NOTE: I am not being paid by Squarespace or Wordpress for this post.
(UPDATE March 2018: As I expected when I wrote this post, I received some nasty emails from Wordpress diehards. Seriously people? I clearly state in this blog post that Wordpress is a good platform, I clearly state that it is the RIGHT choice for some people, just not for me and maybe not for others. Why people have a need to verbally thrash someone who has a difference of opinion I will never understand. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another...and that's ok folks! Hey, if you love Wordpress, you can still come over for tea.)
There have been lots of exciting things going on behind the scenes here at Faithful Bloggers. We've been planning and prepping but in addition to all that, we've been super busy with moving. By moving, I don't mean an actual physical move, I'm talking about a move from one web platform to another. We moved from Wordpress to Squarespace. I have moved (physically) a great big number of times and although a physical move has it's challenges, a web platform move has it's own unique set of challenges, none of which are any fun at all. As you all have read, Faithful Bloggers changed ownership. At the time of purchase, Faithful Bloggers, Faithful Devotions, and The Faithful Bloggers Directory were all on Wordpress. I wanted to make that work, really I did. But I just couldn't. I know I'm probably about to get a bunch of you upset with me, but before all you Wordpress diehards get all hot under the collar, hear me out and read this entire post, because I really do believe Wordpress has a place, just not for me. And I think it may possibly not be the best choice for many other people, depending upon what they are looking for. You also should know, this was not my first experience with Wordpress, I've been there before.
I know there are about a bazillion websites on Wordpress, I know it's a great platform, but it is not the only platform, and it's not the platform for me. I believe it really depends on what you are looking for whether Wordpress is the place for you to call home. Below is a run down of the pros and cons of the two platforms, so if you are just starting out, you'll be able to make an informed decision. And if you are dealing with any frustrations with either platform, you'll have an idea of what the other offers. Please note: Any time I mention Wordpress, I'm talking about a self hosted wordpress site.
So why did I move?
Basically it boils down to the fact that I want to write, blog, and create great products, not work on a website. Squarespace allows me the luxury of doing just that. Let me explain further. Here's a few of the reasons I moved:
Squarespace has an incredibly clean, clutter free interface. It's also easy to use. Like any sort of software it does have a learning curve, but it's click and drag format is generally user friendly. Also, if you are just starting out, you should know that there will be a learning curve on either platform, but I feel it's fair say, you will have a longer learning curve on Wordpress.
- Live Chat! I love this about Squarespace. When I have questions, I can just hop on live chat and get assistance immediately. Granted, their live chat is only available during daytime hours (eastern time zone), so you 3:00a.m. bloggers may not find this a benefit (unless of course you're a 3:00 a.m. blogger around the world from the eastern time zone).
- Domain, Design, and Hosting all in one location. I cannot say the transfer of the domains to Squarespace or the transfer of the entire site to Squarespace was the easiest thing I have ever undertaken (it isn't even in the top 10 easiest things). In all honesty, I didn't have to move the domains to Squarespace, that was a choice I made to have everything in one place, taken care of by one group of people. I know, Wordpress is free, but hosting is not and I'm paying similiar for Squarespace as I was for self hosting with Wordpress. The other thing that is not free (if you are considering Wordpress) is if you need someone to fix code or anything else for you. With Squarespace you are a paying customer, so unless you've monkeyed with the code on your site, they are there for you. If your Wordpress experience has been to email on a regular basis with your hosting company to get things fixed, you'll probably love Squarespace. I tried to recall if there had ever been a time when I had to email Squarespace, and although I can't say for sure, I don't remember any. I have used their live chat a few times.
- I HATE CODE. I mean, I REALLY hate it! Some people love it, some people tolerate it, some people hate it, I'm definitely in the third group. I have no business playing around with the inner workings of my website, nor do I want to. With Squarespace I don't have to deal with code. There are times I may have to copy and paste a portion of generated code into a code block but other than that, no code. This does not mean that those people who love code, can't access coding on Squarespace. If you are of the "I Love Code" camp, you can code to your hearts content on Squarespace. Here however is where I think Wordpress has a place. If you are the type of person who absolutely has to have the ability to manage every detail of your website, and you love that stuff, Wordpress will probably feel like home. But if what you are looking to do is write and blog and not have to deal with code hardly at all, you might want to consider Squarespace.
- No 3rd Party Plug-Ins. There are about 5 million plug-ins (I might be exaggerating just a little) available on Wordpress. They are used to get your site to do just about anything you can imagine, there are probably plug-ins to get your site to do your laundry for you. Having so many options has it's positives and negatives. On the one hand, you have options. Options are good. Except at times, I found the options overwhelming. On the other hand, Wordpress is an open platform and anyone can author a plugin and make it available on Wordpress, this too is good and bad. Once your Wordpress site is up, you are going to load lots of plugins on your website, because you need them to do things like add forms to your site and numerous other tasks. These plugins are all authored by different people and they all need to be updated. If you overlook updating them, this is where issues occur. This is the open door hackers use to hack Wordpress sites. When I purchased Faithful Bloggers, it had been hacked and neither myself nor the prior owner, Tishia, were even aware of the hack till I started poking around in it.
- To some people, these next two things might seem nitpicky, but I'm creative and very visual so these were big for me. There were a few things design-wise in Wordpress that drove me batty. The first is the themes. Even though there are thousands of them, you read the description and it says "custom color", but then you load the theme and begin the preview and by "custom", they meant you can choose from, blue, red, pink or green (or some other limited selection depending upon the theme), that's not "custom". Granted, there are some which offer true "custom color" but why on earth do I have to go through the process of loading them and begin the preview process in order to know that for sure. The other design thing that drove me nuts is when I was choosing a font in the theme, which you can't do in all themes, the drop down menu just had the names of the fonts, all written in the same font, not in their own font. So I had to actually try the font in order to see what it looked like. I know there are premium themes which you can buy on Wordpress and they probably offer more flexibility, but it seems to me that out of thousands of choices, there should be a couple that don't drive me nuts. Wordpress does offer tremendous flexibility, if you know code or are willing to pay someone to make the changes you are wanting. Squarespace uses templates as well, and there are many less templates to choose from, however, I have found they are much more customizable for someone who doesn't want to deal with code. The font on any part of my website can be any font I want it to be and the color is truly customizable. I need to have the capabilities to do these things myself, to do them quickly and efficiently, and without having to play with code, Squarespace offers me that.
- It's Just Easier. Less monkeying around with back end stuff frees up more time for writing and blogging. As I said before, I'm looking to write and blog, not play with my website. When you write a post on Squarespace and you need to insert anything, a form, code, a calendar, a map or a whole slew of other options, all you do is click to add it right there in the text. You don't have to go to a plugin to get your form. See this videofor more details.
- I have another site on Squarespace which I have had with them for 7 Years. In that time, I have never had my site go down, and I've never had an issue with messed up code. It's also never been hacked. I know there are first times for everything and I may just have been fortunate but it's a pretty good track record.
A couple other things you might want to know about Squarespace.
- Your website doesn't have to be a blog. This wasn't important for me for the Faithful Bloggers website but it is for the other business my family owns, and it might be for one of my readers so I'm including it. On Squarespace your website can just be a website. Our family business website does include a blog but it has a non blog front page as well as many other pages. If you'd like to check it out visit www.homecareNHME.com. You may notice it has a similar layout to the new Faithful Bloggers site, you should know this was intentional, not required, there are plenty of other templates. I used the same template for simplicity for myself. I felt that because the sites were so unrelated industry-wise, no one was going to say "boy your site has a similar layout to the Faithful Bloggers site", (except, all of you now). I also could have made that same template look very different. One other thing you may find useful to know is that on Squarespace you can have more than one blog on your website. If you want to see why anyone would want or need that, take a look at this very website. The main Faithful Bloggers website is set up as a blog, but if you click on the "Directory", that is also set up as a blog. Then you can click on "devotions" and that is set up as a blog as well. 3 blogs, all on one website.
- Just because I discuss the ease and simplicity of Squarespace, does not mean that a Squarespace website can't have all the bells and whistles. You can build a very dynamic and professional site on Squarespace (again, see the website I mentioned in the prior point, it has pretty scrolling images on the front page).
A few things about actually making the move.
I mentioned earlier that the move was not easy, but don't let that scare you. If you have a straight forward blog with minimal things which would make a move challenging such as signup forms, etc., then if you decide to move to Squarespace it will be relatively easy and straight forward. The things on the Faithful Bloggers site which made it difficult were things like the forms, and the directory and a few other challenges like that.
- If you decide to transfer your domain to Squarespace (which is not required), you should know the transfer can take from 1-15 days, my tranfer took 6 days (I'm not very good at waiting).
- If you have a mailing list, Mailchimp integrates better with Squarespace than Aweber or other email services. You can use the other services with Squarespace but Squarespace is set up so you can automatically connect to Mailchimp when you load a form. I moved the entire mailing list from AWeber to Mailchimp which made the move more challenging. UPDATE March 2018: I moved my email platform to Convertkit.
If you are the code loving, website fidgeting type I would recommend Worpress for your platform. To go along with Worpress I would recommend MomWebs.com for hosting (their tech support is very quick to respond). I also recommend AWeber or Convertkit for your mailing list.