My new website, which was first launched little more than a year ago, was done so using SquareSpace. They are a fine company located in New York.
Squarespace initially gained a great deal of favor in my book. Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern seaboard in October 2012 and damaged much infrastructure, including Squarespace’s data center in lower Manhattan. Company employees, including the CEO himself, hauled diesel fuel up 17 flights of stairs so the company could keep generators running and their clients’ websites around the world up and running. That, combined with Squarespace’s usual awesome customer service and beautiful website templates made me a big fan.
Unfortunately Squarespace has its problems, especially as a blogging platform. It’s not perfect for everyone. And the more I use it the more I realize it is not perfect for me. It has become increasingly difficult to post examples of my Montana photography to my Montana blog.
The sad part is that Squarespace is sooo close to being great. For example, they recently launched a new online commerce system, which is awesome. They also release new website templates on a regular basis. And there are new bells and whistles added all of the time. So what’s the problem?
For starters, Squarespace has neglected its blogging interface. It has to be one of the crappiest blogging interfaces on the Internet. Don’t believe me? Here is a list of reasons why:
1.) Only 20 blog entries can be scheduled in advance. When you write your 21st article it disappears somewhere into the ether. Squarespace doesn’t warn you about this either. What stupid programming.
2.) There is no way to sort or filter blog posts by date, title, category, etc. There is also no way to search your blog posts from inside the Content Manager (the term Squarespace gives to the interface you use to personalize and update your website, individual pages, and blog posts). Instead a user has to scroll through page after page after page of blog posts to find a previous entry. This is cumbersome and tiresome. And it is also stupid.
3.) There is no way to preview blog entries while creating them. Instead you need to save it and then launch the page to review it, exit, and click on the entry all over again to make changes. This works nothing like WordPress.
4.) There is no mechanism to change permissions for a contributor. For example, what if I to set up a contributor who has the ability create a blog entry, but I don’t want to give him or her the ability to post the article without me reviewing and approving it.
5.) There is no way to check broken links.
6.) There is no way to batch edit or delete posts.
7.) The Squarespace system crashes (infrequently, but it still happens), which means you can lose a post forever. I wish it periodically saved my work so I wouldn’t lose everything when the system crashes.
8.) There is no easy way to add individual meta descriptions to each blog post.
9.) Crazy image links that include so much gobbledygook there’s no way Google (or any other search engine) likes them. For example, this is the link for one of my photos:
Why can’t users set up folders so an image link looks like this instead?
10.) Navigating through past blog posts using the blog editor is slow, cumbersome, and difficult (at best). There must be an easier way to manage blog posts, Squarespace, no?
11.) There is no way to see if I have any uncategorized blog posts or posts without tags.
12.) Location information is specific to an address with no ability to add coordinates.
13.) There is no tool to insert a table into a post or web page. Tables are a basic HTML function. One would think Squarespace would offer an easy way to insert a table. But they don’t.
14.) Blog layouts are clumsy and uninspiring, despite the fact that the rest of the pages in their templates are. Missing, often, are the sidebar columns an tools to spiff up a template.
15.) No tool or widget to insert rotating display ads and/or a mechanism to track click-through rates and impressions.
16.) 1500 pixels wide is the maximum size Squarespace’s templates can utilize an photograph or image, which is odd. Most monitors today are 1920 pixels wide, which means a 1500 pixel wide image does not render itself as clearly on a 1920 pixel wide monitor.
Another problem is Squarespace’s lack of attention to search engine optimization (SEO). For example, there is no way to add ALT tag information to a photograph. And forward and backwards links on blog pages do not link directly to the title of blog posts. No, they link to some sort of machine language title. This is not good for SEO. And just try running a Squarespace page through Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Errors pop up all over the place.
There are thousands of other irksome problems with Squarespace’s blogging interface. None of which seem particularly difficult to fix. While Squarespace concentrates on adding more bells and whistles I’m holding out hope they fix the problems with their blogging platform.
If they did, Squarespace would be nearly perfect. And I might still be a customer.