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Questions Re: Squarekicker Use as a Designer

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Hi, All,

I have recently been experimenting with the Squarekicker extension and really enjoy using it thus far. As their marketing states, it really does cut down on certain CSS tasks that can consume a fair amount of time during the course of a normal site build. I have had occasion to speak by e-mail with Squarekicker customer service and was impressed with their response time and helpfulness. I also appreciate that I heard directly from Nick, who I believe is their founder, who helped address a few minor issues I experienced when signing up for Squarekicker initially (no fault of Squarekicker.) All in all, a very cool new tool that seems to be supported by a solid group of professionals.

My primary questions moving forward are for anyone who may already be integrating Squarekicker into client site builds.

• How are you handling the site hand-off to clients with regard to how you document the use of Squarekicker in their project in any pre- or post-build materials? Because the code is stored with Squarekicker, you cannot just pass it on with the site as you can the CSS you add yourself within the Squarespace interface. As a result, I see no way around acknowledging that you have used this external tool to design certain elements of their site. (Not that I wish to "hide" it, at any rate, but it is an additional thing that probably needs to be disclosed to the client since they'll need to have their own Squarekicker subscription in the future to alter anything you did to their site with Squarekicker.)

• Have you found a tactful way to explain to clients that, should they choose to further customize their site on their own or use another designer for any changes down the road, they will need to pay an additional fee to Squarekicker to do so?

I am wondering if some clients will balk at being told they have their Squarespace subscription fees, as well as potential Squarekicker fees on top of that should they ever decide to modify certain aspects of their site.

I personally do not think it's a huge deal, but I know some clients might.

Another concern I have is if, as mentioned above, a client were to ask another designer to modify their site in the future and the other designer sees that I have used something like Squarekicker -- will this hurt my reputation as a designer? Yes, I know how to code in most all of what Squarekicker enables me to do, but I love the time-saving simplicity of Squarekicker for more mundane functions like overlapping sections, image effects, text changes, and general layout arrangement. I just can't yet conjure up a way to explain my use of such a tool without at some point hearing accusations of "You're not a real designer if you need a tool like that" or similar. 😑

While I feel reasonably confident in my skills and approach to my business generally, this is one area that is new and foreign to me and in which I could use some advice. Genuinely appreciate any helpful feedback!

Thanks!

Heather

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I see this in, computer years, as an ancient non-productive argument. Whether an internal or external argument. There are always folks that are going to say oh if you use this or that tool you are not a real designer/programmer. Bullpucky! Ignore that FUD!

As long as you disclose to your client that you are using a tool that you believe will increase productivity/shorten development time, what it will take if you don't use the tool, and they sign off on the tool use, then you are good to go. Don't worry about what people are going to think down the road after you leave the project. Do your best work and let it lie.

You can also decide if you want to do the project with or without the tool. If I found a tool really useful I would have no problem telling a potential client that for me to do a project requires them buying a particular tool and if they don't want to use the tool then we can not proceed with the project. 

Edited by creedon

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Thanks for this; I appreciate the excellent advice!

I think my next move simply needs to be adding this to the list of things I discuss with each client during pre-build consults, giving each the choice and explaining Squarekicker and what it does. If a client would prefer me not use it, I'm certainly okay with that. I'll just appreciate those projects where I can have it as a handy "shortcut" more. 🙂

 

 

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The co-owners Nick & Hannah are wonderful! I've had many interactions with them through email & social media and their recent webinar was awesome, giving us a chance to give them real-time feedback & ask questions live. The SK team is always extremely receptive to feedback and always happy to help if I have a question, any time.

As a long-time user myself (I've used it for over a year now, having signed up to try the Beta version when they first launched last fall & just renewed my plan this month), I'll answer your questions with my own experience & opinions:

  • Site handoff can still be easy, even if I used SquareKicker! While designing, I try to be conscious of whether I think the client will want to perform edits in SK after handoff or not, and then use that to decide which types of edits I make with SK so they don't cause confusion down the road, as the one downside is that there's not really a visible sign that a block has been edited by SK until you open the SK editor so it can be hard for clients to know whether to edit a style in Site Styles or SK. That said:
    • My clients don't tend to be in industries that keep their site's content updated as often as I do, and so they don't tend to want to edit design stuff after handoff, just content; they also don't want the subscription or to learn an additional thing. I teach my client the how-tos of basic edits & content updates in Squarespace, then remove the site from the Active list in my SquareKicker account so it no longer counts toward my 10 Active sites. If the client needs an adjustment to something I've edited using SK, then I put it back in the Active list, make the changes & once the client is satisfied, I move it back to Inactive. Easy peasy.
    • IF the client DOES want to use SK to edit themselves & take over the subscription, that's easy as well: simply email Nick & tell him specifically what Squarespace website url you need transferred & share the email the client used to signed up for their free trial of SK. Nick transfers the code/changes made with SK and the ownership of the plugin to the client's SK account FOR us; this removes it from my entire site list, gives client full access & they can choose what plan they want, while keeping the changes I made with it & the ability to make further changes themselves.
      • If the client's subscription lapses, the design changes STAY, but further changes aren't allowed until the subscription is active again.
         
  • SK's subscription cost for clients: Of course! I just explain that SK gives them more design power which will help their site be more unique, but it's an external plugin not native to Squarespace. If they want to use it themselves or have ownership of how it works, they can opt to pay for it longterm (annually) or month-by-month as needed, subscribing & cancelling the subscription when they need to use it & when they don't. It doesn't have to be an ongoing cost, which is nice!
    • A happy side effect of keeping their site in my SK site list, is that I essentially take on the cost as I'm paying for the Designer Plan which allows 10 active sites regardless of what they decide, and I can keep their site in my Active or Inactive list as needed. Inactive sites don't count toward my Active 10, so I rarely reach the limit, but I do typically have 3-5 Active at any given time.
       
  • On your last concern about not being a "real designer" if you use a tool like SquareKicker, that's just BS and/or imposter syndrome making you second guess yourself! I daresay anyone can say that about anyone, regardless of whether they used a tool like SK or not –just based on a judgment of skills & what was done in the design, alone. 😂 In fact, I recently had a client reach out who'd had their site designed IN Sqsp 2-3 years ago and I've NEVER seen a Sqsp site look so much like something that originated in the late 90s or early 00s. I honestly had no idea Sqsp sites could even look that dated & with a severe lack of design strategy, –and yes I definitely judged the designer a bit! Here's a few things that actually matter, regarding this argument though:
    • 1) You are a designer if you did the work, the work is functional for the client, the finished product ultimately helped their business, you got paid to do it, and the client is happy. That's really all that matters.
    • 2) Design & Development are 2 completely different things. I am a "web designer"  and I'm confident in that title; while I can write basic HTML and CSS, I would not call myself (& don't want to be) a "web developer" & that's okay with me! There is a place for both.
    • 3) The nature of how the Sqsp platform works means that more extreme customizations HAVE to be coded in, because it's not included in the native features. Whether or not you write the code yourself points more toward whether or not you've ALSO got some development skills.
    • 4) Anything that saves time is gold to people who work with clients 1:1, because our time is literally money, whether that means automations used in our CRMs or tools like SK –both save us time, but one wouldn't mock us for saving time writing emails or reminders to clients manually when we can automate that & save time. Same deal with using SK; it accomplishes the same task, but faster.
    • 5) I think SK works for many levels of designers, who know coding basics, who can code sites from the ground up, or can't write code at all, which is pretty amazing. Those who would scoff at it or make fun of "us" for using it, etc likely aren't designing on Sqsp to begin with, so I wouldn't let this worry you. I've used it for over a year myself, and some of the changes I make with it, I could write myself but the fact that I don't have to is nice!
    • 6) I'd argue that using SK to make custom changes can actually be smarter than writing the code ourselves if the client isn't on a site maintenance package with you, because if Sqsp changes the code on their backend and our custom code stops working because of that change, it's because the static code written won't update itself; the customization may break resulting in a panicked client request to fix it. BUT if we use SK for stuff like that, this is something they stay on top of for us, so as the code changes on Sqsp's end, SK will quickly update the way the plugin implements those design changes, which keeps things from breaking, and our clients from panicking that something looks wrong or doesn't work/display/whatever. 🙌🏻
    • 7) I also do subcontract work for another Sqsp designer who also uses it for her clients as well, and when I build the sites for her (& also use SK during the build), I just handoff ownership of that site's SK plugin to her when the build is done and she chooses whether to keep the site in her plan or pass off to her client. So never doubt that "real" designers are using it in the wild! lol

Hope that helps! 😄

 

On 10/26/2021 at 12:51 AM, hdledbetter said:

Hi, All,

I have recently been experimenting with the Squarekicker extension and really enjoy using it thus far. As their marketing states, it really does cut down on certain CSS tasks that can consume a fair amount of time during the course of a normal site build. I have had occasion to speak by e-mail with Squarekicker customer service and was impressed with their response time and helpfulness. I also appreciate that I heard directly from Nick, who I believe is their founder, who helped address a few minor issues I experienced when signing up for Squarekicker initially (no fault of Squarekicker.) All in all, a very cool new tool that seems to be supported by a solid group of professionals.

My primary questions moving forward are for anyone who may already be integrating Squarekicker into client site builds.

• How are you handling the site hand-off to clients with regard to how you document the use of Squarekicker in their project in any pre- or post-build materials? Because the code is stored with Squarekicker, you cannot just pass it on with the site as you can the CSS you add yourself within the Squarespace interface. As a result, I see no way around acknowledging that you have used this external tool to design certain elements of their site. (Not that I wish to "hide" it, at any rate, but it is an additional thing that probably needs to be disclosed to the client since they'll need to have their own Squarekicker subscription in the future to alter anything you did to their site with Squarekicker.)

• Have you found a tactful way to explain to clients that, should they choose to further customize their site on their own or use another designer for any changes down the road, they will need to pay an additional fee to Squarekicker to do so?

I am wondering if some clients will balk at being told they have their Squarespace subscription fees, as well as potential Squarekicker fees on top of that should they ever decide to modify certain aspects of their site.

I personally do not think it's a huge deal, but I know some clients might.

Another concern I have is if, as mentioned above, a client were to ask another designer to modify their site in the future and the other designer sees that I have used something like Squarekicker -- will this hurt my reputation as a designer? Yes, I know how to code in most all of what Squarekicker enables me to do, but I love the time-saving simplicity of Squarekicker for more mundane functions like overlapping sections, image effects, text changes, and general layout arrangement. I just can't yet conjure up a way to explain my use of such a tool without at some point hearing accusations of "You're not a real designer if you need a tool like that" or similar. 😑

While I feel reasonably confident in my skills and approach to my business generally, this is one area that is new and foreign to me and in which I could use some advice. Genuinely appreciate any helpful feedback!

Thanks!

Heather

 

 

Katelyn Dekle
W E B S I T E   •   B L O G
982469962_LTDTTM-logofullcolorrgb.thumb.png.ad2aea32c22909f17f5b13aacfe9383e.png

 

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@LaunchTheDamnThing,

I’m very grateful to you for taking the time to offer your advice, personal experience, and encouragement – thank you! (And I realized, after seeing your username, that I have been on your site before and it’s beautiful!)

You make a great point with regard to different clients being comfortable with different levels of involvement with their site and how that should factor into SK usage. I would say that, thus far, my clients tend to fall along a 50/50 split as far as how “busy” they like to be with their sites. (Is it bad that I sometimes wish most of them did NOT want to play with their new toy after I finish making it?) I try to elicit this information from them during the pre-build phase, so I know what I’m dealing with. For those who express a desire to regularly “fuss” with their site, I do take a slightly different approach to what and how I code for them. It would seem that SK could be considered and treated similarly.

Thank you for explaining how you use the “Active” sites feature of your SK account, too! I was eyeing the “Designer” tier of the subscription options but for now have the one-site Pro tier, (experimenting on my own before playing with others’ sites.) I was a bit fuzzy on precisely how moving sites in and out of “Active” mode worked, but that sounds awesome! 

Ah, and imposter syndrome is real! I think, still being relatively new to web design (just a few years in, as it were), I just want to ensure I’m really doing right by my clients. I’m a bit neurotic about details and what-ifs and have a tendency to privately make myself a little nuts worrying about anything and everything. I would hate for them to go elsewhere down the road for whatever reason and feel, after speaking with another designer, that I had shortchanged them by not coding everything manually…or something to that effect, if that makes sense.

I did have a bit of a laugh when you described the SQSP site that looked like it had stepped out of 1999 -- not out of meanness, mind you -- but because I too have seen more than one of those and was similarly stunned when I realized they were SQSP sites! (I confess that sometimes those inadvertent discoveries DO make me feel a bit better about my skillset...but then I feel bad for that making me feel better. Well, I mean…we’re being polite and not naming names, so there’s that!) 😉 (And everyone must start somewhere, I know.)

I sincerely appreciate your closing comments regarding what constitutes a “real” web designer. I am a designer, for sure not a developer. I can write a fair amount of HTML, CSS, and juuust enough JS to be dangerous, but I defer to those far more experienced than me on that end of things, generally.

Excellent point regarding SK being analogous to things like Dubsado, etc. Time is money, as you said, and I can see SK saving me plenty of the former and potentially earning me a bit more of the latter. Also: another great point concerning backend code alterations! I do very much dig that aspect of SK being on top of any SQSP changes for us. SQSP alone saves SO much agony and labor compared to WordPress, for example, and SK just kind of adds another layer of comfort with the code being stored separately from the main SQSP CSS we implement ourselves.

You have given me much food for thought and offered a very helpful array of info and insights, and I thank you again! Your time and knowledge are much appreciated!

Heather

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@hdledbetter 

Thank you for the compliment on my site! 😍

And you're quite welcome! It's a totally new tool unlike anything else out there so it's 100% fair to have questions about it. I'm a detail-oriented person too, and a problem solver by nature so I completely understand what you mean about falling into a rabbit hole of what-ifs. To get out of that, I just had to "take messy action" and see how things worked in real life. I tried it on my own site first, then in a trial site, and just kind of expanded from there as I got more & more comfortable with it. I also asked Nick & Hannah LOTS of questions in the beginning. 😂

Yeah, I mean I don't want to be mean-spirited in pointing out that person's poor design skills, but who's still designing sites like the ones from '99/00s? Even the ones I've seen that are meant to be a throwback with a nod to the old styles (but with a modern twist) weren't like the one I just saw. The designer's link in the footer showed they are more of a photographer & videographer, as their site didn't mention website design as a service at all, so who knows what really happened there. I like giving people the benefit of the doubt, so maybe it was a free/barter kind of thing with someone the client knew personally. Who knows. 😉

Anyway, try not to fall too deep into the what-ifs, –you've got this! I'm sure every designer that comes in after a previous one is a little bit confused, because we all operate a bit differently with different preferences for this or that which make sense to us (& how WE work, but maybe not to others), so that's kind of to be expected. At least with SK the code is backed up & still accessible, so if the next person comes in & needs to see it to make sense of things, they can still see all the custom code written by SK.

As far as swapping sites in/out from Active to Inactive & back within our SK dashboard, I have a tutorial post on that too, over here. There's a video at the end of the post so you can literally see how it works in my account. The dashboard style has changed a bit since that post, but the process is still the same. 🙂

Happy I was able to answer so many of your questions! 

Katelyn Dekle
W E B S I T E   •   B L O G
982469962_LTDTTM-logofullcolorrgb.thumb.png.ad2aea32c22909f17f5b13aacfe9383e.png

 

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