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June 12, 2013 View Original Article

Squarespace - Good Guys of Hosting

They're pushing the hosting industry forward, all while maintaining the highest of quality. It's our pleasure to present to you Squarespace as one of the Good Guys of Hosting.

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We managed to get a hold of Anthony Casalena, founder of Squarespace, and asked him a couple questions about the company and the future of hosting.

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WHS: What is the story (idea) behind Squarespace? Why did you decide to start a hosting company? What’s your background?

AC: I created Squarespace in 2004 while attending the University of Maryland as a Computer Science major. At the time, I was trying to make my personal website, and I wasn’t satisfied with any of the existing services for two reasons. First, I wanted a seamless, holistic solution instead of cobbling together a mix of blogging software, statistics software, page builder software, and web hosting services just to get a coherent-looking site published online. The second issue was that no services seemed to base their service around design. Your website is a representation of your online identity – having a modern, professional site that lets your content shine is really important to how you will be perceived. I wanted to create a service that solved both problems.

WHS: What’s it like working at Squarespace? What kind of people work there? What’s a normal day look like for you?

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AC: Working at Squarespace is very much like working at a startup: a very flat structure, very modern tools and system architecture, and a very efficient approval process. Our team consists of some of the most talented designers, engineers and marketers in New York.

I don’t have many ‘normal’ or routine days. I concentrate on giving my attention to the parts of our business that need it most. My responsibilities run the gamut from product direction and new release management to working with our template and marketing teams. These days, I spend most of my time basically removing roadblocks for our team members so they can get their jobs done. While I have very little time for it nowadays, I still like to get involved in coding small features from time to time so I can stay familiar with our code base. It really helps to have both a high and low level perspective on everything that is going on with the company.

WHS: What are the main advantages for a new user to use to Squarespace rather than a popular CMS such as WordPress?

AC: Squarespace’s advantages lie in its design, customer service, and the fact that it’s an all-in-one solution. Squarespace websites are stunning – we spend an immense amount of energy on our designs, and some of our users have won CSS design awards for their sites using our templates. We also try and design every aspect of our customer experience with our service; half of our company is dedicated to customer care, and we serve our customers 24/7 with an average response time of under 10 minutes. Finally, Squarespace was designed from its inception to be an all-in-one content management system. We effortlessly handle blogs, stores, pages, calendars, and more within a single platform. No plugins are required.

WHS: Where do you see Squarespace in the short-term/long-term future?

AC: We have quite a few major developments in the works. The last six months have brought us some really incredible releases, from e-commerce to mobile apps such as Squarespace Note and Squarespace Portfolio. With a team of 120, we can accomplish a remarkable amount at once. You can expect some great innovations from us across both the vertical markets we serve (photographers, business websites, stores, blogs, restaurants, etc.) and the general Squarespace ecosystem.

WHS: What one piece of advice would you give someone starting a website for the first time?

AC: That your website’s design and aesthetics really matter. Packaging matters. Your visitors are going to judge the sophistication of your ideas (or your business) by how it is presented. If your website has a modern look and shows great attention to detail, you will have an easier time getting people to react favorably to your message.

WHS: How do you see the web design/hosting industry moving forward?

AC: I’m excited to see what kinds of experiences and products people will create on the web as JavaScript and CSS become even more serious as development platforms. I’m also quite happy to see that a trend towards simplicity and directness in design, versus clutter and flashiness, is becoming more pervasive as well.

I’m of course biased, but at Squarespace, we feel we’re doing a lot to make these sorts of modern web experiences accessible to the average human. We’ve created a really exceptional development environment with Squarespace 6 — one that we’ve used to create every one of our templates and our own front site. We’ve invested millions of dollars in time and resources in creating our templates. Accessing, using and managing one of these incredible templates is exceptionally easy for a normal person. It’s the best of both worlds: a completely open development system for developers, which allows them to create anything, coupled with a sleek, powerful management interface for consumers, giving them full access to control their websites.

We’ve seen customers using one of our standard templates win CSS and design awards. The people winning those awards aren’t even web developers. It makes us really proud.

WHS: Can you describe Squarespace in three words?

AC: Simple, modern, and elegant.