13 reasons why Squarespace beats Wordpress, Wix, and all other website building tools

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A long running debate between bloggers is what hosting platform provider to use, with one of the biggest comparisons being between Wordpress versus Squarespace.  Usually there are some good points for each, but I wanted to provide a clear, in-depth look at why I think Squarespace is the best and should be strongly considered if you are looking to start and website and/or blog.

I have been a Squarespace customer since 2009, and over the course of that time, I have had multiple websites on the platform.  All told, I have had around two dozen websites with Squarespace, so that should tell you something about how much I trust the platform.  To be fair, I have also used Wordpress, mostly for work situations when I couldn’t convince the designers to use Squarespace.  So I have experience in both, but Squarespace wins hands-down for me.  Here are the XXX reasons why.

1. Safe, secure, and hassle-free

With a Squarespace website, I never have to worry about my sites being compromised due to security vulnerabilities.  I don’t have to worry about plugins that have not been updated by developers that might allow hackers to sneak in and do damage.  Squarespace sites are hosted in a controlled environment, using widgets and plugins that Squarespace developers build and manage.  Sure, I might be limited on the plugins I can use in Squarespace, but more on that later.

2. Awesome uptime

My sites are never down and performance is always top-notch.  My sites load quickly and never produce errors.  When there is a problem, it is corrected very quickly without any noticeable impact.  Hats off to the Squarespace engineer team for building an unbelievable infrastructure that has scaled incredibly well over the years.

3. Squarespace plans are affordable

Squarespace has a simple pricing structure.  You can select to have your account billed either monthly or annually (annual option offers a significant discount).  You can upgrade or downgrade at any time, cancel your account at anytime, and you can start with a free trial.  You can even purchase your domain name through Squarespace, so you literally can manage your whole site - from domain to hosting - all in one place.  No hunting around for hosting companies and domain providers like with Wordpress.

4. eCommerce capabilities built right in

You have products you want to sell on your website.  With other sites, you need to purchase special shopping cart tools and mess around with processing payments.  With Squarespace, they have all of eCommerce needs you have built-in to the professional package.  It is amazing how well it works and how seamless it is to implement.  For this reason alone, Squarespace is the platform to pick.

5. The beautiful templates

I don’t know what the current count is up to at this point, but let’s just say there is no issue with finding a template that works for you (or the business you run, if that is your gig).  I have heard that Squarespace is only good for artists and photographers, given the number of templates they have that support those creators, but I wouldn’t squawk at the options available to bloggers and those out to boost their personal brand.

6. Templates not enough? Developer access!

If you are like me, the pre-built templates will be fine, but if you want to get under the hood and make some custom adjustments to the theme, Squarespace lets you do that.

7. Easy to use interface

Building a Squarespace site is super easy. It is all drag-and-drop and entering text in boxes.  But don’t think of Wix type drag-and-drop - Squarespace is much for fluid and easy to make look great and professional.

8. Check your analytics on-the-fly

While I count of Google Analytics to provide my site metric data, I know that not everyone needs that level of complexity. Well, for those interested in the basics, Squarespace has analytics built-in to the platform.  They track various metrics, including: number of visits, device types, sources, browser type, operating system, content metrics, locations of visitors, form and button conversions, site search queries, RSS subscriber counts, search engines queries, and a raw data activity log.

9. SEO friendliness

Squarespace is built in a way that naturally helps you optimize for search engines, so you don’t have to worry about using another tool.  All of the data points you need to provide Google with the goods are predefined and simple to fill out.

10. Integrations with 3rd party tools

For email marketing, I use MailChimp, which Squarespace offers a direct integration with.  Access to utilize Google’s G Suite is built-in.  All the social media tools are built-in, including some unique integrations with Pinterest.

11. Great variety of page types

Building a blog is super easy with Squarespace, but you can also build other types of pages (which do have template options as well), including blank pages, product pages, cover pages, album pages (for music artists), event pages, and gallery pages (great for photographers to showcase their work).

12. Content blocks and widgets galore!

Within each of your Squarespace pages, you have the ability to add a ton of different elements.  Here are some you can access and use to build your webpages:

CONTENT TYPES

Text

Markdown

Quote boxes

Images

Video

Audio

Forms

Newsletter integration

Maps

Calendars

Search boxes

Tag Clouds

Content Archives

Donations

Spacers, Lines, Buttons, and Embed code

IMAGE LAYOUT STYLES

Poster

Card

Overlap

Collage

Stack

IMAGE GALLERY STYLES

Slideshow

Carousel

Grid

Stack

CHARTS

Bar

Line

Pie

SOCIAL BLOCKS

Twitter

Foursquare

500px

Instagram

Flickr

Soundcloud

SERVICES

Amazon

OpenTable

BandsInTown

Zola

Acuity

13. The Squarespace Support Team

With any of the Squarespace plans, you get access to a great, helpful support team.  I have had many questions over the years on how to implement various things, and the support team has always been very quick in their responses.  This support team is on top of a very deep FAQ section you have access to, as well.

9 Years and Counting for BobStanke.com

I have trusted my flagship domain, bobstanke.com, with Squarespace for nine years now and I have never looked back.  For all the reasons above, and all the ones that might make a difference for you, I cannot recommend Squarespace enough.  Visit my Partner page to start your free trial today!  If you have any other questions, or need help setting up your next Squarespace site, drop me a note on my Contact page.

An in-depth look at the digital marketing metric "Return On Ad Spend"

There are a lot of ways to measure the success of a digital marketing campaign.  You can look at web traffic numbers, conversion rates, email list subscribers, and that is just to name a few.  Among the many different measures of success, one popular metric to look at is "Return On Ad Spend" (ROAS).  Return On Ad Spend is exactly as it sounds - it is a calculation of the revenue generated on the dollar spend against it.  ROAS can be shown as a comprehensive metric for the entire digital campaign, or broken out by the different digital channels that were executed against (social, email, etc.).

The Return On Ad Spend Formula

The ROAS calculation is incredibly simple.  The ROAS equation is:

ROAS = Campaign Revenue / Campaign Spend

As simple as the ROAS equation is, the metric by itself can sometimes be misleading.  In the brief video below, I explain that sometimes ROAS can be decreasing and why that is not always a bad thing.

Another possible calculation for Return On Ad Spend

There are some in the digital industry that have offered up an alternative equation for ROAS. The formula looks like this:

ROAS = (Channel Revenue - Channel Spend) / Channel Spend

The best way I can describe the above equation is to think of the spend as a "bank loan".  You borrowed the funds to execute the campaign, and you have to pay it back before you can take credit for the return.  This is not the equation I would recommend using for ROAS, but I just wanted to throw it out there as something you might see.

Final Thoughts on ROAS

Return On Ad Spend is an important metric to calculate, but I believe it should only be viewed as a moment-in-time-metric.  It can tell a story about one particular time in a campaign, and should not be over analyzed as a trend metric.

Modern Portable HIFI ELITE Super 66 Bluetooth Headphones

I have never been an audio quality snob. For the most part, I can typically be found sporting the cheap pair of earbuds that came with whatever smartphone I happen to be rocking at any given time.  As long as I can hear the audio that I am listening to clearly, I am not picky about anything beyond that.  Some of that might be because I listen to mostly podcasts and audiobooks, and very little music. So I don't care much about bass and other audio elements.

When I was putting together my Christmas list this previous holiday season, I decided that I would like a pair of over-the-ear, Beats-like headphones.  However, because I don't care much about audio like some people, I didn't see a reason for anyone in my family to drop $300+ to get me Beats headphones or anything like that.  I just wanted something simple and good.

I did an extensive amount of research to find a pair of over-the-ear headphones that were less than $100.  My search landed me on Modern Portable's website, and to their HIFI ELITE Super 66 Bluetooth Headphones.  Initially I was drawn to the slick look and great reviews, both from individuals on Amazon and tech sites I trust (CNET).  So I dropped them on my list.

Despite some shipping issues, I finally got my hands on a pair for Christmas!  Hands down, for a non-audio-snob guy, I love these headphones. Perfect for a guy like me and right in the price-point I was targeting ($69.99 on Amazon).  Could not be happier.

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They are lightweight, fold up nicely, have great bass (I may or may not have jammed out to some 90's hip hop to test that out), Bluetooth is clear and not static-y and you can wire it up as well, and a long battery life (around eight hours for me through the last couple of weeks).  The brushed metal design is super slick looking as well.

I highly recommend these headphones for someone who is similar to me and doesn't care so much about super high quality headphones or is brand sensitive.  Solid headphones.

Anthropomorphism and Robotics: How the design of robots will affect human and artificial intelligence interactions

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As humans, we have a natural tendency to give non-human things names and intentions.  For example, I know that many individuals give their car a name.  In high school, I named my 1989 Pontiac 6000, “Sharon”, after famous actress Sharon Stone, who I had a crush on at the time (okay, may still have a crush on).  When hurricane season hits the United States, we give the tropical storms and hurricanes names.  The recent winter storm that hit the east coast of the United States was named “Grayson”.  During “Winter Storm Grayson”, a headline on weather.com (shown upper-right) even attributed eight deaths to Grayson, as if it was a person who had committed a violent crime.  We look up at the sky, shake our fists, and curse the actions of storms and other non-human objects, much like we might do to another person.

This human tendency is called anthropomorphism.  By definition, anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities. It is a part of our natural human psychology, and it will play an even bigger role as the advancement of robots accelerates.

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In fact, anthropomorphism is being strongly considered as robots are being designed.  The more human-looking a robot is, the more we humans will attempt to connect with the robot, specifically on an emotional level.

I am very interested in this topic and something I am watching very closely.  If you are interested in learning more about what researchers are working on in regards to anthropomorphism and robotics, I have included some links below to check out.

RESOURCES

Anthropomorphism and Robotics - Brian R. Duffy

Anthropomorphism and Human Likeness in the Design of Robots and Human-Robot Interaction - Julia Fink

The Interactive Effects of Robot Anthropomorphism and Robot Ability on Perceived Threat and Support for Robotics Research - Kumar Yogeeswaran

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Topics at CES 2018

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CES 2018 takes place this week, and there is no shortage of topics to follow.  This year, I am going pay close attention to three main topics: artificial intelligence, drones, and robotics - each which have numerous conference sessions.

Robotics will be a popular track, given that 2018 is expected to be a year with lots of advancement in how humans and machines interact.

This is not the first time robots have been on the CES show floor, but they're usually more of a novelty than a real product. This year, thanks to all the progress that has been made with artificial intelligence and voice-controlled smart speakers, robots are becoming more and more useful. One area to watch for at CES 2018 will be mobile service robots, which can handle deliveries and other simple tasks.

Companion robots are also on the rise, though we are probably still a few years away from that truly becoming a reality. As smart assistants get refined personalities and get better at natural conversation, they could be a natural fit for robots.  My question is, once companion robots begin to take hold, how long before our interaction with them becomes relationship-based?

Check out all the topics and schedules for artificial intelligence, drones, and robotics discussions and demonstrations on the CES website.