I built my first website back in 1993. It was a collection of static HTML pages for a non-profit organization. My, how things have changed. It is so much easier to register a web address (domain) and start a new site than it used to be. Usually, within an hour or so, a new site can go "live."
My time with Wordpress
I started my own website, hemmans.com, back in 2008. At that time I was using Wordpress.org, which is the business-class version of Wordpress.com, a hosted content management system. It was really easy to create a site, however it took me several months (around 9 or so) to customize the theme to make it look different from every other Wordpress website on the internet.
Adding content to my Wordpress site was a snap. At the time Blogger, TypePad, and LiveJournal were some of the services I considered, but the rich plugin community available through Wordpress was hard to resist.
There were a few problems, though:
- Updates. Every so often Wordpress would release an update that would patch security holes or introduce new features. Sometimes those updates would break elements of my site. Of course, not running the updates would leave me vulnerable to attack. I was lucky most of the time and didn't suffer any severe problems.
- Theme customization. Did I mention that it took me 9 months to customize my theme? That was because of the learning curve. Sure, I could have paid someone lots of money to deliver a custom Wordpress theme, but I wanted the peace of mind that comes with controlling my site without the need of an "expert." That meant I had to learn CSS and a little bit of PHP, the language upon which Wordpress is built. I learned enough to be dangerous.
- Different browser formatting. Formatting a site so it looks the same in every web browser is hard. This problem isn't specifically related to Wordpress; it's a web browser problem. Back when I launched my site, Internet Explorer 6 was the most popular browser around — any web designer will tell you how hard it was to format sites back then. CSS wasn't interpreted in the same way by every web browser, which meant that a site could look great in one browser and terrible in another.
My move to SquareSpace
Two years ago, I made the switch to SquareSpace. It took me about a week to make a reasonable approximation of my Wordpress theme, including the learning curve. I never looked back.
SquareSpace employs a rich WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing system. You click, drag, and drop to make your site just the way you want. Click on links to set their font and color; drag the width of your site; or drop a photo from your computer onto your website, without using FTP. Make a photo gallery, blog, or portfolio. It's all pretty straight-forward.
Not long after I switched over, the fine folks at SquareSpace released SquareSpace 6. One big feature of the new SquareSpace was the introduction of responsive design functionality. Sites built with responsive design automatically make multiple website versions, each of which is optimized for different screen sizes. (Try resizing this website window smaller and see what happens to my site.)
It's possible to create a SquareSpace site and design it in a very short amount of time. To prove it, I spent about 90 minutes yesterday tweaking the layout of my site. It's ready. I flipped the switch this morning, take a look. I guess it's more of a variation on a "theme" (pun intended), but the mobile version of my website showed up all by itself.
If you need a website, give SquareSpace a try. They offer a free two-week trial (no credit card needed). During the trial you'll have access to all the power their platform provides. And, because the service is hosted, you don't have to worry about running software updates or browser formatting differences. Everything is built into the system for you.
No, I don't get anything for recommending SquareSpace to you, but if you plan to sign up contact me and I might be able to point you in the direction of a discount code. You'll probably find one if you look around online a little.