A while back, one of the guy’s in our office asks if I’d ever heard of Squarespace.com. I said no, but that I’d go check on it. Mind you, I’d been looking for a website portfolio for a while. I’ve tried a bunch of WordPress templates and some other options, but I hadn’t found anything I really liked. So I went to Squarespace’s website and decided to sign up for a free account.
I Was Blown Away
Folks… I’ve got to tell you… I was blown away. It was nearly 2 months ago and I deliberately waited to see how I felt about it two months later, before I wrote about it. But I was immediately psyched at the quality and elegance of their templates. It was exactly what I was looking for – and more actually. Pete Collins (one of my fellow Photoshop Guys) and I both signed up for the trials at the same time and both of us had beautiful working portfolio galleries in minutes. Seriously, within about 10 minutes I’d uploaded, customized and turned my gallery live and it looked better than anything I’ve seen to date. The speed, elegance and ease of use of their interface is by far one of the best I’ve seen.
What Makes It So Easy?
One of the things I liked the most about Squarespace was how easy it was to build the portfolio. Everything is literally drag-n-drop. You want to add a page, just add it and drag it where ever you like. I personally have seen a lot of drag-n-drop website building tools, but most of them still required that you either know some coding or they simply didn’t look good if they didn’t require coding. They may have been easy to use, but they didn’t have that “WOW!” factor to them. But I’ve never seen anything as good as this with no coding.
Once you choose a template, you’ve got a ton of control over the settings, colors, fonts, you name it. And the choices you get actually keep you from really screwing up the look and feel if you’re not a designer. Basically, if you’re not a pro designer of websites, they make you look like one. I supposed you could choose some really bad colors, but other than that, you have just enough control, but not too much 🙂
(Here’s an example of their style editor)
It’s More Than Just A Portfolio
Squarespace is more than a portfolio though. They’ve got blogging templates and they’ve just announced a commerce engine that’s built in to their sites. So if you have anything you’d like to sell, you can do it there too. They also have detailed website statistics that show traffic, referrers, which content is most popular and what people are searching for.
But I Already Have A Website
One of the things I was concerned about is that I already have a website/blog. I was worried how it would work together and whether or not my portfolio would look disconnected from my blog since they look way different. Then I realized, there is no blogging template out there that I really want my portfolio to look like. I think they’re two very separate things. I have specific things I’m looking for from my blog and specific things I’m looking for from my portfolio, so I’m okay that they look different.
Integration was simple, as I just linked to my Squarespace page from the menu on my blog. Then on my portfolio, I just put a link that says “Back to Matt’s Blog” so the experience is pretty seamless.
Here’s the menu system on Squarespace and how I added the link:
And here’s what it looks like on the actual portfolio web page.
How Much Does It Cost?
That’s the beauty. It’s about $8/month for their basic package (and I think the basic package is fine for most photographers). They have other packages (including commerce), but I think you could get away with trying the $8/month package first before you jump into anything bigger.
Is It For You?
All I can tell you is that for me personally, Squarespace works perfectly. I don’t shoot large events or need a client proofing gallery. I just want an awesome way to show off my work. And if I did need more, well, Squarespace has just announced integration with SmugMug so you could use the two of them together to show off your photos and sell them.
I’ve fully switched over a couple of months ago, and I deliberately waited to see how I felt about it two months later before I posted. But I probably sound like a walking billboard for them. Just ask any of my photography friends that I’ve talked to about websites in the past 2 months and they’ll tell you that I can’t say enough good things about them. Here’s the link to their website to to try it out. They have a free 14-day trial with 24/7 support, and they don’t even require a credit card so their’s no reason not to give it a go.
Thanks for stopping by and let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try to jump in throughout the day to answer.
Looks great Matt, love your work.
How do you get your photos to fill the screen like that?
Thanks a bunch! That was very good 🙂
Can you recommend someone to me that can help me customize Squarespace?
I just signed up for a trial as well, but unsure if I like the fact I cannot have password protected client gallery access on my own page. Also, You are really handsome Matt.
We just started. All creators are welcome. http://ezmediart.com/
Hi Matt, I saw that Squarespace has a e-commerce platform. Do you think it’s reliable or should I need to have a Smugmug account to sell my work? Thank you for shearing your thoughts.
It’s excellent. If you want to sell your work and fulfill your own orders then it’s the way to go. It’s slick, easy to use and very elegant interface.
Thank you Matt for your answer! Have a wonderful day.
I would suggest to look at http://photeria.net – you can customize your portfolio, have your own domain name connected to the website and they have a very clean look for the website.
Yep, I love Squarespace! I just launched my site a few weeks ago and couldn’t be happier with it. If a technophone like me can master it, anyone can 😛
The templates look great. I don’t have a website yet so I created my photography portfolio for free on http://www.photographerhq.com
What is the name of the Squarespace Template you used?
Matt, i’ve been looking for a place to build my website and i was dissapointed untl i read this post. Squarespace is great, everything is easy and clear like you said. Thank You, once again you made my day 🙂
Giving it a spin today. Looks good!
some wonderful images in your landscapes folio matt. no way to add a little blurb where each was shot?
Is there anyway to dump the “squarespace” in the url? I know both smugmug and 500px let you do that. Your site looks great except for that.
I think the site looks great even with that though 😉
But yes, They have a custom URL setting with their account.
Only web-geek-heads care about the URL. Most people would never know it.
That said, I’m changing a few things around and will probably use the custom url soon. Right now it doesn’t bother me because I’d probably always direct people to http://www.mattk.com first anyway. If they want to see the portfolio they can click the link – I rarely give out the port link separately.
Matt. Thanks for the heads up on Squarespace. We give it a look. It was great meeting you in Atlanta on Friday. Your seminar was professional, complete and most of informative. Thumbs up Matt
Thanks David. I really appreciate it. Was a great crowd and very welcoming 🙂
Thanks for the review Matt. This looks to be the answer to my prayers.
My colleague uses Squarespace for our art gallery, I use Smugmug for my photos, very exciting that they are now linked. Thanks, Matt
Beautiful large images. Made me want to close the white space on the left to use all 30 inches of my screen for the image. Is there a way to do that? I think I’ll go visit my neighbor who has like a ten foot screen to see what big really looks like. Now all you need is a link from the blog to the square space page.
I am in the midst of a trial with Squarespace right now. Last week I had decided I was going to pull the trigger and sign up, then I saw your post on Friday and thought I’d wait to see what you were recommending. You have just confirmed what I already knew, Squarespace is the most user friendly site generation tool out there and creates beautiful portfolios to boot.
I first became aware of Squarespace when Rick Sammon switched his blog over to them and now I see many others are also using them so I have full confidence in making the nominal commitment.
Thanks for the post and your insights.
Hi Matt! I have been using Squarespace since a little before Christmas. I love it. Brad Moore actually turned me onto them. I love Brad’s site for his concert photography, but what I liked most most was his layout on his site. So, a while back, I asked him about it, and he recommended Squarespace for ease of use. I know coding and HTML pretty well from experience with Dreamweaver…but Squarespace simplifies all that. I didn’t know about the Smugmug partnership though! Gonna check that out!
Hey, Matt. Thanks for the post. I’ve heard of Squarespace, and actually poked around a tiny bit a few months ago. It does look interesting, for sure. I’ve got a site through Zenfolio right now. Sometime, in another venue besides a Comments section, I should probably bounce a few questions off ya on the subject. Thanks again for the review. I took a quick look, and I like the look of your portfolio.
Zenfolio is nice. I’ve always thought it was more geared toward creating galleries to sell your photos, rather than just a website portfolio. But they’ve got some nice templates too.
Hi Matt. I like how the images fill the screen, but what are your thoughts on the cropping it does as you change browser window sizes? My first thought on a couple of them was that you had made an odd cropping choice, then I realized it was just the way I had the window sized. Does it give you a “fit to screen” option for the images?
Hey Bill. I know it crops the photos but I don’t mind. I played around with different browser sizes and didn’t think it did anything that bad to the photo. But they do have other templates that show the whole photo as you intended. This one was just my personal choice.
Thank you! I’ve been looking around and didn’t see anything that appealed to me so stalled out on the search. I appreciate the tip and am happy to take your word for it.