A few days ago, I ran into an interesting ad for Squarespace on A List Apart. The ad said: “Elegant. Powerful. Professional. The better way to put a blog online.” Then I said: “Let’s check it out!” BTW, this post is originally written in Croatian, and you can read it here.
So, I clicked on the link, landed on the site and realized it’s a paid service. There’s a 30-day free trial, so I decided to register immediately, expecting a miracle. But, I can say I was a bit dissapointed, especially when I saw the price. Let’s start at the beginning.
After a couple of minutes of use, the whole thing slowly began to look like a fancy WordPress engine. But, a man’s got to admit it – the whole thing looks great. The whole administration thing is really nice and, although it looks exactly opposite on the first look, it works great and it’s easy to use. After the user logs in, he can add and modify his journal posts and modify the pages without entering the administration module. Nothing revolutionary, but it speeds up the process a bit.
The rest of the work behind a blog is done in the administration area. You can add other modules, change the looks, add members and do many other things with your webpage in there. A “Squarespace” can have many different members with different privileges, which adds a collaborative dimension to the whole thing. As far as the design modification is concerned, the options are many – ranging from simple modifications of the relevant CSS properties (like font, color, margin, padding) using the nicely built web interface, to manual editing of the site’s CSS file. You can also view your website statistics, for which I believe are detailed enough to satisfy most users. The administration area is packed with options, and some of them go into much detail.
But – how affordable is the whole thing? Squarespace has three packages in its offer for personal use – Basic, Pro and Advanced. Each of them costs $7, $12 and $17 per month, respectively. The Basic package doesn’t include support for multiple users, domain mapping (so you’re stuck with the username.squarespace.com domain) or your own URL rewriting. Each of the option includes 100 MB, 300 MB or 600 MB storage space (you can upload your own files up there) and 2 GB, 4 GB or 8 GB traffic per month – again, respectively.
After a more-or-less detailed review, I didn’t discover anything a decent paid hosting service, WordPress (or some other similar blogging tool) and a few plug-ins can’t do, except maybe a few user features, their privileges etc. The Squarespace variant will probably be more attractive to the users who aren’t too comfortable with the computer, but other blogging tools are equally accessible today, so this isn’t much of a feature.
Now, the product isn’t that bad. It looks cool, and it works cool. Still, I’d sooner reccommend an investment into WordPress+hosting, and maybe even +paying someone to set up and modify WordPress to your own needs, than I’d reccommend an investment into a Squarespace package. All in all, I find this to be too expensive for my taste.