So you’ve got an idea for a new business (or a new site for your current business), and you’ve got to the first hurdle: which website platform should you choose? There are many different opinions out there on which platform to choose, but the reality is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer (as much as some impassioned WordPress users think).
What’s right for you won’t necessarily be right for another. So, how do you choose? Below, I’ll guide you through 4 of the top choices: Squarespace, WordPress, Shopify, and Showit. I’ll break down each website platform and look at their pros and cons so you can decide which is the right fit for you.
Which website platform should I choose for my business?
Let’s start with an overview of the 4 platforms we’re going to compare.
Squarespace is the website builder you almost certainly will have heard of before, thanks to their extensive marketing on podcasts and videos. It offers drag-and-drop building, and you can incorporate an online store. Their out-of-the-box designs are generally minimalistic and suit brands of that style and portfolio websites.
WordPress is the CMS (content management system) that most websites are built on. In fact, recent statistics put it as the CMS used by 86.5% of all sites online – though Kinsta puts the figure of top websites using WordPress at 14.7%. Regardless, WordPress has a steep learning curve, and while it offers you a lot of flexibility, it can break your site if you delete the wrong thing or make the wrong update without backing up first.
Shopify is one of the leading website builders if you want to run an ecommerce site. Shopify is built from the ground-up for ecommerce businesses, which gives it a lot of robust product and stock management features. It’s easy to build with, though you will need to spend some money on a good template or a designer in the long term since their free templates are all fairly lacklustre.
Showit is a lesser-known website builder but is quickly growing in popularity. It is a drag-and-drop builder aimed at creatives. If you want design freedom without the complexities of coding that come along with WordPress, this could be a great option for you.
Squarespace is what I recommend the most, especially for online businesses – it gives you absolutely everything you need for your site under one roof. It’s drag-and-drop, the free templates are beautiful, and it’s affordable. Plus, the Squarespace customer care team in NYC is highly attentive and will resolve any issues, so you don’t have to.
Squarespace lets you create a blog page, landing pages, opt-in pages, sales and services pages, a contacts page, a store, and so much more. It feels like a one-stop-shop for all your business needs.
Overall, Squarespace is an excellent option if you want something user-friendly and affordable (£10 – £30 a month, depending on your plan). If you want to take your design up a level, working with a web designer with CSS skills will give you all the power of a Squarespace site, but with a unique look only a designer can offer.
Best of all, because Squarespace is so intuitive to use, you can easily update your site without relying on someone else to be available, even if your site was designed by a web designer.
Before considering using Shopify, ask yourself these two questions:
- Does my website function primarily as an online store?
If the answer to this is “no,” this may not be the website platform for you. If the answer is “yes,” ask yourself this second question:
- Do I expect to have 15+ products in my online store inventory?
If you answered “yes,” Shopify could work really well for you. If you answered “no,” again, it’s best to look at other website platform options.
Shopify is the leading website builder for ecommerce businesses and is incredibly easy to use. It does focus more on the backend than the front, however, so you’ll need to invest in a template or a designer to see your site shine. Shopify costs between $29 and $299+ per month, depending on how much traffic your store sees.
WordPress offers a huge amount of flexibility – you can choose from literally hundreds of thousands of templates on the internet (average cost is around £50), add plugins, and more. The problem? It’s not exactly the easiest platform to use.
You work from the backend, and most themes aren’t drag-and-drop. You can purchase plugins to turn any site into a drag-and-drop site, but your plugins won’t always play nice together. Plus, many plans automatically update, which can leave you with a broken site. If you choose WordPress, make sure you have someone who knows the platform inside and out who you can reach out to, and choose a plan that includes regular backups.
As for pricing, WordPress is technically free, but you’ll need to pay for hosting. Hosting costs vary wildly depending on what you choose, so expect to pay anywhere between £1 – £20 a month in your first year, and then factor in a maintenance fee with a web developer who can ensure everything runs smoothly, which can quickly add up and make it the most expensive option on this list.
As the name suggests, Showit is ideal for businesses that rely on visuals to maintain an audience. This website platform features high design capabilities, yet it’s easy to learn and maintain, which is a huge bonus for business owners on a time crunch.
Showit is ideal for those working in creative, design-focused industries like graphic design, photography or wedding planning, but can work for any business. For example, if you have a limited product range (10-15 products), you can integrate Showit with Shopify lite, which will give you the best of both worlds.
The only downside is Showit requires addons to get some relatively essential capabilities, such as a blog. Fortunately, the blog addon uses WordPress, so you get the benefit of an easy-to-use, beautiful site, plus all the blogging power of WordPress.
Showit has a responsive team and plenty of guides available to walk you through almost any situation if you need support. It’s also worth noting that Showit is built similarly to the Adobe suite of products, so it’ll be handy to use if you’re already familiar with them.
Which Platform Do I Recommend?
Due to their ease, I always recommend Squarespace and Showit when asked. Their interface is easy to use, and support is always there when you need it. If you’re going to be running a large ecommerce store, you may find Shopify is the best fit for you. Many of these platforms offer you a free trial so try them out to see which clicks with you.
If the idea of building a new site sounds like more trouble than it’s worth – don’t despair! I’d love to collaborate with you to build a site you and your customers will adore. Click here to find out more.