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This article was published on August 17, 2010

Three (Small) Things That Squarespace Needs To Do Now

Three (Small) Things That Squarespace Needs To Do Now
Alex Wilhelm
Story by

Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

Did you know that there is a rather large and healthy company working night and day to beat WordPress, working to build the best consumer and business CMS platform that the world has ever seen? They want to reinvent the game, break all the rules, and make beautiful websites sing for the little guy.

And, I must say, Squarespace does nearly all of that. Really, I pay them more than $10 a month to host and manage my website; they are a strongly built and well thought out platform. The company’s success speaks to this: their last funding round was a $38.5 million deal that was just to fuel the company’s growth. It wasn’t to hit some benchmark, and the company is no startup. Ask them, they don’t like to be called a startup. Most real businesses don’t.

All of that is why I want to point out three large holes in their product that are, in my humble view, beyond excusable. For a company that works as hard as they do, and has both the money and the team, they have three small problems that if they would fix would make them the best end-to-end CMS platform in the world. These small breaks in their otherwise strong mold are causing me endless grief as a non-developer.

Simple Twitter Integration

Have you heard about this Twitter thing? It’s something of a big deal right now. In fact, Twitter is so important, that I wrote an entire post called “What Happens To Blogging When Twitter Goes Down” which explains just how vital Twitter now is to content creation and promotion.

Tech blogging, and blogging in the larger scheme have become joined at the hip with Twitter to make their style of journalism functional. And thus when Twitter goes down, the whole edifice of blogging takes it on the chin.

Guess what though, if you can’t get your content to Twitter, the service might as well be rocking the fail whale. So, does Squarespace offer simple Twitter integration? Not from what I can tell. The company is now, via official channels, pointing people to an offsite guide that will take you through some moderately annoying steps to generate your own code for the new Twitter button, and inject it into Squarespace yourself. There is some simple code modification along the way, but nothing too hard. Does it work? No.

I tried to do what they said, I really did, and it broke. So, from what I can tell, there is some bug in the back-end, what they called a known issue I believe, that makes this not possible. At least in Chrome and Firefox on Windows 7. The engineering team is working on it, but for now the code that I put into my site seems to have done this to it, and I can’t seem to put my actual content back in the main part of the site. For the time being, my blog is hosed.

So, no Twitter integration, and this is not new. The company also ‘supported’ the TweetMeme Twitter buttons in a similar backward fashion. When I pressed them as to just why they wouldn’t do what did in an hour and integrate for their users, they said: “Then we have to worry about playing catchup each time a new service comes out or something changes….” Wait, really? So your users get to deal with all the headache and you count our money?

Squarespace is not a startup, they have tens of millions of dollars and a great team, and they can’t maintain a tweet button? I don’t even know what that means. This is a one day fix to integrate, and users would go crazy. I pay for Squarespace which is just fine, they deserve it, but whining about maintaining a single button from something as big as Twitter is to be beyond penny smart pound foolish, especially when their official hack is broken.

Facebook Like Integration

Same problem, different service. Everyone else has done this, so it can’t be hard, right? Last time I tangled with Squarespace over the issue, they recommended that I use a Wibiya toolbar to get Facebook like capability into my website. I have been on my personal blog, but that is beyond ridiculous. Facebook is one of the biggest websites ever, and this is a simple issue.

I am not saying, and I want to make this plain, that Squarespace needs to integrate in a wonderful way with every damn service under the sun, their HTML-injection-snippet-point-things I am sure would suffice in every case except Facebook and Twitter. These two services are just so big that they need to be made simple to use. Period.

iPad App

There isn’t one, and that is a little odd. Squarespace does have an iPhone application, which is usable enough, but it is not designed to scale to fit an iPad rendering the app worthless in day-to-day use. Let’s say it again: if Squarespace wants to charge premium rates, and call themselves a real business, our expectations go up. Supporting the iPad, of which I would suspect a quarter of Squarespace’s customers own, is just good business.

Rumors have been circulating about an iPad app being released for some time now, but we have seen nothing. A date and a screenshot is enough for now, just bring it to us soon.

Small complaints, right? However, in day-to-day practice, not being able to link content to Facebook, not being able to send content to Twitter simply and quickly, and Squarespace not supporting the best new tech gadget since who knows what is just frustrating. They charged me another $12.60 recently and I was happy to pay it, but they need to make a few changes.

Not everyone can code, not everyone wants to play with HTML. I want to pay so that I don’t have to. I propositioned them with this idea:

@Squarespace Hell, even charge me $5 to get my blog set up for twitter tweet button + fb like and an iPad app.

They said no to more of my money in this tweet:

@alex RE: $5 extra, we can’t do fine grained á la carte for every single user. Need to focus on what’s best for as many as possible.

I 100% agree. So make these small, simple changes and make Squarespace so much better for all your users at once. We already love you guys, we vote with our wallets, please listen.