Which Platform Should I Build My Website On?
When you are ready to make your website there are a lot of options out there!
- The OG: custom coding
The list goes on…
So how do you choose? Which one is right for you?
I’m going to list some pros and cons of WordPress, ShowIt and Squarespace plus a few details on some other options as well, but first…
I want you to consider:
- What do you want your website to accomplish?
- Can that be done with basic functions, or do you think you’ll need something more custom?
- How much of a priority is it that you or someone on your team without much website knowledge be able to build your website or make changes and edits if someone else is building it for you?
- Will you be selling products?
- If yes, is it a few products or a medium to larger inventory?
- How important is it to you to have a completely custom look from anyone else?
Ready to find out which platform you should build on right now?
WordPress is the most used website building tool. With good reason: it’s a powerhouse! Its builder is free to download from wordpress.org (not to be confused with wordpress.com which is similar to Blogger or Medium) and offers the most options for customization with thousands of plugins and themes available to use. This is what you will want if you want to be able to use more than basic features and are comfortable with a bit more technical website or don’t mind having someone else to do updates for you who is.
- The number of themes available for WordPress; including many niche themes for specific industries. My favorite theme is Divi, which makes WordPress into a high functioning visual builder allowing you to customize every little detail.
- There is a plugin for everything, giving you the ability to add any number of features to your website.
- Many common and recommended plugins are also free, including: Yoast SEO, Monster Insights (for Google Analytics), Contact Form 7, and WooCommerce (for e-commerce functions).
- WordPress was built for blogging, creating one of the most customizable blogging experiences.
- You own everything. The WordPress platform is open source. This means if WordPress were to go away and stop making updates, your website would still be available and functioning.
- It’s better if you know basic coding knowledge for the best customization.
- The backend is heavier and more cumbersome to use.
- WordPress requires knowing how to manage a more technical setup. However, many hosting companies are offering a 1-click install with WordPress making it much easier!
- The cost of paid plugins can add up if you are using multiple paid options.
- As it is the most common website building platform, it is more common for spammers to target WordPress websites. Plugins can help to prevent this.
- Support is limited to a forum.
Starting at FREE + Varied Cost of Hosting
WordPress is free to download and use, with some basic options for free themes and many helpful free plugins. More advanced and customizable themes and plugins vary in price. You will need to choose a host for your WordPress website which costs will vary depending on your choice, but many are under $10/month.
If you don’t mind taking a bit more time to learn your way around a code free platform and desire the ability to create amazing customization within a drag and drop builder ShowIt is for you. Don’t be scared off by the having to learn comment, it really isn’t hard! While a bit more of an investment than other builders, the freedom in customization is well worth it.
- A drag and drop builder allows you to place elements exactly where you want them. Even overlapping items, no code required.
- In page loading! One of my favorite features. You can have a section on your website that has multiple “pages”, so when you click a button, link or next arrow only that section reloads with the additional information.
- They utilize WordPress for their blogging features so you have the power of WordPress in your blog
- A responsive support team to help answer your questions, plus an easy to search archive of resources.
- The price. I’ll be honest, this one is one of the more expensive builders; especially if you want to add a blog, which is not included in their introductory plan.
- Not as intuitive as builders like Squarespace, it will take a bit of play or training to learn how to use the builder and feature customizations. Thankfully ShowIt offers a TON of tutorials right on their own website for their users.
- While the content you upload (images, video, text, audio) is owned by you, ShowIt owns the builder. However the highest ShowIt plan does give you access to all the files on the backend.
Starting at $19/month (billed annually)
This introductory ShowIt plan includes the fantastic drag and drop builder and access to free theme options if desired, but does not allow for the option of a blog. Additional options for a blog and additional paid themes are also available.
If you are looking for easy DIY and beautiful without needing a lot of features I would recommend Squarespace. Squarespace has many beautiful templates to drop your photos and text into plus easy drag and drop blocks for your own brand customization.
- Simple to create a beautiful looking website with hundreds of templates
- Easy to build, customize or edit without code (within template parameters)
- Includes blogging on all their plan levels
- Squarespace hosts websites built in their platform and easily walks you through how to connect or purchase your personalized domain making set up a breeze
- Built in image sources via Unsplash and photo editor
- Options for a larger store front are limited, especially among their lower plans. Full e-commerce functionality can become pricey.
- Column and row layouts are limited without additional code as you are restricted to their block editor.
- Option for custom code if further customization is desired is limited on their entry level plans
- While the content you upload (images, video, text, audio) is owned by you, Squarespace owns the builder and themes.
Starting at $12/month (billed annually)
The starting personal plan for Squarespace comes with free template options but has limited features and abilities.
If you are wanting a store focused website and do not desire the ability for a large amount of customization in your website I would recommend Shopify. It is a niche platform made specifically for building online shopping experiences. Without the knowledge of code you will be limited in the amount of unique customization you can do. But you can still create a beautiful looking website with easy to use templates. Shopify starts at $29/month (billed annually) and has options for both free and paid themes.
This is one I am currently becoming familiar with so I’m not comfortable sharing what the pros and cons are yet. But Webflow is making waves in the design community for being a good mix between custom coding and a visual builder. If you want to learn more about Webflow I would recommend checking out Charli Marie and Flux on YouTube. Both have great reviews and advice on the platform. Webflow starts at $12/month (billed annually) for a website that does not need a blog. Additional options for a blog are available.
I want to mention this simply as an option. While this will require the help of a designer and developer to build the website, a custom coded website is completely custom and unique. It also allows you to create many custom and unique experiences for your website visitor outside of any limitations other platforms may have. This will be a much larger upfront cost for the design and build, but monthly costs will only include maintenance and website hosting (like WordPress).
Still not sure which one to choose? take the quiz below to find out and I’ll give you a recommendation!
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Hey, your platform quiz link is broken
Hi Anna! Thanks for bringing that to my attention. While the quiz at the bottom of the post appears to be functioning the button linking to it was definitely broken. It is updated now. I hope you find the quiz helpful! – Sarah