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Tech Tip: SquareSpace.com- Website Builder

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What is SquareSpace?
An alternative platform to WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, etc. for creating a real estate blog.

How does it work?
It breaks the parts of your website into groups and lets you snap them together to make a site you want, sort of like what iGoogle does for start pages.

How do I get started?
SquareSpace.com offers a free 14 day trial membership – no credit card required and no commitment. After the trial they offer 5 levels of membership, ranging from $8 – $50 per month with the majority of real estate blogs falling into the lower category. All plans include hosting but you’ll need to step up $14/month if you want to use a custom URL.

What I like
It’s simple to put together a fairly good looking website in a small amount of time. You can choose from nearly any type of page: journal (blog), photo gallery, maps, links, file storage, discussion, contact form and a few others with similar widgets available for the sidebar. The fact that hosting is included is a major plus – no need to search for a reliable provider. Real-time analytics are available, along with several video tutorials and a community forum.

What I think is so-so
SquareSpace.com itself runs off their platform (you’d hope so, wouldn’t you?) and the examples they give look amazing. However, unless you’re already well versed in CSS your site won’t look nearly as good. Custom designers can be found through the community forum but that throws the low cost factor out the window. There are currently only 64 templates – which may seem like a lot but compared to thousands of WordPress templates it’s fairly limiting. Email or phone support isn’t provided, only a ticketing system. I haven’t tested the response time but hopefully questions are answered in 5 minutes and not 48 hours.

What I don’t like
ss_modesHaving 3 different editing modes is somewhat confusing at first. Content mode (large A) edits the actual content on the page. Structure mode (blocks) edits the position of where the content and widgets are placed. Style mode (paint brush) edits the template and appearance. Being a WordPress user for several years, my biggest beef with SquareSpace is not being able to add plugins. Some of the WP plugins I use aren’t needed, but I’d rather use the All In One SEO Pack instead of trusting that my site will be indexed correctly.

In Summary…
SquareSpace is an easy to setup, fairly low cost, visually appealing template site that could be a good alternative to other blogging platforms. Give the no-obligation 14 day trial a run and see if it works for your website needs.

DISCLAIMER:
Clicking on the links above will cause you to be redirected to SquareSpace.com. The author does not monetarily benefit from mentioning SquareSpace.com in this article and is unaware if any affiliate program benefit exists between AgentGenius.com and SquareSpace.com. Normally a disclaimer like this isn’t necessary, but due to some unruly comments in my prior article I figured it was better to be pro-active. Now if you’re still reading then go check out SquareSpace.com, they’re pretty rad.

As the son of two music teachers, Ben spent his first 21 years trying to make a living with his slightly above average trumpet playing. After no return calls from Dizzy Gillespie and then a failed attempt at becoming a fly girl on "In Living Color," he switched gears and finally found his nichè in real estate. He's a Minnesota appraiser and also a Realtor with his better half, Stacia. Labeled “one to watch” from an anonymous source (thanks mom), Ben is smart, good looking, athletic and a rock star inside his own head. He also never passes up a chance to write his own bio. Find him online at twitter or selling Stillwater Real Estate.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Lani Rosales

    June 5, 2009 at 11:32 am

    I like how streamlined the user interface is. Good find, Ben! 🙂

  2. Erion Shehaj

    June 5, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Speaking from personal experience, the ticketing system works pretty well. Often times, questions are answered from designers or programmers directly involved with the product development which makes it easier to actually get quality answers. What I like the most of SS is the ability to build an actual website instead of a blogsite. Some WP templates (like the AG one) allow some mimicking of a website but in my opinion SS does a better job of this.

  3. Ben Goheen

    June 6, 2009 at 1:12 am

    @Erion – good to hear the ticketing service is pretty quick. I’ve seen that system mainly with hosting providers and it can be really great or just a disaster. I also agree that once you get used to the UI it’s much easier to tweak a SS site instead of trying to hack a WP template.

  4. Erion Shehaj

    June 6, 2009 at 1:14 am

    @ErionHouston might work better 😉 Everyone knows the AgentGenius crowd are some twitterheads

  5. Matt Fagioli

    June 7, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Good review above. I think this is gonna work for a lot of agents, etc. The interface seems so much more elegant than wordpress.

    I’m using SquareSpace.com for a new project (used WP for everything we’ve done in the last few years). One of the cool features is the way they deal with community building and levels-of-membership. We’ll see.

  6. Erion Shehaj

    June 8, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Squarespace pulled off a brilliant marketing strategy today by making Twitter go crazy over their giving away an iPhone a day for a whole month to people that would tweet using #squarespace. Made it into top trending topics in a day wholly dominated by Apple. That might be a bit unrelated to this post, but I like the way they think… just sayin’

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Zillow launches real estate brokerage after eons of swearing they wouldn’t

(MEDIA) We’ve warned of this for years, the industry funded it, and Zillow Homes brokerage has launched, and there are serious questions at hand.

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Zillow Homes was announced today, a Zillow licensed brokerage that will be fully operational in 2021 in Phoenix, Tucson, and Atlanta.

Whoa, big huge yawn-inducing shocker, y’all.

We’ve been warning for more than a decade that this was the end game, and the company blackballed us for our screams (and other criticisms, despite praise when merited here and there).

Blog posts were penned in fiery effigy calling naysayers like us stupid and paranoid.

Well color me unsurprised that the clarity of the gameplan was clear as day all along over here, and the paid talking heads sent out to astroturf, gaslight, and threaten us are now all quiet.

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We watched The Social Dilemma – here are some social media tips that stuck with us

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Here are some takeaways from watching Netflix’s The Social Dilemma that helped me to eliminate some social media burnout.

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Last weekend, I made the risky decision to watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix. I knew it was an important thing to watch, but the risk was that I also knew it would wig me out a bit. As much as I’m someone who is active “online,” the concept of social media overwhelms me almost more than it entertains (or enlightens) me.

The constant sharing of information, the accessibility to information, and the endless barrage of notifications are just a few of the ways social media can cause overwhelm. The documentary went in deeper than this surface-level content and got into the nitty gritty of how people behind the scenes use your data and track your usage.

Former employees of high-profile platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, and Pinterest gave their two cents on the dangers of social media from a technological standpoint. Basically, our data isn’t just being tracked to be passed along for newsletters and the like. But rather, humans are seen as products that are manipulated to buy and click all day every day in order to make others money and perpetuate information that has astronomical effects. (I’m not nearly as intelligent as these people, so watch the documentary to get the in-depth look at how all of this operates.)

One of the major elements that stuck with me was the end credits of The Social Dilemma where they asked interviewees about the ways they are working to eliminate social media overwhelm in their own lives. Some of these I’ve implemented myself and can attest to. Here’s a short list of things you can do to keep from burning out online.

  1. Turn off notifications – unless there are things you need to know about immediately (texts, emails, etc.) turn it off. Getting 100 individual notifications within an hour from those who liked your Instagram post will do nothing but burn you (and your battery) out.
  2. Know how to use these technologies to change the conversation and not perpetuate things like “fake news” and clickbait.
  3. Uninstall apps that are wasting your time. If you feel yourself wasting hours per week mindlessly scrolling through Facebook but not actually using it, consider deleting the app and only checking the site from a desktop or Internet browser.
  4. Research and consider using other search tools instead of Google (one interviewee mentioned that Qwant specifically does not collect/store your information the way Google does).
  5. Don’t perpetuate by watching recommended videos on YouTube, those are tailored to try and sway or sell you things. Pick your own content.
  6. Research the many extensions that remove these recommendations and help stop the collection of your data.

At the end of the day, just be mindful of how you’re using social media and what you’re sharing – not just about yourself, but the information you’re passing along from and to others. Do your part to make sure what you are sharing is accurate and useful in this conversation.

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WeChat ban blocked by California judge, but for how long?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) WeChat is protected by First Amendment concerns for now, but it’s unclear how long the app will remain as pressure mounts.

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WeChat barely avoided a US ban after a Californian judge stepped in to temporarily block President Trump’s executive order. Judge Laurel Beeler cited the effects of the ban on US-based WeChat users and how it threatened the First Amendment rights of those users.

“The plaintiffs’ evidence reflects that WeChat is effectively the only means of communication for many in the community, not only because China bans other apps, but also because Chinese speakers with limited English proficiency have no options other than WeChat,” Beeler wrote.

WeChat is a Chinese instant messaging and social media/mobile transaction app with over 1 billion active monthly users. The WeChat Alliance, a group of users who filed the lawsuit in August, pointed out that the ban unfairly targets Chinese-Americans as it’s the primary app used by the demographic to communicate with loved ones, engage in political discussions, and receive news.

The app, along with TikTok, has come under fire as a means for China to collect data on its users. U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has stated, “At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.”

This example is yet another symptom of our ever-globalizing society where we are learning to navigate between connectivity and privacy. The plaintiffs also pointed out alternatives to an outright ban. One example cited was in Australia, where WeChat is now banned from government officials’ phones but not others.

Beeler has said that the range in alternatives to preserving national security affected her decision to strike down the ban. She also explained that in regards to dealing with national security, there is “scant little evidence that (the Commerce Department’s) effective ban of WeChat for all US users addresses those concerns.”

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