This week, we’ve got a guest blog from Justin O’Riordon, who is the founder of Growfio, a website design and management company focused on helping small business owners boost sales and save time
With so many different website platforms out there, it’s not easy figuring out which one would be best for your small business. You’ve probably seen some advertisements or paid YouTube sponsorships for do-it-yourself website builders such as Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly. They all claim to be amazing and the best, however, it’s important to learn about them all and see which one would be best for you.
In this blog article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of the most popular website platforms. We aren’t including any referral links in this article and we won’t push you to use one platform over the others, as we truly do want you to decide for yourself.
Do-it-yourself website builders are a great solution for small business owners that have low budgets. Whether you’ve been in business for 15+ years or you’re ready to launch your new startup, be sure to thoroughly read this article before choosing a website platform for your small business.
First, let’s look at WordPress. WordPress launched in 2003 and is one of the oldest and most-used website platforms to date. It’s an open source content management system (CMS) which essentially offers unlimited website options for making an amazing site that does everything you want it to.
Used by amateurs and professional web developers alike, WordPress powers more than 25% of websites around the world. Unlike most do-it-yourself website builders, WordPress is very customizable as it has the largest number of website themes and plugins to choose from. Many themes and plugins are free, which is perfect for a business owner who’s on a budget. You can create a standard website, have a blog, or sell products online using WooCommerce, their e-commerce platform.
The user interface is simple to navigate and pretty intuitive, though it’s not really meant for people who aren’t tech savvy. Web designers, developers, and business owners who want more features and customization from a website turn to WordPress.
The open source CMS is free to use and download. You can install WordPress on any web host and move a WordPress website from one host to the other. The other website platforms mentioned below do not allow you to do this. If you build a website in Wix or Squarespace for example, you’ll have to rebuild your website on a different platform if you wish to ever move. With that being said, you’ll need to find a reliable web hosting company and purchase a domain name yourself, or choose a website management company like Growfio.
WordPress makes search engine optimization easy as it helps automate the SEO process. Big search engines like Google and Yahoo can index WordPress sites easier, which allow for better rankings. You also have full control over how well your website is optimized. Yoast, a free SEO plugin really helps get the job done.
Wix is an affordable DIY website platform which has become popular over recent years because of its very easy-to-use drag and drop website builder. No technical skills are needed when creating a website with Wix, and they do offer a good number of templates which you can choose from.
The platform tends to attract millennial startups with very low budgets. If you’re strapped for money or not willing to allocate much money to a website, Wix won’t hurt your wallet. You’re able to create a website for free if you’d like to see how their website builder works. If you decide to use Wix and want to publish your site, you’ll need to purchase one of their website plans. They vary in price range but are still on the affordable end.
All website plans include web hosting. Some plans include a free domain for the first year and the ability to have an online store. Using Wix has limitations if you’re wanting to really customize your site with certain features. Their templates look great, but in the end, a Wix website is not meant to be complex.
Weebly is a close competitor to Wix, as there aren’t many differences between the two platforms. Building a professional website works the same way, as you would use their easy website builder and can choose from many high-quality website templates. As with Wix, Weebly doesn’t allow their websites to have much functionality and customization.
Their pricing plans are also on the low end, which is perfect for startups or small businesses that don’t have much money. They do offer a different set of pricing plans for those wanting to have an online store. Web hosting, a free domain, and an SSL certificate is included in all their premium plans, plus you get free Google Ads credit to use. Running advertisements on Google would be helpful in getting some traffic to your website after it’s launched.
Wix also includes built-in marketing tools. They include SEO tools to help your site in search rankings and offer simplified email marketing.
Shopify strictly focuses on e-commerce websites since it’s their specialty. If you’re thinking about selling things online, whether physical or digital products, Shopify is better suited for e-commerce than Wix or Weebly.
They’ve also got an easy-to-use interface and offer many professional templates. If needed, you can purchase one of their point of sale hardware devices to accept payments in your store. Shopify has their own payment processor, which means you won’t need a 3rd party service. To view your sales and orders, Shopify has an app which you can download on your phone or tablet.
They offer a free 14-day trial so that you can try out their platform and begin setting up your e-commerce site without spending money. Their pricing plans aren’t as cheap as Wix and Weebly, but can easily pay for themselves when you’re selling things online and making money.
Squarespace focuses on startups, specifically businesses run by one person. They tend to attract photographers, bloggers, artists, and musicians looking to start their first website. Their website templates are very clean and stylish, and all give off the same vibe, which can be a good thing depending on what you’re doing.
With Squarespace, their templates are practically impossible to break. You’re pretty restricted on making advanced customizations, though you might not care if you just want something simple. If you’re afraid of messing something up while making website changes, Squarespace could be the move for you, especially if you’re in the creative field.
Their pricing plans are simple and on the low end. All plans include web hosting and a domain name, along with an SSL certificate to encrypt your data – and don’t forget that SSL certificates are essential for small businesses.