It was the summer of 1997. I had just graduated high school and was preparing to start my freshmen year of college.
During that last summer some friends and I attempted to start our own pop a cappella group. Think Pentatonix 15 years before it became cool...
We needed a website. So I built my very first site using everyone's favorite software, Front Page.
While those first sites were just static html pages, I eventually moved on creating dynamic sites connected to a database first with ASP and then with PHP.
As the sites became more and more complex and my database needs grew, it became harder and more time consuming to create my own stuff from scratch. That's when I discovered WordPress and it was magical.
I first started with WordPress 1.8 and have been using it ever since. WordPress worked so well that I wrote plugins, built themes, attended conferences, helped in the support forums and ultimately built my own business around the software.
I would later work for Copyblogger, an amazing company whose products are built around WordPress.
The beauty of WordPress is twofold in my opinion.
- It can do anything you want.
- There are literally millions of people, articles, videos and forums that can help you do anything you want.
That all said, In November of 2013 I moved my longtime WordPress site to Squarespace and this past year I also built the new site for our church on the Squarespace platform.
I no longer had my own business or worked for a company built around WordPress
If I was still building sites for clients I would definitely be using WordPress. The open source nature of the software gives me peace of mind that I am in control of the code. It lives and breathes on my server.
Payment Integration in WordPress is still a Nightmare
I started selling artwork on my site a few years ago and to give customers a good experince I wanted all integrated in my site. Having to manage my own security, and trying to integrate payment solutions in with my custom design was ridiculously time consuming.
Squarespace has payments built in and very tightly integrated with the software. It was plug and play. Super easy.
Less Decision Making
In the case of our new church site I originally started to build it in WordPress but was quickly bogged down by the amount of options available to me. I knew what the site needed to do but how to lay it all out and integrate in the face of many deadlines became cumbersome.
Squarespace because of its limitations, made many decisions for me and saved me tons of time.
I know that everyone won't see this as a feature, but for someone who likes to constantly tinker it was a lifesaver.
The Squarespace Layout Engine
Most WordPress templates may have a few options when it comes to layout out content in a blog post or page but for the most part, you are restricted to those layouts unless you code your own. Squarespace and its layout engine is amazing. I can place and position content any way I want and truly achieve magazine level layout.
To be fair, its not all roses. When the layout engine decides not to work it is an absolute nightmare and brings work to a standstill. Thankfully, that hasn't happened very often.
Squarespace has a Beautiful Admin
WordPress has been slowly improving this over the years but the admin has always lacked style. It was never visually pleasing to log in and work. Squarespace has put as much or maybe more time in making the admin function well and look beautiful.
Function wise you probably can do less with Squarespace but like Apple vs. Microsoft it just feels good to look at use.
I also like that Squarespace admin gets out of the way. The only time it takes up more than a sidebar in your screen is when you are writing or designing new content. The admin is not the focus, your content is.
Everything About Squarespace is Clean and Simple
This is a huge advantage for Squarespace as they don't have to conform to a massive community of needs. They decide what is important and what's not. The result is clean and usable. To be sure, you don't have the options you may with WordPress but what is there is clean and easy to work with.
See the comment about the admin above...
Lest everything seem rosy, there were compromises I had to make. The community forums are next to worthless. Doing simple customization is hard without learning a brand new templating language. The layout engine can be quirky and when it doesn't work right you want to break your computer.
For all of those reasons Squarespace is the right fit for me right now. That will surely change as my needs and desires change. But for now, its home.