Webydo to Squarespace

Some time ago I needed to move one of my customers away from their Rapidweaver produced web site to something all together more modern. The RW site had served us well for several years but the last upgrade kind of broke everything and Google was moaning about the site not being fully responsive and how we would drop down the rankings etc.

I mocked up a few demo’s for them using web only tools, after all I would quite like them to take on some of the responsibility for doing their own updates (no they don’t).

On the table were: Wordpress, Squarespace, Webydo and Weebly. All fine products and all capable of doing the job in a professional manner. Indeed Wordpress (this blog) is now so ubiquitous in the field of CMS driven sites. Even though my all time fave is Plone.org.

After much discussion it came down to Squarespace. It looked the most slick but for me was a bit more difficult to get looking pixel placed. You have to sort of throw images and copy at it and hope it works it out. Don’t try just nudging this way or that a few points and expecting it to stick across screens, it doesn’t. This gave me great frustration at first and I thought for a while I just wasn’t going to be able to convert the old site to the new this side of who knows when.

Having said that the responsive capabilities of Squarespace are pretty brilliant. It just works across screens and platforms of all sizes and formats. Plus from the design point of view requires no coding or setting up of separate versions of the site. It’s almost magical.

Webydo on the other hand takes a slightly different approach, you lay out everything, just like in the old days and they do all the back of house coding and serving. It’s initially more work but with the choice of built in fonts and accurate placement the final results should be much more what the designer ordered.

What did interest me between Webydo and Squarespace is that they are both based in New York and looking at the map not a huge distance apart (don’t ask me about the geography of NY, I’m in the UK) and far away from the pressure cooker of ‘The Valley’.

Both platforms have very impressive web presences as one would expect and jolly helpful video tutorials which make both look oh so simple to do the most complex task. These are the digital holy grails of web creation, or so they make you believe and I’m a true sucker for that sort of thing.

Both Webydo and Squarespace offer trial accounts and in the case of Webydo the ability to serve up to 5 pages for free. Having said that the paid Webydo service appears to work out more expensive than Squarespace.

But here comes the wierd bit and the whole point of this missive. I needed to sort out my web presence for 2016, I’ve woefully neglected any promotion for years and as things had gone a tiny bit off the rails back end of 15 I need to do something and quickly.

I’d resolved (not as in new years resolutions) to go with Webydo, wanting the total control and ability to make it my own. So I logged on, cleared down my existing trial account and got to work, not real work, just lets re-familiarise type work. I was unable to add any images to the page, they looked like they had uploaded but nothing came up on screen, all very frustrating and not at all like in the product videos (what is).

Then the phone rang, it came up as International which normally means it’s a man with a dodgy accent trying to sell PPP compensation, a man from Microsoft who will fix my PC (don’t use one) etc.

No, it was a very nice man from Webydo in NYC calling me. Bit of a coincidence I thought, just as I’d started playing with Webydo. No, He’d seen that I’d logged on and thought he’d call to see how I liked the platform.

Now is it me or is that a bit Big Brother ~ 1984? One always assumes that these web based platforms are whirring away deep inside a dater-centre somewhere in the mid-west far from anyone ever actually observing anything. When it goes wrong just try getting to speak to a real person who knows anything. No, this was a real man who’d actually seen me online and phoned me up to talk to me about what I was doing and how I was getting on and with a 5 hour time difference. It spooked me. Then I thought; do I want someone looking over my shoulder seeing what I’m designing and making some sort of value judgment on it? ‘That’s a bit of a crappy logo, can’t he come up with anything better than that?’. I’m sure all he wanted was to sell, sell, sell just like the PPP salesmen.

He then went on to explain that possibly the reason my images had not uploaded as because I was using Safari on a Mac. He said it used to work fine but now they expect users to work on Google Chrome on a desktop machine. “So it won’t work on Firefox Developer Edition either?”, “No”, “Nor iPad?” “No”. “So that’s not much of a version upgrade is it, if it used to work fine but not now?” “No”. This really wasn’t going well as a selling exercise. When I explained I was trying to De-Google my self and was not prepared to install Chrome on my iMac and that Squarespace didn’t put those sort or restrictions on it’s users he admitted that designers liked to use their Macs and it was a bit of an issue.

I next spent the following few hours trying Chromium on Linux, the box was too slow, then installing VirtualBox on my iMac with Linux Mint 16 and Chromium and that didn’t work too well either.

We expect to be constantly watched over by the authorities and large corporations in what ever we do and where ever we do it and whilst they may know our all down to the last transaction at Waitrose or Aldi they are not making value judgments. While I’m sure the intervention on the phone was well intended I didn’t want to think there was someone watching how or what I worked on then ringing me up if it’s crap.

So, if you made it this far I think I’ll go with Squarespace and put up with letting them sort out the fiddly bits of my layout.