Squarespace for Creatives

DISLCAIMER: I am not affiliated with Squarespace other than a paying customer. I was not paid to publish this article or gaining any benefit from Squarespace. This is my true and honest opinion of the product.
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Squarespace for Creatives | nickdjeremiah.com
This is the first instalment of a couple of articles on Squarespace and how to utilise it for photographers. Hopefully this article is comprehensive and gives you an insight into thinking outside the box with Squarespace.

When it comes to a creative portfolio, the term "less is more" is so incredibly important. When you're showing off your work, you want the viewer's full attention. Having fancy design, flashy graphics and out-there colours and fonts muddies the experience of your portfolio and takes attention away from your work. Having your fonts, colours, sizes, styles and everything else consistent, clean and modern is something that everyone needs to understand and embrace; because it is super easy with Squarespace.

This article is specifically targeting the creative person. Photographers, artists, graphic designers, musicians etc. If you need a fully fledged business website, perhaps with multi-lingual support, item sorting etc. this may not be the platform for you.

Squarespace Design | nickdjeremiah.com

– About The Design–

Squarespace is an online content management system that you build and host your website on. You choose a template that you like, install it by clicking a button, and away you go. The designs are modern, clean and simple. This allows for easy navigation, removes unnecessary clutter and gives your business or portfolio a professional, fresh and clean look and feel. The templates come in various category types—Portfolio, Store, Restaurant etc. but by no means do you have to follow their categories for your website, simply pick the one you like and go with it. Customisation is somewhat restricted in minor ways, Like banner text placement,  style and placement of navigation menus etc. (different templates offer different styling and functionality, but all this can be changed with CSS whichI  touch on below), but you'll find this to be a wonderful thing as it keeps you from over designing your site. Not everyone understands good design, even if you think you do. Squarespace is built in a way to make you look professional, without you having to do a lot of work. Don't forget, Less is more.

There are a multitude of different content block types allowing you to add lots of different content. The best part about this, is if you're creative enough, you can use content blocks for purposes not intended to create functionality in your site that isn't technically directly supported. If you're after a certain feature, but it isn't built-in to Squarespace, get a little creative and see if you can build that feature using the features already included.

For example: I use the Menu block (used for creating menus for restaurant sites) to make my pricing tables for my website design. I utilise some custom CSS code to then style that menu block in a way that turns it into a pricing table. 

My website is built on Squarespace and I have customised a lot of different things to get them exactly how I want them.

You have the ability–as I mentioned above–to add custom CSS to your site to change the designs further as well as inject code like JavaScript and JQuery to create extra functionality. The ability to do this extends the creativity and functionality of Squarespace even further. Don't forget however, you don't need to know code to create a site with Squarespace, knowing code simply allows you to modify and design certain things further, it is not at all needed to use Squarespace.

The less you have on your website and the more simplified it is, the more professional you'll look to potential clients–especially if they're an agency or firm. Your site needs to be easy to navigate, clean and clutter free, and Squarespace offers this entirely. Remember, clients are on your website for your work, not for the website... Unless you're a web designer... Then perhaps are more fancy site is warranted.

Squarespace's 'Build it Beautiful' ad campaign with Jeff Bridges. This is an ad for his Sleeping Tapes.

 

If Jeff Bridges' beard isn't enough to get you to at least give Squarespace a try... I don't think anything will.

 
 
Squarespace Backend | nickdjeremiah.com

— About The Back-End —

The back-end of Squarespace is fully maintained for you. Unlike platforms like Wordpress, there aren't any plugins or add-ons that you need to keep updated, it is all maintained by Squarespace. On top of that, Squarespace is built and run on the latest web technologies, you won't find outdated Flash crap anywhere on this platform. This makes your website function on every device and computer out there, whether or not someone has extensions or plug-ins installed or not.

The navigation structure and UI to edit your site is super simple and very intuitive and doesn't–in my opinion–come with any hint of confusion what-so-ever. The user interface is point-and-click, drag-and-drop. There's no need to preview your site, it updates as you go. But don't worry, the changes won't be live to the public until you click the Save button. As with anything, there is a small learning curve with Squarespace, but after watching one tutorial on YouTube, and tinkering a bit, you'll find your footing pretty easily. At the end of this article will be some resources for you to learn Squarespace. 

Squarespace is similar to Apple's operating systems in the sense that the platform/software is completely sandboxed and closed. The only people with access to the platform/software is the company that makes it. This provides tremendous security giving you the peace of mind that hacking, viruses and all that other nasty stuff doesn't happen to your site, or any other site on Squarespace.

The security, patches, updates and all that other stuff required to keep the platform online and functioning is all maintained by Squarespace. Their own website is built on the same platform, so they take maintenance and downtime seriously. They also have 24/7 award winning customer support. Send them an email, and you'll typically get a response within the hour.

 
Squarespace Commerce | nickdjeremiah.com

— About Built-in Commerce —

With Squarespace, ecommerce is built into the site from the word go. Your level of subscription does determine what features are available, however from the cheapest plan to the most expensive plan everything you need is included, higher plans just add that little bit extra. There are built-in analytics so you can see where your customers are coming from, how much they're spending and all that good stuff. Apple Pay and PayPal integration gives your customers many different ways to pay, as well as accepting your main credit cards as well. You can read more about commerce from the Squarespace Website.

Below is a summary of some of the features of Squarespace Commerce. This information is taken directly off the Squarespace website.

OPTIMISE SALES
Our mobile-optimised single-page checkout makes it easy to buy on all devices. Customise checkout with your own colour scheme and logo. Add that extra incentive to buy with discounts, free shipping, and more.

TURN INSIGHTS INTO SALES
Understand how your business is doing by tracking revenue, orders, units sold, and more. Learn which traffic sources and products are generating the most sales. Delve into your purchase funnel to see how you can optimise conversion.

FLEXIBLE PAYMENT OPTIONS
In addition to all major credit cards, your store is equipped to accept PayPal and Apple Pay. These alternative payment methods are fast and convenient, saving customers time and resulting in more sales for you.

END-TO-END SECURITY
2048-bit SSL encryption ensures that the connection between your customer’s browser and your website is secure. We provide free SSL certificates on all Squarespace websites. To offer the highest level of security, we’ve chosen Stripe as our PCI compliant payment gateway for all commerce transactions.

RICH PRODUCT EXPERIENCES
Customers can engage with products via embedded videos, images, related products, and more. Let them zoom into product images to see all the details. With quick view, they can quickly learn about items and add them to their carts.

RECOVER LOST SALES
Send automatic emails to customers who abandon checkout before completing an order. You can also track how many sales and how much revenue are recovered.

MERCHANDISE & CATEGORISE EASILY
Simply merchandise, organise, and manage your products with tags, categories, and our drag-and-drop sorting tool. Plan when products are for sale on your website with visibility and scheduling settings.

SHIPPING AND ORDERS MADE EASY
Send shipment notifications, handle refunds, update stock levels, and fulfil orders on-the-go. Print shipping labels via our ShipStation integration. Calculate real-time shipping rates from FedEx, UPS, and USPS. Scan barcodes from our app to provide tracking numbers to customers. (some features are only available in the US currently).

See how Abasi Rosborough powers their business with Squarespace Commerce.
 

— About The Other Stuff —

There is such an incredible amount of topics to talk about Squarespace, and I'm not going to talk about them all here, because I don't really have the time... And I'm sure you wouldn't want to read about it all either. I will sum up a couple of things here as well as point out a couple more as well.

— The Apple of Web Design

Squarespace can easily be seen as the Apple of web design. Much like Apple, design is part of Squarespace's core beliefs and values. Everything they do is centred around it. Their templates, their site editing UI, even their office is a marvellous work of design. Everything is simple, intuitive and easy to use. Squarespace doesn't have the largest market share of website customers or every feature under the sun, but what they do have works well, looks fantastic, and there are a lot of high quality third-party sources dedicated to offering plugins. You won't find poorly designed, broken functionality on this platform.

— They Are Not WordPress, Wix or Any Other Platform

The Squarespace platform is entirely unique. There isn't anything like it out there currently. You will find 50-75 professionally designed templates to start your site off. They are included in the subscription pricing you pay, there's no extra costs. They are designed by Squarespace themselves so they are always up-to-date and if you have a problem with it, they'll be able to fix it for you. The way you edit content and style it is very intuitive. It's not obvious straight away, and there is a bit of a learning curve, but it makes designing your site very easy. 

— It is Technically The Cheapest

I say technically, because when you compare the base features of Squarespace with the same features of other platforms, Squarespace comes out on top. Other platforms have cheaper tiers, but their feature set is smaller, and you have to increase the price of your subscription, to match the base features you get with Squarespace. Also, I will add that with the base subscription, you get ALL the features. Yes, you don't have to pay extra to get extra features; you have everything there ready to go. Now, there are dedicated plans, like the Commerce plan for example that includes addition features, but they are solely for the purpose of commerce and online stores. Regular websites don't need those features so you aren't missing out on anything there.

— Third-Party Integrations

Squarespace has a handful of third-party integrations. Some of them include Acuity Scheduling, Zola, OpenTable, Bands in Town, Amazon Products as well as a lot of social media integrations as well. Squarespace is beginning to market in Australia, which means additionally to finally charging Australian customers in Australian dollars, they are also going to be adding more functions and integrations for Australian customers. Some of the commerce features like Xero label printing and shipping via ShipStation are only available in the US... But not for long.

 
Squarespace Resources | nickdjeremiah.com

— Resources for Squarespace —

Here are four fantastic resources for customising your Squarespace website. Some share code you can use to customise content blocks or add functions and animations, and others give you more articles about Squarespace and how to use it. And one more thing. The Squarespace Community Facebook Group. This group is not run or endorsed by Squarespace, but a community group run by the folks at SquareStudio. It has professional coders and designers, all the way to newbies that have just signed up to Squarespace today. The help is incredible there and you'll make some great friends... Click the image below to be taken to the Facebook group.

I hope this article has given you a decent insight into Squarespace. I highly recommend signing up for their free trial. 14 days and there's no credit card information required. Have a play and see what you think. If you need more time after the free trial, just ask them, they'll usually extend it another 7 days.
 

I hope this article has been an interesting and informing read. If you have any questions or comments to make, comment below. Also, if you’d like to receive an email every time I publish a new post, you can subscribe to my mailing list below.


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