Simple Biz is a series where I share a behind-the-scenes look at my business and tips for simplifying your business.
Simple Biz: Why I left WordPress for Squarespace
I broke up with WordPress on Valentine’s Day. I know, it’s savage, but it was time to let go. As a minimalist, I value things that are simple and efficient. WordPress became a time drain and source of frustration for me, i.e. the bane of my existence. Ok, I’m being dramatic, but it was working my nerves too often.
Squarespace vs. WordPress
When I was starting my first site in 2014, my top two choices were between Squarespace (SS) and WordPress (WP). I read all the reviews and posts I could find on each one separately and those comparing them. My selection points were ease of set-up, design, functionality, maintenance, and security. Ultimately, Squarespace seemed the better option for me.
Why I switched to WordPress
Even though things were going well with SS, I was convinced that I was missing something. I was told that I would never be found on search engines, SS could fold at any moment and because it’s an all-in-one service, I would lose everything, and that I didn’t own my own content. Now, I knew the last one was untrue because that was one the specific things I researched about SS, but the others made me nervous.
While SS is relatively new, it has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years, and it’s actually a decade old. Still, WP is the most trusted platform and has the greatest percentage of sites built on it worldwide. You also have greater control in customizing and protecting your site with WP. There are thousands of themes and plugins as opposed to a few dozen templates with SS.
The thing that stuck in my mind most was the SEO factor. SS states that it’s sites are optimized, but you still have to understand SEO and know where and how to use the relevant information. My SS site was not getting a lot of traffic for two reasons. I didn’t fully understand SEO and I was a new blog with no focus. I thought going over to WP would help me get a better understanding of optimization.
It definitely did help me get seen more, but at what expense and what other factors influenced my growth? The growth wasn’t staggering but it did increase. While switching to WP, I was able to hone in on my niche, which I think also positively influenced the quality of my content and helped with being found. I also learned about ftp, php, and css.
Why I switched back to Squarespace
The greatest expense working with WP was my time and emotional well-being. This is the reason I switched back to SS. There was no such thing as a simple update or quick change with WP. Adding something took a lot of research and I had to make sure I wouldn’t screw any code up and my site along with it.
I decided this was one area of business that needed to be simplified in 2016. Plus, I kept seeing all these dope SS sites, tempting me to come back to SS. I took what I learned from working in WP and went to get that old thing back, my boo, SS. After spending about five weekends updating my site in WP (and still not being 100% satisfied), I was able to transfer and update my site in SS in just one weekend.
Below I have listed my personal pros and cons of each platform. These ideas are based on my experience of being in a relationship with each one for a year.
infinite customization options
thousands of themes + plugins
Yoast SEO plugin
lots of tutorials, forums, + information available
inexpensive to get started
intuitive, "drag + drop" design
sleek, minimal, + professional templates
can change templates easily + demo a different template without affecting your live site
DIY learning curve
can be more expensive down the line (premium themes, premium plugins, hiring a web design pro)
not all themes are mobile responsive
difficult to make changes + preview without going into maintenance mode
can seem expensive upfront
still a relatively new platform
Choose the right platform for your business.
SS has improved and has many more features since I last used it. There are more SS designers and folks like Megan Minns will teach you how to put together a SS site in a weekend. You can’t beat that.
I think WP is a great platform and will continue to lead in this industry, but SS can no longer be ignored. The stress and time SS has saved me is priceless and that’s why it’s the best decision for me.
If you’re on this simple living journey and thinking about starting a business or switching platforms, I urge you to consider SS, but do what's right for you. You have to consider your budget, skill level, and time when making a decision.