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Squarespace Photography Templates Reviewed
I've tried 3 different services for photography website templates and here I want to let you know what I think of Squarespace. Like Wix websites, Squarespace offer design features that appeal in a big way to creative people. Whether you're a photographer, interior designer, painter, web-designer, writer or illustrator, you should be able to create a look and feel that pushes your buttons. But why might someone choose Squarespace over Wix, or other rivals? Well, let's take a closer look...
Introducing Squarespace websites
Let me first say that the websites I have built/worked on have tended to fall into 2 camps: the pretty ones and the ones with high traffic. That is, of course, an artifical distinction. Design and business should dovetail seamlessly. It's just that the emphasis of different site building platforms often seems to be one way or the other.
For example, Photography Art Cafe, was very much built and designed with a view to gaining a large audience. Meanwhile my Wix site was all about creating a shop window - something to which I could link to from elsewhere in order to drive traffic.
I think Squarespace offers a nice middle way - that elusive blend of cool design and business focus. I'm sure there are other options out there that boast the same advantage, but Squarespace is the one I have used! So that, in a nutshell is my stance on Squarespace as an option for photographers.
Any photographer that is serious about presenting themselves well and building an audience of potential clients, must have a website that features a blog and various business features. With no blog, there is no traffic (unless loads of authority sites start linking to you unaccountably!). So, if you want to look cool and build business, Squarespace strikes me as well worth considering.
General Pro's and Con's
|Over 60 beautiful templates created by brand-name designers.||Whilst you can import your other blogs to Squarespace, you cannot then export them fully to another platform if you decide to move on.|
|Intuitive - click, 'drag and drop' - building process.||Squarespace is not free. That is because they're much better than free photography website templates - but if you just want a simple blog, for instance, then use a free service.|
|Very secure hosting. Squarespace use their own systems for their website.||The video tutorials explaining how to use Squarespace are a little rushed.|
|Ability to import your blogs in their entirety from other platforms, e.g. WordPress.||
It can be slow to customize pages. Each element can be assigned several features - like 'header' and 'link' - and you have to find which feature needs changing for that change to be made visible.
|Very detailed analytics integrated into your account.||There are limited systems for large e-commerce sites if that’s what you intend to build.|
|Post articles and content from your iPhone or iPad.||The 'business' package option is rather expensive.|
|Full range of features eliminates need to find third party resources for things like picture galleries, blogs or traffic stats.|
|Video guides are provided for building your site and using your account.|
|24/7 email support with 15 minute response time. Wow!|
|Decent forums to get tips and support from other Squarespace users, plus a thorough written support centre.|
Building a photography site with Squarespace
Building my site with Squarespace was actually really fun. If there is any part of you that relishes the design process, the intuitive workflow and cool features should be enjoyable. I found it easy to produce designs that are visually striking, but professional and user-friendly. That's not always an easy balance, but Squarespace templates made it pretty easy. I had 2 weeks to play with the different design options (the length of their free trial) and there were so many options that would have photographers and artists jumping for joy!
My one gripe about building a site with Squaresapce is that customizing the template designs can become rather slow. Different sections of a page, like an article title, can be designated several different characteristcs, like 'header' or 'link'. You have to make sure you have selected to change the right characteristic, 'header' or 'link', before any changes become visible.
Useful video guides
Every photography website hosting provider has its own way of making the site building process as easy as possible. But even without having to know any code, it can often take a bit of time to get used to all the systems and tools.
So the first thing I really appreciated with Squarespace was the introductory video. This guides you through the site designing process and explains how their system of building a site in ‘blocks’ works. I don't think you'd have any trouble using Squarespace if you've never built a site before.
There are other video guides too, explaining specific things in greater detail. They are excellent, if a little bit rushed. I had to keep pausing and rewinding to make sure I'd caught things. They're a bit Youtube'esque', you know - some guy in his room making a helpful video, but very casually!
All-in-one package makes life easy
One BIG advantage of squarespace is that it eliminates the need to go charging oof around the web to look for relevant plug-ins and extra features. I often hear people talking about their endless searching and researching plug-ins to make their website what it needs to be. With Squarespace, life is made much easier because it's all there to begin with. Everything from picture galleries, to blogs, to sitemaps, to visitor analytics, is integrated into one powerful account.
Obviously this impacts the basic price of using Squarespace. You will not find it hard to find a cheaper solution, and I do think Squarespace prices are a bit too high. But, in truth, if you go for a super-cheap deal, you will end up paying for additional features in time (and quite possibly paying more in the end! That happens a lot).
Plus, who wants the hassle? It's much nice to work with one fully integrated system. Squarespace has some highly impressive Analytics features, neat social media display options, professional form builders and even membership area functionality.
I haven't mentioned the support yet, have I? If you run into difficulty, the support provided by Squarespace is excellent. They offer email support with a 15 minute response time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It doesn't actually get any better than that! There are also, of course, the video tutorials, in addition to decent user forums and extensive written resources.
Squarespace is a good platform for creating well-designed photography websites, that also draw large traffic. In terms of business features, there are some nice options like form builders and membership areas which can help you build a community/fan base/client area.
I was, though, slightly disappointed by the lack ecommerce features. You could sell prints through a Squarespace site, but I think they are better suited for selling services and winning clients. My choice would be to make a separately hosted ecommerce store a sub-domain of my Squarespace site.
Importing and exporting blogs
Got an existing blog that you'd like to switch over to Squarespace? That's been made very easy to do - articles, pictures and all. Once you've transferred the content it can become part of your customized Squarespace design. But - and for some this might be a big but - it's not possible to export content from your Squarespace site to a new platform. I hope they change that in the future.
What's The Damage? Pricing...
|Ease of Use||8/10|
Overall, I've been very impressed by Squarespace. They have been the first platform I have used that satisfied my demands for good design, provided the framework for good traffic/business, and contained it all in one simple (painless!) package. As a result, I have no hesitation in recommending them to my fellow photographers.
There are certainly lots of other options out there, so keep weighing up the options if you're in the process of starting a site. Good luck, and visit Squarespace to learn more about their service.