Every entrepreneur has had a moment of pause (at best) or a full blown panic attack (at worst) over the thought of creating a website for their business.
There are so many questions - first of which is:
"What website platform is the best one for my business?"
We have mapped out an easy to understand guide to the pros and cons of some of the top Website Platforms to help take the stress and confusion off your plate. From Wordpress to Squarespace to WIX to Shopify, we've got you covered.
This is the most popular platform. Developers love it for it's open platform (meaning you an create anything inside this platform if you know how to code it in - no restrictions). This is a huge + if you are looking to do some major customization or need very sophisticated elements on your website. This also means you will probably need the help of a developer (unless that is your jam). Here are the top 5 Pro's and Con's of Wordpress...
Open platform with tens of thousands of plug-ins to allow you customize any aspect of your website.
Super strong SEO capabilities - again, so many plug-ins to help drive strong SEO.
Wordpress.org is FREE and you can use any hosting service you choose.
Thousands of FREE and paid templates that you can use to set up your website.
Most popular platform on the internet with approximately 33% of the market share.
Requires at least some technical knowledge. Preferable to have knowledge of html or coding in order to make updates and changes to your site.
Requires active oversight of your website as you will need to ensure that plug-ins are kept up-to-date and current in order for your website to keep running smoothly.
Unless you have the time and know-how to dedicate to managing your website, you will need to hire a developer and most developers will require you to pay them with every update.
Unless you are a developer, the templates can be challenging to work with and usually don't allow for robust design changes to be made.
Because Wordpress is an open platform, it can leave your website vulnerable to security issues.
WIX is an incredible website for creating a perfectly branded website that is easy to maintain and update. Designers love it because it allows for the ultimate in customization without needing to understand HTML or coding. This is the platform that Taylor Street Designs is built on and it is great for any type of business - from service to product. It is a closed platform so if you need serious customization or sophistication with your online business, this may not be the best platform for you (see Wordpress above).
Perfect for any business. WIX has a strong e-Commerce App as well as Bookings, Events, Menus, etc. Great for Service-based businesses that don't need a lot of technilogical sophistication.
Easy to learn, update and maintain. This makes it easy for anyone to take control of their website (no matter how technilogically un-savvy they are) and not feel beholden to a developer for minor (or even major) changes in their business.
Secure. WIX is a closed platform which makes it very secure to outside bugs, hackers and all the nasties that can come with a website. It also saves your history so any and all changes you make are saved - no crashing going on here.
Relatively inexpensive. You can create a WIX website for FREE. Yep - you don't need a single penny to design and launch a WIX site. We, of course, don't actually recommend this for the long term as we highly recommend you purchase a unique domain for your business and then purchase a premium WIX hosting plan to point it to. The FREE WIX account will include a WIX domain and WIX ads - which is not very professional for your business. However, a premium plan will cost you around $200 annually, which is very reasonable.
WIX has a great SEO Wizard that will walk you through - step-by-step - everything you need to do to get your site completely optimized for Search Engines (like GOOGLE) to find you.
The double edged sword: A closed platform. While a closed platform has many benefits, it can create some challenges if you are looking to truly customize anything other than the design of your website.
Mobile Responsive. While WIX is very mobile responsive, you have to be sure to design your Mobile View so that it looks the way you want it. Any time you make an edit to your site, you need to be sure to go into the Mobile editor and "re-design" the page for that view as well. Other platforms do this more automatically.
While WIX is constantly updating it's offerings, there are many features that are not available.. And often, you don't realize it until you are very married to the platform. This can cause frustration down the road and potentially make you rethink some business plans.
WIX is somewhat limited in it's CRM programs. However, you can always link over to another platform and tie it in seamlessly.
Squarespace, like WIX, is a designers dream. It is a closed platform which allows for super easy navigation, design and build-outs of pretty much any business website. The platform has beautiful, modern templates that you can start with and easily customize to fit your brand and business. It allows you to be in control of your website with little to no knowledge of HTML or coding. However, like WIX, because it is a closed platform, this may not be the best solution if you need something uber custom or sophisticated.
Perfect for any business. Squarespace has is highly customizable - from online shops to blogs to podcasts to videos. Great for Service-based businesses that don't need a lot of technilogical sophistication.
Easy to learn, set up and maintain. Lots of beautiful templates that make it easy to get started - even if you don't have a designers eye.
Great Mobile design. Squarespace is one of the best at taking your Desktop view of your design and translating it into a beautiful, responsive Mobile site.
One-stop-shop. Squarespace has a very simple pricing structure: Personal, Business, ECommerce. You pay annually and it is pretty inexpensive - ranging between $144 - $480 depending on your needs.
Very strong (and simple) SEO. Squarespace makes is easy for even the novice to optimize their website to have strong SEO.
While Squarespace has beautiful, modern templates and is easy to use, the design capabilities are more limited than with WIX. You have to be a little more creative and spend a little more time with your design in order to work around some of the limitations.
As with any closed platform, Squarespace can be limiting if you need highly customized or sophisticated elements on your website.
Shopify is an amazing eCommerce platform. If you have an online store you can't get much better than this platform. Shopify is know for its ease and reliability in this space. It have a various range of pricing structures and features that are sure to meet any of your eCommerce needs. If you are a service based business or a blogger, this is probably not the best option for you.
One of the top eCommerce platforms out there - it has been used to power 800,000 stores, has over 1,000,000 active users and has generated over $100 billion in sales.
Shopify has various pricing structures - ranging from $108 annually for the "lite" plan to over $3500 annually for the fully featured plan. Overall, an extremely cost efficient eCommerce engine for your business.
Shopify has many FREE templates and even more inexpensive templates that you can choose from to make the design of your website easy and relatively painless.
Shopify has so many additional features that you can add to your website to customize your online shop to fit your business needs.
The SEO management is also quite easy and straight forward on Shopify - very similar to Squarespace.
Shopify is truly JUST an eCommerce platform. If you have a service based business, blog or any other non-product selling company, this platform probably isn't for you.
While Shopify is quite intuitive and easy to use, setting up your shop the proper way takes time and a little bit of research. You know have to be tech-savvy, but you do need to understand your product line, SKU's, shipping methods, product descriptions/categories/tags, return policies, taxes, etc. Having this information sorted out prior to setting up your shop will definitely help.
There are a LOT of add-on features within Shopify - many of which you may not need. You need to do your research to understand what is right for your business or you could end up paying for things you don't need - without really realizing it.
To sum all of this up, we have created a one-pager that lists out the basics of all 4 platforms. Download it and keep it handy as you meet with your designer or developer or do your own research. We know it's a lot to take in, but don't stress - you've got this!