Drag & Drop elements for the Sidebar here
Making my own website, is something I have dreamed about for quite some time. Even as a kid, I thought it would be nice to have a place to showcase all my various ROM hacks and modules for games that had level editors. Now that I am making my own games from scratch, and trying to get more involved with the furry and artistic communities, I felt like the time was right to start making that website.
For the past several months, I have been watching tutorials on YouTube on how to do just that, most of them involving WordPress. I did check out a few other options though, including Jumla, Blogger, and SquareSpace. I even considered Tumbler briefly, but it turned out to be not what I was looking for. Ultimately I went with SquareSpace, for it's ease of use, and the fact that it came with most everything I wanted right out of the box.
I really did want to use WordPress, which was free and open source. But in order to use WordPress, I had to pay for separate hosting, select the right theme, and install various plug-ins to get the functionality I needed, many of which came for a premium. It did not seem so 'free' after that.
It's interesting, I actually started to set up a WordPress website, and thought that was what I was going to use. I only gave SquareSpace a second look because my hosting was taking forever to setup, due in part from some misunderstanding in billing. But I was impatient, I did not want to wait a week to start building my website, so I decided to give SquareSpace a second chance, and I'm glad I did. By the time that I was finally able to get into my WordPress dashboard, my SquareSpace website was practically already built!
Now I know the easiest solution isn't always the best solution, and that alone was not enough to convince me to use SquareSpace. I spent the next week or two deliberating weither to use WordPress or SquareSpace, testing and comparing features on both platforms. I must say that SquareSpace is far easier to use, even with plug-ins like Beaver Builder which increase WordPress's user friendliness.
SquareSpace is also cheaper, after you add in the cost of hosting and plug-ins. While you probably could run a WordPress website for less, if your going to be serious about designing your website, you are going to want those premium features. On top of that, SquareSpace includes everything in one package, so you know exactly what you are getting, and there are no surprise costs.
That said, there are certain things that SquareSpace simply cannot do: like host a membership site, start a wiki or a forum, or use a shopping system outside the one they provide. If WordPress can't do something, you just install another plug-in. If you need to build that sort of website, then you have no choice but to go with WordPress, as SquareSpace simply won't cut it.
Thus, I had to ask myself if I really needed any of those extra features. While I must admit, I found a few that felt tempting, most felt like bells and whistles. Even though I thought these extra features were great, it seemed like they would just wind up bloating my site and distracting visitors and myself from what I really wanted to focus on. While SquareSpace already offered all the core functionality that I would need.
All I really want is a place to showcase my video games and various other projects I'm working on. I also wanted a blog, where I could write about my endeavors, my thoughts and feelings, and just life in general. I thought about putting my panoramic photography in here as well, but I fear that may detract attention away from my games. And if I am honest with myself, I would rather be making games than panoramas, as panoramas are just a side hobby, but games are my passion.
With all this in mind, it seemed like SquareSpace was the best fit. My one complaint about the platform, is it's lack of a proper backup system. There is an option to export your website to WordPress, but it doesn’t work that well, and SquareSpace even says it should not be used for backup. I've looked at other solutions, like using web crawlers, printing to pdf, and just downloading the web-pages directly. Each leaves something to be desired, and isn't a true backup anyway.
I know most people will say that a backup with SquareSpace isn't necessary, as SquareSpace takes care of that for you. SquareSpace is known for being very robust and secure, another point which factored into my decision making. But I would still like to have a copy of my site on my hard-drive, for my own records. Just having that file there gives me peace of mind, even if it's never used for anything. Although I've just started, this website and blog is very important to me, and I would hate for it all to just disappear one day.
I probably made this all sound like one giant sales pitch for SquareSpace, but it's really not. I haven't been using the service for all that long, and I hope I made the right choice. I think that I did the best that I could under the circumstances, and only time will tell how things play out. With any luck, I and my readers will be enjoying this blog for many years to come.