Monday, March 17, 2014

Squarespace

I started with Squarespace because I have been interested in using them for my hosting for a long time. I just never had the money to do it. It seems that most of the photographers I listen to on podcast seem to like their Squarespace site. And knowing that some of them are being sponsored by Squarespace I believe that they would not take the money if they did not believe in the product. Well I am hoping that is the case for the most part. So Squarespace had some name recognition with well known photographers, let’s see what else they have.

Templates:
When you select the template from the menu you are brought over to a selection of templates to choose from. On this page they have them in selections of “Business, Portfolios, Stories, Restaurants, and Personal.” For myself, I chose Portfolios and nine templates of the twenty six remain on the screen to choose from. All nine are very clean and easy on the eye to look at. Click on one that strikes your fancy and you are in another screen of portfolios using that template. In the template that caught my eye there were twenty four examples of customer’s websites using that template. On the top of the page you can click on and see an example of how that template will look on a mobile device or a live view on screen. Because mobile is the trend of how people consume their internet, how it will look on a smart phone is important to me. Going back to the selection of templates from customers, you are able to click on one and explore their site without actually opening a new tab. All features of their site are operational which is great because you can see how they organized their work using the template that you like.

Templates have Blogs:
The template that I had selected has a blog feature and for most like me I believe that is important. The blog gives you the ability to create postings about the projects you are doing, shoots your doing and events your attending. Blogs let potential clients and followers know the human side of you and what you feel is important in your life. I like to use it to bring knowledge, talk about projects or the things that bug me. So I am excited to see this part included with the website. It bothers me to be shuffled off to other links to read or see work the photographer has. Keep them all in one spot.
Social Networks:
Being socially connected is important in order to be seen. With Squarespace not only can you link to your pages but update to your pages as you update your site. No more copy and paste to each of your social network pages just one touch and you can update them all according to their feature page.

Commerce:
It appears you can sell in the U.S, U.K, and Canada but in beta are Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands and Spain. When you sign up Stripe gives you instant approval so you can receive your earnings via direct deposit. Stripe charges a 2.9% + 30 cent transaction fee which to me doesn’t sound like too much. You can sell both digital and physical goods on one page. Digital downloads are delivered by email links and expire in 24 hrs. Depending on what plan you are using you are able to sell one item only on the Personal Plan, twenty items with the Professional Pan or unlimited items on the Business Plan. If you are looking to set up Donations there is a way to set up a page for that. There is a lot more to go into but to be honest I am not sure how it all fits into what I want to do. I know that I will have to keep records of my sales and with the Xero Intergration you can do that. There is data collected for marketing and social integration about your store to your social pages.

SEO:
Search Engine Optimization. According to the site there is no plug-ins that is necessary. Squarespace has multiple ways of getting your website easily found through the major search engines. By creating clean HTML mark ups, Canonical Tagging, Automatic Tagging and more they are helping you get out there and be discovered.

Analytics:
In order to understand who the people are visiting your site you need to know here they are coming from. Website Analytics helps you understand just that. According to Squarespace they monitor you site for page views, including raw, unique and robot hits. All web stats are computed every few minutes giving you real time numbers. They also let you know the keywords that sent them there, what content held them there and what platform they are using.

Price:
The big question; how much will this cost me? Well there are 3 plans, Personal, Professional, and Business plan. Each plan offering a group of core services like free custom domain, e-commerce, the site and storage and a monthly charge if you rather pay for the site that way. But as you go up in price so does all the goodies that come with it. For the most part the cost is not as high as some webhosting sites I have seen but it is not the cheapest either. To me with all they offer it seems to be a fair price for what you get.

Personal plan runs eight dollars a month (billed annually or ten dollars month to month). With that you get twenty pages, galleries and blogs with five hundred GB bandwidth along with two GB of storage and two contributors. Contributors are others that can access your account.  Fully integrated e-commerce selling one product and accept donations. Mobile website and store, custom domain and twenty-four seven customer support. To be honest this sounds like a great pan for the price if you are looking for a gallery site only which is not what I am looking for.

Professional plan runs sixteen dollars a month (billed annually or twenty dollars month to month). That plan gets you unlimited pages, galleries ,blogs, storage, bandwidth and contributors. Fully integrated e-commerce with twenty items you can sell, developer platform, Mobile site and store, free custom domain and customer service. This is a plan I think I like, in my budget and I can sell more than just one thing. I will most likely go with this plan if I chose Squarespace.

Business Plan is twenty-four a month (billed annually or thirty dollars month to month).   You get unlimited galleries ,blogs, storage, bandwidth and contributors. Fully integrated e-commerce, unlimited products, Real-time carrier shipping, label printing via shipstation, integrated accounting. Developer platform, mobile website and store, free custom domain and customer support. Although this plan would be the best I am not sure it is within my budget now but if I end up selling enough then I can upgrade to this plan.


So far this space looks good but I do have a lot to learn about websites and all that go with it. Right now everything looks great and confusing at the same time. I still need to look at SumgMug and compare the services and price to Squarespace. When I do pick one I guess that is when the real learning begins and I will know if I pick the right one or not. I just have to compare, make the choice and get my work out there.