Why I made the switch to Squarespace and 7 reasons why I love it!
My new website (for my then lettering business) launched at the end of August 2017. I had spent weeks and weeks over the summer tinkering away with my gorgeous Wordpress theme to get to the point where I could press “launch”. Yet within a couple of weeks I just wasn’t happy with it. I should have absolutely loved my shiny new website, the gateway to my brand new business. But I didn’t. I couldn’t completely put my finger on the exact reason why but I now know there were a few things bugging me about my Wordpress site.
Looking for Wordpress alternatives
But what could I do about it? I wondered if it was the theme so considered buying a new one. But then I would be back to square one and would spend hours and hours trying to get it to look perfect with my content. And that still wouldn’t solve the problem of Woocommerce - the commerce plugin for Wordpress. I just didn’t love how my products were looking in my shop. And that was something I couldn’t really change much (without loads of complicated coding - not my thing!) because as long as I was on Wordpress, I would have to use Woocommerce for the shop side of things.
So then I started looking around at other options. I already used Shopify for my other business and there’s no doubting that Shopify is first class for commerce - it’s really brilliant. But what had sent me towards Wordpress in the first place was that I feel Shopify is a bit limited when it comes to any other pages on your site - Wordpress did give me much greater freedom in this respect. Plus I fancied using a different platform rather than putting both businesses on to Shopify.
Trying out Squarespace
Over to Squarespace I went to have another look around their site. I had looked at Squarespace before but honestly had thought that their templates weren’t really ‘me’ or I couldn’t picture my business on a website that looked like that. This is because the templates (there are plenty to choose from - 91 as at December 2017) just show a completely different style to mine. I now know that you shouldn’t let that deter you at all!
Like many platforms there is a 14 day (extendable) free trial and it really takes no time at all to find your way around the pretty simple interface. Because I already had an existing site, content and (not too many) products I set myself the challenge of transferring it all over during the trial period to see how it all could look for real. Immediately I was super impressed with Squarespace and here’s why:
So, why I love Squarespace
1. It looks amazing
I love taking my product photos, I spend time over it and love the feeling when an image hits the mark (in my mind). It’s really important to me then that those images look great on my website. With Squarespace that happens for sure.
There are various different ways to display your images on any page of your site, and what you don’t get is an average little thumbnail which is intended to show off your product. Straight away I knew that Squarespace was going to tick all the boxes for me on the image front.
2. It is super easy to use
I signed up for the Squarespace free trial on a Friday. By the following Wednesday (doing a little bit each day but certainly not hours each day!) I ended the trial early and officially moved my site over from Wordpress. The whole process was a joy compared with the hours of frustration I had spent setting up my Wordpress site.
And once I was properly up and running, continuing to add new products and content is intuitive and quick. When you’re setting up pages Squarespace uses WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) so you can immediately see how it is all going to look as you make changes. No need to constantly refresh your actual site or clear your cache to see if the change has actually taken effect.
3. It uses drag and drop = very flexible
Whichever template you choose (I use Hayden but there are now 91 to choose from) you’ll quickly find that the look of your site is super flexible. Designing your site is by drag and drop so you can have pages looking exactly how you want without annoying restrictions.
This means that in some ways your choice of template is slightly academic because you are not fixed to the layout that the template shows you at the start. In fact when you choose a template the important thing is to focus on the features rather than just the look of it.
Although my Wordpress site offered me endless customisation options in one sense (which I found overwhelming really, being pretty indecisive sometimes) the reality was that once I had paid for my theme I was restricted to the exact layout of that theme (unless I was prepared or able to get stuck in with some coding - not my thing at all!).
So the number of columns and different sections on any one page had already been decided by the theme designer and I couldn’t change it - in fact I was sometimes struggling to think what to put in one of those little sections. By contrast, with Squarespace, if you don’t need a particular block in a certain place then you simply remove it and replace it with exactly what you do want!
4. You don’t waste time just making sure it all works - no updates, no hosting issues
Once you have finished your site and connected your domain (or you can buy your domain through Squarespace if you don’t already have one), then you simply don’t have to worry about any updates, backups or issues with your hosting. Squarespace takes care of all of that.
With Wordpress it seemed I was updating plugins every other day and wondering if an out of date plugin was the cause of the latest annoying little glitch. Like all of us, I have enough on my plate and I need to be able to rely on things to work as they should. With Squarespace I can do just that - it has saved me so much time already.
5. Fantastic support
The other day I needed to ask Squarespace Support a question. There is a brilliant support section on the website with detailed information about nearly every question you could have on Squarespace. But there’s also live chat and email support - I used the live chat and got a very quick answer to my query, without having to wait 20 minutes to get to the front of the queue!
6. There are not a gazillion different customisation options
With Wordpress I spent just too long trying out different options and adding plugins to see if it would create the look or effect I was after. This was just wasted time for me and pretty frustrating. Squarespace is, as I’ve said above, very flexible in the way you can design individual pages of your website but there are not an infinite number of options. So once you know your way around you know what you can do to achieve X, Y or Z. I don’t want to give the impression that this is limiting because it really isn’t - there is sooo much you can do with a Squarespace site (and some templates are more customisable than others).
One thing you do have to get your head around is that some templates will offer you some options (eg a blog sidebar) but others don’t have this. So the important thing when you are choosing your template is to work out what features are the most important for your website as some of these may then turn out to be a dealbreaker for certain templates. But this helps to narrow down your choice which is pretty helpful really when you start out with 91 templates to choose from!
7. The commerce side is not super sophisticated (a plus!) and works beautifully
One of my biggest frustrations with Wordpress was using the commerce plugin, Woocommerce. I just didn’t like how it looked. You can choose any Squarespace template if you want to sell products (physical or digital) but some templates have more commerce features than others.
When you upload products to Squarespace they are displayed beautifully. You don’t have to spend ages resizing your product photos as Squarespace takes care of that pretty much. One of the loveliest shop layouts is with the Galapagos template where you can choose a mosaic format for your product images - giving a beautiful screen full of your products.
The back end of your shop inventory is easy to manage and intuitive to use too. Once you’re up and running there’s a Squarespace Commerce app so you can get orders popping up on your phone which is always a bonus in my book!
Overall, I really recommend Squarespace and it’s been a revelation to me since I made the switch. So go and sign up for the free trial and see all of these great features for yourself!