I recently welcomed a new group of students into my course Square Secrets, and you can bet the first question on everybody’s mind was “Which version of Squarespace do I use?”
My honest answer?
(But that wouldn’t make for a very helpful blog post, now would it!?)
The only way to truly get a feel for which platform is right for you is to start a free trial on each and spend some time playing with which interface feels more intuitive to you…but if you really care to know my take on things, then read on!
If you are new to Squarespace, you’ll never know the struggle that is having to choose a template.
If you caught my post Squarespace template comparison chart for version 7.0 & 7.1, you’ll know that choosing a template used to be the biggest obstacle to getting started, and kept people stuck in the planning stages of their site for wayyyy too long.
All the templates within 7.1 have the ability to achieve the exact same design. So if you get halfway through building your site and decide you want your site to look more like a different template, you can recreate any design you see by rearranging your content and sections, and making changes to your style settings.
No more having to start from scratch with a new template.
In Squarespace 7.0, if you wanted to build a long scrolling page, you first had to add an index page followed by a new “page” for every section of content you wanted to appear.
Editing and rearranging pages all those pages felt a bit clunky and slow, especially as your site grew and hundreds more “pages” were added.
Thankfully, Squarespace introduced page sections with the release of 7.1, and now if you want a new section, you just pop it in right there on the same page. All page content can be edited at once (even headers and footers) and rearranging or deleting sections of a page is now a breeze!
Oh, and you can now add banner images to any page, instead of just index pages.
One other nifty feature is the new pre-built page and section layouts available when you add a page. If you want a completely custom site that is in no way like the competition, I def recommend starting with a blank slate because it’s pretty hard to unsee a layout once you’ve seen it.
But if you are in a hurry to get things launched, or are feeling stuck for what to include where on your site, having a ready-to-go layout to add content to could prove pretty useful.
In version 7.0, there seemed to be a lot of back and forth needed in order to make simple changes to your site styles (fonts, buttons, colors etc.). Even though as a designer I appreciate how customizable every single one of those options are, it does seem to slow down the design process quite a bit.
With Squarespace’s new interface, you no longer have to return to your site styles panel every single time you want to make a change. You can spend a little time up front creating a few your own custom font and color themes which can later be applied directly to individual sections with just the click of a button.
Even though this relates to site style editing, this is suchhhh a handy feature that it really needed it’s own section!
Here’s why I love it:
In 7.0 if you set your headings to be black, but then you wanted to have a section with a dark background or darker image, the lack of contrast made it difficult to see, and the options for color customization felt really limiting.
With 7.1’s new feature you are custom creating your own color themes to be used on different sections around your site. For each color theme, you set your preferred background color, and then pick contrasting font and button colors to be used when that background is applied.
You can currently create up to 8 themes, making it easier to make certain sections look different and really stand out, without having to track down a bunch of fancy code snippets to create your contrasting text!
For more on how to use Squarespace’s streamlined new site style options, and my tips for creating those new custom color themes, check out Squarespace basics: using site styles.
Squarespace wanted to make it easier than ever for businesses to show off their work. Say for instance you are a home-builder and you want to be able to direct potential customers to a gallery of all your best before and afters.
A portfolio page is just what it sounds like – a way to highlight your best work, all in one place!
The portfolio page itself is where visitors would land to peruse all your recent work, before clicking through to a specific project they want to know more about.
You can then add subpages to your portfolio page to create an individual gallery of all the images from that one project.
(For more information on using portfolio pages and other collection pages in Squarespace version 7.1, check out Squarespace basics: pages & navigation options.
You know that dropdown of text format options you have in your text block toolbar? It just got bigger!
Besides the obvious design perks to having a new heading format option when formatting a page or blog post, there’s one other reason you should be geeking out about the introduction of a built-in H4…SEO.
When Google is combing your site for content, they are looking for what you deem to be most important on your site and therefore might be most relevant to those who are searching. If you’ve bolded a bit of text and formatted it to Heading 1, chances are you intended it to stand out to visitors.
If you are overdoing it on using any one type of heading, Google may not know where to look, and may not pick the most relevant info when deciding what your site or blog post is really about, and why they should bother sending people your way.
Heading 4 lets Google know something is important, but not nearly as important as Heading 1, 2, or 3.
Yes, but here’s the thing I love about Squarespace…they do a really good job of launching before they are ready!
Seriously! So many people wait until they feel their thing is 100% perfect and it can honestly keep people from ever launching their thing at all.
So kudos to them for being a good example to all of us here in the online business world!
Even though they have let users know that they will still be supporting 7.0 indefinitely, version 7.1 will likely be their new focus when it comes to investing time and $$ in future updates to the platform.
I’ve seen talk in Squarespace Circle (a professional organization for Squarespace designers) that Squarespace is taking feedback and are working to build out a lot of the features that we know and love from earlier versions of their platform, as well as new and exciting features yet to be released!
But if you’ve been designing on 7.0 for years, here are a few features currently not supported that you may notice and miss:
Note: not all features listed below are available in every template in 7.0. For more info on that, check out my Squarespace template comparison chart.
* These items may not be native to the new version but can easily be added via custom code, paid plugins, or other workarounds. Here are a few resources you may find helpful:
If you really want to learn all the Squarespace design secrets and hacks to help you completely customize your site (without having to learn to code), my course Square Secrets is for you!
Oh and btw, this is by no means an exhaustive guide to what’s new or missing in the new version, just a few features you’re likely going to notice as you build-out your first or next site. Squarespace is constantly on the move, and so they could come out with these or completely new features any day of the week!
So, wondering how all of this applies to you?
The whole point in creating a new version of the platform was to improve user-friendliness, and make it more accessible to the millions of small business owners out there looking to bootstrap their businesses and save a few $$ by DIY’ing their own sites.
Squarespace knows that drag-and-drop site builders are in higher demand than ever before, and they want to make sure when it comes to all those business owners choosing which platform to build their online home on, that they are the clear choice.
By doing away with endless but slightly complicated site style options, and decisions like which template to choose, Squarespace has helped new users to avoid some serious Google rabbit holes, allowing them to quickly and easily build and launch their new site!
So if you are new to the Squarespace scene, version 7.1 is the way to go!
Why fix what ain’t broke? If you already have a fully functioning site on version 7.0, there are no real compelling reasons or irresistible new features that would cause you to want to make that switch (yet).
Migrating or switching between version is not currently supported, and so if you decide to move your content over to version 7.1, you’ll be doing it manually (read: a lotttt of copy and pasting).
This is why I’ve personally opted for sticking to 7.0 for the time being. With literally hundreds of blog posts, it would take this two-women team weeks to get things up and running on the new version, and since Squarespace has let us know they are going to be supporting 7.0 indefinitely, I’m not in any real rush to create that extra work for myself!
That being said, if you find yourself in the mood for a complete site re-design, this could be just the opportunity you need for getting started with the new platform!
If you are designing for clients, it’s definitely worth your time to dig in and learn both platforms. You may find you have a preference for designing on one or the other, but ultimately, you will want to be able to help regardless of what platform your clients are coming to you on.
When deciding which platform to build your client’s site on you’ll want to consider:
A) How advanced are their site goals or the design features they are requesting?
B) Will they be able to make updates to their own site as needed, or do I plan to offer retention packages for future updates?
If you know for a fact that version 7.1 is missing a key design feature they have requested (aka. parallex scrolling) or that that feature would only be available by use of some fancy custom coding, then the choice is clear, go with 7.0.
But if your goal is to be able to hand off the design completely and let them take it from there with future updates, you may want to consider whether version 7.1 would be more user-friendly for them.
When it comes to building your own online home as a Squarespace designer…
You are the expert, and you don’t have to worry about anybody else being able to take the reins. So you can feel free to custom code to your heart’s content.
There is a lotttt of information out there about how to help you customize your site in 7.0, but it will likely take a while for the internet to catch up and build an equally as expansive resource library for the new version.
Like I mentioned before, Squarespace has plans to continue to update and support version 7.0, so if that’s where you feel most at home, you can rest knowing that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
I recently created a brand new course just for 7.1 users, to teach you how to use the Squarespace’s newest platform to build a completely custom site that attracts your ideal clients and customers 24/7.
But if you could still use some hand-holding in their earlier version, you’re in luck! Students who enroll in the course can request access to Squares Secrets 7.0 for free.
(Yup! You read that right. Two courses for the price of one!)