Squarespace 5 vs Squarespace 6: Benefit Comparison
Also check out my other post which answers common questions about moving to Squarespace 6.[/pullquote] If you currently have a site on the Squarespace 5 platform, and are considering moving to Squarespace 6, this post will help you decide. I've included a summary of what I think are the key benefits and features of Squarespace 6 (V6) that make it an appealing move, as well as some reasons why you may not want to move your site away from Squarespace 5 (V5) right now.
I've written this post with my clients in mind, but even if you are a DIYer, you may find it useful, too.
Top 10 Reasons to Move from Squarespace 5 to Squarespace 6
If any or all of the following sounds like something you need for your site, then you should consider making the move to Squarespace 6...
1. Mobile-friendly site design
The best reason to move your site from V5 to V6 is that all of the design templates on Squarespace 6 are mobile-friendly. They make use of a technique called responsive design, which means that the dimensions of the page automatically scale up or down to fit the size of the screen. This means your site will look and work great no matter whether it's viewed on a smartphone, iPad, laptop, large computer monitor or huge HD smart TV.
2. Flexible page layouts
Ever wanted to have multiple columns on a page, or be able to easily place items side-by-side and aligned? Squarespace 6 has an incredibly powerful drag-and-drop tool called LayoutEngine which allows non-technical, non-designers to create complex page layouts without needing to know any code. Not only can you add, resize and reposition text and images, but you can also use LayoutEngine to add and control the appearance of dozens of other types of content, from videos to forms to price lists or menus.
3. Much, MUCH better image handling
Several awesome features fall into this category:
- For every image you upload, the system automatically creates different sized versions of the image and uses the right size depending on the context. This means you no longer need to worry about creating the right dimensions in Photoshop, or use fiddly pixel numbers to manually resize images in Squarespace.
- The built-in Aviary Image Editor means you can rotate, crop, and adjust images directly in the Squarespace system. You can even make photos black & white or apply Instagram-like filters, or perform advanced editing like removing blemishes, adjusting colour balance, or whitening teeth.
- There are many different ways to show photo galleries and slideshows, all of which are pretty to look at and easy to manage. And, you can control which part of the image is cropped whenever you use square thumbnails, for example.
4. Forms to fit every purpose
Gone are the days when you could only have a single contact form on your site, unless you paid for the most expensive Squarespace subscription. You can now have as many forms as you need*, with a huge range of different types of fields, meaning you can have forms for nearly every purpose, from gathering customer feedback to handling complex enquiries. And, you can store the form responses in a Google spreadsheet, making it easy for you to create charts or reports from the data.
* You're limited to 20 pages on the Personal subscription plan, but there are no limits otherwise.
5. Creative ways to cross-promote content
Squarespace 6's LayoutEngine includes some really flexible content blocks that make it easy to highlight content from other places on your site, and display the highlights in a range of beautiful layout styles. Whether you want to show thumbnails and snippets of the latest blog posts from a single category, showcase certain pages in a "You may also like..." section in your footer, embed a mosaic grid of certain gallery images, or display a feed of upcoming events as a slider, you can do it in Squarespace 6.
6. Slick templates
There are 25 beautiful, polished and professional-looking site design templates that come with Squarespace 6, and they all look a lot more fresh and modern than the old V5 templates. Some of them make use of more modern design techniques, such as full-screen images or subtly-animated menus, and all of them start off as blank canvases with minimal colours applied. This means you can get a really polished site up and running super-quick, as long as you don't mind the minimal look. Alternately, you could hire someone like me to make a stunning custom design that takes advantage of the slick new features.
7. Social media integration
If you want to embed a feed of your latest tweets from Twitter, or display your latest Instagram, 500px or Flickr images as a slideshow or gallery on your site, then Squarespace 6 makes it easy to do so. You can also easily add icon links to all your social media accounts such as Facebook, Foursquare or Pinterest - all you need is your login, and Squarespace does the rest.
8. Better embedding of media or external content
Want to embed audio files in your site? Or maybe you want to easily add a Vimeo video, a MailChimp newsletter signup, or a Slideshare presentation? Squarespace 6 makes it really simple to embed external content now. And, you can control the size and placement of embedded content, just like any other content block, by simply dragging and dropping.
9. Easy e-commerce
Selling stuff online has never been easier: it's dead simple to set up an online shop with the new Squarespace Commerce feature. You can also embed products from Amazon, or import your Shopify or Etsy products - or even take donations on your site if you are a non-profit organisation. The integration of your shop with your site is seamless, and you can easily highlight products or add buttons to other pages to make purchasing quick and easy from anywhere on the site.
10. Manage events on your site
Finally, Squarespace now has a special type of page to allow you to create and manage events on your site. You can have time-based events, or multi-day events, and the system will automatically order things so the most recent upcoming events appear first, and past events are hidden (unless you want to show them). You can choose to display events as a calendar, list, grid, slider - so many options. You can also assign locations and maps to your events, and visitors can add events to their iCal or Google calendar with a single click.
Top 5 Reasons NOT to Move from Squarespace 5 to Squarespace 6
I really do think that the new Squarespace is pretty awesome, but there are a few show-stoppers that may prevent you from making the move.
1. You don't have time or budget to make the transfer.
It's not an entirely straightforward process to move from one system to another. Check my post here for more details on the considerations you will need to bear in mind. Expect to spend money and time on the move.
2. You don't have the time or inclination to learn an entirely new system.
The difference between V5 and V6 is like the difference between an abacus and a calculator. You will have to learn an entirely different way of doing pretty much everything. The trade-off is that you get much greater power and control.
3. You need to host discussion forums on your site.
You can't have discussion forums on your site anymore with Squarespace 6, as Squarespace have decided to drop this feature entirely. You can use a separate Disqus account to replace the built-in comments feature, but it's not really the same as a proper forum. A workaround would be to embed a third-party forum, but it would be managed on that site, not yours, so you could not run stats on it or manage user accounts within a Squarespace interface.
4. Many of your site visitors use old versions of web browsers.
The templates that come with Squarespace 6 are not really designed for older browsers, especially Internet Explorer (IE). If your audience uses Internet Explorer 8 or older, then your site will probably look pretty awful to them, if it loads at all. Although the figures are less than 10% worldwide on IE8, your specific audience figure may be higher, especially if your visitors are in Asia, or government / public sector businesses. You could ask someone like me to add a bit of code which shows a message to visitors using older browsers, but that's hardly ideal.
5. You have tables in your pages, and/or you like to fiddle with HTML.
One of the things I just can't believe is that Squarespace STILL don't have a built-in tool that allows people to add and edit tables in their pages. Come on people - this is hardly rocket science. In the past, I would simply insert a hand-coded HTML table (for grids of images or data) on client sites, and they could at least edit these tables in the old V5 editor, even if they didn't know how to code. Now, it's not so easy, and you really need to know HTML to be able to edit tables in V6.
You can't access the code behind text blocks in the new V6 editor, and you can no longer switch between text / HTML anymore. You can add HTML in a separate block, but controlling the spacing is patchy. If you like to fiddle with HTML, you're going to be disappointed with V6.
I hope this post has helped you decide whether the time is right for you to move, but if you want some more advice, get in touch or read this: