By Deane Barker on October 20, 2005

I’ve spent some time today playing with Squarespace, since their ads kept appearing my AdSense. While I try not to get too excited about new things (lest my head explode), I’m going to venture a pretty bold statement —

Squarespace is the best content management system I have ever seen within its class (hosted, structured, sans code — TypePad-ish, if you will).

This app is gorgeous in every sense — both in how it looks and in how it performs. It’s put together perfectly — it does everything you expect it to, and even more that you don’t.

A Squarespace site gives you the ability to create about anything except really tightly structured content (a custom relational database model, for instance). It groups functionality in modulles, of which there are about a dozen, from a simple HTML page, to a blog, a photo gallery, a file library, and about anything in between (but no calendar for some reason).

You can group the modules into folders, thus putting logical stuff together. The menu and navigation functionality is as good as I’ve seen it implemented, given that that part of a CMS is always a huge pain to deal with. The user interface is stunning, the Ajax and ActiveX work is so good you don’t even notice it, it has a near-perfect WYSIWYG implementation, and the integrated help is, well, helpful.

The little touches are all over the place:

  • The WYSIWYG functionality is great, but I just knew that I could change it to Markdown if I wanted…and I could. Textile too.

  • You can customize your theme, and preview by launching the site under that theme. You can browse around under your new look, while everyone else sees the old one until you decide to make your switch permanent.

  • When customizing a new layout, you can pick from dozens of page elements to change — from BLOCKQUOTE tags to “Small Object Subtitles” and have full CSS control over them.

  • You can tags IP addresses, indicating if you don’t want to log them, want to mask them to something else, or ban them altogether.

In a nutshell, here’s what Squarespace has accomplished: it has the ability to be exactly what you need, no matter who you are. If you know nothing about code but just know how you want it to look, then you can use WYSIWYG and and the CSS editor. If you a Web ninja, you can use Markdown and write your own CSS.

As I played around with it, I knew I was in love when I started to imagine the Web sites I could build with it. Gadgetopia would bust the bandwidth limits pretty quickly, but I have a dozen other sites in the back of my mind that would fit beautifully in Squarespace.

Now, understand that this isn’t Drupal or eZ publish — there are tradeoffs with having a hosted, turnkey thing. But not many. I’d venture a guess that 80% of informational Web sites (as opposed to, say, ecommerce sites) could live within the Squarespace environment.

Use it for 30 minutes (they have a free trial), and you’ll get the same impression I have: for something this new to be this good means that these guys are going to take over the freaking world one day.

What Links Here


  1. I really enjoy using Squarespace myself. I’ve experimented with several CMSs and tried building my website from scratch using software such as Dreamweaver and http://www.serif.com/webplus/webplus9/ but I had to ask myself how much time I wanted to use to fiddle with the backend and design against how much time I wanted to dedicate to writing and publishing content. The content won and I’m working on that at the moment, all the while knowing that when I’m ready to tweak the design I can do that pretty easily too.

    Thanks for your review, it was very easy to read and informative.

  2. I have two SquareSpace sites, and am very happy with the service. I’ve only used the basic layouts, but will be looking into customization at some point.

    I’m hoping to someday need to up my bandwidth limits, but it hasn’t been an issue so far.

    http://royjacobsen.squarespace.com – Dispatches from Outland: my observations on Life, the Universe, and Everything. (Not the Douglas Adams book, but the real thing.)

    http://rmjacobsen.squarespace.com – Writing, Clear and Simple: I call it a writing blog for non-writers.

  3. Hi, i must agree with you. I’m looking for a hosting company that can integrate blog(s) with a website…and i think SquareSpace is it! I’ve just signed up a trial account and fiddling with it…so far it look good! I lost count on how many wow I’d make will fiddling the site layout :P

    Currently, I’m using BlogHarbor for my blog (which is good for blogging). I’ve tried Typepad but not really excited as Squarespace.

    The editing on Squarespace is all done on website, no additional WebEditor tools etc. The refresh rate upon changes is very fast…can’t complaint at all!

    It’s really like what it advertise, elegant and professional :P

  4. I too have dabbled with several blogging “systems,” including Blogger, TypePad (that one is good too), FrontPage, Radio, some API stuff, etc.

    Squarespace (my current host for blogging) definately is an up-and-coming system that provides bells and whistles that many of the other “customizable” systems neglect (or didn’t think of early enough in their development to include in their foundational code and design).

  5. I looked at Squarespace and though it was fairly useful… I just came across a couple of WordPress sites that seemed awfully easy and free… I just looked at ublogg.com… And although it seems to still be in development, for your first-time blogger, it’s great!

    Take care and happy blogging. ~Mel

  6. Couldn’t agree more. Squarespace is such a fantastic service that I’m really surprised – really – that not more people are raving about it. My own site is http://www.pharmablawg.com. Building it with Squarespace was a breeze. The thing with Squarespace is that’s a quiet little beast with a hell of a lot of roar under the bonnet – which you don’t really appreciate until you start experimenting with it. The only thing it lacks is a forum community where users can bounce ideas off one another but that doesn’t really matter as support tickets are answered promptly.

  7. I’ve been using Squarespace since Feb. 06 and apart from agreeing with your accurate review, would like to add a note of thanks for their great support. They get back to you, in a day or less in most cases, are friendly and straight-forward, with no patronizing tech attitude.

    Another plus is the low cost of their three-tier system, with options for added bandwidth and storage space. If like me, your paying in English pounds, the price is cut by more than a third since they charge in the U.S. dollar.

    The only draw back to Squarespace is the time you might spend customizing your site and adding pages. It they added a larger section of initial templates it might never end for those with no CSS dreams.

    Though starting as a blog, I’m developing into a larger site, thanks in part for the ease and flexibility of Squarespace.

    I would like a calendar module and site search engine provided by them. I understand these will be future features

  8. I actually unleashed it on a Web novice to create a site for her husband’s contracting company. The results have been mixed.

    It’s certainly better than FrontPage, but it’s not for the complete novice either. She has problems with image uploading, and the WYSIWYG editor doesn’t let her drag the images like she wants. There are some usability issues with it.

    Your mileage may vary, and let me again reinforce that my opinion of Squarespace being amazing hasn’t changed — but it’s unrealistic to think a complete Web newbie is going to get decent results with it, as with anything.

  9. I’ve been using Squarespace for over two years and I thoroughly agree with the review here. If anything SS hid their light under a bushel. Most people come to it as a blogging platform but it is in its power as a CMS that it comes alive. I have no doubt that blogging will evolve into much more of a CMS based activity. People need static pages and galleries and html pages and so on, as apps like WordPress are realizing by adding some of these functions.

    There are some issues. No FTP uploading, no forum (an easily rectifiable mistake which for some reason persists) and no search function yet ( a particular failing I believe), although I believe Anthony is working on it.

    I’m not sure what the last commenter meant about difficulties uploading images. If you use the integral editor (I don’t, I use a remote editor) uplading and inserting images is a snip. Browse, upload, insert file name done! In addition, the remote editor, Ecto, allows for drag and drop image insertion and uploading.

    One more important thing. Unlike my Typepad and Blogger lately and even my own server, my Squarespace site has never been down in two years!

  10. I first encountered squarespace while googleing blog software to put my first podcast online with. i was using blogger, but i yearned for something a little more complex- wordpress was out of the question because I diddnt have the money for aweb host, and typepad was just a little too complex to get a template together. then i stumbled across squarespace- and i’ve been happy ever since. my first podcast is long gone- and- with the launch of my couple cast on friday morning- I’ve come back to my first true love, squarespace. All in all, i give squarespace two thumbs up, exceptional service, exceptional reliability and amazing results

  11. I am about as techno-challenged as a guy can be, and, with just a couple of questions answered quickly by support, I was up and running in a couple of hours! Unbelievable.

  12. I don’t know if Squarespace will “Take over the World”, but I do know it is a very good service. I tried it for three weeks, just puttering with it from time to time. I then realized I was hooked.

    Creating a Web/Blog site is new to me and I have been trying various formats and attempting to create something which will appeal to me and possibly others, too?

    I have found the Mozilla Composer which come with the Mozilla Browser has been the greatest help so far. It allows me to create pages and entries at my leisure and move them into the Squarespace site flawlessly.

    I will have to agree that Squarespace and it’s creator will make a big bang in the web world. The “Pinky and the Brain” theory is a little grandiose.

    Good stuff on this site.


  13. I tried Suarespace for a few days and upgrade to the basic pack almost instantly. It provides me the best value at the web today.

    I started with Blogger and toke also a Typepad account, but Squarespace is far most the best in class. I have no problem with paying a premium because of the easy-of-use and the great support they offer.

    Big thumb up !

    Danny – Marketing.Lounge


  14. I’ve been using it for more than a year now and can thoroughly recommend it. A tad slow at times but incredibly versatile for what it is and amazingly easy to use. Their support is pretty efficient too.

  15. I tried it tested it and I use it for more than 1 and 1/2 year. I tested most of the other solutions (Blogger, WordPress,…) and there is nothing else like Squarespace. It has a blogging service, but it’s much more.

  16. I just read an interview with Anthony dated 9/13/04 when he was still in college. His take on blogging in the last line “I think the blog will go by the wayside in the face of simple publishing platforms, but remain an element of those platforms.” From the above comments, blogging is still King and its empire is growing.

    This is also apparent on his current web site in the tools offered. Most are to facilitate the blogger. He does know how to follow the market rather than his cloudy crystal ball.

  17. I just signed up and am a Boomer Puter Wannabe with NO skills.
    So far Im just using the free trial… But IM DOING IT! ITs AMAZINGLY SIMPLE… I love this and as a soon to be millionaire bloggin boomer, I will REFER REFER REFER! (Thats a referral, Im not a hemperific smoking boomer) Nan

  18. I just signed up and It looks great although I would like it even better if they had more templates available. Some with 3 columns would be great. Is anyone aware of any template sites that provide css for squarespace?

  19. As a reluctant techie I have been pleased with Squarespace. Within a day I had my site up. The tech support is outstanding and in PLAIN LANGUAGE. I am using it for a blog and website combined, My next challenge is making my banner on the blog page different from the rest of the site and this can be done with a little knowledge of what to change in the HTML option, What I like best is the simplicity of adding forms and other features – within minutes I customized a sign up option for my newsletter that includes fields for tracking people’s interests and how they came to my site. I’d also like to make some menu fields disappear on certain pages but that’s for another day. I am from the writing industry and to do this so quickly (and by myself) even impressed my web savvy tech friends.

  20. I like SquareSpace.com however, ti does nto seem to give you a clean RSS feed that can be fed to RSS services. The problem is that SS feed is in XML format as opposed to the accepted RSS format

  21. we have two sites with squarespace, findingmickey.com and neilallengarcia.com, and i love them! professional, clean and easy use. great customer service. i keep finding new ways to improve our sites. i had customized at one point, but went back to basic since their layouts are just so nice! i recommend their services! :)

  22. we have two sites with squarespace, findingmickey.com and neilallengarcia.com, and i love them! professional, clean and easy use. great customer service. i keep finding new ways to improve our sites. i had customized at one point, but went back to basic since their layouts are just so nice! i recommend their services! :)

  23. Anyone have any experience with both Squarespace and Site Build It and willing to give an opinion on which they like best?

  24. I love squarespace. I customised my site and I have very little web dev skills. One thing I will say: Good SEO. Very quickly I’ve been getting good organic hits. I’m incredibly impressed.

  25. I have enjoyed using SquareSpace, although I wish their templates were a little more varied. I’m not one to go in a do much customization, but all of the templates look virtually the same with a couple different images and what not. As a photographer I like something dynamic.

    My one complaint is a lack of a shopping cart system. I am very tempted to switch to SmugMug since people can purchase prints directly from the site. SquareSpace is good for show casing, but it’s not great for trying to sell directly from the site.

  26. Hello, do you know what has happened to Squarespace today? All their sites have been down for several hours now …

    Please help me with info or ideas. Thanks!

  27. I’m a print graphic designer, but i have absolutely no knowledge of HTML, or any coding whatsoever. I don’t even know what a widget is. Is squarespace something I can use? I dont’ like the looks of blogspot, or godaddy templates. I want something nicer. How easy is this to use? Thanks

  28. I’m a print graphic designer, but i have absolutely no knowledge of HTML, or any coding whatsoever. I don’t even know what a widget is. Is squarespace something I can use? I dont’ like the looks of blogspot, or godaddy templates. I want something nicer. How easy is this to use? Thanks

  29. I have been using Squarespace.com for the past 2 months and I have to say that it is awesome. I had my site built well before my trial was expired, in fact I signed up with them just after the first week of my trial. They have plenty of “how to” articles in the online Squarespace manual. Also saved 10% by listening to the “Lightsource” podcast over on itunes. Lightsource is a podcast about studio lighting. They usually mention the current promo code within the 1st 10 seconds of the podcast. It’s 10% off every month of service, not just one month. Anyways that’s my two cents.


    Check out my Squarespace site at: http://www.wonderlandpresets.com

  30. I love squarespace. I don’t bother with metadata but i am reaching 5,000 hits in 12 days without advertising or links. Could it be possibly squarespace has a built in metadata thing happening?

  31. Great review. I have been using squarespace for the last 4 years and have loved it. They have a great product that is truly revolutionary.

  32. I have to say that SS is 97% of what I need. It’s that other 3% that’s killing me. I need to chain formss from 1 page to another, or to have blocks of custom HTML/CSS/Javascript within a form. The Form Builder they have quite good, and much easier to use than anything else out there. But what I need is just a little past what they offer. I need session support, and the ability to pass data between pages.

    If all we needed was a blog/community site, I’d look no further. But as it is, I think I need to forgo the clean, elegant, ease-of-use in favor of a regular hosting service, and roll my own PHP.

  33. I have just been doing the trial period. Love it. Just brought my blogger blog across to squarespace. Was so easy and now my blog looks more professional. Love that I can now place larger pics instead of tiny ones that blogger limit you too. Don’t mind paying the $3 a week for extra services. Their support is amazing! Sometimes they answer questions within minutes. Check out my squarespace blog: pipeburn.com

  34. The problem with Squarespace is that it is too damn expensive! I need a site that has all the bells and whistles. Nothing that wordpress can’t handle. Although I hate wordpress because its such a mess (updates, plugins, poorly coded themes, stupid structure, annoying issues)..but it is free.

    Square space charges $30 a month for a site with the features a small business or blogger would need. $30×12=$360 a year. 10 years=$3600! For that, you can just pay someone to build you a pretty decent website, exactly how you want it to look.

    I just wish they lowered their prices. Another problem is for people currently with multiple websites. Squarespace only gives a very small discount for multiple sites, so unless you are rich, good luck paying hundreds a month to SquareSpace. It just seems too expensive to be paying your SquareSpace bill and then have to continue to pay for your hosting service on the other sites. Hostgator for instance allows unlimited sites for one price. Transfering one of those sites to Squarespace won’t save me money there.

    It does seem like a good CMS though, and great for non-coders. It did seem a bit slow when I was doing my trial though. I know I’m rambling; in a rush and tired; sorry. Just wanted to address the pricing so maybe one of their reps would get the hint to lower their pricing or atleast give drastic discounts for multiple sites. A 12% discount is nowhere near enough.

  35. Deane,

    We have built a new website content management system called Eden that allows anyone to update their website and optimize it for the search engines on their own. We believe that this solution is very important to small businesses because most of them cannot afford search engine optimization services from traditional consultants.

    Would you consider taking Eden for a test drive and writing a review on what you think? Eden is offered with no setup fees and it starts at just $10/month. A 15 day free trial is available at http://www.preation.com/freetrial/.


  36. Well, there site is down now! I can’t access my site or even squarespace to contact customer support. Great stuff…

  37. I am currently using SquareSpace to develop a website. I know how to do some very basic HTML stuff but absolutely no CSS experience and was able to come up with a pretty decent website. If the site becomes successful I’ll eventually hire a website designer to make the site look for more professional but for folks like me trying to develop a website, I think SquareSpace is great! On a side note, their support staff is hands down one of the best I’ve ever experienced. I’ve sent in a few support tickets and they usually get back to me within 15 minutes. No doubt, I’m sold on SquareSpace.

  38. I really do not like Squarespace. It is soooo slow. Especially in downloading and placing photos. Posting blogs on Squarespace takes two or three times longer than on Blogspot or WordPress.

  39. We at Isoblue love squarespace. It is a brilliant tool to work in and makes building sites very efficient. We design, develop and manage sites for various customers using squarespace.

  40. We love Squarespace. It is not as popular as WordPress but we believe it is a premium service with excellent quality. We have been following them and we expect with their new round of financing to be more in the mainstream. We at Koowie, http://koowie.com, absolutely supports Squareface.

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