Emma asks

To squarespace or not to squarespace? What are your tips for starting a website?

This article has the opportunity to be a long and nerdy one, so I’m going to be purposely brief so that you can make an educated decision easily.

All business decisions focus on whether we do it ourselves or outsource it. Most of us make the decision to outsource electricity supply but we’ll supply the presentation of the ceremony at the wedding. Some outsource ceremony script writing and some will host their office at home. While others will write their own scripts and then outsource office supply to a co-working space, or another arrangement.

Your website will come under the same decision making process: do we do it ourselves or outsource it. And truth be told, almost none of us are 100% capable of doing 100% of our website ourselves (you’ll still need an internet connect even if you host your own website on your own computer) so with a website it’s more about how much do you want to outsource, and to who?

100% outsourced

You don’t know anything about your website, you probably just pay the invoice every month. If this interests you, talk to someone who does the whole deal like my friend Robey.

80% outsourced

A good example of a 90% outsourced website is something like Squarespace, WordPress.com or Wix. By the way, my personal opinion of Wix is pretty low for a variety of nerdy reasons, but Squarespace is a pretty good product. I tried to love it, but I just don’t. That’s just a personal opinion from someone who has been developing websites since 1997 but I am of the understanding that the general public love it.

The only real downside to Sqaurespace and its competitors is that each of them is going to have a hard upper or lower limit for customisation. Most of you would never notice this, but I do, because I’m that nerd that notices. A good example of this is a friend has a beautiful Sqaurespace website but when they asked me for help building some automations and forms, Squarespace didn’t really place well there. So we simply developed a small site purely for these functions.

The 20% you haven’t outsourced is the content of the website, with Squarespace, WordPress.com or Wix you will need to look after the design, template choosing, and content.

Note: There are two versions of WordPress. There’s the .com and the .org. WordPress.com (WordPress dot com) is very similar to Squarespace, in the way that Ford is similar to Holden. Same but different. WordPress.org (WordPress dot org) is the WordPress referenced below.

60% outsourced

This is where I sit, I pay WPEngine for my hosting, I host my domain names with Hover, I run WordPress.org (WordPress dot org) on that hosting, and I choose my WordPress theme from Elegant Themes, and then did my own custom design along with purchasing and installing custom plugins like Gravity Forms. This seems very DIY but a big element of a website is the hosting of the website and the domain names. It’s a massive part of the work, and I don’t do it, but I also don’t hire a single company (like Squarespace) to do it. I custom built my own solution that suited me. This very website is built the same way on the same companies.

Everything else

This involves nerdy and geekery that I don’t care enough about.

What’s best?

This is such a personal question. I don’t like Squarespace but that doesn’t make it bad, and I’m sure Sarah would love it if I ran this website on Squarespace because in so many ways it is easier – but it’s not easier for me.

But here’s an easy answer: if all of this nerd talk freaked you out – Squarespace or WordPress.com is probably for you. They both have free trials, so give them a go.

Finally, if this freaked you out too much then don’t be afraid to 100% outsource your website to someone creative (I recommend Robey because I love him, not because he gives me anything) … but let me encourage you to take the opportunity to learn how to do this. It’s so empowering to take charge of business efforts like web design. Just keep on learning how to do it better.