A pragmatic solution to microsites

Paul Boag

Microsites are sometimes a necessary evil, but they are often poorly implemented. Perhaps Squarespace is the answer.

I won’t lie, I am not a fan of microsites. I think marketing departments use them far too regularly. They are expensive, confuse the user experience and are a pain in the ass to maintain.

That said, I know that sometimes they are a necessity.

Universities in particular need to occasionally create microsites (although not as often as they do). Research projects need to publish their results and having that content as part of the main site doesn’t always make sense.

Events organisers often run multiple microsites for each event they run, especially when there is very little crossover between audiences.

Charities sometimes have local groups that require their own website, separate from the main corporate site.

The list could go on and that is okay. If the site really does cater for a separate audience then having a separate website does make sense.

Unfortunately, these microsites can be a drain on internal web teams. They take time to setup and even more time in training, maintenance and support.

How then can you provide microsites to those who need them, but minimise the costs involved?

Could Squarespace be the answer?

I recently took it upon myself to redesign my dad’s website. He is a wildlife photographer who makes his money through lecturing, writing and an interactive teaching tool he has built. He needed a site to promote that tool and obviously as his web designer son it fell on me.

In the end I decided to use Squarespace to do the job. Aimed squarely at the small business market, Squarespace allows you to quickly build a website with no coding skills through a hosted web app.

It will be easy for dad to make changes to the site and I won’t have to worry about hosting his site. Best of all the sites template based approach ensured that no matter what he did, the site would still look good.

Although Squarespace is aimed at small businesses it is perfect for microsites too.

As I was working on this site I realised that Squarespace was not just a good solution for small businesses like my dad but also for the microsite problem.

It ticks all of the right boxes…

  • It uses template designs that limit what the site owner can do. This ensures the site looks great and is easy to use.
  • It is a hosted service, which means internal web teams don’t need to worry about where the site is hosted.
  • It offers superb support services, so site owners will not be bothering the internal web team.
  • Site owners can set it up themselves and it has everything they need built in. This includes analytics, ecommerce, donations, social network integration, galleries and much more.
  • It has excellent self-service training material so the burden on the internal web team for training will be minimal.
  • It’s cheap at only $8 a month for its basic package.
  • It’s quick to setup. I built my dad’s site in less than half a day.

So next time you cannot dissuade a colleague from building a microsite, try suggesting Squarespace. Its certainly a lot cheaper than them paying some money grabbing agency to do it ;-)