SquareSpace, Thesis and Back to WordPress

Yup, that’s the way it generally goes. I finally got myself an account at SquareSpace to play around with, and I poked the Thesis Framework a couple of months ago, so I now got to a conclusion – I’m not satisfied with any of those. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with SquareSpace, it’s a very neat and highly customizable blogging platform. I liked playing around with it, but it took me less than a few minutes to realize, that “play around with it” is all I can do. SquareSpace is not free, and neither is Thesis. But don’t get me wrong, WordPress is not free either (I’ll tell you why in a couple of minutes)! Everything depends on what you’re looking for.

Blogs, blogs, blogs. Everybody’s a pro-blogger today, especially in the world of Twitter. Everybody needs a place to discuss the perfect formula of “gaining 2000+ followers in one week”, then sell ads & get cash or perhaps donate to some charity of their choice. Anyway, this is not my point.

My point is that there are so many blogs out there, they’re so different, and yet so similar. And this is where the blogging platform comes in and I like to divide this into three steps (while the third one might also be a step 0 for some people).

Step 1: Just get out there and blog!

Blogger, WordPress.com, LiveJournal – these platforms are for busy people. For people that want to blog. Generally not techies. They don’t even care about how their blog looks, as long as the content is delivered to their readers (oh yeah, there are those that don’t give a damn about their readers too, but that’s a different story). People might spend some money for extra functionality on these platforms from time to time such as ad removal, custom CSS, etc. There are much more blogging platforms of this type than mentioned above, and even not so well-known networks of blogs created by people using Multi-User WordPress, Ning, buddyPress and others.

These types of platforms are generally free of charge and require no special knowledge. One-click sign up and you’re ready to blog. Most of them (the blogs) don’t live very long though, they get abandoned in a few months.

Step 2: Time to customize. Look at the new me!

As I said before, SquareSpace is cool, really. It may actually be the next step in your blogging adventure – customizing your look & feel and the readers interaction, making you different from your partners/competitors. People don’t like their blog to look like their friends’ blogs. WordPress.com blogs look all similar, Google Blogger too and that may get very annoying after a few months blogging. SquareSpace lets you customize the look of your blog without any programming skills at all (unlike Custom CSS on WordPress.com for instance). Watch this short video presentation.

Pretty cool eh? Take a look at the Features List for more info. The video on their website has a male voice btw, that’s strange… I prefer this female one ;)

Alright. We finally got here. Thesis from DYI Themes. Oh jeez. I don’t wanna talk much about Thesis, honestly, it’s starting to get on my nerves. First of all, they’re asking me to pay for a “Theme Framework”. What on earth is a “Theme Framework“? Lemme tell you. It’s just a bunch of functions, that limit your WordPress capabilities and make your website look rediculous. I like to refer to WordPress as a Framework, because it does have all the functionality and flexibility to be called one. Now, why do you need a framework on top of a framework?

Oh god, take a look at the Thesis showcase, they all have the same look. That Thesis look, which is kinda cool when you see it for the first time, but makes you wanna vomit when you came across 20 similar blogs a few hours ago. I can’t believe that people are actually giving away their money for this. And the developers license… Wow, you really wanna become a “Thesis Theme developer”? Heh, I’d go with WordPress if I were you.

Step 3: Time for a fresh start

Back to WordPress. This is the final step before you get all frustrated with blogs and decide to build your own social platform (with blackjack, and hookers ;) Why is it “back” to WordPress? Well, because this is where most people start and feel that WordPress (I’m talking about standalone WordPress blogs, not the ones hosted on WordPress.com) is not good/powerful/easy/flexible enough and doesn’t suit your needs. And this is the place where people start to look out for paid themes (yeah, and frameworks too) and other blogging platforms. I mentioned that it’s not free, remember? What I meant was that if you want a high-quality, good-looking WordPress blog, find yourself a loot WordPress junkie and pay him to do some theme customization (or perhaps build one from scratch), plugins customization (or perhaps build some from scratch, lol) and setting it all up.

Yes, this may cost a little more, but this is the only guarantee that you will get whatever you’re asking for, and it’s generally a one-time fee and maybe some small charges from time to time to stay up to date (get up a “happy christmas” version of your theme, extend functionality, etc).

In conclusion, I just wanted to say that you should stop wasting your time and stick to the right option straight away, during the start. You don’t wanna be jumping from one platform to another every month. Yeah, I know there are so much handy export/import tools but it still is a waste of time.

16 thoughts on “SquareSpace, Thesis and Back to WordPress

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  5. Great post, you are right that the point is to get out there and do it. I think the key is to keep it regular (I'm so bad for that I need to put more info on mine!). I think it might be a good idea for folks to do exactly what you have done, try a few and see what suits them best. Also, I found that as my confidence with blogging grew I was able to customize more and try other features.

  6. I'd never switch to SquareSpace and I don't like the general idea of Thesis, so I agree with your thoughts. Customization should be done by professionals.

    • Hey there Tim, yeah, but not all the customization should be fixed to pros. Some minor changes should be handled by any newbie, that's why I generally like Square Space.

  7. That's the same kind of thing I don't get about CMS platforms like Perch. Why bother? You get limited capability with a learning curve, yet you have to pay for it. Hello?

    Great article. I dig your writing. By the way, are you sure you're from Moscow? You write better English than most Americans :)

    • Hey Aaron, really? Wow, thanks hehe! Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm from Moscow ;)

      Haven't played with Perch, but your point is correct. Although for the majority of people without any knowledge of PHP, HTML or whatever, SquareSpace would probably be okay (and I guess Perch too), but anyways, we all have to grow up sooner or later ;)

  8. I'd have to agree. There's no way I'd be able to come up with a site like Looking For My Life if I were to do it on my own. Everyone keeps saying that wordpress and thesis are the way to go. Sure it has great functionality, but I'm the kind of person that doesn't want to have to worry about all that backup and maintenance mumbo jumbo.

    Great article,
    Aaron Wong

  9. Thesis I think is more for developers even though its marketed as an easily customizable solution. Its not easy to customize. But your wrong in that the framework limits what you can do. Its just the opposite. If you know anything about hooks then you'll know that every part of thesis can be customized any way you like. But its not for the "user" or non developers.

    • Kevin, you're right about Thesis not being for the end-user but rather for a developer. But what does Thesis have that Google can't come up with? Breadcrumbs? Oh please.. A repository of WordPress snippets is what we developers are looking for, but not frameworks built on top of frameworks to build frameworks of frameworks in frameworks, in order to sell frameworks to our clients. Wha?

      Besides, Thesis must be overbloated, as opposed to, say, Zend Framework, which is totally MVC & components may be avoided if they're not used.

      Don't get me wrong, I do love extra UI options, but I don't like Thesis ;)

  10. Let's be honest. This is kind of funny. Developers are shitting bricks because Square Space has basically annihilated blogger, wordpress, and wix with one fell swoop. CSS? Please? Anyone can cut, copy and paste martian code. Intelligence stems from taking that which is complex and simplifying it. The most intelligent platforms – and men and women – in history – have conveyed information simply, and to the masses. Let's start with Gutenberg's printing press – obviously the priests and the Catholic Church had a cow a piece when they realized that their lucrative sale of indulgences would be compromised and that everyone could read the Bible for themselves. CSS is like Latin, and SquareSpace has decided to deliver a forum written in – jeepers – ENGLISH.

    • Cindy, good point and I'm still looking for some info about Squarespace v6, but we're "shitting bricks" because we like to have control, not the control a typical Squarespace end-user would like to have (dragging sidebars around, changing font sizes on the fly), but full control if you know what I mean, hence my thinking above ;) Forums are great, but people don't tend to read them much :-P

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