Squarespace vs. Ghost - What You Need to Know.
posted 17 Aug 2019 by Krister Axel
Ghost is bringing the power of cutting-edge open source technology to the cloud experience of creating beautiful content. The result is a product that is easy to use, blazingly-fast, and getting better with every iteration.

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We are one month in to a very painful migration, but it is already clear that this was definitely the way to go. 16 months ago, I founded chillfiltr.com with a domain and a dream, and a lot of help from Squarespace. That platform was exactly what I needed at the time. Almost a year and a half later, I am moving on for basically two reasons. The first is that Squarespace no longer adequately meets my needs; the second is that Ghost totally does.

So what happened? Well, first the one thing you might want to keep Squarespace around for: Apple News integration. That works really well. However, if that doesn't matter to you, or you are like me and willing to jump in with the API a little bit, not even that should stop you. Here are the downsides to Squarespace that were becoming obvious, and problematic.

Support is No Bueno

Squarespace does a great job of promising you support, and not delivering. You will feel very noticed and very loved when you sign up, but over time you will realize that Squarespace support specialists are not very knowledgable about the product. And the Squarespace Circle program has been a non-starter for me. The bottom line: if you can get the platform to work for you, great. It is quite solid. But heaven help you if you have needs or questions that fall outside the beaten path. Support inevitably led to a fairly long wait time, and getting pointed back at the support docs that I had already looked at. So it is just not a flexible platform in that way - either it works for you, or it doesn't.


Both in terms of SEO and server efficiency, Squarespace over time has become too big. It's a monster: the cloud experience is slow, the cookies time out a lot, and it is just a very click-heavy experience. And sometimes - often, perhaps - you find yourself looking for something that you had access to before, but can no longer find. Is it inside Settings? The General tab? Design? The SEO section? The UI needs a lot of help, the page doesn't load very quickly, and SEO metrics complain about too many tags in the html source code. And don't get me started on tags vs. categories - I mean, why?

So, Why Ghost?

I started my first blog in 2004. I have been waiting 15 years for this product to launch - because it is my forever blog. I never have to leave. It was set up as a public corporation, and will always be open source. I know the power of open source: I spent 20 years as a contractor to the Ruby on Rails revolution. Open source creates great product, when managed well. The landscape here is ultra-static, just the way I like it. Blog on. Ghost has taken all of the lessons that we learned from Wordpress, and Squarespace, and Drupal, and created a perfect product for blogging, based around the very powerful concept of tags and dynamic routing. It is, simply put, a masterpiece.

Fast Page Loads

Ghost was built for speed, and intuitive UI. It is clean, fast, supports command-s for saves, my workflow is streamlined and more enjoyable because I'm not waiting anymore. I am absolutely impressed with the cloud experience I get from writing with Ghost, and I will never again settle for anything less.

They Tell You Like It Is

Instead of overpromising support and not delivering it, they do the opposite. You are free to use the product on your own and interact with the online support community. You are also free to purchase a Pro-level CMS at a fraction of the price from a classic managed-hosting paradigm, and for that they cap you at email and forum support - that's the trade-off. The support forum looked very powerful, I got a response from a knowledgable dev within about 6 hours, and already I was given more direction and knowledgable feedback in one session from Ghost than I had in over a year from Squarespace. So I feel very confident that if you are willing to endure a little bit of wait-time, you can be reasonably sure that your support efforts will amount to SOMETHING useful, which I could never say for Squarespace. And if you need more help, they offer a fully-managed tier that means you never have to wait. Win-win. In every segment they are price-competitive, and lean. Yes, please. If you are starting a blog from scratch, and even if you have a longstanding publication, you will do yourself a favor by checking out Ghost.

It's a Community

Ghost is bringing the power of cutting-edge open source technology to the cloud experience of creating beautiful content. The result is a product that is easy to use, blazingly-fast, and getting better with every iteration.

I hope this discussion was helpful, and I hope you find the perfect CMS for your budget and use-case. Good luck!

UPDATE (Dec 2020) - we are moving, yet again. This time to Craft CMS, and that will be where we remain. Ghost was great, and I still recommend it for single purpose blogs, but since I launched both a podcast and a online magazine from the same CHILLFILTR domain, I needed something a bit more customizable. So now I'm a Craft CMS developer. I love it!

If you are reading this message, this site was 100% built by hand, by me, using: Craft CMS, MySQL, JQuery, TailwindCSS, PLYR for embeds, and a whole lot of templating with Twig.

About the Author


Krister Bjornson Axel

Ogdensburg, New York

Paris, France. Madison, Wisconsin. Los Angeles. Ashland, Oregon. Ottawa. I write music, I write about music, and I write code. See also: photography, prose, podcasting. I have 1 gorgeous wife, 2 amazing kids, and many interests.

Recent Awards: 2020 ND (Photo) Honorable Mention, 2020 Accenti Writing Contest Finalist