Squarespace is my approval winning blog software that is actually hosted “on the cloud”. It’s an easy way to set up a blog, or even a full website that can all be managed remotely. Squarespace has one of the finest interfaces for designing, customizing and personalizing your blog without knowing programming language or finding third party templates. Squarespace is also easy to use and great blog software for someone just starting out.
Squarespace places a high value on design and reliability and the setup process shows this off quite well.
The Squarespace interface is modular (in blocks) and customizable when you set it up and when you need to make changes. This program offers the freedom to move widgets, columns and plugins around much easier than many of the programs reviewed here.
This program offers a high level of blog design customization accessible for users who don???t write code. To achieve a comparable level of control over blog design in some other services, you must know how to alter the code yourself. While it???s possible to customize your blog design by altering the CSS code, there is already such a high level of individuality built in to the system that all but the pickiest users will be quiet pleased with the pre-made options.
Any style may be customized without changing a line of code and you can adjust three column sizes, widths and the top navigation placement without needing programming knowledge.
Publishing and Tracking Tools
The style editor lets you select size, color, images, margins, padding, line height and more. For the developer, you can write your own CSS, use theirs as a starting point or create your own.
The basic Squarespace template allows you to edit many aspects of your blog???s appearance and functionality. Fonts, headers and backgrounds, how many columns and in what order ??? each module is movable so you can change the configuration of the built-in widgets that display on your blog as well as add and delete them at will.
The number of widgets available is more than the average user will need and include all the most common ones such as blogrolls, link lists, calendars and polls. There is no downloading though, they are built in to the system so you just select the ones you want and configure them to appear and function based on the configuration prompt that appears after selection.
Squarespace also features custom design support for image and link editing.
It???s possible to post blogs to your Squarespace account even if you aren???t near a computer; as long as you have a cell phone capable of sending and receiving emails, you can submit posts to your blog through your phone.
Squarespace is one of the few blog software programs that gives you traffic stats without needing a third-party plugin, making it especially useful if you are starting a public or business blog. Squarespace tracking tools, while useful, aren???t quite as complete as those found in the top two products.
Ease of Use
Traffic stat tracking is built-in on Squarespace. Most other services require you to install a third-party plugin to achieve this functionality. Squarespace???s stat service tracks the relevant data you might want to know. In fact, if you only want to create a personal blog, stats will be far more than you need. But if you are creating a public or business blog, they will be quite useful for monitoring web traffic, referrals and page views.
Squarespace stats are monitored and displayed in real-time through recognizable graphs and charts. The service tracks visitors and pageviews, and it even differentiates between human and bot (search engine) hits to your pages, a useful bit of data that other services don???t provide. You can also easily view where your posts rank on Google searches. Squarespace also keeps track of where people go once they reach your site, whether visitors click through to other pages on your blog or leave Squarespace entirely.
If you plan on a blog with more than one author, Squarespace will track all changes and who made them. This is a particularly useful way to manage content if you have more than one contributor or contributor???s off-site.
Posting blogs in the Squarespace interface is pleasant and easy. A text box allows you to format your text with all the basic word processing tools. If you prefer to alter your text and formatting at the HTML level, there is an option to view the code. Adding content is super easy ??? text, images, video and code are all assimilated into your blog in the blink of an eye.
The creation process is extremely simple in Squarespace, and the interface for uploading blogs and pictures is simple enough. It???s fairly similar to other services. The most obvious feature that makes Squarespace more useful is the tracking tools mentioned. It???s very easy to identify which stats you are looking for and the charts are easy to read.
When building your site, you can drag and drop entire sections of sidebar navigation or reorder a single page. This drag-and-drop functionality is a very obvious pleaser. You can also easily create drop-down menus by dropping a folder into your top horizontal navigation.
They describe their hosting as having ???nothing to set up, nothing to tweak, nothing to install, nothing to scale, nothing to optimize (SEO).???
This is a completely hosted and managed program. They take care of the details, which means no software to install, nothing to upgrade and your site will stay online through the most massive traffic storms (because it???s hosted on the cloud). Further, the SEO is built in ??? they have already implemented every trick in the SEO book to ensure your blog/site gets noticed by search engines.
You can try it for free then just $8 per month will afford you all the features and space you need to create a personal blog or project website. If you outgrow your basic package (say, you want your own custom domain) you can upgrade at any time to the Pro package at $14 per month. There are two other advanced packages for small business sites and data collection.
Squarespace offers great resources for users with program problems or questions. The traditional methods of customer support, email and FAQ are in place here. But Squarespace also provides a very thorough set of documents and web pages that explain how every module works. It also answers many basic questions. There are video tutorials to hold your hand through every step of the way and demonstrates what features are available. There is also a Squarespace-hosted user forum where people can ask and answer common questions and technical issues.
Squarespace is an excellent option for a beginning, non-technical blogger who wants to create a slick, beautiful-looking blog with reliable hosting infrastructure. Even though it costs more than free blog software, the appearance, features, support and hosting options are well worth the money. Squarespace is the full blog software-that-isn???t-really-software package.