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Wednesday
Oct132010

The Great Rohdesign Blogshift

SquareSpaceSeven years ago, I started the Rohdesign Weblog.

Last week I moved my blog from Movable Type on a friend's server to SquareSpace. Here's why.

There wasn't anything wrong with where my blog was. My friend Matt hosted it for 7 years, originally starting as an employee benefit while I worked at MakaluMedia. But since 2008 I've worked at other firms and it was time for my blog to move on too.

I nearly moved the blog to WordPress, but there was always something holding me up from making the jump. My concern about redirecting Google traffic from popular posts to the new site's blog format, along with other technical details, mixed into a busy life were enough friction to delay me.

Enter SquareSpace

On episodes of This Week in Tech podcast, I constantly heard about SquareSpace — how easy it was to migrate, the in-browser design control, iPhone app and more. I was curious and decided to export my blog (again) and import into SquareSpace. What I found was a very easy, integrated system.

I found it very easy to start with a template and pretty quickly tune it to match the minimalist design I had in mind. Rather than firing up BBEdit and CSSEdit, locating files, getting my head around code, I was working in-browser, adding modules and text, tuning the design and getting things in place right away.

For my crazy life right now, less friction and immediate control are huge. I have limited time to spend these days, so I'm always looking for ways to make the time I have more effective.

Once I had the design close enough, my buddy Michael Ashby helped give me the kick in the pants last Tuesday, to pull the trigger on moving to SquareSpace with my blog and my email to Google Apps.

SquareSpace Benefits

Here are some of my favorite features:

  • The ease and control of getting a site up and running with all in-browser tools
  • A very handy iPhone app that manages quite a bit: creating and editing posts, comment review and approval, and site stats
  • Modules that covered what I most needed on my blog and were pretty easy to configure
  • Easy URL forwarding within the CMS, letting me create easy aliases for old or new URLs
  • Secure, hosted environment I never need to worry about updating to the latest version
  • A 10% off lifetime coupon from TWiT (using the code TWIT)

SquareSpace Limitations

Of course every system as limitations and so does SquareSpace:

  • No root access and no FTP access. If you need this feature, being without root access and FTP might be a deal-breaker. Initially I thought this was a big deal for me, until I realized I've not needed or used either feature on my old blog for a long time.
  • Limited template options and no community of template sellers compared to WordPress or Tumblr for example. However, for my minimalist design, the template I started with worked fine.
  • Limited Modules compared to WordPress
  • A little pricier at just under $18/month (1 year paid in advance) with the TWiT 10% coupon, though with that comes blog security and a great CMS backend for my needs. Besides, it's a business expense.

I'm happy to have made the move, glad for a change that's pumpied new life into my blog.

There are still broken images, hosted in a different spot on the old blog that I'm addressing. I have more elements to add to the design and decisions to make about what to keep from the site and what to remove, but that's normal.

Clearly, the greatest feature for me is the direct, in-browser design and module editing. I really feel that every moment logged into SquareSpace is a moment converted to positive action on my blog.

I'm looking forward to posting more regularly about my process and observations, thoughts, sketches and more with you all.

Readers who have been here a long time, thank you for sticking with me.

I appreciate you all.

Mike

Related Links

Yahoo! Interface Blog: SquareSpace
ISO50: Building a Site with SquareSpace
Melody: Movable Type Open Sourced

Reader Comments (9)

Nice job Mike. How easy is it to put photos in a blog post on squarespace?

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Hi Mike,
I can't believe I just found this post of yours, as I have also just moved to SquareSpace, literally one day ago.
I was looking for something that had great design, ease of use and not too much to mess about with (this was where Wordpress seemed to take up much of my time)
I think that they have a cracking product on their hands and which may have TypePad slightly worried.
The way in which I can manipulate design elements, posts etc all instantly, well it blew me away the first time I used it. And the iPhone App is great for comment moderation and checking stats.
And anything that gives me more time to work on content as opposed to tinkering, well that has to be a good thing for a serial tinkerer :-)

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlastair Johnston

@Kevin, very easy to upload images. There are tools right in the posting tool, or you can upload to a specific directory with the file upload tools.

@Alastair, great to hear you agree. I really appreciate the clearing out of fiddling needed now — gets me back to either designing or writing.

October 13, 2010 | Registered CommenterMike Rohde

Awesome! Welcome to the family Mike. This was a pleasant surprise to wake up to and read this morning.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKris Black

Thanks Kris. I'm having a great time exploring SquareSpace. I'm fired up about blogging again! Happy to have brightened your day.

October 13, 2010 | Registered CommenterMike Rohde

Welcome, Mike! I'm sure by now you've learned of the awesome customer service and developers community. Amazing! I moved my site here a year ago and have since added six client websites. All I need is the ability to upload an excel file of audience members and it would be perfect for all of my clients. Other than that love, love, love it!

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Senter

Thanks for the encouraging words Julie!

October 14, 2010 | Registered CommenterMike Rohde

SquareSpace Limitation: Not open source. :(

I hope all goes well with SquareSpace though, and if it makes it easier for you to create content, then we all win. :)

October 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPete Prodoehl

Pete, thanks for the note.

Yep, SquareSpace is a closed system, but for me open source wasn't a key spec. Open source is open but also puts burden on me to install, manage and deal with issues like injection attacks (which I dealt a few times on open source Movable Type).

For me at this point it's more key to have a solid platform that is reliable, secure, and frees me to write. Other systems would have worked, including open source systems, but with them came care and feeding I chose against.

It is good that SquareSpace allows for export of data which for me provides the level of control I need should I ever want to move somewhere else.

Right now this system is working well and I'm super happy with it.

October 25, 2010 | Registered CommenterMike Rohde

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