I decided to buy this book as I have been using Squarespace 6 since Jan 2013. Squarespace 6 has great designed templates but the interface is far from user friendly, and I wanted to have a general overview, and to learn a good way of working in Squarespace 6. I watched most of the videos on the tutorial sites of Squarespace, used a lot answers.squarespace.com to learn hidden features, but still, it felt I'm not really there.
Before, I used Dreamweaver, and Google Sites extensively. The difficulty in Squarespace 6 is that while in Dreamweaver or Google Sites there are two views, an editor view and a "live view", in Squarespace 6 there are four different views to maintain a site (Content Manager, Style editor, (Admin) preview, and Live view), all with different features, and settings. Icons and names are often different from generally used conventions, settings are often hidden if cascading menus and boxes, or features in different places need to be combined.
For example to set an custom pictures for the page heading, first one has to go to Content Editor\ [Page] \ Page settings \ Thumbnail image \ Upload, then switch to Preview \ Style editor \ [Advanced settings] \ Header section \ Page Thumbnail as Banner - ON.
- Covers most features
- Easy to read quickly from cover to cover
- What is says is accurate
- Some unnecessary content
- Guidance on practical use of Squarespace 6 in day-to-day site management
- Description of the non-evident features
- Comparison of the different content types and highlighting advantages, disadvantages (Web page, Gallery, Blog, and so on)
- Description of templates, advice on which template to use and when, feature comparison to help choose the right template
The book helped me to learn more about Squarespace 6, as I've read it cover to cover, and found some features that I didn't know about, or was unable to find them back again. I'm using the FIVE template, which is supposed to be the "small business" template, with the most flexible design. This is covered in the book. Although, the screenshots show the retired design of the FIVE template, not the current one, the instructions are accurate.
I have read several books from the Dummies series, so I have a level to compare to. This Dummies book in general was a mixed experience for me. The style, the formatting, and in general it was easy to understand. However, at parts, it covers too much detail, like describing the registration process is totally useless as there's only a big login box in the middle of the screen. Other parts, where are tons of features, are not covered in detail enough, like the multitude of different settings in the Style editor.
Some topics that I missed:
I missed guidance on what to do and not to do in Squarespace 6 to start and maintain a site in good shape. The book is rather a "list of features", similar to a "user manual" of a DVD player. It tells which buttons to press to set up a "Blog" type of content, but doesn't give any help on how to actually configure a site up and running if you want to run a personal blog. Or when to use "Blog" pages and when to use "Web page", when to make a Gallery and when to make a list of images, and so on. For example "Blog" content can be used to post job advertisements on a headhunting page, new events of an organisation, FAQ pages, or images can be posted as blog entries, and even several parallel "Blog" content can be included on a site. When is it actually good to use "Blog" instead of "Page", there's no help in that, but that's what a beginner needs to know.
There are certain features in Squarespace 6 that work, but should be avoided or a workaround must be used, and these were not covered in the book. Some examples: Copy-pasting text from Word works officially, but it messes up the Content Editor and support told me this is not recommended to do. Pictures can be uploaded in full resolution (like a 5MB file) for page Thumbnails (these are used at several places: in headings, blog indexes, search engine previews), but then they are downloaded each time as a 5 MB image (vs. down-scaling), which make page load times slow, so it is better to be optimised to the highest resolution needed (probably page heading), but this is not mentioned. Or the Analytic section has a number of wired features, like own domains (called custom domains in Squarespace 6 terms) are included in all analytic as external referrers, or self views are only filtered if the site is viewed from the same browser, with admin login, in preview mode, on the Squarespace provided domain (example-user.squarespace.com).
I also missed a feature comparison of the most used templates, and recommendations for different uses. This is a big negative, as templates are as important in Squarespace 6 as the back-end itself, and templates are not equal in features, setup, and functioning. Choosing which template to use in Squarespace 6 is a crucial decision, as it is difficult to change afterwards. Although Squarespace provides template previews, because the features and functioning are not 100%, depending on the given templates, a lot of afterwork needs to be done to move pages, update navigation, adjust links, and so on. Help would have been helpful on how to configure templates to correspond to web usability standards, and Ease of Access (blind users) (see Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) (Voices That Matter)).
I missed help on how to configure Google Analytics in a good way that can overcome the shortcomings of the built in Analytics tool.
However, there were very useful parts as "Bonus" material, which were not directly related to Squarespace 6, at the end of the book.
All in all, what's in the book is good, well written, easy to follow, but there are topics that are important for Squarespace 6 newcomers and I missed these from the book.
I think this book is good if you:
- want to learn how to use Squarespace 6 before configuring a test site (this is a good idea);
- prefer to have a manual off-line (I find books much more efficient vs. browsing help pages in a couple of windows in parallel to my site);
- need guidance from square zero, like how to register (but if you need so much technical assistance, I would suggest use a WYSIWYG or more user friendly site manager, not Squarespace 6);
- in general want a book on Squarespace 6 - as of Oct 2013, this is the only one I've found.
This book is not for you:
- if you want a reference guide for Squarespace 6 features
- if you want to learn the good ways of working of Squarespace 6 (the book is more like a "list of features")
Increased the rating to three stars, based on our discussion in the comments.