Good bye Wordpress, hello Squarespace. Why I swapped.

I'm writing this as I have now moved all my sites now from workpress to squarespace. This blog is about the key points that made me move to Squarespace and why I am so happy about this move. Keep in mind, I'm a designer so this may be more relevant to designers. Read my Wordpress vs Squarespace views below. 

Wordpress put more effort on open source and limitless features leaving the user experience behind. 

Wordpress put more effort on open source and limitless features leaving the user experience behind. 

Wordpress frustrations

I've been using Wordpress since 2008. I have spent endless days and nights on Wordpress, most of them trying to implement a design. I have created my own templates Themes, and even simple plugins. In the end I was just buying themes to use without being happy with the ratio outcome/time. I have a basic knowledge of PHP, and a good-enough knowledge of HTML and CSS. But that is not where I am really good at.

The main struggle with Wordpress for me is the difficulty to implement a site-design. In theory you could do anything with it but unfortunately time was always against that. The time to code anything was far more than to design it. Ok, I am not a coder, but no coding meant no design. Focus was easily lost by the overwhelming number of plugins, themes and updates.

Every time I was going back to the site wanting to update a page, or write a post it was hard to remember how I did things. I often had to fix a lot of issues that needed time and effort. Even though there are now amazing development tools to amplify the design  (Bootstrap, Less), the process became even more complicated.  Every time I had to make a small design change on my last studio website, I had to open more than four different apps and compilers. It was really hard to keep up and it made the process of updating the site a big challenge, which I would prefer to avoid. This came at cost of good design.

All that said, Wordpress is probably the most popular blog platform and CMS out there. I taught my father (aged 73) how to use it and he is the eldest blogger in Crete having far more visitors than me on alkman.gr Sadly I don't have the time to design his site any more. But WP is in most languages, free and is perfect for those not concerned about design detail (or have a developer next to them).

SQUARESPACE 7 benefits

I've been using SQUARESPACE for a year now and I was drawn to it by the awesome design of the templates. SQUARESPACE 6 was really a step forward, saving me huge amount of time when putting a website together. No need to configure servers, no FTP, no CSS, no text editor but a great ability to make a responsive site, with a cool layout and full bleed images. All the widgets one might need are in one place, called content blocks.

Sure, it is based on a templates but customise it with fonts and images and it quickly becomes your own. There was one annoying bit however, that you still had to swap between front-end and back-end to edit and to view. Happily, SQUARESPACE 7 resolves that and it allows you to edit a post right from the front end with a couple of clicks. The site making process becomes truly intuitive with the ability to change things as you see them work visually and concentrate on the experience rather than fixing css bugs.

What I love:

  • Ability to edit from front end.
  • Amazing contemporary templates.
  • All widgets (content blocks) you need at your fingertips (awesome responsive galleries, buttons, forms, etc.)
  • Easy columns and automatically responsive layouts
  • The summary block
  • Access to many Typekit fonts for free.

What more I'd like to see:

  • Undo function in layout.
  • Filter ability in Galleries like in Summary.
  • Font awesome icons.
  • More languages (Greek anyone?)

Squarespace is modular and provides all tools to make a very beautiful contemporary site.

Squarespace is modular and provides all tools to make a very beautiful contemporary site.

Will this make the designer redundant?

Quite the opposite I think. It provides the tools we need as designers to arrange the content in a user friendly and beautiful way. And all that, very fast. I find that is much better use of my time applying a brand/identity design with squarespace tools, prototyping the site-structure and working on imagery than fixing broken code. In the end this is what matters to the viewer. 

In a nutshell, squarespace is an intuitive platform and Content Management System for creating cool sites without coding.

Summary

There is always a fine line between simplicity and control. And the squarespace guys got that right. This is a tool to make a contemporary looking site for a personal or business use and make it work for you - as opposed to, you work for it. For me, it gave more than it took from features and control. If you need more advanced control (that also needs dev) you might opt for the more expensive subscription.

In the end, it's the content that matters.