I’ve recently decided to take the plunge and invest in a self-hosted site. While it was a total pain, I am happy with the outcome and ready to jump back into creating.
First and foremost; the transition was not as seamless as I had expected it to be. Neither platform was a particular offender in this; rather it felt like there was an overall disconnect in the cohesiveness between the two. Clearly I am not the first one to make a move from one blogging site to another, so I found it sort of curious that there wasn’t an easier way to go about the transfer. Squarespace does have a tool to export your content to WordPress, but it is far from perfect, and only managed to move one of my pages “successfully” out of the five that I had – and by “successfully” I mean it only moved portions of my posts. I had to manually go in to each individually afterwards to reformat accordingly. I just assumed that with how far technology has come, there would be more of a designated process.
I’ve also noticed that while WordPress’ big pitch is their catalog of plugins and the endless possibilities they offer, a good majority of the ones I’ve downloaded have been sub par. I like to compare the WP plugin world to that of the Android – so many 3rd party developers, so few decent apps. Squarespace may be behind in quantity, but what they lack in novelty, they make up for with substance. It took me 3 seconds to set up a nice looking slide show or content block using their native platform; whereas I have to go digging (or pay) to find plugins on WordPress that deliver a straight-to-the-point, no frills, and most importantly stable experience. However, while my plugin experience so far has been less than impressive; knowing that the possibilities are endless does lessen the sting. The customization and inclusiveness WordPress offers surmounts Squarespace by a landslide.
That being said, WordPress can seem overwhelming and downright daunting for a newbie. I am by no means a professional, but I am comfortable with a certain level of coding and know how to google tutorials like a pro. For a majority of newcomers, this is not the case. Even as I logged into WordPress for the first time after everything had finally been setup, I can remember sitting for a few minutes just staring at the screen, feeling like I had walked in on a stranger using the restroom. Cringey, scared, and anxious about what to do next. The great thing about Squarespace is that their themes are 100% ready to go. They have easily understandable customization options, and content blocks that even my grandmother could set up. I will miss the ease of not having to try very hard to make my site look professional. On the other hand, I am someone who hates not having full control over my content; which is one of the many reasons I chose to migrate to WordPress.
At the end of the day, you have to think about what is going to be best for you and your situation. Since I’ve now used and implemented time and money into both platforms, here are just a few pieces of advice I have to offer:
- If you are completely new to using blogging platforms, have no idea what CSS is, and don’t have the time to sit around and play with setting up your own aesthetic, Squarespace will do this for you. Simply choose a theme that sticks out to you, write your first post, and BAM. You’re on your way to blogging stardom. As far as user-friendly goes, Squarespace is the Apple of blogging sites. Reliable and straight-to-the-point. You really can’t go wrong for $16/month.
- If you’ve been experimenting with CSS, are comfortable with plugins, can handle digging in and truly investing the time, money and frustration that can go into setting up a site that you are proud of; WordPress is limitless. As many hours as I’ve spent wanting to throw my computer out of the window, I’ve spent just as many thrilled and amazed at what I could do without having any restrictions. It’s a challenge, but a truly fun and educational one. I love knowing that nobody has a say in how I present my brand/identity.
That being said, I don’t want to scare anyway off, either. WordPress offers some really great free themes that will have you off and running in a matter of minutes as well; I can only speak on my experience coming directly from a paid Squarespace to a paid WordPress.
I’m still in the midst of breaking in my newfound freedom, but am hoping to make a part 2 to this post once I have more information to share. In the meantime, I hope that someone can get some use out of my rambling! If you have any lingering questions, please feel free to reach out. I’m far from an expert, but would be happy to offer any help where I can.
As always, if you are feeling so inclined, you can subscribe to my blog for notifications when I post new design content or other random blurbs! Head over to my main page to do so.