A couple of years ago I set up a very simple, fairly static business website using Squarespace for a small consulting firm of former senior managers from the banking sector. This was a side project to the main freelance consulting work I was doing for them.
My website experience up to that point consisted of one for advertising the rental of Brasilian holiday villa (http://www.vilaalba.com.br) and one for a youth hostel in Rio de janeiro. I think I used MS Word’s ‘save as HTML’ function for the first one and the free Coffeecup HTML editor for the second.
Since the target audience for the project was potential clients ie senior management in banks and hedge funds, it was important that the website look a lot more professional than my previous efforts. Since the partnership had no actual revenue, it was also important that both build and ongoing maintenance be cheap/free. And since my level of experience was low, it had to be very easy to set up and maintain.
I considered trying to use WordPress as the platform since traffic was likely to be low and unlikely to spike but decided that the most costly part of the website’s creation and maintenance was the time I spent on it. I thought would be Squarespace would require so much less (expensive) time from the business users (the partners and myself) that it would actually be cheaper to use Squarespace.
Based on this experience I’d say you’ve pretty much hit several nails on the had with your review, Evan. If you have WordPress experience I would guess that it’s probably only a little more effort to maintain a website such as 40tech on WordPress than it is on Squarespace. But when costing in the time of having to learn even the most basic things about website design and implementation, I think Squarespace comes out much cheaper for simple websites. Yes, it does limit what you can customise; but that’s actually a good thing for a beginner. And you have to ask yourself: how likely am i to really NEED to implement WordPress features that are not found in Squarespace? In our case the answer was ‘not very likely at all’.