With a lowered barrier to entry for creating a website that doesn’t look terrible to look at, even with zero technical experience, web hosting/platform websites like Squarespace, Wordpress, and Blogspot are shaking up the marketplace of URL-owners where now single-man operations can theoretically compete with multi-million-dollar backed companies. Is this new phenomenon crippling web development? Or is it merely a new paradigm that web developers integrate into their working knowledge?
1999 saw the creation of Blogger (now Blogspot), and people found an easy place to paste their texts and blogs about their day. Now Blogspot is still a popular blogging platform with its free .Blogspost URLS, and users can even pay for hosting to get an original URL, using Blogspost merely as a platform. Fewer and fewer people are blogging like the old days, where a .blogspot URL was acceptable, and thusly much of Blogspots market share (and developers) have flocked to the giant that is Wordpress, and the slick noob-friendly upstart that is Squarespace.
Myspace has the unlikely honor of helping create a generation of coders and front-end developers, skills that until quite recently, when template websites and Wordpress-for-noobs tutorials were less ubiquitous. There was a period in the social media revolution when Facebook was barely used by more than university students and MySpace ruled the Friendster-sized hole in the cyberweb when many tech observers were able to look past the terrible design of most MySpace pages to recognize something truly unique, and kinda great: people, regular people, young people, were learning to code.
This is because to personalize your MySpace website, you were required to learn at least a tiny bit of HTML to make everything and work. While your Matrix-themed animated background and Marilyn Manson auto-play song did not make your page inviting to, well, anyone and was an affront to good design in any number of ways, to actually get these working on your page, you had to do more than click a few buttons. You had to get into the code.
Gone are the days of Geocities where anyone could have a website but everyone’s website looked absolutely terrible.
Squarespace or Wordpress?
So which is best for your website? Wordpress or Squarespace? The answer may be neither, and a using a talented developer to bootstrap your entire enterprise may be the way to go. However if you’re a fan of templates, sleek design, and not coding, the answer is probably Squarespace. If you want to use a platform with some of the most tutorials, plugins, and tools out there. Wordpress is undoubtedly the way to go.
Each in their own right have changed the way the internet looks forever, and have empowered so many regular people to get a real, actual website.
So are websites like these good or bad for professional developers? There isn’t a ton of good data measuring the rate of work for freelance and professional developers as the field itself is still barely more than a decade old, but it would not be unreasonable to assume that for every potential client lost to an easy build-your-own-website kit or template, a new client is created from someone who would not have even bought a URL had they not been able to so easily create a bare-bones brochure website themselves first, and this is precisely what Squarespace, Wordpress, and Blogspot offer—a first step into the confusing world of web development and URL management.
And plenty of developers like me are happy to help people take that second step into better web and better URL management. Because we like the confusing stuff.
Far from taking away work from the need for developers in the professional arena, websites like Squarespace, Wordpress, and Blogspot are merely opening up the internet to a brand new set of website creators, many of whom would never have even dipped their toes into the URL-waters were the barriers to entry no longer so low.
When a website begins to turn a profit for a creator (or when a startup received funding), creating a real website with real bones inevitably becomes a new goal. “If you can't compete with generic design and bad code,” points out designforfounder.com owner Heidi Pungartnik, “then your problems span further than "software competition.