So about a month ago I kind of found myself getting sucked into the idea of moving my website + blog to Squarespace – owing to how clean and white their templates look and how they make you feel like as a Squarespace user your website and your work (may be also your work desk and life in general) will become clutter-free giving you more time to focus on your actual work instead of spending countless hours obsessing over and updating your website. Well since that’s the main selling point that all their marketing is based upon, they’re quite good at making you believe it and ultimately become their customer.
A while back I read this post by Nesha about why she switched from WordPress to Squarespace. At the time I signed up for a trial account and checked out some of their templates to get a general idea of what, they claim, sets them apart. Around the same time, funnily enough, a friend visited us who worked for Square Space. So over dinner, I asked him what he thought about Squarespace and how it was different. His exact words were “they basically charge people more for something they call ‘minimal’ but is actually less work (hours for them in development)”. We laughed but this still wasn’t the end of it for me. I was still kind of intrigued by the simplicity they promised to bring to the way I was running my business.
So I signed up for another account on Squarespace (because any free account expires in 14 days so my first one had already expired), this time on a mission to dig deeper to look into all the features that they offer and the procedure to transfer in case I decided to go for it as an alternative for my current WordPress setup.
Following are the highlights of my research and also the reasons that made me stick with WordPress.
Yes, Squarespace templates look extremely clean and make you imagine having a totally clutter-free business. It’s just the marketing. It’s not like they invented the concept of minimalism! Looks can be deceiving. Just because their templates look cleaner, doesn’t necessarily mean their code is any cleaner or faster. If you look around, you can even cleaner and more minimal templates available for WordPress.
Not all their templates come with all options – for example transparent headers which recently became a very popular trend are available only with specific templates. I realized this only after installing a template that I shortlisted because I liked the layout. So you’ll need to spend a couple of hours to figure out which template you need to choose and even then after you start using it you will probably realize how restrictive it is in the way it looks and functions. There’s very little room to alter anything. You could use custom CSS but then you basically end up doing the same thing you did to your WordPress templates – so slowly and steadily the oh-so-unique clutter-free feeling starts disappearing.
I first thought of what their personal plan could do for me. IF you’re WordPress user you’d know that most themes come with custom post types so you can separate your portfolio, case studies etc. from your blog posts and pages. Of course, with WordPress you have no restrictions as to how many pages, posts or custom posts you can create and publish. On the other hand, Squarespace’s personal plan not only limits your number of pages to 20 but get this – counts your portfolio and any other custom posts you may have as pages too! So basically signing up for the personal plan would mean me fitting my ever growing blog posts + pages + portfolio posts to 20 which was impossible and foolish.
Squarespace charges a transaction fee on your shop sales for managing your store (?) while with WordPress you keep all your profits.
It seems Squarespace users get sold on the fact that the platform promises to automatically update your theme whenever Squarespace releases an update so you don’t have to worry about it. Well, even with WordPress you will not have to worry about it if you can focus on having only the plugins you absolutely need (and not get greedy!) and use a child theme for any changes you make to the theme. With a set up like this, whenever WordPress or your theme developers release an update, both can be updated with a single click. effortlessly.
Even if your WordPress theme has a lot of features you may not be using at the moment, moving to a so-called ‘minimal’ platform should only make sense if the ‘minimal’ platform is FASTER! Well, it’s not. I tested several Squarespace templates against feature-rich WordPress themes using Pingdom only to find that the WordPress themes were faster and lighter.
After my thorough research I decided to use Squarespace just an inspiration to look at when I feel like making my site look cleaner or just different. And that has worked for me. Also, I choose WordPress themes with the features I want only after testing the theme load speed.
Have you tried Squarespace or WordPress?
Which platform do you like better?
Do share your thoughts in comments below.