced at $5/mo and ideal for making a landing page or profile page.
- The Websites Standard Plan is priced at $12/mo. You have a 20-page limitation.
- The Unlimited Plan costs $18/mo and you have no limits to the number of pages you can opt for. You get $100 Google AdWords Credit and a free domain.
- The Basic Commerce Plan costs $26/mo and you get unlimited storage and can sell unlimited products.
- And finally, the Advanced Commerce Plan at $40/mo which includes real-time carrier shipping
They do provide a 14-day free trial complete with 24/7 customer support and you don’t need to enter your credit card details for that. They also provide a domain name for free with all plans but only if you go for an annual payment option.
My suggestion would be to register for a free trial and check out whether the platform is suitable for your requirements.
If you don’t like it move on and find something that is more suitable for your requirements.