Thinking about moving your site from WordPress to SquareSpace or another platform? Read this to learn why that may not be the best long-term business choice
Thinking about switching your website away from WordPress?
The sound of an “easier” platform—one that makes editing super simple right out-of-the-box, like SquareSpace or Showit—can definitely be alluring. Before you pull that trigger, though, think very carefully: in the long term, it’s probably not a smart business decision to switch.
In this post, I’ll outline the reasons why I think WordPress is still the best long-term website platform for small businesses (and for bloggers: oh my gosh, absolutely no contest) in 2018.
Why you should give WordPress another chance
There are SO, SO many reasons why I love WordPress and recommend it more than any other platform. To keep from boring you to death, I’ll stick to just the ones that apply to most bloggers/business owners and leave out the really nerdy stuff. 😉
#1: Ownership of content
When you self-host your WordPress website, you retain all rights to your site and its content. Unless you explicitly grant usage rights to your site to someone else, they legally cannot use your site content without permission (or at the very least without crediting you, in the case of quotes and referencing part of your site material).
With the other guys, not so much.
Though your content remains your own on SquareSpace, according to their terms of service, they can feature any part of your site in their advertising or promotional materials without contacting you first. Here are the relevant portions of the TOS addressing this (updated 11/15/2018):
You grant us a perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive right and license to use any version of Your Sites, or any portion of Your Sites, including without limitation names, trademarks, service marks or logos on Your Sites, for the limited purpose of Squarespace marketing and promotional activities. […] You waive any claims against us relating to any moral rights, artists’ rights or any other similar rights worldwide that you may have in or to Your Sites or names, trademarks, service marks or logos on Your Sites and any right of inspection or approval of any such use.
According to the TOS, you can opt out of said marketing via your account, but they don’t give instructions for completing the opt-out process that I could find.
Showit’s terms of service does not specifically address content ownership or usage rights, so for now, there’s no way to really know how they view this very important issue. I haven’t heard any complaints about Showit on this front, so I assume they’re fair in the way they handle user content…but not having this explicitly addressed in the TOS makes me a little nervous.
#2: Autonomy, ability to move
You can do basically whatever you want with your self-hosted WordPress site – any limitations are set by your host, not by the WordPress platform itself. Most hosts only restrict sites that could get them in legal trouble (like spam sites, gambling sites, porn sites…), but if you set up your own servers, the only authority you have to answer to is your government. 😛
Not true for platforms like SquareSpace and Showit.
You’re locked in to their proprietary hosting since the platforms cannot be self-hosted like WordPress, meaning you must adhere to their terms. If the powers that be decide to change said terms in a way that negatively affects you…you’re out of luck. If they decide to shut down your site, you have no way to get it back up and running quickly other than going through their support team.
Ever heard one of the myriad horror stories about Etsy shops being shut down without warning and the recent fee increase that left many sellers with a bad taste in their mouths? It’s the same concept.
With WordPress, if your host makes a change you don’t like, you can pack up and move to another one with relatively little loss.
Notes on pricing in relation to autonomy
There are a wide variety of different hosts available for WordPress to suit all budgets and performance needs (my personal favorite is WPEngine). SquareSpace and Showit, however, only offer a limited selection of pricing options/packages.
While this may not seem like a big deal initially, what if your blog or business has a slow season and you need to cut expenses? With WordPress, you have the option of switching to a less expensive host; not so with proprietary platforms.
Restrictions on how you can use the platforms
When you use a proprietary platform like SquareSpace or Showit, you also have to comply with any restrictions the companies place on platform usage. For the most part, these are fairly reasonable limits, but there are some “hidden” rules that make me scratch my head.
One example is Showit’s ban on sharing performance benchmarks in section 5h of their TOS. Want to know how fast Showit sites load? You won’t be able to find that information independently because of this strange restriction.
#3: Expansion and the ability to change
With self-hosted WordPress, you’re free to make any change to the platform that you’d like. Want to rip apart or extend core WordPress and create something super-custom? Totally acceptable.
Plugins even facilitate this ability to expand, making it really easy to add advanced functionality to your website as needed.
On the other hand, SquareSpace and Showit limit you to a relatively small set of features and do not allow you to modify the underlying platform code, severely limiting how much you can customize and expand your site.
What does that mean for you exactly?
It means that even if you want to hire a developer to custom-code some fancy new component for you, you can’t on SquareSpace or Showit because of their limitations.
This doesn’t mean that sites on those platforms can’t be customized at all—I’ve done quite a few SquareSpace customization jobs utilizing Developer Mode, in fact—but that you’re limited in what you can customize and change.
This might seem like a far-off worry for you right now, but as your blog or business grows, you may very well get burned by this restriction.
I’ve had many prospective clients come to me with custom development jobs they were excited about, but ultimately got let down because what they wanted to do simply wasn’t possible on their current platform. At that point, they had to decide whether to stick with their current sites (and abandon their ideas for growth) or build out an entirely new site on a more robust platform (an expense they weren’t anticipating).
For even more reasons to love WordPress, check out this great comparison article on WPMU Dev: https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/wordpress-versus-squarespace/.
How to fall in love with your WordPress site all over again
The main gripe business owners have with WordPress is that it’s not as easy to use as its competitors. But, if you know some insider secrets, you can make WordPress just as easy—or even easier!—to use than SquareSpace or Showit…with none of the associated limitations.
There are a handful of essential elements to building a top-notch WordPress website that’s easy as pie to edit:
#1 – A great theme
You can’t build a wonderful WordPress site without the starting point of a solid theme (unless you’re a developer, that is 😛). Your choice of theme is one of the most important decisions you can make when building your WordPress site, so don’t pick it willy-nilly or on a whim.
My recommendations for dependable themes are:
- Almost anything based on the Genesis framework. Bonus points if it’s in the StudioPress shop or by one of their third-party theme developers since you know it’s been vetted by the team that created Genesis in the first place.
- Beaver Builder Theme if you’re a big fan of the page builder, though I prefer to use the Beaver Builder plugin with Genesis themes.
#2 – A page builder
One of the most tempting parts about SquareSpace and Showit is that they use drag-and-drop page builders, making building your website as easy as using a design program. Did you know that you can install page builders on WordPress, too?
Setting up a reliable page builder is one of the first things I used to do for the majority of custom WordPress sites I developed. They make editing the site SO much easier for the average blogger or business owner!
The only page builder I wholeheartedly recommend for WordPress is Beaver Builder, with or without Beaver Themer. There are a handful of other page builders out there, but I have yet to find one that impresses the developer in me as much as Beaver does. I love Beaver so much that I even used it when I redesigned my personal site!
#3 – A blogging system
Okay, so I might be biased here…but I genuinely believe that using a blogging system like EBB makes WordPress much more enjoyable. 😉
In this context, I’m using “blogging system” to refer to a WordPress plugin that helps you take care of some of the more menial tasks on your blog, like adding affiliate disclosures, adding hidden Pinterest images, and managing opt-ins.
#4 – Other carefully chosen plugins
Emphasis on the “carefully chosen” part here: plugins have a lot of power, but some of them don’t use it for good.
By layering useful plugins onto the core of WordPress, you can create a site that truly serves you and your business well.
Some of my favorites are:
- Yoast SEO (free or premium)
- Ninja Forms or Contact Form 7 for form creation
- Woocommerce or Easy Digital Downloads for product sales
- Duplicate Post to make quick copies of posts, pages, and more
- User Switching to test your site as a real user
- MemberPress for membership sites (though it isn’t without its “quirks”)
Ultimately, the choice of website platform for your blog or business is yours alone. It’s up to you to weight the pros and cons of each option and decide on the system that best fits your needs.
Just keep this in mind: the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. 😉
Give EBB Pinterest a test drive
EBB Pinterest is one module from the full Easier Business Blogging plugin. It’s laser-focused on helping you optimize your blog posts for increasing Pinterest traffic.
Download it for free by filling out the form below: