Editor's note: Big thanks to Charlee @ The Usual Studio for sharing her experience of using SquareSpace for building their new site. Whilst we obviously advocate neat hand-written code so that you can get exactly what you want, now and in the future, with a personalised service, it's good to know that for those with a limited budget and simple requirements online tools are stepping up to the mark!
Making the switch to Squarespace
Having always designed, built and coded my graphic design studio's previous websites in HTML, using CSS stylesheets, some JQuery and the odd plugin or two, there came a point where it felt right and timely to make a change when it came to The Usual Studio's new site.
To add an extra level of complexity, we were refreshing the studio's brand identity too and starting a blog. So our requirements read as: stylish site to showcase design portfolio, blog functionality in-built, social media connected and SEO friendly.
After doing some research, the 3 appealing options were:
1. code a new HTML site
2. make use of the blogging platform WordPress
3. or use Squarespace
In case you've not heard of it before, Squarespace is an all-in-one website builder, blogging platform and hosting service that users can subscribe to on a monthly or annual basis whether they are an individual or a business. Users can also setup and run an e-commerce shop from there too. It's directly aimed at Designers like us, as well as Bloggers, Artists and Photographers, it's also used by Restaurants, Musicians and couples planning their Wedding.
For us it was a relatively straightforward decision to choose Squarespace, our previous site was clocking in at around the 3-4 years old mark so it was well overdue a BIG change. We retained some of the current copywriting, services and several portfolio pieces but everything else is completely new. Here are some of our findings after a few months working with Squarespace:
Working from a chosen template as a starting point, we were free to customise it to our hearts content - and we did! The template we selected included a Parallax scrolling effect which created a dynamic home page as the full screen images slowly move past one another. Including our 2 newly sourced brand fonts was simple, we made an Adobe Typekit kit and added our kit ID into Squarespace settings area. Our new Work page showcases our selected portfolio nicely, with a clean white main gallery page, leading visitors to more personalised pages for each client project with a full-size header, photographs which resize on different devices, stylised quotes from the client and embedded videos for some projects.
Don't know how to code? No problem
Adding our refreshed branding, colours and copywriting was a pleasure to do. Squarespace is so straightforward that it freed up vital studio hours we would have spent coding to concentrate on: writing the copy, selecting, photographing and editing our portfolio, planning and implementing the navigation, distribution of content and SEO.
The blogging capabilities offered suit our needs perfectly, every post we write has the option to distribute across our social media networks, each time we post. Again this is a great time saver.
Test across devices
One of our favourite things about the platform is how easy it is to view how the site will look on tablets, mobiles and desktop from within the admin area. Allowing you to adjust the layout, font size, structure, spotting potential errors with ease.
Manage it yourself
In the past updating websites has sometimes been a cumbersome task, typically involving: client sends amends, editing of HTML code or Wordpress, fixing any plugins that may not work as a result of the changes, updating to a new version of Wordpress periodically (which throws up it's own errors). Now, once the site is built and customised to suit, it's relatively straightforward for anyone in the team to edit & add content and generally make improvements to the site (Google loves this aspect too).
Quick and helpful answers
Occasionally we had questions during the development phase and we found they were hot on replying quickly, with a 24-hour service. The answers received were fully rounded responses, with helpful links and 100% of the time (so far!) they have helped us figure out the issue. We had a small complaint that our site was running a little slow, so they helpfully logged in, tested our site and gave us a few tips for speeding it up.
Overall we are really happy with Squarespace, so we've started to offer it as a web building option for our clients, one of whom is launching a new site with it this week. While not every business and site is suitable for Squarespace, we can see why many fellow creatives and agencies have made the switch and we're pleased to have joined them.