How to Choose the Right Website Platform

So, you have a great business idea. You’ve done your research, you’re chosen your name and you’re ready to get down to business. Great! All you need now is to build your website and start selling. Sounds easy, right? It might sound easy, but choosing the right website platform for your business can be tricky.

There are lots of website platforms to choose from, all with their own pros and cons. Some are all-inclusive. Some are just for eCommerce. Some are even free. But, which one is going to work best for your business?

First things first. You need to have a good grasp on what your business is going to look like, and how you plan on running it, to make the best decision.

  • Is your business service-based, product-based or a bit of both?
  • Do you plan on hiring a website developer or are you going to try DIY?
  • How much time can you devote to your website (both now and in the future?)
  • What’s your budget for building and maintaining your website?

Answering these questions will prioritise your needs and help you make the right choice for your business. To help you along, we’ve put together this overview of the best website builders and platforms so you can see which one will best meet your needs, now and into the future.

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Overview of website builders & platforms

WordPress.org (self-hosted)

Used by 1 in 3 websites on the internet, WordPress has been around for years, is well-supported, feature-rich and versatile. A popular choice for bloggers and service-based businesses, WordPress has a plugin for pretty much anything and offers the most functionality of all the website builders. But, that functionality means that WordPress can be intimidating for newbies.

WordPress pros:

  • Open-source software which means your content can be moved between hosts
  • Variety of themes available to customise your site
  • Thousands of plugins to optimise and maximise your site
  • Built-in SEO means your site is more visible to search engines
  • Can be cheap to set up if you keep things simple and use free themes and plugins

WordPress cons:

  • Not the best option for purely product-based sites (Shopify is better)
  • Can be difficult to use at first as it’s got so many options
  • You need to be on top of updates and backups
  • To truly customise your site you have to dig into the code
  • Costs can add up when you pay for hosting and premium themes & plugins

Cost: AUD$0. However, you need to factor in the cost of hosting ($8 – $100/month), your domain name ($15/year), SSL certificate ($70/year) and any paid themes and plugins you need. You may also need to hire a web developer to help build and maintain your site.

Best for: service-based businesses, blogs, forums, information sites, membership sites

Shopify

A dedicated eCommerce platform that allows you to set up and run your online shop, Shopify does it all. It handles everything product-based businesses need, such as processing payments, updating inventory and taking orders, plus, it makes it easy to set up an amazingly professional and responsive online shop front to attract more customers.

Shopify pros:

  • Made for eCommerce and product-based businesses
  • Great customisation options to create the perfect look for your store
  • Easy to DIY with drag and drop builder
  • SEO friendly
  • All in one fully hosted solution – has everything you need
  • Supports Afterpay and other popular eCommerce integrations

Shopify cons:

  • Suitable only for eCommerce sites and lacks the features of other platforms
  • It can be costly to run if you want all the bells and whistles
  • Requires work to set up your processes in the backend
  • Difficult to move your shop to another host
  • More expensive than other eCommerce website platforms

Costs: US$29 (basic) to $299 (advanced) a month. Themes cost US$180 (but there are free options) and you may also need paid plugins/apps for special functionality.

Best for: eCommerce sites, product-based businesses

Squarespace

Squarespace is a one-stop-shop for creating stunning websites, known for its great designs, beautiful templates and ease of use. Popular with photographers, artists and visual storytellers, Squarespace uses a drag and drop system to make it easy to build and add to your website. There are templates to help you start a blog, run a store, host a podcast and much more.

Squarespace pros:

  • More than 100 gorgeous templates to choose from
  • Responsive design & made for mobile
  • You can host your own podcast & eCommerce store
  • Plans include web hosting & domain name
  • You can update your site on the go with handy apps

Squarespace cons:

  • Looks amazing but not as feature-packed as WordPress
  • You are tied to the platform – it’s hard to move your site later on
  • Pages load slower than those built on other platforms
  • Offers limited integration with third-party services
  • Doesn’t offer deep menu navigation for larger websites

Costs: AUD$16 (personal) to $52 (advanced) per month (includes domain and SSL encryption)

Best for: startups, solopreneurs, bloggers, photographers, artists, creatives

Wix

Wix is the easiest website builder out there for newbies and DIYers, offering hundreds of free mobile-responsive templates. Using a drag and drop builder, it’s simple to change up the layout of your website in minutes. Easy to use and with all the features business owners need to build a professional website, Wix is a fully hosted platform so you don’t need to pay extra for hosting.

Wix pros:

  • Easy to use drag-and-drop site builder – great for DIY
  • There are 100s of free templates available
  • Access to app market with apps made especially for Wix
  • Quick and easy set up that requires no tech skills
  • Affordable option for startups

Wix cons:

  • You can’t change the template you use without starting over again
  • It’s hard to transfer your site to another host
  • Not all templates are responsive so choose carefully
  • Slow load speed can impact SEO
  • Free plans show Wix branded ads which you can only remove if you upgrade

Costs: US$0 (free) to $23 (business basic) per month (includes domain and SSL encryption)

Best for: startups, solopreneurs, bloggers, photographers, artists, creatives

Weebly

Similar to Wix, Weebly is an affordable drag-and-drop website builder that helps you build a good looking website quickly and easily. Intuitive to use, Weebly features its own app store, range of design templates, customisation features and easy integration. Offering in-built hosting, Weebly supports a range of websites, including eCommerce, blogging, information and freelance sites.

Weebly Pros:

  • Affordable and easy to use – a great option for startups & DIYers
  • App centre with native and third-party integrations to boost your site’s functionality
  • Can switch templates easily and change up the look of your site
  • Optimised for mobile
  • Ability to create members-only areas on your site

Weebly Cons:

  • Limited design customisation available
  • Fully hosted platform means you are limited to the designs they offer
  • It’s difficult to move your site to another host
  • Weebly charges a 3% transaction fee on eCommerce sales (unless you upgrade)
  • There are SEO limitations which could impact your site’s ranking

Costs: AUD$0 (free) to $46 (Performance) a month + 3% transaction fee for online sales

Best for: startups, solopreneurs, bloggers, photographers, artists, creatives

GoDaddy

Known more for its domain name and hosting services, GoDaddy also offers a simple online website builder. Affordable and super easy to use, Go Daddy’s website builder is made for beginners and optimised for mobile and tablets. Featuring attractive templates, it also has an integrated photo library with professional images from Getty that you can use on your website.

GoDaddy pros:

  • Comes pre-loaded with ready to use blocks to build your layout
  • Affordable plans for startups and solopreneurs
  • Integrated photo library with images you can use on your site
  • You can build your site, secure your domain and get hosting at the same time
  • SEO wizard helps you with online visibility

GoDaddy cons:

  • The blog features are very basic (e.g. there’s no RSS feed)
  • Layouts are limited, which reduces customisation of your site
  • There’s no app store to access extra integration or functionality
  • You need to fork out for the highest plan if you need eCommerce
  • It’s difficult to move your site to another host

Costs: AUD$12.95 (basic) to $29.95 (eCommerce) a month (excludes domain name).

Best for: startups, solopreneurs, photographers, artists, creatives

Which platform should you choose?

The big question! As you can see, each platform offers features, plans and pricing to suit your needs. In the end, it all comes down to what you intend to do with your site.

Our recommendations are as follows.

If you’re selling products online, it makes sense to choose a dedicated eCommerce platform like Shopify, so you have everything you need to support your sales as your business grows.

On the other hand, if you’re a service-based business requiring more features, an all-in-one platform such as WordPress would be a great choice, giving you total flexibility.

Naked Digital Marketer can help

Whatever platform you choose, your website will require updates and a little TLC from time to time. The team at Naked Digital Marketer can take on the ongoing maintenance of your WordPress site for a small monthly fee to ensure it’s always ready for business. We can also help you build and launch your online business, whatever website platform you choose.

Need help in choosing your website platform, launching your online business or updating your existing site? Schedule a free 30-minute chat with us now to discover how we can reduce the overwhelm and smooth the process for you.

Post by Desiree

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