SQUARESPACE’S SIXTH PLATFORM MASHES UP WORDPRESS, TUMBLR, AND PINTEREST, AND IT IS AWESOME.
The web grows more beautiful every day. Tumblr and Pinterest aren’t about easily shared stories; they’re easy to look at, too, with their core designs stemming from photos. The only problem is neither of these sites allows a lot of your own editorial along with the multimedia. So many of us still turn to traditional (and ever-so-dated) blog templates when we want to have our own sites. Unless you’re both a code monkey and front-end developer, there’s this huge hole in the market: You can have a beautiful, media-centric site, or you can have a blog with rich original content. And we haven’t even begun to discuss taking this design to mobiles.
Squarespace 6 is Squarespace’s new turnkey platform to create portfolios, blogs, and general-purpose websites that are drag ‘n drop customizable yet image-centric and willing to interface with every platform under the sun (like Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram). It’s commoditized, customizable design for those of us without design degrees. And it’s a deeper content-management system for publishing constant, dynamic content.
“Your website is a reflection of you. It’s like your online clothing,” Squarespace CEO Anthony Casalena tells Co.Design. “So the design of that is exceptionally important.”
Squarespace 6 promises designs that are “super visual, super distinct, really high end.” The secret to all of this is the LayoutEngine, a flexible, 12-column reactive grid that Squarespace spent two years developing. You can drag and drop “widgets”--or media windows--into this grid and re-size each chunk at will. A Vimeo video can live alongside an Instagram photo, and by snagging a corner of any widget window with your mouse, you can expand or shrink it within this grid, and all of the rest of your content will react accordingly.
Things get a step more interesting for bloggers, who, rather than being stuck with a single format on every post, can actually use the LayoutEngine to customize any post within Squarespace 6’s CMS backend. In other words, your pretty mainpage no longer needs to be a tease for a simple column of text. This image-forward design can be customized at every level of the experience.
“It just does everything right. You can’t really mess it up. You don’t really have to figure it out,” Casalena says. “Aesthetically, there are very few things on the screen. It’s very direct about what you’re doing.”
The best part, however, may be the two-way street of sharing between other platforms. Squarespace 6 can suck in your entire existing Tumblr or WordPress blog, or it can publish to those sites as well. This makes the commitment of a platform migration very low, and it allows your site to have presence to viral Tumblr users as well as those who may seek out your official page.
“If in five years, no one is looking at your site on the web, and is instead using iOS devices, it really doesn’t matter to us,” Casalena says. “We’re really just managing your content.” That argument actually makes a lot of sense, because the biggest, most important difference between something like Dreamweaver and Squarespace 6 is that, at its core, Squarespace is a content-management system (CMS). That means it has context for the media on the page--images are images to it, and videos are videos--rather than a beautifully designed webpage that looks pretty but is ultimately hard to categorize, update, or interface with.
“Every single endpoint on your page is an API,” Casalena adds, so building additional apps from your core Squarespace 6 page is ridiculously simple and by no means a start-from-scratch experience.
Squarespace 6 isn’t the only web design template. It’s not the only blogging system. And it’s not the only way to share a story across platforms. But when have you see companies do all three? I’m not sure that I have, actually.
The sixth iteration of Squarespace is available now. Pricing ranges all of $8-$16 per month.