Squarespace vs. Wordpress

Squarespace website design

I started designing websites in 2000 using Dreamweaver when it was still owned by Macromedia. But since I'm not a coder or programmer I was constantly frustrated and felt constricted using tables trying to create my designs.

I will say Dreamweaver has greatly improved since Adobe acquired it but back then it was clunky as hell. So I moved onto Wordpress a robust free open-source CMS (content management system). With limitless capabilities especially if you know how to code.

The thing is, I don't code, develop, or program. I'm a designer. So I'd spend countless hours searching different sites trying to find the perfect template and/or plugin but never finding exactly what I wanted. Then I'd have to spend more hours searching for bits of code to piece together some sort of site. I was spending more time searching out "fixes" than designing. 

But the biggest issue was that it wasn't working for my client-base. The backend felt intimidating to my "non-techie" clients because they just wanted to login, do some minor edits, upload a blog post, and move on. 

So a decision had to be made. If I wanted to offer website design services I either had to outsource to a Wordpress expert OR find another solution.

That's when I found Squarespace and it changed my business.

Squarespace enabled me to offer website design services in my packages without having to know how to code. I was able to design + delivery high-quality, mobile friendly sites within 2 weeks.

Hayadi Squarespace Website Design

Here’s why I choose Squarespace:

1. Squarespace templates are customizable and look good too!

  • Just by implementing your brand, colors, fonts, graphics, and images you already have a site that is uniquely yours and looks different from anyone else's. 

  • That being said, Squarespace also gives you the option of implement custom code. If you want to go one step deeper you can use the Developer Platform and modify the underlying code of your site's template or create templates from scratch.

  • I no longer have to search days on end to find good looking templates to work from. Squarespace's gallery of templates have something for everyone and again, they are customizable

2. Squarespace is not an open source platform and it's gated off by in-house developers.

  • All the tools they design and develop are high quality and already integrated into the platform. So you never have to update them on your own. What does this mean?

  • Let's talk plugins. I have nothing against Wordpress I used it in the beginning days of my business. it's a great platform and has the chops to build complicated websites. 

  • But Wordpress is an open source platform which means their codes are open to everybody to use, create, and customize. There's no quality control and my experience was that there were more bad plugins than good. I like to do things myself but I'm no programmer. So this meant I constantly had to seek out bits of code in an abyss of 44k+ developers just to be able to Frankenstein together a site which never turned out the way I wanted.

  • Yes, I could have outsourced to a Wordpress expert but that's one more thing to manage and I'd lose out on that income.

3. Squarespace is a drop and drag system easy for "non-techie" people to learn and use and has 24/7 tech support.

  • I make a custom video tutorial for each client showing them how to edit their shiny new site and they love how easy it is to do.

  • The other great thing about Squarespace is the 24/7 tech support to their customers. If I can't figure something out they're right there to help me. 

4. Circles Member Program

Because I'm a Squarespace Circle Member I can offer my clients:

  • 20% off new website and online store subscriptions for the first payment on annual plans.

    "The program is designed to support, inspire, and engage the community of creatives, developers, and designers who use Squarespace to build beautiful websites for themselves and their clients."

    Which means I'm in the know about new products and services which keeps me up to date with what's happening with Squarespace.  

So, if you're on the fence about using a Squarespace template because you're afraid of "looking like everyone else" or that your site "won't be unique" please know that isn't true!

A good designer will be able to design a site that is on brand and uniquely yours even using a template. 

*This is %100 my opinion and not a sponsored post

Starting Your Own Business

My friend Mark called me up to tell me he'd had it working for someone else and was going to start his own company.

He'd been there for 10+ years and though it was good money, good benefits, and a work-from-home-situation he was miserable.

To complicate matters it was a family owned business so walking away was going to be difficult and painful for the entire family. Talk about making a tough decision.

But I have to hand it to Mark because he did it.

Yes, he was a nervous ball of energy while it was all happening, but also the happiest he'd been in a long time. So after a red-eye flight to NY and a lot of negotiating I'm relieved to report that everything went according to plan. 

He now has a thriving successful business: VIVO.

A little backstory, Mark and I have been friends for over 35 years, we met in kindergarten. One thing we've always had in common is that we're both entrepreneurs at heart.

In fact, back in the early 90s we owned a candle business called Twilight Candles. Without knowing anything about anything we somehow managed to keep it going.

We started out by doing candle parties and would sell to people in their homes. And by "people" I mean all of my mom's nursing friends who took pity on us.

We tried everything. We even sold candles out of a van at a Grateful Dead show (which is a whole other story in itself).

At one point we made a pop-up shop completely enclosed in what is now Cosmic Cafe in Placerville, Ca.

We also had some bigger successes and managed to get our candles into Coldwater Creek's magazine and the Yosemite gift shop.

Mind you, this was all pre-internet marketing and the ease of digital cameras.

For a couple of quirky 20-year-olds we actually accomplished a lot and we had fun doing it. 

So Mark asked if I would create the brand and website for VIVO and of course I said hellz yeah! VIVO means "alive" or "living" in Italian and is quite an appropriate name for his new beginning.

For the brand I wanted to set him apart from other brokerages which tend to be heavy, dark and ugly as all hell! So I created a clean and modern design aesthetic. Black and white with pops of color. Totally opposite of what other brands are doing in his market. 

VIVO Branding  | stephzangeneh.com/blog

The feedback has been incredible and Mark is super stoked with the outcome. 

Down the road when I develop special labels for VIVO I envision stamping the logo onto butcher block paper for more of an artisan/old world look.  

Not everyone is meant to run their own business and that's OK. But if you keep hearing that inner voice tell you it's time to go ... I think you owe it to yourself to listen. Because nothing is impossible.

I'm really proud of my friend Mark because it takes a lot of courage to follow your inner compass and he did.

Changing Direction

Being Boss podcast mug

What to do when a client tells you they've gone in a different direction.

And no matter where you're at on your entrepreneurial path at some point, it will happen.

It happened to me and it stung. Even though the client told me they loved working with me and the work I did for them I still got upset. 

Don't get me wrong I understand that we grow, we evolve, we change. No hard feelings.

But this was a difficult job that I worked overtime on (for free) trying to please my client. And instead of standing up for my creative decisions I kept making revision after revision after revision in the hopes that she would pick one. 

I became apathetic and that is the LAST thing you want to feel as a designer.

But it can be hard to stand up for our creative decisions. Especially when someone else is saying they're no good.

This is where trust comes in. 

You need to trust your client and your client needs to trust you.

A good way to start building trust is to communicate expectations on both sides before you start working together. Know the parameters and abide by them. If you have a set amount of revisions stick to it.

Whether your client has an idea of what they want or not they hired you - the designer to help guide them on this branding path. So more than anything you need to trust yourself.

As the designer it's your job to create a brand that is cohesive. Even if it involves an uncomfortable conversation or two. It's up to you to communicate why something works and why it doesn't. 

Don't give-in because you're afraid of displeasing your client. That's not going to help them or you!

Instead, be the designer and expert you are.

They hired you for a reason. Talk to them, be honest, be real. Communicate, communicate, communicate. So if they do decide to go in a "different direction" you'll know you did everything you could. 

Check yourself list:

  1. Don't be afraid to speak your mind - that's why they hired you.

  2. Be crystal clear in your decisions and communicate them often.

  3. Don't give in just to please your client.