How to Build a Website, Part 3: Using the Squarespace Website Builder
Welcome, Small Business owners, entrepreneurs and community, to episode 004, which is part three in our five-part series for the Web and BeyondCast launch, on how to build a website for business. I’m Ray Sidney-Smith and so far, I’ve chatted with with experts on the principles of good website design and development, and getting your content together for your website launch. On today’s show, I have a panel of Web experts for building a website completely using a website builder called Squarespace. Let’s see what Squarespace is all about and if they’re the right choice for your business website.
(If you’re reading this in a podcast directory/app, please visit http://webandbeyondcast.com/004 for clickable links and the full show notes and transcript of this cast.)
In this Cast
Ray Sidney-Smith, Host
Originally from Germany, our first Squarespace expert panel member is Kerstin Martin, who has lived in four countries and travelled around the globe before settling down in the beautiful seaside town of Bellingham, WA. Her professional background in the airline, technology, finance and education industries eventually led her to starting her own business in her early 50s, as a Squarespace Web Designer and officially endorsed Squarespace Authorized Trainer. Kerstin specializes in designing professional websites for small businesses in only three days, and also teaches popular online courses in Squarespace web design, SEO and e-course hosting, as well as a business course on building a successful web design business.
Our next Squarespace expert panelist is Paige Brunton, a Squarespace web design expert, who helps creative entrepreneurs launch sites that connect and convert, all in just two weeks. Paige’s blog is the go-to destination for Squarespace info, helping thousands of Squarespace users every month. Her Start Your Squarespace Website Workbook is a popular free option for setting up the foundation of your Squarespace site. Paige earned a master’s degree in the arts from the University of Mississippi. You’ll find Paige traveling Europe and Asia where she lives as a location-independent digital nomad.
And, last but not least, Brad Good is an officially endorsed Squarespace Specialist, Authorized Trainer and has been building sites on Squarespace since 2008. He has helped hundreds of Squarespace customers with their websites. Brad started a web development company, based in San Diego, California, in 2015 that specializes in Squarespace and has built a team of 13 talented designers and developers.
Questions/Topics We Discussed About Squarespace
- What are the benefits/advantages and disadvantages of using a website builder platform like Squarespace versus building on a self-hosted website content management system?
- Who is Squarespace best for?
- What’s the process you take clients through when they want to launch a website?
- What challenges business owners the most when trying to get a website launched, in your experience working with owners?
- You work in a very visual niche industry with creative and design professionals. How does that affect your design process? I’m guessing these sites are image and/or video rich; does that require different accommodations within Squarespace?
- How does Squarespace square up against other website builders regarding mobile/responsive design, loading speed (desktop/mobile), SEO, and design flexibility?
- Are there features that Squarespace really cannot do well? Do you use other services or tools to overcome those within Squarespace?
- Squarespace has a reputation of being a “do-it-yourself” platform. What’s the value in paying a professional?
Resources we mention, including links to them will be provided here. Please listen to the episode for context.
While we focused on one website builder in our discussion on this episode, there are many; below is a list of the few I frequently recommend to clients:
- Website Builder (powered by GoDaddy)
- The New Google Sites
And, here are a few lesser known ones to Small Business, but well worth checking out if it suits your needs:
Google Product Feed for Squarespace eCommerce sites: https://answers.squarespace.com/questions/32730/google-merchant-data-feed-google-shopping.html (In short, no, Squarespace doesn’t do this natively. But, there are third-party solutions on that page that can possibly do it for you.)
Reserve With Google – booking directly from Google Maps with the right booking/scheduling partners.
Acuity Scheduling is just one of those Reserve With Google Partners.
Square Secrets course by Paige Brunton
If you want a separate domain name registrar, you can register with Web Services, or Google Domains. (If you do use Google Domains, make sure that if you have a G Suite account (links to a free trial), that you log in and purchase it in your G Suite Administrator account.)
Raw Text Transcript
Raw, unedited and machine-produced text transcript so there may be errors, but you can search for specific points in the episode to jump to, or to reference back to at a later date and time, by keywords or key phrases.
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Voiceover Artist 0:00
Welcome to web and beyond cast where small business comes to learn about marketing and managing on the web and beyond with your host Ray Sidney-Smith.
Ray Sidney-Smith 0:11
Welcome small business owners, entrepreneurs and community to Episode 004 Episode Four, which is part three in our five part series for web and beyond cast on how to build a website for your business. I’m racing Smith and so far I’ve had a chance to chat with Ryan Cleveland of W street design on the principles of good website design and development, I hosted Beth Lawton of New Media Services, Stacey more as a focus copywriter and Tara clapper of Express writers a panel on content writing specialist to discuss getting your content together free website launch. And on today’s show. I have a panel of web experts and a whole different paradigm for building a website completely using a website builder called Squarespace. Let’s see what Squarespace is all about. And if they’re the right choice for your business website. But first, let me introduce you to my guests on whether beyond cast today, originally from Germany. Our first Squarespace expert panel member is Kirsten Martin, who has lived in four countries and traveled around the globe before settling down in the beautiful seaside town of Bellingham, Washington. Her professional background in the airline technology, finance and education industries eventually led her to starting her own business in her early 50s. As a Squarespace web designer and officially endorsed Squarespace authorized trainer Kirsten specializes in designing professional websites for small business owners in only three days and also teaches popular online courses in Squarespace web design, SEO and E course hosting as well as a business course on building a successful web business. Welcome to web and beyond cast, Kirsten, thank you very much. It’s wonderful to be here. Our next Squarespace expert panelist is page Brunton, a Squarespace web design expert who helps creative entrepreneurs launch sites that connect and convert all in just two weeks pages blog is the go to destination for Squarespace. info helping thousands of Squarespace users every month, her start your Squarespace website workbook is a popular free option for setting up the foundation of your Squarespace site page earned a master’s degree in the arts. From the University of Mississippi you’ll find Paige traveling Europe and Asia, where she lives as a location independent digital nomad, welcome as well page to web and beyond cast. Thank
you so much excited to be here. And
last but not least, Brad good is an officially endorsed Squarespace specialist authorized trainer, and has been building sites on Squarespace since 2008. I didn’t even know Squarespace was around in 2000. He has helped hundreds of Squarespace customers with their websites. Brad started a web development company based in San Diego, California, and 2015 that specializes in Squarespace, and has built a team of 13 talented designers and developers. Welcome Brad to web and beyond cast. Thank you very much excited to be here. Fantastic. Well, welcome all of you again. And so now on to Squarespace. And the whole construct of website builders. Obviously, they’ve been around for a while, I mean, back in the geo city days that Yahoo eventually purchased and so on so forth. But I wanted to first start off the conversation with there are other website builder platforms out there. There’s Weebly and wicks and, and many others out there. And you all have decided to set your sights on and use Squarespace not only for your own website development businesses, but for your customers. And I was curious about what some of those benefits and disadvantages are of using those platforms comparing those against other website builders but also against say WordPress or Drupal or Juma or other kinds of self hosted versions, which we’ll talk about in future episodes.
Kerstin Martin 3:50
like Brad I’ve been using Squarespace since 2008, I still remember version five, loved it and miss it still to a degree. And I’ve actually been designing websites just for my own pleasure since 1999. I started with just writing websites in HTML and I became a blogger in 2005, I used WordPress for quite a few years tried Juma hated that. And so when Squarespace came out, you know, when I became aware of them in 2008, it was quite a revelation for me actually, because I’ve been using WordPress self hosted now I’m not a technical person, you know, I’m not a programmer. And I know just enough, you know, to do what I want to do. And so I’m entirely self taught. And I do enjoy that to a degree. But WordPress, you know, just just drove me crazy. And, you know, because you have to keep the up plugins updated. And I don’t know, the back end management I really didn’t like. So then square space, you know, came out and I looked at it, and it was beautiful, you know, I had really, really nice designs, very nice templates. And it was so easy to use, you know, the editor, I didn’t need to use coding anymore. And so I I just fell in love with it, you know, and then since then they’ve moved in on to version seven. So I’ve been pretty much to using just Squarespace for the last 10 years and professionally for the last four years, you know, when I started designing for small businesses, I still love it, I have to say, and they keep improving all the time. So, um, it’s been a very good experience.
Paige Brunton 5:40
Yeah, so I had a similar experience to Kirsten and that I, when I first got started, I did what everyone does. And I went and compared every single website platform. So I use things like WordPress and I tried out wicks and Weebly and a few also Google blogger at the time. And when I was using the different website platforms, WordPress, well, it could achieve everything that I wanted it to. I just found it so difficult. And when I would edit things in the back end, and then go on to the front end. It just didn’t look the way I wanted it to. And then I tried out some of the other like DIY, do it yourself sort of website building platforms like wicks and Weebly with those ones, I found they weren’t as customizable as I wanted them to be. But they were definitely easier to use. And so when I found Squarespace, I felt like it was sort of the perfect match in between exactly like what I wanted, like it was powerful. I could do what I wanted, I could create what I thought of in my mind on the page. But it wasn’t a technical nightmare. And so that is sort of what I see is why it’s really can compete with the other platforms.
Brad Good 6:34
I like the fact that Squarespace is a hosted application, the content owner doesn’t really need to worry about upgrades, third party plugin integrations, worrying about example, WordPress being upgraded. And then breaking plugins. A lot of other content systems rely on a lot of third party things to make them work. Squarespace I think did a good job of kind of keeping the the reins on whole application, keeping control of it, releasing updates throughout the whole product. And it allows the, the content owners really focus on the content and not trying to worry about the back end.
Ray Sidney-Smith 7:12
Those are all legitimate arguments for Squarespace. And so this this kind of leads me into the second part of the question. And my next question, so I’m going to put those two together for you as we make our way on. I know you’re all Squarespace experts and Squarespace advocates. But what are the disadvantages? What what are the what are the merely little things that you don’t like about Squarespace? Currently, I’m more curious in the sense of what makes Squarespace good there are, there are things that probably makes Squarespace not the best for some audiences for some business owners, where they may want to have more flexibility with the system and or things that Squarespace maybe doesn’t do. I’m curious about your perspective on that, and, and who you think Squarespace is really best for Squarespace has
Paige Brunton 8:00
an e commerce platform. But I find that if you get into many, many, many products, well, I can handle that it’s not the great for the organization of them. So for example, if you go on Nordstrom dot com, you’ve noticed that there’s like dresses. And then within dresses, they sort of break it down into day dresses, or different types of dresses. Or Same thing with pants, where’s the Squarespace just the navigation options. If you start getting into many, many, many products, like I’m talking hundreds of products, I find the organization isn’t the best for that. So if you’re going to be starting a website, and the primary purpose is to build an online store that now or in the future is going to have maybe hundreds of products, I don’t think it’s the best platform, something like Shopify might make more sense. Yeah, I
Kerstin Martin 8:40
would actually agree with that. I literally just moved one of my clients, from Squarespace to Shopify, for those reasons. And it’s not just that it’s harder to organize, you know, for the user, also in the backend, the or if you have hundreds of products, it’s really not that easy to to organize for yourself as well, you know, and when I like I hadn’t used Shopify before. So this was my first experience with that. And I thought, Oh, my God, you know, this, you know, it allows you to filter your products and in the back end as well, and to do bulk updates. And, you know, those things are not possible. What I do like, and Squarespace is when you sell services or digital products as well, I think it works very well for that. And it’s a very nice seamless process for the client physical products. Yeah, they can be tricky. Also, the shipping, I find, you know, the shipping has definitely limitations, you know, that you can’t do product specific shipping for rates, for instance. And so I agree with page you know, that the commerce platform has some limitations in that regard.
Ray Sidney-Smith 10:00
One thing that I had a quick question on is the ability for you within the Squarespace ecommerce functionality, are you capable of syndicating into Google’s product feed for Google Shopping? I’m
Brad Good 10:12
not sure about Google Shopping. But I know Instagram has been integrated. Okay, yeah, I’ll look it up and put it in the show notes. You know, it’s really important for you to be able to show up, if you if you want to be found in Google search in Google shopping’s channel, you know, you want to be able to syndicate into the Google Merchant Center. The Commerce is definitely on the entry level of commerce. And I think it’s a good starting point for a lot of businesses to evaluate if they can sell their product. Like what was mentioned is we’ve actually migrated a lot of Squarespace clients to Shopify, once they’ve outgrown kind of their limitations, the internationalization of of commerce is getting better. It was an English until, I don’t know, six months ago only, but it’s evolving and it is getting better. So we’ll see what’s on the horizon. I know
Ray Sidney-Smith 11:00
that one thing people have a frequent question about is the migration process. All of you had brought that up already? What is the migration process like for people? How do people move from Squarespace to another platform, when they learn that Squarespace perhaps doesn’t fit their needs, it is
Paige Brunton 11:18
honestly like building your website, again, I would say. So different content management systems, they’ve started doing things where you can say import and export products, or blog posts, or whatever. But if you do think about moving, I would really say that you’re basically starting again, and beginning you might have your content a little bit more prepared than you would like Originally, the first time you go to build a website. And but it is do you think of it as, like a whole new website built, because it is definitely it’s pretty much what it is,
Kerstin Martin 11:43
I would agree with that as well. Now, you can, you know, export content from Squarespace. It’s all for instance, you can export your products into a, you know, CSV file, and then you import that into whatever contact management system you use, oh, electron Wi Fi, but even there, you will probably still have to go in and reformat things and, and adjusted and so like page says, it’s, it’s pretty much like a new website
Ray Sidney-Smith 12:11
it is there’s a lot of evaluation of what needs to be migrated as well, if you’re blogging as part of your commerce site that is transferable. But all the site pages specifically aren’t really transferable. So it is kind of redesigning like everyone mentioned, and this goes back to the importance of choosing a platform upfront that you believe you’re going to be with for for a while moving along, I wanted to turn the conversation over to the process you all take to bring your clients through to launching the site. Carson, you said that you you have a three day process page, you have a two week process. Brad, I’m not quite sure. But I’m guessing yours is also probably some some short period of time. And I know that from the clients that I’ve worked with, who have launched websites, they can take sometimes much longer periods of time, and much shorter periods of time, based on how much content and the complexity of the site they’re building. Can you each give me a general overview of what that process looks like, as it relates to using a website builder as opposed to a another platform.
Kerstin Martin 13:16
So yeah, so you mentioned that I have, you know, the three day process now, not, I didn’t always do that, when I started out, it basically took as long as it took, and I’ll build more complex websites. But I found that for myself, I enjoy the shorter projects. And, but you have to be a specific client in order to, you have to be very prepared as a client with your content. And I help you, you know, so I basically, you know, I have a consultation call with my clients where we determine whether we’re a good fit. And then I have a sequence of, you know, automated emails and documents that are sent the clients and access to a dropbox folder where they upload their content. And so I helped them as best as I can, you know, to get prepared, and then they submit their content up to the day before we start, I basically do the design, I communicate with them throughout the three days, and then hand off the website. And the way I do that is, and I know a lot of other designers do the same thing. I do video tutorials, so that it is specifically for their website, and on how to update the website once I’ve handed it over to them. So I’m finding so I’ve only started this like, a few months ago, and every client have worked with so far during the three day websites. I mean, they all loved it, you know, but it doesn’t work for everyone. A lot of clients have more complex needs. And I assume that is what Brad does, for instance, as well, you know, because they have more pages, you know, they have maybe a shop, you maybe have to integrate more third party services, you know, so you don’t really
Ray Sidney-Smith 14:59
have plugins, you can use third party services, like acuity scheduling, for instance. So the process can be a little bit different in that regards. So it really, you know, depends on the client. But I would say, for a lot of small businesses, Squarespace is definitely a good choice. It’s very easy also to maintain for them. Once the website has been designed, you know, and I am enough for my process, I tried to I have a workflow, I use actually a 17 hats, you know, which is a Mac client management system. And it also contracts, everything is automated. And, and it works very well. You mentioned acuity scheduling. And for those of you who are listening, it’s important that you know, that Google has a project called reserve with Google. And that is the ability for different businesses, different verticals, right now, I think it’s, it’s in the health and beauty space fitness space, and you can, then you can actually schedule appointments with a vendor with a business, a local business, one that is on Google Maps directly through Google Maps. And because of that, integrating with these third party services like Kirsten was talking about is actually also another important choice. And so I’ll put a link to this in the show notes. But look at the reserve with Google partners that currently exist. So that if you do launch a square space website, and you integrate, and you you want people to be able to book in your your, your calendar for services that you render, you want to make sure that you are you have the right tool that is syndicated into Google for that. So thank you for that Kirsten and 17 hats is awesome. It’s a great program. Yeah,
Kerstin Martin 16:40
I love them
Paige Brunton 16:42
similar ish to cure sins, but a bit longer. And so in the two week process, I can do bigger websites, for sure. So websites, normally up to about 10 pages. And then I also sometimes 20 on the client and doing brand design for them as well. So like logos and collateral items, potentially also some setup of some e commerce or something like acuity scheduling for them as well. So how the process works for me is, again, I do a consult call with the clients to determine if we’re a good fit together if we are a good fit. And they book in their two week time slot by signing a contract and painted deposit. And then from there, I send them a welcome document, which walks them through the whole process of preparing all the different content and completing some questionnaires and completing a Pinterest inspiration board as well. So we’re really on the same page before we get started. Then in week one, on Monday, we go through and do a one hour consultation call together really just to make sure we’re on the same page to make sure that we are going in the right direction. And then also to pick a template for them. And then in week one, I actually go and build out the entire website for them. So all my clients have just as same as Kiersten, when you’re doing a shorter timeline, it’s important that all the content is prepared before you actually go to begin. And so all the contents prepared, I go through in week one, and completely build out the website. Then on week one on Friday, I send them a link to the summit live website. It’s live so they can see it, but not live so that the world can see it. And then from there, I invite them to give as many edits and revisions as they want. And so they just send me back normally like a Google Doc with Oh, hold numbered list of the different things they’d like to see tweaked and changed, I complete those edits in 24 hours, send it back to them. And we basically just keep going through that process again, again, of doing edits until we get it perfect. And then on the week to on Friday, we do an hour and a half lesson and launch call as well. So that’s where I’m on a screen shared video call with them. And then I go through and show them the back end of their own websites. they fully understand how to update and added things over time. Honestly, like the vast majority of my clients. Once we’ve gone through that lesson. I also record the lesson. So if they forgot how to do something, they can go back to the lesson. And And then from there, they are pretty confident to actually take over their website by themselves clients, they always asked me like, Can I work with you in the future if I don’t know how to do something. And they totally can, they can hire me at an hourly rate if they need to in the future. But mostly, they’re pretty confident once they’ve had that lesson, and how to update and edit things. So they’re pretty self sufficient, actually, by the time I hand it off. And I think that just speaks to how easy Squarespace is to use. And, and that’s why it’s so possible for them to update and feel confident with their website afterwards.
Brad Good 19:15
Well, we follow very similar design principles. As both of you, I really got my business started in in customizations. I personally don’t design a lot of sites, I do a lot of custom integrations. I work with a lot of design companies that businesses have hired. And now they have a Photoshop file of many, many pages. And they’ve decided Squarespace is appropriate. So my job is to implement that design. So a little bit different relationship. But I do have designers on my team and we do collaborate together, the process is very similar to understand the style their competitors, starting with a template really just kind of a streamlines the process rather than starting from scratch. Sometimes people want a design that’s not that doesn’t look like a template, but you can really do a lot starting with a template. Well,
Ray Sidney-Smith 20:12
thank you, all of you for for going through your process. I think that really helps people understand what the various stages of launching a site even with a website builder, there is still a clear set of work that needs to be done by the business owner and by the designer. And you both obviously need to collaborate in order to make the website go live. I think many times people think, Oh, well, I’m going to hire someone to, you know, do my website, and then they kind of, you know, wipe their hands of the issue and walk away. And, and really, I have to impress upon everybody the importance that this is a collaborative process, there’s work on on everyone’s part to really make a great website launch. So let’s go on in the conversation to maybe some of the challenges that you find that when you when you have a client, you you, you know, you have your ideal framework for how you’re going to work through your process with your clients, but there’s still going to be hiccups, what do you feel like are the biggest business challenges or the biggest challenges that business owners face when they come up against launching a site?
Kerstin Martin 21:21
Well, I find it is actually what we have just mentioned, and what you just summarized it is often content, I find that a lot of my clients, they do actually struggle with getting their content together, or they don’t really have a vision of what they want. You know, I often I mean, I usually ask them, you know, they get a questionnaire as well in the beginning. And, and one of the questions is, you know, send to me, you know, three to five examples of other people’s websites that you like, you know, so that I get the sense of, you know, what their styling preferences are, but very often, I find at least with, with some of the people that I work with, because I work with a lot of small brick and mortar businesses as well. They’re not necessarily very technical and and they really
and they just really don’t know you know, and they say well, just make me something beautiful You know, and so
but i i have to say, though, that I find, you know, for me, that is actually part of what I enjoy as well. And I actually feel that as a designer, I see it also as my responsibility to help them as best as I can in that respect, because that’s why they hire me because they don’t really know always what they want. And so I work with them and and I try and get as much information as I can. I also work with a copywriter that I recommend unless you know, a client already has someone that they prefer to work with. So if they really don’t know what to do with their content, and how to write something, then I refer them to to the person that I work with. And so they collaborate and then I know that I will get, you know, really good content, but sometimes it also transpires you know, I often start with the design and just put in something so that people can actually see it. And once they can visualize the demands of one sec to see it on the page, then it’s like, Okay, this is what you want, this is what you need, you know, so it is very much a collaborative effort every now and then I will have a client who’s super prepared and wonderful, you know, and, and, you know, but I find with most clients, the content is, is probably most challenging for them. And,
but, you know, we work through that too, together. And,
and then when you hand it off, you know, like page said earlier, the ease of use of square space is a revelation to a lot of them as well, you know, although not all of them do that either. I mean, I have definitely some very technophobe are not technophobe. That’s not a very nice word. But clients who
who are just you know, not that interested, you know, in learning the technical side of things, and how to update a patron, all of that, you know, so they, they just come back and and then I do it for them, you know, on a maintenance agreement. But content I find is probably the the biggest challenge.
Paige Brunton 24:43
So I definitely agree with Kirsten, I think content is one of the biggest challenges for clients when you work with a web designer, all the tech and all the back end, and everything is taken care of for you. So contents, one of the last things that clients have to work with. And it can be difficult because if you’ve never written anything for a website, or gotten photos together, you don’t don’t really know what to do. And so I noticed for a lot of my clients are running into the same roadblock issue of not really sure what exactly do I put on the page, and then they see it the first version, they go, Oh, so what I started doing was I run a course called square secrets. And it basically takes people through the process of building your own Squarespace website. And in that course, I have page content planners. And at some point, I realized that it would be very useful for me to give these to my own clients. And so it basically is like a sort of guidelines of what you want on every single page and sort of walks you through the process of what to put where. And so I started actually giving that to my clients. And the other thing which I find, I don’t think clients realize how important it is. But we web designers definitely know how important it is, is really great photos. And if you have fabulous photos, and you even you DIY your website, you’ll probably have a pretty decent website, if you hire the most skilled web designer in the world. And if the world’s most terrible photos, it’s still not going to look good. So the other thing, which is definitely on the clients end is getting that content together. And that really can make a big difference to how well the website looks, looks and functions. At the end of
Brad Good 26:05
it. Really, I agree with both of you photos and content or a challenge.
I do think it’s kind of under estimated how much content drives the design of the site, there’s a lot of considerations and structure. And a lot of times a company will hire us to design something. And like you mentioned earlier, Ray, that they kind of want to wash their hands and just let us do our thing. But it is a collaborative process. And then there’s typically multiple people on the other end, making decisions about what makes sense. And that really draws out the the timeline, but it’s really content and just kind of understanding what they’re trying to promote and sell. And I’ve had clients who are really misguided in their own business. And kind of looking into them,
Ray Sidney-Smith 26:58
we tried to kind to reorient their focus to what actually makes sense from a from a client end, oftentimes, they’re just so focused on what they’re doing as a business. And they’re busy that they don’t really have the the time and understanding of how the internet works, and how people are going to be able to find them. So I think content is the big, big issue. And what is so do, what do you recommend, usually for clients to do? Do you recommend for them to write their content and pages up front for for their main pages? Do you recommend for them to do some of that heavy lifting before they meet with you for those who know what they want? I hear what you’re saying, Brad where they may have some misunderstandings of their business fundamentally. And and that thing that I think takes more bespoke consultation. But for those who do know what they want, do you really recommend that they do some of that work up front? Or do you recommend that they do it along the the process with you,
Paige Brunton 28:00
if a client I would suggest getting in touch with a web designer, because getting in touch with a web designer is going to be the best way to figure out what exactly it is that you need? And so get in touch, talk to a few web designers that you’re thinking of working with and ask them very specifically, like, okay, the clients who come up with the best websites, what are they doing in terms of content? Like, what do I need to know and sort of guide me? And what do I need to know about content for my website, because I’m happy to give recommendations just like as many as I possibly can, because I want to be building fabulous websites. And if clients have great content, that makes my job a lot easier. So I would say reach out to a few web designers and get them to give you recommendations on exactly if they have some sort of resource that they can provide you like page content planners, or if they have guidelines, on photos, in my welcome package, it goes through those things like guidelines on which photos you should be taking in, if you were to get photos, if you haven’t already had some done and you could buy stock photos, you could get professional photos taken or you could DIY them yourself, I would suggest really between the stock photography or professional photos. And unless you are just an exceptionally skilled photographers, and that’s great. And by Yeah, otherwise, one of those two,
Kerstin Martin 29:11
similar to page and also Brad, you know, I provide a document that outlines you know, photos of the same thing, you know where to get them, you know, listing stock photography websites, recommending that they get professional photos, if they can, you know, I I also do a fair bit of photo editing myself or people have my clients. I’ve also used my own photos, I have my own library and because visuals alongside the the text content as page mentioned earlier, are very, very important, especially with Squarespace. Squarespace is such a visual platform and, and, and it provides such amazing tools in order to really, you know, stand out visually and some so that’s really important. And so the clients, you know, I find, you know, also questionnaires really help clients, you know, if the, even if they kind of have an idea of what they want providing them with a detailed questionnaire, you know, simple questions like, what are your favorite colors, you know, what kind of fun to do you like, you know, the, like, script font or just really simple clean font and, you know, give me other websites like website examples. And so really helping them, you know, guide them towards what you need from them in order to create a website for them.
Brad Good 30:39
I do think it’s, we’re in a good time period where there is a lot of online resources, stock photography, different libraries are popping up all over. But in terms of content specifically, I think it does depend on if it’s a new business or an existing existing may have an existing website. And it may just kind of be a result vamp of that content, if it is a new business, just kind of evaluating their competition and then starting a dialogue with them that kind of differentiates their product from their competitors. But I’m sure these little outlines really are advantageous to for
Ray Sidney-Smith 31:18
kind of disrupting this whole design process. I heard all of you talk about the visual nature of Squarespace sites. And so I’m curious to dig in here a little bit in the sense that you do work in a very visually niche industry, website development, you know, you’re working as a creative and design professional, but also with other creative and design professionals. How does that affect your process, working with Squarespace as a as a platform as a piece of software restricts your ability to do certain things appropriately, you know, it’s not, it’s not for it’s not a bad thing, that it gives you structure. So how do you, how do you work with that you know that is Nunley image, but also video content today being how important it is to online marketing, to digital marketing and to and especially to small businesses who may not be very comfortable in the video space, what are what are some of the things that you use to accommodate people on a website builder like Squarespace.
Kerstin Martin 32:19
For me, this is actually part of the beauty of Squarespace because you have the templates in also, the templates are, you know, the predefined containers, and, and they have, you know, a lot of different templates that you can choose from. And so, once you know, you know, what your client needs, some are, you know, some need more visuals than others, then you can choose the appropriate template, and then you basically customize it to, you know, for that client. And so, in many ways, Squarespace has already done a lot of the groundwork here in also, they have already so you already have your page structures, you know, kind of in place and certain effects, you know, for instance, the, the parallax effect that is very popular, it says, you know, we have like the, the scrolling images, and also, embedding videos works very well with Squarespace. And
so I actually find that, you know, having the templates
takes a lot of the, you know, potential upfront work out of out of it, as you literally just take that and then you just have to add your photos and your videos, and, you know, and then you customize it appropriately. And sorry to interject here, Kirsten, but just to the people who are listening Squarespace provides the templates they’re built into the platform are you’re only able to use the templates in Squarespace not external ones. You will see like if you google Squarespace templates there are actually you know many people nowadays who sell Squarespace templates. But what they actually do is they take one of the built in templates, and then they sell you the process on how to make it look a certain way in also. So yes, so the templates are built in. So it’s not like with WordPress, where you can go out and not buy a template from all the numerous, you know, providers you have to use. Your basis is always one of the built in templates. And Squarespace has like, you know, like 1015 template families. And then within those families, they have different designs. And and I actually, as a designer, I only work with two or three templates most of the time, and because the clients that come to us, they don’t really care that much. You know, do you use Brian? Or do you use Bedford, you know, they don’t care about that technical quality. They just care about how it looks. But they’re all always the built in templates. Yeah,
Paige Brunton 35:06
thank you. for that clarification. I’ve linked to the Squarespace templates in the show notes. So for those of you who are listening, you can hop right over there and jump over to the Squarespace templates page when it comes to content on your website. So video, text, photos, whatever. And the build of your website is really the way to correctly do it, I should say is to let the content of your website determine the layout, and flow and everything of your website. So when it comes to me building websites, actually delete every single thing off the template and just start from nothing, pretty much. So you can just delete all the pages. And then you let the content for your website guide, what goes where, as opposed to you fit in your content into some template which already exists. So when it comes to photos, you definitely want Generally, if you’re working with a photographer, or taking them yourself, or buying stock photos, you want photos that makes sense horizontally, or that are taken horizontally. A lot of vertical photos, you’ll notice on websites, it depends on if people are looking at it on desktop or on mobile. And but for the most part, you really want photos that work well horizontally. And it’s also good to have photos which have you kind of in a way, I would say like photos of nothing like having banner images, or things that are just sort of like not really in the forefront of the importance of a section of your page, but are just they’re just sort of visual interest. So like backgrounds for banner images, and they don’t actually need to be very busy. But you just want photos that sort of have sort of the look, the style, the vibe, the colors that you want to sort of guide your website and horizontal photos, you generally need a few more of those, if you’re having like an about page photo that would make sense vertically. But for most the images, they’re going to be used as banner images. So you want them to be especially if we’re going to be putting text or anything over top the images of your banner images, you don’t want the images to be too busy, you actually want them to be a little bit more like toned down and calm. Especially again. One other thing which I see sometimes as if the image has text in it, like say, you know, take a photo of a book or something that has text on it. And then you put text over top of that it kind of looks messy. So you want very like clean images. And
Ray Sidney-Smith 37:13
by by horizontal you mean taking photographs in landscape as opposed to portrait? Yes, correct.
Brad Good 37:21
I’m gonna kind of piggyback on that comment. Desktop versus mobile makes a big difference in image presentation. And that’s kind of what she’s talking about landscapers portrait, not all photos even though they look great work on both will say platforms. Desktop is usually a lot wider phones are narrower, Squarespace does a good job of kind of automating the optimization of images. So they load quickly.
But depending on the template you’re using, it may crop the image in an inappropriate way you can, there is a tool to kind of reset or the focus.
But I’ve written many scripts and tools to either adjust the cropping or recently I worked on a yoga website. And the designer that I worked with wanted completely different pictures for mobile and desktop. So I was able to hide and show the content area based on what device you’re using. And it made the design look a lot better because of the images were appropriate for for each platform. Can you tell a little more for us Brad about space, how it holds up in the the roster of you know, just out the box, its ability to be properly search engine optimized and flexible for mobile load speed, and mobile responsiveness. So in the templates, there is in the background header information in the code.
Thank Squarespace is doing a pretty good job of best practices overall, with meditation, eggs and data attributes throughout the templates and, and the content sections. And they’re doing it in a way that really keeps it automatic. The Content Manager doesn’t really need to worry about it. There are things to know and understand about the concepts to maximize the benefit. But kind of as a generic
product. I guess Squarespace is constantly evolving. I mean, even on the blog they offer and page for super fast loading
Ray Sidney-Smith 39:36
blog pages. So for listeners amp is it stands for accelerated mobile pages. And it’s a it’s a, it’s a program that Google has really pushed for being able to display content very, very quick on mobile,
Brad Good 39:49
correct, any image that’s uploaded, it gets reset, or there’s versions of different sizes of the images. So if you’re using a thumbnail, it’s not going to look have a really huge images, just going to load a small image, everything’s compressed, all the scripts and CSS are
bundled. So the HTTP requests really are minimized as much as possible throughout the application or throughout the website. Great.
Ray Sidney-Smith 40:18
So they’re doing they’re doing a competent job of eking out speed and and format for users to be able to put out websites that are mobile responsive, and fairly well optimized. So people can basically focus on content, I think I’ve heard you all say that pretty much from bigger, which is that Squarespace really allows you to focus on the content
Brad Good 40:40
correct. I will add one more thing, the content owners can get really heavy with images and video, which does affect loading speed, and SEO and kind of everything.
So that is a thing that Squarespace can’t really have a handle on is how much content images, all that page total is on each page. But
Ray Sidney-Smith 41:03
collectively, they’re doing a really good job, right. So it really behooves the the person who’s creating the page by page content to remember that even if you have a really great mobile responsive website, if you put dozens and dozens of photos on it, it’s still going to way down the page. That’s just a reality. Squarespace has a reputation of being a do it yourself or DIY platform. So I’m going to kind of softball this all to you and say, what’s the value in paying one of you to work on a Squarespace website? For me as a small business owner versus me going to squarespace. com signing up and trying to do it myself? What What, what are the real value propositions that each of you brings to the table to level up my website launch?
Kerstin Martin 41:51
This is a question that’s that we get a lot as well, you know, people email you Well, you know, do I really need a designer, I would say, Squarespace is definitely a great dry platform for those people who are a little technically minded, who enjoy designing, and, you know,
and who don’t mind, you know, doing the work, you know, because even though it’s, you know, kind of an out of a box solution, or it’s, you know, it advertises itself as that, you know, there is still work that you have to do. And, and I would say, if you enjoy that process, if you enjoy not learning, you know, because there’s still a learning curve as well. And if you enjoy that, then by all means, you know, have a, have a go at it yourself. And,
and many people, I daresay, many younger people as well, you know, the younger generations that we cannot take grew up with the internet. So
I see, though, that in like, the older in quotation marks in our generations, you know, for them, it’s not always that easy. And, and they just really, you know,
and they often don’t want to do it either, actually, you know, they say, Well, you know, I know, I could maybe do this, or I have quite a few clients who have tried to do it, and they just found or, you know, domain, how do I connect my domain, for instance, you know, and they just, you know, because then you have to go and update your DNS records, and they don’t understand that, and they don’t really understand how all of that works. And so there are quite a few stumbling blocks that they experience because it’s not just a question of plugging in some content and add uploading some photos, which, by the way, it should be uploaded, you know, in the correct size and
format. And so there is quite a lot that goes into it. And, you know, and nothing, some business owners say, Well, you know, what, I don’t really have the time I don’t have the inclination or the time to do this, you know, I, I’m running a business, or I’m starting a business and trying to grow it, I want to focus on my business and on what I do best. So I’m going to hand off this, this part of it, you know, because this is really not my, my strong point. And
so they go and find a designer and from my experience, and I’m sure Brad and Paige would agree with that every client that I’ve worked with, they’re like, Oh, my God, I’m so glad I did this, I’m so glad I hired you. Because you really talks a lot of people really stress over the web’s websites, because it’s such an important part of a business nowadays, and, and there’s so much more that goes into it, you know, like I said, it’s not just a question of pictures and text, you know, you have to check your SEO, you have to make sure you know, to get into Google, and you know, that you get listed. And there are so many peripheral elements to designing a really good website, you know, where and people visited, they get the information that they need about your business, they’re able to contact you easily, they’re able to find you.
So I think, you know, there’s definitely a lot of value in handling all of that off to someone who is a professional and doing this. Yeah,
Paige Brunton 45:26
I love what you said, Kirsten, I also have lots of recommend or recommendations as well, I guess. And so one of the major benefits to hiring a web designer is they’re going to really help you again, we talked about, like, the importance of content, and sort of like knowing also related content is knowing what Google does with your website, in terms of SEO, how they’re reading, it affects how you should be creating your content, and uploading their content to your website. So if you want someone to sort of advise you on those best practices for getting that content together, and SEO and that’s definitely going to be beneficial to have a web designer instead spending hours googling it yourself. And also another reason is a lot of people when they DIY website, well, it is totally possible. And what they tend to do is they tend to find a template, and then they plug their content into their existing layout. And a lot of everyone says, like, I don’t want my website to look like everyone else’s website. But when you do that it is true, your website is probably going to look like everyone else’s. And the other issue is that people go into the templates page, and they find a template which sort of looks like their business. So there’s a demo template, which shows a yoga studio is the demo content, and then all the yoga studios choose that template. And then, of course, you’re if you and another studio in your town, both use Squarespace, you’re probably choosing that template and your websites are going to look you’re really similar to each other. And so it really is best to actually delete all the content at the template and then start from scratch. And most people when they DIY their website, they don’t know how to do that, and how to really utilize the platform best. So they just use the demo content or just swap there into those places. And the other thing is, you might have an idea in your head of what you want to create, or how exactly you want your website to look, which is fabulous. But it can be very challenging if you’re new to the platform to sort of know all the functionality in order to make that happen. And so a designer, they know the platform backwards and forwards. If someone shows me, I want this, I can say very specifically, like, yes, that’s possible. Or if it’s not, it’s not often. But in now. And again, there is situations where we can’t do something, maybe they’re showing an example of a website. That’s not Squarespace. And there’s one function which isn’t possible. And so if you want to have exactly what you want, in your mind, created on a page, a designer is really going to help you do that, because they’ll know how to do it. Or they’ll know that it’s not possible, and so that they can give different recommendations. And then the last thing I would say is, if you’re a business owner, I’m a business owner. And there’s some things that I’m great at, and others that I’m terrible at. And I just don’t want to spend any time on. And so if your focus is just on running your business, and you have 99 other things going on, and you don’t want to I’m a web design expert, then it’s definitely a lot of my clients. What they say is, I just don’t want to look, it says, I don’t want to become a website expert, I don’t spend hours doing this, I just want to focus on my business and have someone who knows what they’re doing, do this for me. And so that’s one of the major benefits is you just get to hand over your content, and then give some feedback. And that’s all you have to do. So yeah,
I’ll say to that
Brad Good 48:24
budget affects this decision a little bit as the DIY. And like both of you mentioned, understanding the features and limitations of the Squarespace
kind of drives either the template or even using Squarespace collectively to move forward. And I think hiring an expert to help evaluate the templates and the product can definitely save time. Overall,
there is kind of a lot of hidden little SEO components. And if you’re having a website and you want to be found on the internet, those are definitely driving factors. I know I work with a lot of DIY clients that are 80 90%
done. And then they kind of raised their hand and need some help and evaluating their website, they haven’t named images appropriately, all the the site description information is empty, there’s a lot of things to kind of understand. And a lot of these people don’t have time to learn the system. So it really is best to hire someone who does this on a day to day basis.
Ray Sidney-Smith 49:39
I really appreciate those points for hiring a design professional like you all for implementing a website on Squarespace or any other website builder for that matter, I meet with approximately 50 to 100 new, you know, business owners on a monthly basis. And many times it you know, requires was to pull up their website to talk about their digital marketing. And in honesty, those websites typically don’t look very great. And I’m, I’m a much bigger function over form person. So it doesn’t necessarily harm my aesthetic sensibilities. When I think about a website that doesn’t look good. But I know how important it is that even if if function is over form form is still highly important in the sense that should at least be competent. So for those of you who are listening, your design aesthetic, your visual, you know, taste may not be that of your target audience. So you have to really take to heart the fact that your, your taste may not be good for your business. And in terms of choosing that and by having an outside third party, look at your website, who is skilled and who works with a lot of websites, that really helps that’s a that’s a value you can’t not incorporate into your business. So you really need to think about having someone look at it, even even if you you think, Oh, well, you know, I could do I why this myself and, and it’s going to be fine, it’s going to save me a whole bunch of money. But the reality is, is that how much money are you going to leave on the table by having a site that when your target market shows up to it, they leave it because they they don’t find it to be appealing, they don’t find it to be laid out the way that you really would want it to be for them to want to buy from you. So just just take that to heart. Because at the end of the day, your website is so much of of your first impression of people’s, you know, finding out and learning about your business and you want that to be a good first impression.
Paige Brunton 51:39
I’m going to give a little bit of encouragement, I know that websites can be an overwhelming and confusing topic. And but once you finish this, I’ve talked to people who have been meaning to do their website or redo their website for years. But once you do this, it’s going to be the most fabulous relief you your business, your business will start marketing itself as opposed to you having to hit the pavement and doing this yourself. And you also feel so much more confident in your business. So well, it is a big task, I do encourage you not to drag it out for forever, and, but to really handle it head on. Because once you finish this, you’re going to be so much more capable of marketing your business in the future and so much more confident. And that’s going to do really good things for your business.
Ray Sidney-Smith 52:18
I think that Squarespace has a great platform for many small and large businesses, but understanding the limitations as important before investing the time and a product that may not work for your business. So going back to the last question, it is helpful to understand and evaluate the whole big picture of what your business does, what the web platform is able to offer, and just make a decision based on kind of those facts. Wonderful. Wonderful. Thank you all so much for this content. I think this will really help people who are in the process of of looking at their websites and deciding you know, do I need to revamp refresh relaunch my website or if it’s a new entrepreneur and they’re thinking about getting their business on the web currently, roughly half of all businesses in the United States at least still don’t have a website and so if you’re listening to this and you don’t have a website listen to page you know you can do this and it will be a remarkably wonderful addition to marketing your business how can folks find you so actually
Kerstin Martin 53:28
a very easy way to find all three of us is to just google Squarespace web designer because all three of us on page one so
but to go to my website so it’s basically just my name Kirsten Martin dot com and Kirsten is spelled k er st i n Martin Mar ti n dot com and there you will have all the information on you know my bad design services and I also have for online courses in square space as well for those you know who do actually want to go down the DIY route so all the information is on my website
Paige Brunton 54:10
yep so my website is page Brunton calm also my name so PA, I G br you N to N calm and I also run an online course again like yours and if you want to go the DIY route then and you want the knowledge on how to do that correctly and you can find that at square secrets calm as qu a sec or ETS calm and find me in both of those places. And my website is my name as well
Brad Good 54:37
Brad good dot net B ra di g o d dot n et on there, you’ll find kind of an overview of my business. What we do, there’s a really simple contact us question at the bottom that funnels right into my project management system where we can kind of evaluate the type of requests that’s coming in, and we can get the appropriate team members kind of associated with design or custom implementation. But all of that is through my website. Brad. Good.
Ray Sidney-Smith 55:07
Well, thank you all. Thank you so much for joining me here and providing your insights about Squarespace to our small business audience. This closes out another episode of weapon beyond cast small business owners, entrepreneurs and community I really found our expert panelists insights into the website builder platform Squarespace helpful and I hope you did too. In the next show. I’ll be bringing another expert panel discussion on website content management system or CMS, known as WordPress. We talked a little dirt about them today in contrast to Squarespace. It’s a big beast of a topic and I’m looking forward to sharing this episode with you and I’m looking forward to hearing back from you regarding your questions and thoughts on Squarespace as well as WordPress. As most of you know, I’m really passionate about WordPress and love sharing how WordPress can help small business but of course I am more than happy to talk about Squarespace. Shopify wicks Weebly, you name it. If you have class, your comments, please go to web and beyond cast calm forward slash contact will answer them here on web and beyond cast, and we may even make a show out of your suggested topics. So always happy to take suggestions. Please subscribe via your favorite podcast app, review us on iTunes or Google Play or wherever you listen to the podcast that helps us grow our small business community here on weapon beyond cast. So thank you. Thank you for listening to web and beyond cast or small business comes to learn about marketing and managing on the web and beyond. I’m your host Ray Sidney Smith. Until next time, here’s to your small business success on the web and beyond.
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