Businesses today need websites, that's just the way it is. Modern, crisp, responsive, and current-looking websites are a necessity. Many business owners panic at the thought of creating a new website or redoing their existing one because, well, it can be really expensive! Major agencies can charge tens of thousands up front as a retainer, and that can be a fraction of the total scope and cost of the project. Just recently I heard an agency rep tell a client that their services start at $100,000 for a basic 6-page website. No wonder so many businesses are intimidated by the very word!
Beauty Doesn't Have to Blow the Budget
Before you drop your salary on a new website, listen up! There's a better way! A quality website doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, and in today's marketplace there's really no excuse for not having one. Yes, it's a necessary investment, but there's no reason to go cashing out your 401k just yet.
Smaller agencies are often more affordable, but there's still a lot of gray area involved in the sums they charge. You value their time, skill, knowledge, and expert recommendations, and you assume they'll leave you with not only a beautiful website, but one that performs and brings you business. But sometimes as the costs and contracts for your project begin to take a toll, the agency's responsiveness and service begin to take a dive.
What if there were a platform that facilitated ease of use for quick construction of beautiful sites, where almost everything is proprietary and automatically managed, that was also user-friendly and easy to personally navigate? Guess what? There is!
A Refreshing Alternative
I'm here to introduce you to Squarespace. As a new Squarespace Circle member, I've been enjoying designing websites for my clients with Squarespace for quite a while now and, I have to say, I'm so thankful to be able to offer it as an option! It allows me to provide exceptional quality in a reasonable amount of time and at a much more affordable price point than if I were to build a completely custom site. And the best part is that the sites can still look completely custom! This is an option that is becoming increasingly attractive to not just the small business owner, but even larger-size businesses who realize that they can get a high-value experience at a fraction of the normally inflated cost and reallocate some significant funds to other types of advertising initiatives.
Squarespace is not an open source platform. All of its tools, features, and functions are proprietary and, as such, all aspects of the environment are managed, monitored and controlled by Squarespace. What does this mean? It's kind of like comparing Android to Apple.
The Android platform is an open source operating system, which boasts customization that many of its users adore. However, studies have found Android's performance, security, and reliability to suffer due to its open source design which allows almost any app developer to submit programs on the platform. Not only that, but Android supports hundreds (if not thousands) of different devices, making the responsibility of streamlined function across the board rather difficult.
In comparison, Apple's proprietary iOS operating system only supports the handful of Apple devices on the market, and there are apps which are not supported by the iOS platform (or which must be modified to run exclusively on it, separately from an Android version of the same program). There's a small sacrifice in terms of customization, but the payoff is Apple's clean, crisp, snappy, responsive, reliable, and secure user experience. iPhones don't get hacked or experience glitchy bugs nearly as much as Android phones (if at all!), and the interface is proprietary (and patented) right down to the way the screen moves and responds to the user. You would think incorporating all this intuitive framework would slow things down, but again, it's not open platform and it's supported by several devices, not hundreds (or thousands) so there's a lot less going on to detract from the important elements.
Squarespace is very similar to the iPhone in that it offers reliable, secure, crisp, and user-friendly flexibility and control. Web design elitists may consider this type of platform inferior or as having drawbacks because there isn't access to unlimited open source plug-ins and modifications, but I can assure you it's a matter of preference and an asset (no worrying about incompatibility with certain plug-ins, site or feature crashes, losing hours of work because of a tiny glitch or bug...).
Many newbies to the web design arena are able to build stunning, responsive websites with ease thanks to the Squarespace model. But that doesn't mean it's limited: there's plenty of custom design, code work, and modification that can be done. In fact, the Squarespace platform is heralded as a preferred choice for users from the graphics and design industries because of its ability to produce beautifully rich, effortlessly responsive, and commanding websites without thousands of hours of agonizing and expensive coding.
Ease of Use:
Squarespace is a relatively easy platform to use. Some of its content management functionality is drag-and-drop, enabling the user to place content almost anywhere without touching code. Users who lack background in the graphic arts or in web development can still build and maintain an attractive, modern, high-functioning, and well-performing website. This makes it the obvious choice for smaller agency marketers, DIY business owners with limited tech savvy, and even the budget-conscious (or pressed-for-time) web guru. In other words, Squarespace is not a platform geared toward beginners and novice users, but you don't have to be a web design expert to use it, either. There are a lot of advanced features as well, enabling custom CSS, Style Guide Design, and custom HTML coding (to name a few).
You don't realize how valuable it is to have dedicated support until you don't have it. Certain popular website design platforms provide little to no support; you'd be hard-pressed to even find a support or help-desk email address or hotline listed anywhere. Many custom elements of open source design and extremely varied plug-ins aren't really in the realm of a support desk anyway, just because a support person would have to be familiar with thousands of variations of the item in question. Squarespace provides dedicated support 24/7. They also have an impressive library of video tutorials, text guides, and user forums to help you along. No matter which way you look for the answer to your question, you'll get it. This is a priceless time-saver!
Since Squarespace is a closed platform, they can closely manage the performance and security of their system. All updates are tested prior to release and are not subject to varying developer tendencies or shortcomings.
Affordable and Flexible Pricing:
Squarespace offers multiple packages based on your needs. Whether you're creating a large e-commerce site with a lot of moving parts or a simple site with very little to figure out, it's a one-stop shop for your website needs. Hosting is built-in, as are basic SEO options, a built-in blog and CMS, various top-name connectors are integrated for collecting emails, payments, and shipping accounts – all while allowing for custom design that already has a lot of the skeleton in place for you. Pricing and website packages can be upgraded or downgraded at any time without affecting your existing product, which facilitates scalability and an added comfort level.
There's an unnecessary stigma associated with the idea of template-based websites. The myth is that they all look the same. But the endless choices provided are only meant to be your muse and inspiration; they lend themselves to being highly modified, whether using the style editor or custom code, sometimes until they're virtually unrecognizable. You get to see several examples of ways to use each template and you can test your modifications in live preview mode, even easily toggling between several different looks.
More on that: Click here to see an impressive list of Squarespace customers and some very creative and unique uses of the templates offered.
Additionally, Squarespace is advertisement-free, integrates seamlessly with external domains and widgets, comes complete with hosting (eliminating the need to pay for a domain-level service or account), makes monetization a breeze, boasts built-in metrics and analytics, and provides unlimited storage space. All of this for less than your monthly cell phone bill.
The ease and availability of a tool like this forces marketers offering it to be more transparent with their pricing, since a customer could theoretically use Squarespace to put together a website his or herself. Whether or not that's the recommended course of action for a non-expert, it's an option nonetheless.
But Squarespace benefits marketers as much as it benefits customers: it's now so much easier to deliver an amazing experience to a client in less time and with less difficulty, allowing a marketer to expand their reach, taking on more clients and projects than before, and pricing competitively (which is always favorable in high-value scenarios).
So, if you're in need of a website or need to revamp an old one, consider asking someone with Squarespace experience to take a look at your project. Or, just maybe, you'll learn Squarespace yourself!