Why I (Finally) Switched From WordPress to Squarespace
If you’ve been following me for a year or two you probably know that for a long time I designed websites exclusively on WordPress. In fact, I kind of became the go-to girl in my space for WordPress web design, and still have a few long-time clients whose sites I maintain on the platform. My background is in software programming, so I loved the coding aspect of taking a Genesis theme and whipping it into submission.
What I didn’t love though was seeing my clients come back to me because they updated a plugin and their site crashed, or because they wanted to edit some seemingly simple bit of text that ended up requiring them to work around bits of HTML, or because they just couldn't figure out how to do what they wanted to do. I don’t mind handling maintenance requests for my clients at all, but I felt like there had to be a better way to set them up for success down the road.
I also didn’t love the amount of stress WordPress brought into my life at times. I’m a one woman show, and when transferring a client’s new site to them takes 6 hours instead of 2 I’m the one who gets to frantically work through dinner.
(I feel like I should add a disclaimer here, because in pointing out why I switched it sounds like I'm coming down pretty hard on WordPress. I want to make a point to say that WordPress is still a great platform, it's robust and powerful and definitely the right solution for lots of people. I've even partnered with another designer to continue offering WordPress websites, so if you feel like it's the right platform for you let's talk!)
I was so anti-Squarespace for such a long time that I consistently shut down the early adopters without even checking out the platform. Even last year when someone on my designers group on Facebook would talk about how much she loved Squarespace the first thing that went through my head was “Pssh. Newb.”... because apparently my subconscious isn’t always a very nice person.
Things started to shift during the Creative South conference last April (It's almost here again!) when I realized I wasn’t doing what I truly love. I realized that I was burned out on web design and had lost the passion I used to carry for it. I had decided at that time to drop websites altogether and focus strictly on branding and illustration. With several projects in the pipeline that needed to be finished I set a goal of phasing out web design by the end of the year.
Then sometime in the middle of 2016 I went through a course on branding to help refresh my own skills and in the process I decided to rebrand my own business. Part of this course walked you through setting up your website using, you guessed it, Squarespace. I’ll be totally honest here… I only tried Squarespace out as a whim while working through this course. There was a two week free trial and I figured what the hell could it hurt just to give it a shot and see what it was all about.
The title of this post has probably given away the ending, but in case it hasn’t I’ll summarize what happened next. I fell in love with Squarespace, and subsequently with web design again. Simple as that. Am I saying Squarespace is the perfect platform from now until the end of time? Nope. I’m not even saying it’s the best option for everyone; if you need a large e-commerce shop or membership site I'm going to talk you out of Squarespace every time. But WordPress isn't a one size fits all solution either. Neither was Joomla. Neither was Blogger.
All I'm saying is Squarespace has definitely been the right answer for a lot of my clients, as well as for myself.
I imagine you’d like to know a little more about WHY I switched though and not just the when and how of it all. So allow me to break that down for you in a fancy list with nice skimmable headers.
It’s easier on my clients
My clients are the main reason I made the switch. I work with small businesses, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, photographers, crafters, makers, coaches, and people who generally don’t have an IT department at their back. They want to be able to make changes to their own websites long after I’m gone without worrying that they’ll click the wrong button or update the wrong thing and crash the whole deal. I want them to have a stable, reliable platform that isn’t super buggy and looks damn nice. With Squarespace, we can both be happy.
It’s less expensive in the long run
This one is also more for my clients than myself. With Squarespace there are no plugins or themes to update and the site itself is easy to maintain without calling in a designer or hiring a VA. So even though it might seem a tiny bit more expensive than hosting your WordPress site somewhere like GoDaddy, when you factor in the money you aren’t spending throughout the year on maintenance and updates it actually ends up being a lot cheaper.
I heart simplicity
Squarespace is a simpler platform. It’s just effing easier. I have absolutely no issue with writing code to make something work, but I’ve reached a point in my life where I’d rather not reinvent the wheel every single time I build a website. Everything I need in Squarespace is available as a fully integrated piece of the machine, or there’s a simple way to add it using a code block or custom CSS.
Security, security, security
I’m not constantly worried that my site will be hacked, which is a common issue I heard from my WordPress clients. Part of what makes WordPress so appealing is the millions of plugins available for it, but the issue with that is those plugins can basically be open doors to hackers. There are plenty of security measures you can use to prevent that in WordPress, but Squarespace handles everything from their end, so even if there is an attack on security they’re going to handle it, not me.
A focus on design
The Squarespace templates I’ve worked with so far just genuinely look great right out of the box. This isn’t something I felt I got from WordPress, even working with premium Genesis themes. There was always so much work that needed to be done with each theme to get it to that “wow” place, whereas Squarespace has a smaller but well curated line of templates that look great from the start. Especially on mobile.
Fabulous Support Articles
I can’t attest personally to the support team at Squarespace, although I’ve heard great things, I just haven’t needed them myself. I have however read nearly every page of their support documentation since I switched over, especially to fill in some of the gaps in my experience while putting together The Squarespace Course. I can tell you that their knowledge base is super clear, well maintained, and helpful.
There are plenty of other reasons why I love Squarespace: great built in SEO (search engine optimization), analytics, built-in integrations with some of the most popular web services, ease of accepting payments, and the ONE CLICK TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP that replaced the stressful hours long site transfers I was used to when publishing a client’s WordPress site. But I learned about all of those after I had already made the switch, so I’ll save them for another day. Suffice it to say that for me it was definitely the right move. Your mileage may vary though, and I'd be happy to talk you through the pros and cons if you have questions.