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when building my new site is the paywall bypassed since I'm the site owner?

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First, I'm new to Squarespace, so please understand I just don't automatically know stuff about the platform.  Second, If possible, please don't say "just look it up" as I've spent 3 days trying to do that with zero answers.  

I'm building out my first site and would like to sell a course.  The difference between Member sites and Courses is entirely confusing and I see others are confused in the forum.  The marketing is lacking seriously on this area.  So I'd like a clear definition of the difference please.  

One major issue I see is that when I've built out my site, added a course, then test the site to see if it works - clicking the menu "courses" that I created, takes me straight to the course with zero sign-up or paywall.  Yes I've setup and added the pricing for the course.  Is this because I'm the site owner that it just goes straight to the course, bypassing the paywall and signup?  How am I to test the user experience if that is the case?  The way it looks now is that clicking on my course just lets anyone straight in without capturing their email or payment. 

Edited by Turbiville
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On 9/10/2023 at 12:51 AM, Turbiville said:

I'm building out my first site and would like to sell a course.  The difference between Member sites and Courses is entirely confusing and I see others are confused in the forum.  The marketing is lacking seriously on this area.  So I'd like a clear definition of the difference please.  

I can understand why this is confusing 🙂. Squarespace have intentionally created a lot of flexibility with their new "Digital Products" and, whilst this gives you a lot of power to design it how you want, it can also make it overwhelming and confusing, especially for anyone new to the platform. I've done my best to explain things in my blog post, Can Squarespace do courses? but I'll summarise the main points below.

The Squarespace Digital Products ecosystem includes Courses, Video Libraries and Member Sites (previously called Member Areas).

Courses is designed for structured, ordered lessons that students follow sequentially. For example, Courses would probably be the best option when creating a masterclass for aspiring chefs.

image.thumb.png.8fe1053f32cf1f939d4080be8662466c.png
An example Courses page

A Video Library is an unordered library of video content, allowing students to pick videos at random and watch them. For example, this may suit a yoga studio that offers a library of exercises for students to pick from. 

A Member Site offers the most amount of flexibility, so here's where the explanation can get confusing. A Member Site will allow you to put almost anything behind a "paywall", including Courses and Video Libraries 🤯 ! 

On 9/10/2023 at 12:51 AM, Turbiville said:

clicking the menu "courses"...takes me straight to the course with zero sign-up or paywall.

Is this because I'm the site owner that it just goes straight to the course, bypassing the paywall and signup?  How am I to test the user experience if that is the case?

Whilst logged on to the site as a contributor, you will see all the content. This is normal and is to allow you to edit the content. However, visitors to your website should not see the content if you have setup and applied a pricing plan.

You may find it helpful to read The digital product customer experience support guide. This guide attempts to explain what a visitor will experience. It describes the process of discovering and signing up for Digital Products such as a Member Site, enrolling in a Course, or purchase access to a Videos page.

To test your own website as a visitor, open a private or incognito browser window and then browse to your website using its website address. If you have created a sign-up page or sign-up section, you will be able to select one of your Course options and sign-up. After choosing a pricing plan, you'll be prompted to create a customer account. If you charge for your digital product, you'll see the checkout page after clicking Create account (if your course is free, you'll skip the checkout process).

Let me know if this helps or if you have unanswered questions.

Did this help? Please give feedback by clicking an icon below  ⬇️

Edited by paul2009
edited for brevity

Me: I'm Paul, a SQSP user for >18 yrs & Circle Leader since 2017. I value honesty, transparency, diversity and good design ♥.
Work: Founder of SF.DIGITAL. We provide high quality original extensions to supercharge your Squarespace website. 
Content: Views and opinions are my own. Links in my posts may refer to my own SF.DIGITAL products or may be affiliate links.
Forum advice is completely free. You can thank me by selecting a feedback emoji. Buying a coffee is generous but optional.

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