Squarespace

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If you've been paying attention, you've noticed two things:

  1. I haven't been posting regularly
  2. I've moved the blog off of WordPress

The decision to move from WordPress originally stemmed from general slowness. This isn't necessarily WordPress' fault--it was most likely due, in part, to the shared hosting I was using. I switched to Koken, which is an awesome new CMS, but there was no way to import my old blog posts. Finally, I made the decision to move to Squarespace. Page load speeds seem faster, and the interface is pretty slick. Also, I was able to import my old WordPress posts, and create a URL redirect so old links will still work. Unfortunately, the shortcodes I used in the WordPress blog don't translate, so until I have a chance to go through the old posts, you will occasionally notice a naked shortcode or two. I appreciate your patience.

Customer Service

I tried Squarespace about a year ago, and found that it wasn't what I was looking for at the time. I wanted to give it another chance, but my 14-day trial had obviously expired. One email to support, however, fixed that. They were happy to give me another 14 days to try it out. I sent a total of 4 emails to support while I was getting set up, and every response was quick, friendly, and always answered my question.

Setup

Importing my WordPress blog was simple. I pluged in my WordPress information, clicked import, and went about browsing templates while I waited for the import to do it's thing in the background. I had hundreds of blog posts, so it took awhile (I can't remember how long--I want to say an hour, but I could be wrong.) Once the import was complete, I moved the imported blog to the linked section, and started browsing the posts.

 Importing from WordPress is pretty straightforward

Importing from WordPress is pretty straightforward

For the most part, everything was imported. There were definitely some glitches, however.

Templates

 There are several templates to choose from

There are several templates to choose from

 Three different pricing options, billed monthly or annually

Three different pricing options, billed monthly or annually

This is one area where I wish there were more options. There are some great templates, but as far as I can tell, I have to apply to their developer program in order to really dig into the guts of a template to customize it. Unfortunately, the personal plan I wanted does not include access to the developer area. It's not a huge deal--there are plenty of customization options within each template, and custom CSS can step in where the included customizations fall short. Still, I'd like to have access to the code behind the templates.

I managed to find one that was 90% of what I was looking for. Tweaking the CSS brought it up to 95% perfect. I'll just live with the remaining 5% that I don't like.

Content Creation

 Content blocks make it easy to put together interesting content

Content blocks make it easy to put together interesting content

This is really where Squarespace rises above the rest. It's drag-and-drop simple, and they include quite a few useful blocks for automatic content. Social media blocks are great for adding conent from other sites, HTML blocks make it easy to add custom blocks to sidebars, etc. Markdown is supported, both as a default text entry option, and as a block. Mix and match rich text with Markdown, HTML, and more, all on a single page or post.

Galleries are simple. Create a gallery, then drag and drop photos and videos from your computer. Different templates display galleries in different ways--it took a little while to find one that displayed things the way I wanted it to.

 Adding galleries is simple

Adding galleries is simple

The personal account is limited to 20 pages/galleries/etc. With one minor change, I found this to be adequate for my uses. The old site had galleries for Recent Work, but doing that on Squarespace would put me way past the 20 item mark, so I'm integrating them into the blog. (Blog entries don't count towards the 20 item limit--just the blog page itself.)

Pros

  • UI, content creation, drag and drop
  • WordPress import
  • Pricing: Personal account is only $8/month if paid annually
  • Options: All kinds of content blocks can be added to pages and posts
  • Media handling
  • Customer service
  • Built-in eCommerce capabilities
  • Good social media integration
  • Speed

Cons

  • Limited ability to get under the hood of the included templates
  • Minor glitches in the WordPress import output
  • As slick as it is, I've notices some glitches in the UI. Nothing refreshing the page can't fix, but it can get annoying.

Conclusion

If you have a site that gets a fair amount of traffic, and speed is an issue, I think Squarespace offers a great product at a fair price. Keep in mind that if you have multiple sites, you'll have to pay for each one. There's a 14-day trial, so give them a try--if it isn't quite what you're looking for, you're not out any money. If, after 14 days, you're still not sure, they have monthly plans. The personal option is only $10/month if paid month-to-month.

One more glitch I just noticed

This post was supposed to be scheduled for tomorrow morning, but posted immediately. Will have to look into that.

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