The following post is brought to you by Squarespace. Our partners are hand picked by the Design Milk team because they represent the best in design.
So you need a website or portfolio or shop and can’t decide whether to use Squarespace? Well, don’t take it from us—we talked to a handful of folks who are using Squarespace about their experiences with the platform. Some use it for freelance portfolios, some for selling direct, and some used a designer and others did it themselves. There are so many ways in which you can take advantage of the Squarespace platform and customize it for your needs.
Interdisciplinary designer Darren Higgins focuses on everything from product design to branding, art direction and strategy. For someone who does a lot of design himself, he needs time to focus on those projects, and not on website design. If you’re a designer, then you know that designing or updating your online portfolio can sometimes take a back seat to client work or day job stuff. Darrin explains: “Updating or adding new work to my portfolio is no longer something that sits on my to-do list and nags at me for months. If I was to add something or make a change it can be done in a matter of minutes and I can get back to work.”
Working with clients all over the globe, Darrin likes that he can keep his site up-to-date: “My website is the most important part of my online presence, I need to trust that everything will look great and function properly anytime a potential client wants to review my work.”
Designer and shop owner Toni Truong makes leather goods in Los Angeles and when she’s not working, she doesn’t want to spend time fiddling with her website. She worked with Jennifer Puno of ilovecreatives.com to help her create an easy site that she can keep updated easily and that stands out from the rest. Even with Squarespace’s templates, she was able to work with Jennifer to create something unique and that feels like her voice: “It was great to see someone’s interpretation of the brand. Love that I can work with someone I trust and rely on their talent to make a message into a visual identity. It turned out much better than I can ever imagine. It is difficult to have a voice in the vast world of the web. There hasn’t been a tried and true equation to build an online business so it’s more trusting the instincts. My website has been a resume for sales. People go there to check the credentials and background before they commit. It is super important to have a design and story that people can identify with almost immediately.”
While Squarespace’s platform can help anyone make a beautiful website quickly and easily, hiring a designer to help you can take it to the next level and can be more affordable then having someone design it from scratch. Toni explains that sometimes as a business owner, you need to know what you’re good at, but know when to hire out: “Everyone has a strength. If you are a business owner, know your strength. If you are a designer or a maker, you obviously are great at knowing the product. Sometimes it’s difficult to take a step back and see what it is that people first see in your product. Hire a designer to build your website. It’s their strength and it will be interesting to see what others see as selling points in your product. It is inspiring to work with people who do great work in areas that you are not as strong in.”
Designer/Maker/Artist Matt McConnell of McConnell Studios told us he desperately needed a site update and had limited time and resources. A friend recommended Squarespace and in less than two days, he had a fully functioning site with video, press, and portfolio section pages.
He designed the site himself, and he says, “having worked with Fireworks and Dreamweaver for 15 years, and having a simpler grid concept in my previous site, it was miraculous to see the whole thing come together almost instantly with very little effort. Choosing a template that snapped everything into place was the right start, and once I accepted that framework, it all fell into place. Comparing this process to updates on my old site is easy, there is no comparison, it’s a thousand times easier.”
Just like most small businesses owners, he wears lots of hats and “web designer” has always been one of those more challenging hats. “Add a few employees and you are manager, marketing specialist, designer, salesperson, and so much more.” Therefore, using a platform like Squarespace saves him tons of time: “A new page goes up in a few minutes, and can be copied easily to one or more sorted portfolio pages. Even the addition of video is extremely simple and clean, and thumbnails allow for a sharp presentation before the video loads. The page reflects work as fast as I can set up the camera, sometimes updated the day a project goes out.”
Helen Osgerby is Founder of Simple Shape, a modern online shop that highlights the best of British and Irish design with a focus on makers. She chose Squarespace because of its simplicity. “The very clean layouts that Squarespace offers provided the simplicity that I was looking for in a cost effective way. I really like the almost magazine-publishing type feel that you can create with a Squarespace template. It is an extremely user friendly system to get to grips with and as a start-up online business it was critical that I didn’t waste time fighting my way through complicated technology. So, ease of use…easily the best thing about it!”
She worked with designer Stuart Hobday of Between Two Pines on her site design, a designer she explains “understood what I was hoping to achieve in terms of a clean and simple layout, but one that was also beautiful as well and functional.” When your business exists almost entirely online, your online presence is your only presence. She says, “Without the Squarespace site, we wouldn’t exist.”
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