Do-it-yourself website design has come a long way. I remember back in the day when anyone who wanted a website that didn’t look like some conspiracy theory screed had to hire a professional designer (or their genius nephew) to build them a site. Anything beyond text on the screen and a few graphics embeds required some real knowledge. Tools for markup were few and far between and most of us coded by hand. Ahhh…those were the days.
Okay, maybe not. Actually, doing the entire markup for a site by hand is lame and finger-numbing (to say the least). Nowadays, though, just about everyone has a site. From SiteBuilder to WordPress and others, it’s relatively easy to put up a nicely-designed site without hiring a professional designer. Of course, for a truly customized, dynamic, and unique site, a designer is still very much required.
For most businesses, though, getting online isn’t nearly as costly or time consuming as it used to be. Squarespace is the latest in the line of dynamic build-it-yourself site hosts. It’s a pretty impressive setup too. In most ways, it goes beyond the usual WordPress site, which means it’s two steps ahead of Blogger and Typepad.
It’s a fully non-geek content management system that’s truly dynamic. Basically, if you can use a word processor, you can probably use Squarespace without difficulty. It has a lot of great built-ins and other options and is even fun to use. There’s even an iPhone app (a requirement today, I guess).
What really made me like Squarespace, though, was the templates. They aren’t really templates, but just sort of design starting points. I’d be willing to bet that you won’t have seen anything as customizable as the templates on Squarespace.
Here’s something else cool: if your site is already up using WordPress, Blogger, or TypePad, you can probably port it directly into Squarespace easily, using their tool. You can also move it back again if you decide you don’t like the service.
Overall, I was highly impressed with this site builder and host. My only problem is the price tag. Of course, everything costs something and hosting is no different. However, the cheapest package is $8/month. For an amateur blog, that’s probably more than it’s worth. For a business or serious endeavor, however, $8-$50/month (depending on your needs and package) isn’t so bad at all.
Before you pay anything (or even give them billing information), you can try out Squarespace for free. So it’s worth a shot regardless. I, for one, am very impressed with it. There are limits to it, mostly revolving around the fact that, unlike WordPress (easily their closest competition), they aren’t open source.
Give it a shot and tell us what you think by commenting here!