Why we built our website using a cheap, off-the-shelf tool

In short, because we had to.

We’re constantly telling fast-growth businesses that they need to be smart about how they spend their money. That a business can be bootstrapped for next to nothing from a marketplace of tools, services, and APIs. And that traditional agency outputs have become commoditised as a result.

So when it came to building our own site, we thought we should take some of our own medicine. And rather than deliver a bespoke build, we chose to tell our story within the limitations of Squarespace.

It’s not the most glamorous option. Not exactly a blank sheet of paper on which limitless possibilities can be sketched. But facts are facts: we went from no website to fully responsive website plus bombproof CMS in two weeks. With no developers. And no further need for them.

And that’s really powerful.

But this isn’t about Squarespace (although there are a few pointers at the bottom if you’re thinking of doing the same) — it’s about the way in which creative consultancies need to work if they are going to stay relevant.

Part of our business will always be focussed on highly technical and completely bespoke experiences like the A.I. powered diagnostic tool we’re building for a medical start-up. But we’re increasingly focussed on how we can design, test and launch new products, brands, and even entire businesses in efficient but scalable ways.

We’ve always known that lightweight, multi-disciplinary teams are best placed to do this. But we’re now supercharging these teams with a marketplace of tools, services, and networked affiliates that amplify their output whilst keeping them lean, efficient, and fast.

Our vision is to continue to build out a marketplace of prototyping tools, content resources, production facilities, and data services that can be easily handled by light-weight teams and, crucially, be quickly handed over to a client with limited scale and capability.

So when we’re looking to test a new proposition with consumers, if we need a simple marketing site for a beta product in soft launch, or we’re trying to lend credibility to an early stage business that needs to secure the next round of funding — then, Squarespace may well be one of a number of tools we pull out of our marketplace. Which means that we can focus on the next big leap required to take a new offer to market, not the ongoing updates and maintenance that keep it there.

We hope you like our new website. You may not be blown away by the functionality. But for us at least, the way we work and the work we make is more important.

It now feels like I should probably write the “Why Agencies should become service layers or marketplaces” article.

Bonus! Some stuff we’ve learnt using Squarespace.

If you’re doing this without a developer, you’ll want to get your actual content in first, try out a few themes to see what presents your content best, and then design fairly closely to that theme.

You can use a range of Squarespace ‘modules’, but they’re not very good and often at odds with the approach you’re taking. Or you can inject your own javascript and CSS into the themes, but that comes with the risk of breaking the site. So it’s best to tweak the look and feel largely from the built-in settings and be prepared to design to, and make compromises in light of, the theme you choose.

Of course, you can simply use the Squarespace CMS and build a front-end from scratch to get exactly what you’re after, but we wanted to explore how we could get a site up and running in a week (you could do it in a day if you’re not too picky) for £15 a month. Because that’s what an ambitious early stage business would do.