I just sent my first potential client to … Squarespace.
I’m a WordPress developer and designer. Well, was.
I just got a contact request from a potential client that said:
“It has to be affordable, simple, clean and powerful. And have Mailchimp or aWeber onboard.”
They thought my minimum fees were a little steep so in a very friendly and helpful way, I recommended they check out … Squarespace.
I’ve been building WordPress sites for 10 years. I’ve never not recommended WordPress … well, that’s not completely accurate. There was a period of temporary insanity when I dabbled in Drupal and then a loss-of-consciousness era when I thought MoveableType was worth a try. There were a few others I’d heard of, but I can’t even remember the names of now.
Disclaimer: OK, so I barely know Squarespace. I haven’t actually used it. But it sounds good. From what I hear–and see–it looks fantastic.
Of course, I know Squarespace. Well, at least I’ve heard of it–a lot. They actually advertise. What a concept. WordPress is open source, they don’t advertise and they don’t really need to. Or do they?
Squarespace advertises something like, paraphrasing, “Simple, beautiful, affordable websites that are easy to manage.” I just made that up. But that’s what I’d like to advertise myself. But I kinda can’t. WordPress isn’t that simple (until you know it). It can be absolutely beautiful (if you choose the right them and have a flair for design). It’s absolutely affordable just like Thai food in San Francisco is affordable (if you know what you’re doing, where to go, when, etc.). It’s also as easy to manage as your DVR … once you read the manual.
But WordPress can also be: complex, ugly as you can make it, expensive and a nightmare to manage. It’s up to you.
I didn’t used to think this way, but WordPress, in my humble opinion, used to be like Apple. The friendly, smaller, cooler option that was the thing to do. But it’s grown. It’s gotten better–so much better. But unless you know what you’re doing or have someone holding your hand who does, it’s a jungle. There’s even a place where you can buy themes for WordPress called ThemeForest. It’s in the same space as AudioJungle. I wonder if those names are intentionally scary.
So I just passed on a client that didn’t have a big budget, wanted a powerful site and bells and whistles. I sent him to what seems to be a pretty straightforward option. You pay a monthly fee and you get lots of features. No, you can’t customize it like crazy, but you know what? You shouldn’t want to customize it like crazy. You should want to build your site, sell your book, start your workshop or show off your paintings. You shouldn’t have to worry about plugins and updates and hacks and backups. No one should.
I can’t believe I’m writing this.
One person is going to be reading this post with this huge smile on his face. He knows my WordPress days as a designer and developer are coming to an end. Note that I’m not writing this post on my WordPress design and development site … at least not yet. I’m safe over here. 😉
I think the change came recently when I was working on one of my own sites (to sell my books, to reach a greater audience, to capture email addresses … you know, things people do who are passionate about what they’re doing) and I thought, “Man, this sure is a lot of work to make this all work together. Isn’t there another system out there that’s easier and all together and sort of an all-in-one service?”
Yeah, and that coming from a long-long-time WordPress guy using a WordPress site.
Times they are a changin’.
Amen! I’ve also been developing for WordPress for ten years, both personally and for clients. Yet I just set up my own personal blog on Squarespace, and I suspect I will be encouraging some clients to check SS out as well. So far I LOVE the simplicity of it. I’ve discovered a few things that are rather complex to set up that could be simpler, but overall it’s very much a great platform. For simple e-commerce it can’t be beat IMHO.
“You should want to build your site, sell your book, start your workshop or show off your paintings. You shouldn’t have to worry about plugins and updates and hacks and backups.”
THIS. I really enjoy using WP, but I know it backwards & forwards and in my sleep. I have taught classes in WP.com and it’s surprisingly difficult for newbies to do more than just the most basic tasks. Good for me, I guess, as I get paid to help them out, but ultimately WordPress is too complex for most non-technical people to master. But it’s a great platform upon which to build a custom website, and I wouldn’t use anything else for a CMS. But for folks who want a simple blog or online store, WP is overkill. I’d encourage you to check SS out if you haven’t already.
SO COOL to hear from someone with as much experience in WordPress as I have who has a similar outlook! Thank you so much for posting, Adrienne!
Only people who struggle with “simple e-commerce” will understand what you say here, “For simple e-commerce it can’t be beat IMHO.” I also think for simple sites with a handful of pages who just have a simple message they want to get across, it’s great. One place I struggled when helping someone out with Squarespace was the formatting of the blog. The archives of past blog posts wasn’t easy to make into an easy-to-read format–at least as far as we could figure out.
Thanks again for the note, Adrienne.