For most of this year, I’ve known that I wanted to do more with my site, get into offering courses and other fun things, and really start to focus on growing this into something bigger and better. I knew I probably needed to overhaul my site beyond the smaller rebrand I did back in February, but I didn’t even want to think about it!
I was a self-hosted Wordpress user for a couple of years and didn’t really know there were other options out there. So, the idea of overhauling my site translated to having to code up a lot of stuff. I didn’t want to think about that since I only know rudimentary HTML and I really didn’t want to have to hire someone to create a new site for me.
But, I found a better solution…make the switch to Squarespace!
My First Impressions
Even though this website has only been live one week, I’ve been living and breathing in Squarespace for the past 2 months as I’ve set up everything you see here.
My overall thoughts on Squarespace….I LOVE it!
Sure, you can’t do anything and everything like you can on Wordpress, but you know what…I didn’t KNOW how to do anything and everything on Wordpress anyway, so nothing lost there.
I have been amazed at all of the features Squarespace provides and how incredibly easy it is to create whatever I need without having to muck around in the HTML coding.
There are things I knew I could do on Wordpress but had no idea how to go about doing it (and spending hours researching it online left me more frustrated than anything!). With Squarespace, zip, boom, and a bang and I’ve got it done.
Want to create a lovely gallery style page for your archives or for certain categories…you can set it up in less than 5 minutes (see mine HERE).
Want to create columns in your post or page to better format your content to make it easier to read…drag it and drop it where you want it…done.
Want to move all of your photos around in your post and/or resize them? Easy peasy…drag it where you want, move the borders to make it smaller…done.
If you’re even a little curious about Squarespace, then keep reading my friend…I’m going to go through all of the things that I’m loving and what made me want to make the switch to Squarespace from Wordpress!
How Squarespace is Different from Wordpress
The overriding difference between Squarespace and Wordpress is that Wordpress is an open source platform and Squarespace is a closed source platform.
What the heck does that mean?
With an open source platform, the coding or backend is open to anyone that has a site. Anyone can code up and customize the site as they see fit.
With a closed source platform, only the developers and engineers at Squarespace can touch the code and backend to modify or change things.
Each of these styles have pros and cons, which will appeal to different folks. What works for one may not work for another (thank goodness for choices, right?!).
Negatives of Open Source
- You’re on your own for everything (coding, testing, backups, etc.)
- Big learning curve if you aren’t a web developer
- You need to find your own hosting (i.e Bluehost)
Benefits of Open Source
- Highly customizable
- Anyone can make changes
Negatives of Open Source
- Less customization options
Benefits of Closed Source
- Small learning curve - easy to dive in and get started
- Development and testing of backend handled by professionals
- Site security taken care of
- Support team available for assistance & questions
- Squarespace hosts your website as well
The take away from this…
Squarespace isn’t quite as customizable as Wordpress, but it’s a LOT easier to use, it’s rock solid and stable, and you have a team of support folks to help you if you have questions or run into problems.
If there is a technical problem or glitch, their team of engineers will jump on it and get it fixed ASAP. Wordpress just can’t offer that level of support since it’s a DIY type platform.
Why I Chose Squarespace
The main reason I went with Squarespace was the ease of use and Squarespace sites, in my opinion, tend to look freakin' awesome. It’s just so easy to set things up and have it look great!
Beyond that, the following list of features are why I am happy to be onboard with Squarespace for Heart & Moxie!
Ease of use
The main idea behind Squarespace is to make it easy to use and to provide a simple, clean look to let your content shine. It is seriously so ridiculously easy to use this platform it makes me giddy to write up a new post (it takes me MUCH less time to get my post formatted and scheduled now!).
To use the columns idea again, after using Wordpress for 2 years I still have NO idea how to create columns in a post or page (there's probably a plugin floating around out there somewhere!). I’m sure it’s do-able and who knows, maybe it’s ‘easy’, but I never figured it out. With Squarespace, it's as simple as dragging the text you want in a separate column over to where you want the column...that's it!!
Mobile friendly from the get go
We know people read our blogs/websites on their phones and tablets and the percentage of folks doing that will just increase over time. We also know we need to make our sites ‘mobile-friendly' because if we don't Google will now ding you on SEO if you don’t have a mobile friendly site.
On Wordpress, you have to figure it out on your own and some themes aren’t responsive (especially if you’ve had it for a couple of years). That means buying a new theme and setting it up to your liking, which translates to more of your time and money.
On Squarespace, it comes out of the box mobile friendly. They also give you the ability to view any page or post as if you’re on a tablet or phone when you're drafting your post or page, which is incredibly helpful!
On Wordpress, you’re on your own for figuring out SEO and how to optimize your site. If you’re an expert or whiz at this, then great, you’re off to the races! But if not, or if you just don’t have time to dedicate to optimizing you’re site, you’re screwed.
Squarespace kindly takes care of this for you. They handle these things behind the scenes, continually tweaking it to stay on top of the ever changing ‘rules’ which ensures your site is SEO friendly.
That allows YOU to focus on your content and THEY will focus on optimizing it so more people will find you!
If you're curious as to how they ensure your site is SEO friendly, check out THIS handy guide which has a list of what they do behind the scenes.
No need for plugins
One of the cool things about Wordpress is the vast selection of plugins. One of the most annoying things about Wordpress is the vast selection of plugins. Currently there are almost 40,000 plugins available for Wordpress. 40 THOUSAND! Sure, that means you can pretty much do whatever you want with your site, but there are a few drawbacks to plugins:
- Who has time to wade through 40,000 plugins!?!
- They're only as good as the person that wrote them - there are no standards, quality checks, compatibility assurances, or anything. That means while there are some fantastic plugins out there, there are just as many, if not more, crappy plugins. It's up to you to figure out which is which.
- If you do find a really good one...you probably have to pay for it. This will start to add up over time!
- They get out of date. Wordpress constantly upgrades their platform and it's up to the creator of the plugin to update their plugin so it still works. That means, a plugin can break or stop working at any time.
- Some plugins don't play nicely with others, which causes things to 'break' on your site. You have to figure it out...turning them off one by one to find the culprit is not my idea of a fun Saturday afternoon!
- Add in a lot of cool plugins and you'll slow down your site for visitors. Slow sites = bad SEO, so tread carefully on indulging in too many of those 40,000 plugins that are out there!
With Squarespace, they stay on top of the most popular Wordpress plugins to add that functionality right into the core platform so you don't have to worry about it. And again, this is done by their engineers, tested by them, and supported going forward.
As a few examples, I can easily add a pin-it button to my images, tweet or pin my post when it publishes, or add a hello/announcement bar to the top of my site with a few clicks of the mouse with no plugins required!
Sidebar can be limited to just the blog page
A newer trend in the blogging world is to not have a sidebar, so a lot of bloggers are saying goodbye to it and embracing a cleaner, less cluttered site.
I'm not ready to let go 100%, but I did significantly pare mine down. I also wanted the option to only have a sidebar on my blog page, not my entire website, and while I'm sure a different theme or modifying the HTML/CSS on my Wordpress site would've gotten me there, I didn't have the time or patience to figure that out.
I loved that Squarespace offers this flexibility (on certain templates) with little effort on my part!
This part is one of my favorite things with Squarespace. If I want to change up the font or the font color or size of my header tags it is a piece of cake in Squarespace. In fact all the formatting for all text is very easy to change and customize on Squarespace!
At one point, I tried to change the font color and size on my header tags in Wordpress and after researching it, asking a colleague that knows her Wordpress, and mucking around in the CSS with the HTML, it still didn't update and work for me. So..I gave up on it and lived with it.
But, Squarespace allows you to very quickly and very easily change all of that with a few clicks. They also allow you to change things like margin sizes, padding, etc.
Are you wanting to sell products or services? Squarespace has integrated e-Commerce pages to make this easy to do. I haven’t used this yet, but it was a big factor in my decision to make the switch since I will be looking into this over the next several months or so. As with everything else with Squarespace…it’s easy and looks awesome, so win-win in my book!
Let's cut to the chase, Wordpress doesn’t have a customer support team. Sure, there are countless forums out there with people that can ‘help’, but I always ended up more confused than anything else!
Squarespace, on the other hand, has a support team of folks whose job it is to help you. I contacted them via live chat while getting my site set up and they were beyond helpful, very friendly, and solved my issue in no time flat. It was actually a pleasure working with them. How often can you say that about a customer service call/experience? A few days later, they even emailed me to see if everything was still going okay.
I'm just scratching the surface with Squarespace, so I'm sure there are many other things I'll discover that I love. I'm betting I will also discover some things that I don't love (I do miss the CoSchedule plugin for Wordpress!)!
But overall, I'm very happy with my decision to make the leap and Squarespace is exceeding my expectations so far!
If you'd like to check them out, you can sign up for free for 30 days right HERE (and no, this is not an affiliate link...I just really love them!).
Have you considered making the leap to Squarespace? If so, what's holding you back? Maybe I can answer any lingering questions for you.
On the flip side, if you're a die hard Wordpress user, what do you love about it and won't give up for another? Leave me a comment...I'd love to hear your thoughts!