As you know, dear reader, this site was down recently as I switched web hosts. And since I spent a decent amount of time on Squarespace, my previous host, I thought I’d write a bit about the experience and why I decided to leave, in case any of you are considering it as a potential destination for your blog.
There’s a lot to love about Squarespace. The sites look great, for example. While moving back to a self-hosted WordPress site was the best choice available to me, it certainly pained me to wade through hundreds of inferior site templates considering how sharp this site looked a few weeks ago.
I knew there were trade-offs when I joined: I was giving up easy access to my host space, and general hackability, for an easier experience. This was fine for me, and not the source of my leaving Squarespace. Ultimately, I didn’t use that stuff as much as I thought.
The truly great part about joining Squarespace is the support team. They are quick with their responses, and if they’re unable to help, the staff doesn’t hesitate to elevate the issue to someone who might be able to assist. It’s a testament to them that their behavior toward me didn’t change in the past two weeks, when all of my queries concerned moving my data off of their servers and processing my cancellation and refund. It almost made me feel guilty about leaving.
Almost. What ultimately undid my relationship with Squarespace was a basic lack of functionality. On some days, I’d log-in only to find myself staring at the Squarespace watermark. My admin area was nowhere to be found. Squarespace ultimately figured it out, and I was back in business, but these niggling problems continued to arise. The worst were content-related: my link data was wiped out, or a random string of text was added to a public page.
The problem wasn’t that errors occurred, but that Squarespace had no proper explanation for them, nor a way to restore content in its correct and prior state. When my post links were erased, the fix was entirely on my shoulders: I had to go through these posts and add back data that once existed there.
These random, annoying and vague problems stood in stark contrast to their amazing efforts to keep sites online during Hurricane Sandy. But these efforts put things in perspective for me: there was a significant problem if Squarespace could keep my site online during a historic hurricane, but couldn’t prevent their software from bugging out and altering my content without explanation, or just provide a fix when understandable errors occurred. I decided I’d trade a few days of down time for a platform that preserved my work.
I left Squarespace because it’s a frustratingly young platform. There’s so much to admire about it, particularly those who want to do as little backend work on their blogs as possible. I’d like to be one of those people. I didn’t exactly have a romantic reunion with WordPress, but I feel much more comfortable that I will wake up tomorrow and see this post in the same state it’s in today.
Don’t be surprised if you see this site back at Squarespace some day. Their team seems too smart and dedicated to struggle for too long. But in the mean time, I have work to do, and I simply knew there were other platforms where I felt more comfortable creating and posting my content.