When it comes to representing your business online, how do you know what the best website platform is? There are lots of good options to choose from, but which makes the most sense for your business? Whether you’re building the site yourself or working with a designer, it’s helpful to have a base understanding of what you’re working with. That’s why we’ve chosen to highlight a few pros and cons on the platforms we recommend the most frequently.
WordPress is a great, well-rounded option for many types of businesses. It’s versatile enough for just about anything. From blogging to marketing, portfolio sites, brochure sites and even online courses and beyond. Odds are if there’s something you need to add – there’s a plugin for that. However some apps can be costly and large-scale e-commerce users may find it a bit lacking. Less tech-savvy users might find it a bit too nerdy for their tastes.
- It’s fairly easy to learn the basics.
- There’s an active community and there are regular updates.
- It’s free to use, with lots of free plugins and themes.
- It’s easily transportable to most web hosts.
- There’s plenty of room for customizable appearance and functionality.
- A bit more technical than other competitors.
- Custom site development can be more time-consuming than on other platforms.
- E-commerce tools aren’t as sophisticated as other platforms that are specifically designed for it.
- You’re responsible for maintaining and backing up the site.
Squarespace is a solid option for those looking to start simple. You can use their drag and drop editor to create a website for the basics such as e-commerce, appointments, blogging and email marketing. It’s similar in some respects to Wix or Weebly, but offers a bit more of a refined and sophisticated feel. Squarespace generally seems to be a better fit for small to medium-sized businesses, with a lower initial start up cost than building a site from scratch. In the long run though, the monthly fees can actually end up being a bit more costly. Squarespace is also lacking in the ability to add many third-party integrations or analytics. So if you’re looking for customization, this may not be the best website platform for you.
- No backups or updates are required.
- Cheaper starting price than most other options.
- Easy to set up and maintain from the back-end.
- Drag and drop editor, aesthetically-pleasing templates.
- The higher tier plan offers no transaction fees.
- Custom development can be expensive and not always possible.
- Offers fewer templates and customization options compared to competitors.
- Very little third-party plugin integrations and analytics.
- Cannot be transferred to another platform or host.
- Lowest-cost tier has a 3% transaction fee.
- Monthly fee plus additional fees for add-on features.
Shopify offers options that are suitable for all sizes of e-commerce and subscription sites, especially those that involve physical goods that require shipping. It offers a high amount of flexibility with high-quality design and almost 200 themes to choose from. However, there are limited design customization options in terms of functionality. There’s also not as much page versatility beyond store or blog purposes, so if that isn’t what you’re looking for, you may want to try a different option.
- Low initial cost and fairly easy set-up.
- There’s a good selection of both free and paid plugins.
- Easy to use and maintain, with access to plenty of training tools.
- Mobile-friendly design and use.
- Built in email marketing and SEO management.
- There’s a monthly fee plus additional fees for add-on features.
- Not all themes and add-ons are free to use, and some aren’t cheap.
- Cannot be transferred to another platform or host.
A more flexible alternative to Shopify is Magento. Magento is an open-source, free to use platform that’s e-commerce focused. It has higher development costs, (you’ll have to take care of your own hosting, security etc.) but it can be more easily customized to fit exactly what you want. However, there is little to no training material outside of other users, and you may get a bit lost if you aren’t familiar with coding and the like.
Another popular e-commerce choice is Bigcommerce. It offers cloud-based solutions for businesses of all sizes. It’s an all-in-one style option (hosting, security, updates, maintenance) with no coding experience necessary – but it comes with a heftier price tag. It also has a more complex and powerful interface that can be tricky to navigate and learn.
If you need more help narrowing your choices down, we’d recommend consulting the review site Capterra. They offer a great way to do some side-by-side comparisons, with feedback from real users so you know what to expect.
Picking the Best Website Platform for You
When it comes to choosing the best platform for your website, our recommendation is not to get weighed down by the details. Make a short list of what your goals are for the website. Think about how involved you want to be with its creation and its maintenance. Think about how much you’re comfortable spending.
There are a ton of options out there for your website. The ones we’ve listed here are certainly not the only choices, but they’re well-rounded and what we’d recommend professionally when starting your search.
If you’re looking for a few tips on website design, check out our article on the 3 Essential Elements of a Good Website.