I’ve been putting off and putting off writing about the latest iteration of Squarespace, known as 7.1. (Read the official info from the company here.) While its naming convention would indicate it’s an in-place system update, it’s a separate and distinct system from the current version, 7.0. The vast majority of Squarespace users are on 7.0. (Interestingly, 7.0 was an in-place upgrade on 6.0, so Squarespace does not adhere to normal software naming conventions, clearly.) It is currently in “Early Access,” which is a stage above “Beta,” and users will still have the option to access either 7.0 or 7.1. Confusing enough for you?
Watch: Kath and I hosted an Ask Us Anything all about Squarespace 7.1. Want to participate in future AMAs? Sign up for my newsletter!
There are some good and some bad features to this new system, so I thought I’d share that with you.
The Good Features of Squarespace 7.1
Squarespace 7.1 has done away with Indexes, and now has sections.
I think this makes a lot more sense and eliminates some of the page building weirdness that confuses many users. It may also help with some of the SEO issues certain old templates have with Index type pages.
One template to rule them all.
The most common Squarespace mistake I see is people selecting the wrong template and not having access to the features they need. This is no longer an issue, as there’s just one. (They have lots of “templates” presenting but they’re all the same under the hood.)
Squarespace 7.1 has FINALLY added a native H4 heading.
While this may not seem like a big deal, it’s actually been a consistent problem in the platform, forcing people to over-use H1s and H2s, potentially causing SEO problems. (Now let’s add H5 & H6.)
The Bad Features of Squarespace 7.1
Gallery pages, and therefore gallery summary blocks are gone.
This means that in Squarespace 7.1 folks who use galleries as mini databases that pull in content around their sites are out of luck. This signals to me that the company is narrowing the platform’s focus to small sites, as the sites likely to use that “hack” are larger.
Squarespace 7.1 has weird user experience.
I’m hoping that as Squarespace gets feedback, this will be adjusted. Currently the user experience in 7.1 requires a whole lot of clicking and it’s just “odd,” for lack of a better word. On of the reasons I’ve enjoyed working with Squarespace 7.0 was because it was very simple to move through the backend of the site, from design to content. Now the actual experience is very busy, and I can see non-techie folks getting annoyed quickly.
Blog editing in Squarespace 7.1 is crummy.
A lot of our clients love being able to write and edit their blog posts using the what you see is what you get tools in Squarespace 7.0. Unfortunately, this is not currently available in 7.1. Fingers crossed they add this back in, as many of us Squarespace Specialists have provided the feedback that we miss that feature.
There is no migration path between Squarespace 7.0 and 7.1. (Updated 12/2019)
Update: It now appears there is an import/export feature. I have not thoroughly tested this, and imagine we may need to use the manual scrub with WordPress first method and then clean up manually method we currently use for Squarespace 7.0. As with all of our free content, we will update this post when there’s more info.
The company has repeatedly stated that they do not plan on a migration path between the two, so if Squarespace 7.1 appeals to you, you will have to rebuild everything on your site from scratch, including manually copy and pasting your blog posts. They have also stated that if you cancel your 7.0 account to migrate to 7.1, you will not receive a refund for unused time on that version of the platform or be able to transfer that time to your new 7.1 account. Basically, you’d have to time it so your 7.1 site was completed the day your 7.0 account expired. The impact for commerce users is worse, as their customer order history would also be lost. This makes no sense whatsoever.
Why you should NOT use Squarespace 7.1.
Squarespace 7.1 has no importing/exporting of content.
This is a dealbreaker for me. What they’re creating with 7.1 is a lock in, preventing customers from moving content in and out of their system, meaning that users will have to copy and paste ever single blog post if they want to move platforms. So, you truly don’t own your content in the spirit of the meaning of “ownership.” As a result, unless a client is, say, a restaurant, which would be unlikely to need a blog, we will not be using Squarespace 7.1 client sites for that reason—it’s not something I can do in good conscience. To me this is an ethical issue.
Our Expert Recommendation about Squarespace 7.1
Update: We are now mostly using Squarespace 7.1 for new Squarespace sites, as we don’t want to put our clients on technology that may become obsolete. However, we make this decision on a case-by-case basis. I still have major issues with the rollout of 7.1 and think it needs serious improvements.
For most users, 7.0 will still serve them better than 7.1, especially if content marketing is an important piece of your business. There are some significant limitations to 7.1 from a design and development perspective, so we’re encouraging our clients to stay put and if you’re thinking of a redesign, we’d love to talk to you about whether a Squarespace 7.0, 7.1 or a WordPress solution makes the most sense for your specific needs. Don’t dive into 7.1 without thinking through the pros and cons and what your longterm goals are. I do like Squarespace 7.1 for a simple product launch (no ecommerce), as a landing page builder (think a cheaper alternative to Click Funnels etc), and for very small local businesses that aren’t doing content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy.
I know this is a lot of absorb, and I haven’t covered nearly all the complexities of this new platform (I’ll make a video soon, I promise!), but if you have any questions at all, please do leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.