Squarespace is a Breath of Fresh Air in the Smoggy Website Building Space

Squarespace is a Breath of Fresh Air in the Smoggy Website Building Space

Personal feeling: we don’t give our websites enough attention. It’s usually a “good enough” situation. It shows our photos, gets our name on Google and it serves as a place for us to send clients and prospects. That attitude tends to result in an attitude of “settling.” We settle for what we find and it is, again, good enough. Or is it? I wasn't ready to just be happy with "good enough" on my website.

I spent a long time considering how I was going to build jaronschneider.com. By a long time, I mean over two years. I didn’t want to get into a situation where I felt like I was stuck with what I had because I had invested in it. I felt like if I put myself in that position, I would find myself in a “good enough” situation of my own. So after a lot of thinking, considering and talking to friends about their experiences, I decided to try Squarespace.

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I was drawn to Squarespace because of how image-centric it felt without being overbearing. To me, that means that though the images are important and most definitely center stage, they are well balanced. They don’t feel shoved down my throat. They’re welcoming without being showy. On top of all that, Squarespace feels up to date. It feels fresh, clean and new.

I’ve heard some pretty gnarly horror stories of photographers fighting for days (DAYS people) while they try and set up their website. Fighting with code, struggling with bad uploading applications or battling inflexible systems, it’s no wonder I waited two years to build a website. None of that sounded fun. At all.

To put my Squarespace experience in a contrasting perspective, I built it in an hour. That is not an overstatement or reverse exaggeration. It’s the cold hard truth. I built it in an hour because everything just made sense. Everything I did in the interface was subconscious. I didn't struggle to figure out how a window worked, I didn't fight with an image uploader, I wasn't baffled by a badly imagined navigation tree. Everything just made sense, and it was truly painless. You know what else? I beyond happy with how it came out. It is exactly what I wanted and it is a perfect emulation of my business.

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I think the reason Squarespace succeeds is because they aren’t specifically a photographer website creator. Their tools and system are built to accommodate a wide range of professions making their software more adaptive, more responsive, more intuitive and all around just better than those I’ve seen before. If you want to do something in Squarespace, you can do it. Maybe the templates by themselves aren’t all that interesting to you. Well that’s ok, because the templates are just giant blank slates. They are just starting points, and the way your final site looks and functions is totally up to you.

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The gallery settings are pretty slick, with a ton of options and an easy upload drag-and-drop feature that has become essentially standard in the past year or so (at least among cutting edge sites). The blog builder just works, and if you want to set up a store, Squarespace has that functionality built in as well.



Squarespace also has built in analytics. Though they aren’t as powerful as a stand alone system like Google Analytics, they are powerful enough to get a pretty good picture of what is going on with your website.

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As an aside, I really did not want a flash website. Flash is dated. Flash sucks. I see a lot of photographer websites that use flash, and I can understand the benefit (not being able to save the images, therefore protecting your property) but to me, there are more wrongs with Flash than rights. The mobile alternatives tend to just look terrible. In a world where more people are using tablets and phones to browse the internet, having a crummy mobile site was not an option. I think the one place where Squarespace really impressed me was the way the sites work on any number of screens and operating systems. When you are on the go or using a computer that isn’t your own, it’s really important that your website always looks good. If you are trying to show off your work to a prospective client, the last thing you want is for your site to look crummy. There are fewer awkward situations as you try and dig yourself out of that kind of a hole. Squarespace optimizes the images to scale regardless of screen size, and the mobile sites actually look good. Like, really good. They load fast and my images look great.



Updating my website takes sixty seconds. Add a page, change my homepage, edit a gallery, change my contact details… anything I want is fast and easy. It just works, and I am really satisfied with it. I don’t feel like I settled, and if I decide to change up my website, that’s easy enough too. Because Squarespace makes it seamless, keeping your website up to date becomes less of a chore, which means that the feeling your website gives to prospective clients will be more real, which translates to positive feelings on their end, and results in a feeling of trust all before any deals are ever struck. That kind of thing is invaluable to a business. Whatever can make my business more successful is what matters most to me.

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In the end, I made a choice with Squarespace. I felt like I was getting the site I really wanted for a price that didn't even faze me instead of a website I was somewhat satisfied with at a price that matched that sentiment. It is much nicer to be wholly satisfied with a purchase, in my opinion. And if I get bored with my current site layout, I can change it easily. No hoops to jump through, no extra fees, just an easy transition.

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I have enough hassles in my life to not have something so pivotal to my business be another one. I'm doing my best to invest in products that make my life easier, and I can honestly say Squarespace fits in that category.

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Tam Nguyen's picture

Good stuff man. I hate Flash, and I like your website.

Nice one Jaron. I, too, spent years trying to decide on a platform and settled on SquareSpace for my new site http://www.threebythree.ch

However - I've had my share of problems as well as detailed here:


in a nutshell, all EXIF data is ignored when images are uploaded into a gallery. No filenames, no titles, no keywords, no description. For me it's a pretty big deal as I upload password protected client review galleries and there's no way of using the filename as a caption for example - so my clients have to rollover the image they want and make a note from the status bar in their browser of the filename, or right click on the image and open it.

I came up with a solution here:


and have made a feature request - but I must say the support team were not willing to help me.

I found the customer service to wicked crazy stupid fast. Like, middle of the night help on a mundane issue. Really impressed me. 

When I do client galleries, I use Smugmug. My website is just for marketing my business. 

Totally agree with response times - super wicked crazy stupid fast.

Todd Douglas's picture

Agree as well with their amazing customer service and response time.  Best part about an already great company.

Ryan Oakley's picture

So why can't you just use SmugMug for client galleries AND marketing your business?

SmugMug is incredibly limited when it comes to making a 'full' website.  You'll always have to use something else when it comes down to updating/presenting anything outside of images.  

Sure, you can find workarounds within the CMS, such as javascript/HTML coding hacks within dummy gallery descriptions, etc., but in the end, 95% of what you see on SmugMug using these 'hacks' looks like incredibly unprofessional web design.


After years of using Wordpress I switched to Squarespace a few months ago. No more updates, patches, & themes to worry about and so much easier to add photos.

Jens Marklund's picture

Agreed. My site is built on Squarespace: www.Jensmarklund.com

Mike Kelley's picture

Also a squarespace devotee - www.mpkelley.com

 Hey Mike, your work looks incredibly familiar.  Did you produce a video on the cabin and lighting a year or so ago?  it was a fantastic tutorial if so.  Great work!

Albert Zablit's picture

Very cool work man. Love it.

Claude Lee Sadik's picture

I love your photos Chris! 

Albert Zablit's picture

Say Squarespace closes tomorrow, what do you do?

Something else. 

Hehe, great reply.
The same thing you'd do if your underwear spontaneously caught on fire. 

Albert Zablit's picture

Jaron, if photographers are to work endlessly on their portfolio and figuring how to land their next paying gig, I think a fallback plan for something so essential as your very own website is interesting to ponder on, no?

Indulge me.Judging from your answer, I guess it boils down to "easy come easy go", am I right? Because you spent an hour setting everything up and running, I suppose you don't have much to lose if you were asked to switch services, or take your database elsewhere and that's fine.

But is it really? 

Say, down the road, a year from now, you have to leave because they crashed, or got hacked, or you need to expand with new features or custom design not offered by your all in one provider, is that easily feasible? Say you got sick with prices rising or customer service dwindling, are you able to, and without hesitation, pack your bags and switch, your database et all? What happens then? Search and repeat? Put all your photos and all your energy in another promising all in one provider, locking yourself up again until the next wave hits?

If one is not able to afford a real custom website yet, or have the sufficient background, time and will to work on it, why not stick to portfolio sites like 500px, or even Tumblr, and focus on shooting and networking first and foremost? Focus on your business, get the money, surround yourself with knowledgeable people specializing in their fields, pay them and get it done right.
Why not?


It seems like you're wanting to debate an issue that's really not what this whole editorial was about. I think you can see how I feel when I said I waited two years to build my website. I never recall saying someone should go and get a website right out of the gates. 

Editorial? I think you misspelled "advertisement".

You seem to think that paying people to build a website is necessarily a better option. The whole point is that using Squarespace it's possible to create a website as good as or better than doing what you suggest. Perhaps you think the thousands of business that have taken the Squarespace route are deluded? Is http://albertzablit.com/ really any better than anything on Squarespace.?

Basically, all the time and effort you put in setting up your site goes down and you have to start from um, square 1. While you look for a different host, you also lose your company email. You'll find a host rather quickly but have to put up a generic HTML: "Sorry, we are currently updating our site" line on there while you figure out whether you want to start from scratch, set up a WordPress or other managed site, or just give up all together and link your domain to a Zenfolio type site. In other words, it's not worth it.

"While you look for a different host, you also lose your company email." EH?

Why? The email address has nothing to do with Squarespace!

Have to agree with the super wicked crazy stupid fast customer service assessment.  I was using Bludomain before and they're customer service was among the worst I've ever experienced.  I'm very pleased with Squarespace and can't see myself going anywhere else.  I would like to see more templates in the future as I like to switch things up every once and a while, but right now, my needs are definitely being met.


John Cornicello's picture

Similar experience with Squarespace. I first heard of them at the Photo show in NY in October. Signed up the day I got home, and had my site up and running in an hour or so (after selecting images). http://cornicello.com

Mokhi's picture

Nice website!
Btw i have a tiny question, how did you make an email from ur domain name ? 
(  kim@cornicello.com)
Did you create it from squarespace itself ?! thanks :)

Nicholas's picture

I'm torn between squarespace and zenfolio. Does squarespace allow you to sell your work online to clients? Perhaps I'm making the wrong comparison.Regardless, I am happy to have read this post. I have more hands on input to make a more informed choice.

I believe it does, but the print-selling features on Zenfolio/SmugMug/Photoshelter will be much more robust given the nature of the companies.  

Yeah it has a store option for sure. Though I don't do that kind of thing, so I haven't used that aspect. It seems really powerful though, since you can build a whole product-selling business on Squarespace if you wanted.