Why I sometimes recommend SquareSpace or Shopify to friends and family

Yes, I am a WordPress developer and a Laravel developer and I have also worked on Drupal and HubSpot projects in the past, but that doesn’t stop me from sending people to other platforms and tools when it makes sense. WordPress brings so much to table for someone wanting an SEO-friendly website that is themeable, with e-commerce, forms, online courses, and membership functionality all just a plugin installation away.

Often new businesses just need to get an online presence established quickly and simply, without the need for a custom designed theme or advanced functionality like having conditional fields on a contact form. SquareSpace and Shopify charge a very small monthly fee with no up-front costs and you can have your site up and running in minutes. Yes, the website theme will be the same as thousands of other sites out there. Yes, there are limitations to how much you can customize the site layout and types of content on the site. The value of what SquareSpace or Shopify offer could be priced in the tens of thousands of dollars if it was for a custom coded site and the site management wasn’t totally automated.

The mother of a friend came to me last year looking for help with their business website. It was outdated and a pain to manage. The site had been built on Joomla(they thought it was being built on WordPress at the time) and they were thinking a move to WordPress would make their life easier. We discussed WordPress themes, content, functionality requirements, timelines, and budget. There were some nice themes we thought could work but based on their content and functionality requirements I offered SquareSpace as a cheaper and faster solution to meet their needs. After some more discussion it just made sense to build the site on SquareSpace. They didn’t need a custom theme, their content was pretty simple, they didn’t want to have to worry about platform updates or security patches, the content editing tools weren’t overwhelming and the site could be built quickly. One afternoon I went over to their business office and we selected a SquareSpace theme, added their logo, photos, and text content to the site. I taught her how she can add new content herself in the future and adjusted some site configuration options. In total we spent less than 3.5 hours getting her new website online and she was very happy. For this customer, WordPress can’t beat the SquareSpace value proposition.

I am not looking for SquareSpace work but if it makes sense for your website I will let you know and point you in the right direction. I also will tell you when we are better off building your custom web app on Laravel instead of WordPress. Building out basic brochure style sites was my bread and butter over 15 years ago when I would custom design and develop a site for the equivalent of one hour of my current rate. Honestly I was just happy to be building sites back then, if I got paid something that was a bonus. Today I am more picky about the projects I take on so I try to stick to doing custom WordPress functionality, Laravel web applications, and Vuejs interactive tools. SquareSpace or Shopify can do the rest of the work and save my friends and family their precious time and money. Once in a blue moon I may help a friend out with a change on their SquareSpace site but that’s just being a good friend and doesn’t reflect the type of work I love diving into.

If you are not sure what platform makes sense for your website we would love to hear about your project and point you in the right direction, even if it means towards another company.