Late on Tuesday, I finally made the switch from Wordpress to Squarespace for rachelburger.com. I'm ecstatic that I finally moved all my content to the better website designer.
Don't get me wrong. I've been on Wordpress since 2007. The website builder is admittedly incredibly familiar to me; I know the best plugins, when to update, how to play ball with weird coding needs, and how to pick, update, and customize my themes. It has been an agonizing journey to learn Wordpress so well... only to abandon it for a different product.
If you look through my past posts, I'm very careful not to endorse any product over another (though I'll admit, sometimes it's implied by the amount of time I spend on a tool). As a professional content marketer, I'm fully endorsing Squarespace for these 5 reasons.
1. Wordpress is a tired platform.
Did you know that a quarter (24%) of websites run on Wordpress? I'm talking big names like:
Celebrities, gaming companies, blogs, and news magazines aren't the only businesses leaning heavily on Wordpress. Consider these high-profile content marketing blogs:
Know what happens when everyone is using the same website builder?
Everything starts looking the same.
Let me show you:
Once you see it, you can't unsee it.
Squarespace has far, far fewer templates than Wordpress, but they're each unique in comparison. Here are some examples:
Squarespace's templates are stylish, image-based, and distinctive. The website designer is uncommon enough that its templates aren't all-too-familiar. If you care about your website's aesthetic, there is a clear winner.
2. No more spam
Wordpress is so aware that they have a spam problem that new websites come with an automatic spam blocker (Akismet, and it works most of the time). In fact, in any given month, any Wordpress site receives 132 million spam comments. That’s insane.
But spam comments, and by extension spam referral traffic, isn’t the only way that Wordpress struggles with spam. Of all the plugins and themes available to Wordpress, which are in the tens of thousands and millions, respectively, many of them have viruses, aren’t updated, and/or do not implement well. It’s up to the Wordpress user to discern between what is compatible and safe with their version of Wordpress.
Fake referrals is another way that Wordpress struggles with spam. Raven Tools explains:
It’s traffic from bots that impersonate a referral link. The pseudo traffic is designed to make their domain show up in your site analytics so that you’ll visit the site…
Aside from junking up your site analytics with useless data, it’s a big waste of time. We’ve heard from many of our customers here at Raven just how frustrating it is to explain what “semalt” is to their clients and why it doesn’t matter.
While it’s possible to create a filter in Google Analytics to filter out referrer spammers like semalt, all it does is mask the problem. Also, as Himanshu Sharma has written about, it may create data sampling problems.
What a pain in the ass.
On the one hand, you can’t entirely blame Wordpress. It’s a free and open source website builder that’s trying to juggle a massive audience. There’s little the parent company can do about all of these problems.
Because Squarespace is a much smaller content management system, it has yet to attract the kind of spam that Wordpress does on a daily basis. There’s a whole lot more going into Squarespace’s spam-fighting success though, and a lot of it is tied up in being a closed, paid-for system.
Many of the plugins that people use for Wordpress, like side scrollers or social share buttons, are built straight into Squarespace’s themes. There’s no plugin-hunting to try to find a virus-free, compatible add-on. All other plugins are just coded in, and there’s hardly a use for them.
My only plugins, as of now, are scrolling social share buttons, Facebook comments, and SumoMe (which I would recommend for list building). That’s it.
On the Wordpress version of my site, I had 16 plugins. That’s at least 10 too many.
Spam ruins the Wordpress experience. I’m happy to be moving away from it.
3. Squarespace is unbelievably simple to use.
On Tuesday, I switched my site over to Squarespace. Now, five days later, I feel like I’m at an intermediate or advanced user.
Squarespace is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get website creator. Users can see how their website is updating in realtime as opposed to guess-and-checking. The site builder also makes it easy to inject rich media into your blog posts quickly. With the click of a button, you can inject:
An embedded file
And lots of e-commerce buttons, like a donation button, a product, a link to Amazon, and a markdown
Remember, this is all without any unique plugins.
Wordpress users have to navigate code, figuring out the best plugins, figure out how to integrate and use those plugins, and keeping the plugins updated (and preventing the plugins from hurting your site in the long run).
Even professional developers and designers struggle with using Wordpress correctly. For those of us who are in the business of creating content, and not designing websites, forgo the hassle and use Squarespace.
4. Squarespace doesn’t make you spread your costs out everywhere.
When I used Wordpress, I had my own domain hosted on GoDaddy, a template I pulled from a third-party site, and no support. I had a mix of paid and unpaid plugins. While I wasn’t using my site as an e-commerce hub, if I had eventually wanted that functionality, I would have had to hire an expensive developer (and would have had to be trained on how to use that system).
In Squarespace, all of that functionality is included.
(Though I have to point out that users will have to upgrade from “Personal” plans at $8 a month to “Business” plans at $18 if they sell more than one product. If they want to sell more than 20 products, users have to upgrade to “Commerce” plans, which run a pricey $26 a month.)
Squarespace ultimately makes running a website much easier. The domain and hosting are all done through the website builder, as is the mobile site. As a bonus, all the Squarespace plans come with award-winning support.
5. Writing content is a lot smoother on Squarespace.
Here’s how I write a blog post on Squarespace:
I write the post on Google Docs.
I plug it into Squarespace and use Grammarly to check for errors.
I use Squarespace’s editor to quickly plug in any kind of media and aesthetic changes.
I hit publish.
Here’s how I wrote blog posts on Wordpress:
I wrote the post straight into Wordpress.
I used a much more iterative writing style where I was trying to edit, find the right plugins, find the right media, and write, all at the same time.
I hit preview again and again to make sure the code was right.
When I didn’t know how to embed something, I’d spend time looking up the code.
I’d use Yoast to make sure my site was SEO-enabled.
I hit publish.
One is far easier than the other.
For content marketers, there’s no reason to go through all the hassle of creating a personally coded Wordpress post. Just focus on what actually matters: creating high-quality, shareable content.
One of the biggest objections I hear about Squarespace is a fear about what switching over will do to your site’s SEO.
Rand Fishkin, who is the leader in SEO, has this to say:
Elle & Co did a wonderful job covering why Squarespace is outstanding for SEO. I strongly recommend taking a look at their article.
To be sure, in the realm of SEO, it’d be cool if Squarespace had a Yoast alternative, and Squarespace users give up a lot of customization that Wordpress users enjoy (like optimizing embedded images). But those tradeoffs are entirely minor in the grand scheme of SEO.
I’m sure that this post will ruffle a few feathers. Why do you like Squarespace over Wordpress… or Wordpress over Squarespace? I’d love to hear your thoughts.