Owning a piece of the web
Of the many lessons I've learned in the past year, the importance of ownership has been the most impactful. I believe it's in our nature to crave ownership. Ownership makes our work better, helps us form opinions, and gives us a reason to care. We care about those tangible, intangible, real, and imaginary things that make us who we are. Our digital presence is an extension of that. Social networking is a great way to express yourself, but I want something that is entirely me; a website that I own and care for. That's why I wanted to make a personal website.
In the way that I'm a geek, owning a piece of the web sounded exciting. I can imagine the feeling is even more intense when owning an actual piece of land. It feels good to own something, even if it is small (and insignificant). With ownership comes total control; you set your own goals and either succeed or fail at reaching them. I have four goals:
- Experiment with SEO - This past semester I had the opportunity to take a digital marketing class from Ross Jones of 2theTop Web Site Design & Promotion and it began my interest in learning about SEO. I now have a basic understanding of how SEO works, but the practice is constantly evolving and getting my own hands on experience is the best way to learn more. I'm also presented with the chance to see SEO from a different perspective, as my site is built using Squarespace instead of the much more common Wordpress. Squarespace is "optimized" for SEO, however there is a little room for tinkering. I'm still exploring how to make my Squarespace site more SEO friendly. In the end though, SEO is all about creating and promoting great content.
- Play around with design - I've always been interested in design, but I've never pursued any technical knowledge. Squarespace allows me to play around with the design because of how incredibly simple the tools are. The templates are beautiful from the start, but there's plenty of room to quickly differentiate your site. Squarespace isn't as customizable as other website creation platforms, but the essential tools are all here.
- Promote myself - Yup. SHAMELESSLY. I don't know about you, but I want a job after college and a website that expresses who I am is more valuable to me than what I write on Twitter. A personal website is just that: personal. Long-term I hope to promote my own interests with less fluff and more substance.
- Learn something new about the Internet - It comes back to ownership. I love the Internet, but up until now I've just consumed it and never really ventured into creation. Digital is what's going to continue to drive the future of marketing and I hope to learn more about what works and doesn't by trying it myself.
Why make a personal site with Squarespace?
If Wordpress is the “Android” of website creation, Squarespace is the “Apple”. Whereas Wordpress allows plugins and code to allow you to customize your site, Squarespace gives you only the tools you need to make a functional, beautiful site quickly. Sharing the love of the “Apple philosophy,” Squarespace appeals to me. It offers exactly what I want in a package that is sleek, glossy, beautiful, and easy to create. For a couple of these reasons I recommend using Squarespace for personal sites.
A beautiful product right out of the box - that’s what Squarespace is. With several templates to choose from, there’s something for every type of need. The templates need no work at all to look great, but making some quick customizations can make a site look unique instantly. Each template comes with several customer examples to give you an idea of the versatility of each. I recommend checking them out simply to see the creative ways people have made their websites.
Squarespace truly is easy. Not knowing any significant code, having to sacrifice too much time in the mechanics did not interest me. Squarespace’s intuitive drag-and-drop method of putting webpages together is what we’re already used to doing with other apps and software. The interface is clean and easy to understand, while still giving users a good ability to customize. Adding content, whether its pictures or video, galleries, text, quotes, Instagram, social links, documents, forms, blogs, calendar, Opentable, menus, and so on, happens in just a few easy clicks.
For more advanced uses, Squarespace has a built in commerce platform that is easy to install and setup. The entire process can be managed within your site, from adding items, emailing confirmations, and payment. For small businesses or individuals looking to start their web presence, this lets them create an online store quickly so they can get back to what they love doing.
Amazing customer service
Customer service is a valuable thing, especially if the life of your website depends on it. Thankfully Squarespace appreciates great customer service and have proven themselves in this respect. Hurricane Sandy gave Anthony Casalena, CEO and founder of Squarespace, the chance to prove himself. With 1.4 million websites using the service, it was crucial for their servers to stay running, even when flooding in their Manhattan data center took out power. What did Casalena do? He grabbed everyone he could and hauled bucked after bucket of fuel up 17 flights to keep the backup generator running until the power was restored (three days later). That’s dedication. That’s customer service.
You can read the whole story of how Squarespace survived Sandy on BetaBeat.
Support an innovative platform
Squarespace is awesome. It’s one of the most innovative platforms for developing a website because of its Apple-like approach. Anthony Casalena and the Squarespace team are passionate about what they do and how they can help people make the web functional and beautiful. I like to support people who have a great product, stand behind that product, and live for customer service. Squarespace does all three.
For the average person, Squarespace is the future of web creation. For my personal site, the choice was easy. As a student I’m given 50% off the first year of the service (yay!), but the price is worth it if you are serious about your online presence. Squarespace is simple and fun to use. Making a website should be. I highly recommend checking out Squarespace.