I’ve recently set up two websites on the Squarespace platform — ABCNJ and Riverview Estates. The platform is wonderfully fun to play with, and all the themes are responsive so they look great on any device. It was so fun to do, in fact, I seriously considered moving Painfully Hopeful over to it, but then decided against it. Allow me to explain.
Squarespace has been designed from the ground up to create sites, and has blogging included as one feature in its tool-box. What they offer for blogging is good, the organizations I’ve made sites for on the platform love their blogging tools, but Squarespace’s community building tools aren’t nearly as robust as WordPress. I’ve got 305 followers on this never-advertised and eclectic blog, and have read some fascinating posts from many of my followers. Squarespace doesn’t provide this, and nor do I believe it should. It’s not geared as a social platform, and hacking these tools would deviate it from it’s core functionality.
WordPress, on the other hand, was developed as a blogging platform from the ground up, and the social tools which have been implemented into the system all derive from their core directive — creating a space for people to write and share personal content.
This isn’t to say you can’t build a full web-site using WordPress. I’ve done it, and so have countless others. But, many of the tools professional designers want to use for creating truly integrated sites require plugins, which means you have to self-host. Self-hosting WordPress isn’t difficult to set up. In fact, it’s quite easy.
Keeping it secure, on the other hand, is a pain.
To protect your traffic you really need to use SSL, which means you have to pay a certificate authority to get a certificate and set it up. Then you need to make sure the web-site doesn’t get bogged down by bot attacks, so you have to set up something like BruteProtect or Sucuri. BruteProtect is free, but Sucuri offers an actual web-firewall — that’s what you want 1. If you want to avoid spam comments you need to purchase Akismet. These tools are all terrific, but they cost money. This isn’t an issue if you’re a large company, but in the small non-profit world in which I live the costs add up quickly. Sure you could just create a site on WordPress.com, which is what I do for Central Baptist, you’d get most of the features I list above and have none of the overhead hassle. But you’d do this at the cost of customization 2.
Then there are the updates to the WordPress engine, themes, and plugins. In my web roles I’m either part-time or complete volunteer, I simply don’t have time to make sure all of these install correctly and don’t break anything 3. On Squarespace, this stress is taken off my shoulders and I can get back to creating content, which I really what I want to do.
Despite the customization shortcomings of the WordPress.com for site-building, I’ve actually been recommending it for small churches and organizations over trying to self-host. Groups like that simply don’t need the headaches which come with self-hosting. I’ll now be pointing them toward Squarespace. It makes more sense.
If you are starting a blog, on the other hand 4. I don’t believe there is a better platform than WordPress. It’s got wonderful integrations 5, fantastic community building tools 6, and is designed to be the best tool for the job. WordPress.com has great rates for aspiring bloggers, and you can increase your level of service as your blog grows.
- Or even both. ↩
- No Google Calendar plugin for you! ↩
- We had a plugin for Google Calendar, which worked great until Google changed the API. So I fixed it and it worked for a while, until our host screwed up file permissions in my directory. This broke the way the plugin talked to Google and somehow locked me out of the wordpress backend. ↩
- And I believe people are better served blogging than FaceBooking. ↩
- I adore how it works with the iOS Workflow app, it saves me so much time. ↩
- To all my followers who like and read regularly, thank you so much. I’m not naming names because I don’t want to forget anyone, but you’re awesome. ↩