*This post contains affiliate links but of course, everything I list is what I’d recommend and use for myself personally.
Nowadays building a website is often advertised as a piece of cake. Something you can do within just a few hours or even minutes and people come running to give you their money…so they say. Platforms like Wix and Squarespace are heavy-hitter advertisers all over the internet who promote DIY website design. There’s also Weebly, WordPress, Showit, Webflow, and many others.
With the tons and tons of options out there, it can be hard to figure out which one is best for you. It’s important to not just pick any platform, but one that performs optimally and works in your favor around the clock. It’s reported that nearly 46% of web users say how a site is designed to determine if they’ll purchase or inquire.
Keep in mind: Though I don’t vouch for designing your own website if you are not a designer, some of the website platforms you will see me mention advertise as DIY solutions.
As a 10-year web designer, I am going to share with you how I assess which website design platform is best for my clients and which platforms I use; Shopify, Squarespace, and WordPress.
Shopify is a great platform if you are selling things. Anything. It is strategically built for e-commerce stores. Whether you have a few products or many – Shopify can do the job and integrate with other programs you might want to use.
Why I’d recommend it: The ease of use with managing your inventory, orders, reporting, etc. is a major positive in operating your online store on Shopify. The learning curve is not too steep (IMO) when using Shopify as your website platform as well. Although it’s available, Shopify requires no coding to sustain a good design.
Monthly Cost: Shopify begins at a monthly cost of $29. This covers your site security and pretty much all updates. The basic package covers the essentials while the advanced packaged ($299/month) includes extras like third-party integrations and extensive builders. Most times, the basic package is just right.
Cons: I would not recommend Shopify for businesses who are not operating with a good amount of products or sites that rely on blog traffic. It’s primary focus is truly e-commerce.
Squarespace has the ability to be your one-stop shop for both e-commerce, standard site education, booking, and blogging.
Why I’d recommend it: Squarespace websites give you the ability to host your website online without worrying about maintenance and upkeep. Its builder is incredibly user-friendly and gives my clients the flexibility to update simple things like text or pricing on their own. Same with Shopify – although it’s available, Squarespace does not require coding (despite the fact coding is commonly used when I design sites.)
Monthly Cost: I’d recommend small businesses start with at least the business plan starting at $26/month.
Cons: I find the e-commerce and blog functionality a bit difficult for clients to quickly adapt to.
WordPress is like the old faithful and grandfather open-source website creation tool and content management system. The possibilities within WordPress are seemingly endless. It’s open-source capabilities also allow it to integrate with Shopify to host your online store.
WordPress is the preferred platform if you’re building a content-focused business that hosts blogs and custom integrations like membership portals and other customizations.
WordPress allows for hundreds of plugins that transform into pretty much any platform you could ask for. Because of its open-source and ease of customizations, this is a platform that’s not super easy to learn. It’s not necessarily DIY.
The websites that I build is considered a hybrid between DIY-friendly and more advanced. I use the page builder Elementor to build sites that my clients are able to easily update and upkeep.
Monthly Cost: WordPress itself is free. The monthly cost associated with WordPress range from $0 to thousands. It just depends. The yearly cost of your host that is required (I recommend Siteground) ranges from $75 – $150 including your needs. If you’re not managing your site on your own – you’ll need to budget in the maintenance cost of your site that also varies in pricing.
Cons: Monthly maintenance and security if you’re not careful can get you in trouble.
I hope this helps you choose which platform is best for your business. I’d be glad to help you decide if you’re still in limbo. Just reach out to me here.