I have been playing around with the new version of Squarespace 7 recently and I thought I’d post some initial views on it. I’m going to do a full review soon but below are my first impressions of the new release and its key new features.
The new Squarespace 7 interface is, generally speaking, much better than the Squarespace 6 one. This is because you no longer need to perform a cumbersome toggle between an ‘edit’ screen and a ‘design’ screen to make changes to copy or style elements. Interestingly, this represents a switch back to the approach used in versions 5 and earlier of Squarespace – I never understood why Squarespace abandoned this ‘one screen’ layout in the first place, but its reintroduction represents a big improvement which speeds up workflow no end.
The ‘device view’ – where you can view what your website looks like on a variety of mobile devices by resizing your browser window – is pretty handy. However the fact that you don’t get the option to change the nature of your site’s mobile stylesheet in any way detracts from its usefulness somewhat. It’s a ‘nice to have’ feature rather than an essential one.
Now this I really like. Squarespace have partnered with Getty Images to supply stock images at $10 per image – way lower than the kinds of fees you could expect to pay for imagery from other stock image providers (such as iStock). Most of my clients never have any decent images to hand when they ask me to build a Squarespace site for them, so this could make their life – and mine – a lot easier…
This is another strong new feature and possibly my favourite so far. Squarespace now allow you to create landing pages (which they call ‘cover’ pages) which you can populate with imagery, buttons, forms – whatever you like really. These can serve either as impressive introduction pages for your site or landing pages for advertising campaigns (where you can capture data, for example). A really useful feature.
Google Apps integration
You can now buy a Google Apps account through Squarespace (and avail of business email, file storage, calendars etc.). As Google Apps accounts can be a bit fiddly to set up (requiring various changes to be made to DNS settings) this integration should save users time. Anyone starting their own business requiring both a website and a suite of productivity tools should find this integrated approach quite appealing.
New Squarespace templates
A few new templates have been released with version 7 of the platform – nothing radically different from the existing templates, although it is nice to have a few more options. Squarespace have introduced quite a focus on templates for wedding sites – a shrewd move really as there is quite a market for that sort of thing and throwing a wedding website together with Squarespace should be a relative doddle.
So is it all good news?
No. Although there are some excellent new features that come with this release of Squarespace, there are still quite a few things that Squarespace could have done to make this an absolutely killer product. I am intending to spell these out in an in-depth review of Squarespace 7 soon but for now I will just say that the two major ‘negatives’ worth considering are these: (1) Squarespace is a very ‘prescriptive’ platform, with many elements of design locked down – it’s their templates’ way or the highway and (2) their e-commerce functionality, whilst really user-friendly, does not integrate with Paypal (and you can only use it if you sell from certain countries).
Squarespace have definitely raised their game in a big way though with version 7 – there are some stonkingly good new features and the version 5 style interface is a big improvement on 6. Now, if they could just reinstate some of the other lovely features that Version 5 had, like complete control over template styling and ways to turn sidebar widgets on and off depending on what page a user was viewing, that would be lovely…