Many of you will know my long and tortured history with Squarespace because of angry Tweets and rambling Instagram stories. I have been planning this post for AAAAAAGEEEES. Planning it, promising it and definitely not delivering it. Sorry.
I guess the reason for this mega procrastination is the fact I just can’t seem to gather my thoughts on whether Squarespace is better than WordPress, or vice versa. I don’t know which platform is better for blogging, and as one of the relative few in my niche who has used both I feel a weight of responsibility.
But enough time has passed and I’m finally ready to share my thoughts on blogging platforms and give you the pros and cons.
Squarespace or WordPress?
I get asked the question a lot, and I find it tricky to answer without layering on a load of bias. I also feel a bit defensive as I know people are aware of the difficulties I had when joining Squarespace and I think sometimes that means my overall opinion might be dismissed as being an anomaly.
So I wanted to make this post as factual as possible. I want to share with you what I honestly think of both platforms, not as an expert (because I’m not!) but as a blogger.
Let’s start with my background and experience with both WordPress and Squarespace. I started my blog on WordPress back in 2014 ish because that was the only platform I knew. I started on the free, hosted WordPress.com before moving to a self-hosted WordPress.org site.
To be totally honest, I did this against the recommendation of my more techy friends who all seem to hate WordPress! And I can understand why. The downsides are easy to see straight away, and there’s a steep learning curve — one riddled with obstacles and room to fudge up.
But learn I did, and although I always hated a few aspects of my blog, on the whole I felt comfortable with WordPress.
Until I became obsessed with the idea of moving to Squarespace late last year. Why? Blame podcast advertising, boredom and a desire to be a little bit different. Hardly any of my blogging friends used it so I kinda liked the idea of being a bit different.
And I was hugely swayed by the pros to using Squarespace – the fact the platform boasts award-winning customer service, superior design and is unlikely to be infiltrated by the Russians swung it for me.
The migration was NOT remotely successful. In fact, it was a monumental fuck-up. One that was never fixed.
But I got over it and moved on. Until I discovered more errors. New errors. Finally, enough was enough and a couple of days ago I decided to move back to WordPress.
I’ve never felt as relieved! This has been a costly, time-consuming and VERY stressful six months. But guess what? I gots me some EPIC blog fodder so here goes; my (balanced) opinion on Squarespace vs. WordPress.
It looks beautiful | You don’t need to be remotely techy to make your website look dreamy, and it comes with some awesome design features such as Google Fonts as standard and the ability to tweak just about everything on your site while previewing the effects.
It’s intuitive | If you are brand new to blogging, it’s a simple platform that has everything in the place you’d expect it. Want to write a post? Hit ‘text block.’ Need to add a jazzy looking image gallery? Simple. The fact you can see how your blog post will look as you compile it is great, and I love the drag and drop style functionality.
It’s secure | Because SS is closed-source (meaning you cannot access the platform backend) it’s pretty near impossible for someone to hack into your back-end (guffaws) and mess things up. WordPress is notoriously buggy and prone to hacks (I’ve even had a few attempts) due in no small part to the millions of developers making plugins who have access to the platforms inner workings.
It’s modern | It’s great for today’s blogger who might also have a podcast (you can host your podcast through Squarespace) as well as a YouTube channel (you can really easily embed video and audio blocks into your posts.)
Great customer service | Okay, this is a pro and a con because the customer service can be excellent. It can also be shite. It depends who you get, so I can’t honestly give this as a reason to use SS over WP. But the cs advisors are all human, and they always get back to you….however useless their response may be.
And now for the cons. Settle in 😉
It’s clunky | Yes, the drag and drop is great but holy crap have I cursed Jesus a few times trying to slot my image just so. It can be overly sensitive and really irritating to move things around and you can really mess up your post too. Images have dropped off the page, text blocks have disappeared through me moving things around as the platform has been designed to do.
Lack of basic blogging utilities | What world do we live in where there’s NO AUTOSAVE?! I was warned about this by the lovely Helen and Sarirah so I didn’t lose any work (this way at least) but it hasn’t stopped me thinking it’s a HUGE con. Especially as there’s no warning anywhere. So I wrote all of my blog posts in an external editor first, a pointless extra step in my opinion.
Also, can I get a ‘Hell’s NO’ to the fact you can’t easily add a nofollow link? I spent AGES trying to work this one out before using the Markdown block instead of the text block. Whereas in WordPress you can seamlessly switch between the visual and text editor within the same blog post.
You can add internal links to categories and tags but to link to a single blog post is a faff. You have to find it manually and add it in.
In terms of SEO, which SS claims to have at the forefront of the platform I’ve struggled with endless AMP errors and incorrect image tags even on things only uploaded within Squarespace. I’ve reported them endlessly but to no avail, simply being told it’s an issue ‘with many moving parts’ and one that ‘may never be fixed’.
You can’t easily edit alt-tags. In my theme, I have to add them as a caption which is super irritating although not the worst thing I guess. But for Pinterest (where the Pin description is pulled from your alt-text) AND from an accessibility point of view, I think this is a con.
Yes the customer service is award-winning, but it should be because you’ll need them to do almost everything. Squarespace can be buggy and it isn’t always intuitive. I’ve found the endless tutorials to be filled with holes I uncovered after discovering a fault, or basically f@*cking something up and having to go to cs to fix it anyway.
You are not in charge of your backups They are performed by Squarespace (when? how many times a month? I dunno) and you have no control over whether it’s done properly. If you ever want to leave SS you can obviously export your data but there’s no way of knowing how up-to-date it is. That’s an issue for me. I think the lack of ‘caching’ is why there’s no autosave too….unbearable.
When it comes to exporting your data, not everything is involved. This is not stated obviously anywhere (if at all!) and I had to push for a definitive answer from customer service who confirmed that audio and video blocks wouldn’t be included in your export. So…..if you have a podcast, and choose to host it on Squarespace? yEP. F*&ked.
Okay, let’s talk IMAGES. I mean….pretty important to a blogger right? Squarespace doesn’t host your photos like WordPress. So if you move your site from WordPress you will undoubtedly end up with image issues. They don’t tell you this before you move…..
A huge majority of websites are powered by WordPress so there’s loads of free support out there if you need it. I find that to be a huge pro, but it’s not necessarily a downside that SS has less experts…..I guess for me, it helps that bugs are easily identified and a work-around by some geeky developer is normally found swiftly!
SEO is far superior using WordPress (although SS uses SEO as a selling point for their platform) and you can tweak and manipulate things much easier. I love having the power to tweak things quickly and utilise the power of the Yoast plugin too!
Yes, it’s harder to create a beautiful looking website BUT I love the fact there are so many people making gorgeous (affordable) themes. And you can tweak ANYTHING to make it your own.
Final point on customer service? I’ve never had to use WordPress’ customer service due to the fact there is far more info out there on how to combat issues and it’s a better product.
It’s REALLY hard to lose a blog post. Because WordPress autosaves your work, you can also see the revisions and go back to an earlier version if you want. I love that functionality! I also adore being able to write my posts in HTML if I want, and then edit in the ‘visual editor.’ You can be as technical or basic as you want 🙂
It looks as though there aren’t as many pros, but basically….all the cons of Squarespace have a WordPress pro partner.
Hmmmm, well — It can be buggy, as it’s open-source which means that any plug-in you use could infect your website with a virus at any stage. That also means it’s easier to hack into your website.
Although this is unlikely.
But unlikely isn’t never so you have to take a little bit of extra care to protect your data. A few simple (free) plugins can secure your site and I used to pay £20 a year for an amazing service that stopped spam comments, hacks and monitored my website.
The learning curve is a lot steeper. WordPress isn’t as intuitive at first but after a month you’ll know it like the back of your hand.
Overall I would really, really recommend using WordPress. And I would 100% not recommend migrating from WordPress to Squarespace! But I can totally understand the draw to the sexy, design-led dream that is Squarespace and if you are a shop? Yep…..I’d probably choose it over WordPress too.
Anyhoo, I really hope that was both balanced and helpful!
WP Beginner post on the two platforms