With so many options out there these days regarding building a business website, one important one that needs attention is what platform to build it on. Today there are many options to choose from but which one is right for your business?
Let me walk you through several choices that are mainstream and why I think you should chose one of them.
Business Website Platform Choices
Today there are many platforms that are competing with each other but several stand out by far from the rest. The top ones have their own purpose so depending on what your business is, only one may be your best choice. After you are done reading this blog post you should no longer have questions about which platform to build your website on.
1. WordPress Platform
- Dependable and robust
- Most used platform (60% marketshare, 24,808,989 sites run on it)
- Top sites run on it: TechCrunch, The New Yorker, Beyonce, The Official Star Wars Blog, Microsoft News Center
- Great for everything from personal blogs and small businesses to enterprise size corporation sites
- Also great for memberships, associations & eCommerce sites
- Constantly updated and improved
- Easy to update (one click updates)
- Thousands of templates (themes) available
- Thousands of extensions (plugins) available
- Free to download and use
- Most developers & designers are familiar with it – easy to find help
- Easy to import/export data
- Easy to customize
- Good bones!
WordPress is a website platform that has been around since 2001. It was started “out of a desire for an elegant, well-architectured personal publishing system built on PHP and MySQL” (https://wordpress.org/support/article/history/). What started out as a personal blog platform has grown into the world’s most used platform for everything from a personal blog to an enterprise size corporation website as well as membership sites, social sites and eCommerce.
The reason it has grown so much in popularity is because it is built in a way that it can easily can be update to the latest version (and is being updated regularly), there are thousands of 3rd party templates (called themes) and extensions (called plugins) that easily integrate with the platform so you can make the site do pretty much anything you need it to do. The best part is that all of this is FREE. It is all available for free for you to download and use. Of course there are ever growing amount of paid plugins and templates that are available all over the internet but they are not necessary.
All of this has made WordPress a robust and dependable platform with lots of documentation for pretty much everything that more and more sites are being built on every day.
How does this help you? Dependability. Standardization. These words hold a lot of power. When you invest money in a website, you want to make sure that 2 years down the road you will not have to start from scratch again and lose all the work that has been done. You want to make sure that if you need changes made or customizations, there is a standard that any developer understands and can easily work on your site without any serious bottlenecks.
Good bones as they say in the real estate industry. If you have good bones, the rest is cosmetic. WordPress indeed has good bones. Nothing else comes close.
2. Shopify Platform
- Better for eCommerce than WordPress
- Winner from my research and comparison of top eCommerce solutions
- Easy entry – free to try for 14 days, then only $29/mo
- Comes with everything you need to start selling today
- Lots of templates to choose from (not free)
- Lots of extensions (apps – not free [but most are free to try])
- Pro account available for serious customizations
- Great tech support
- 4 years of personal experience with it
Unrivaled platform for eCommerce sites as far as I’m concerned. Although you can build an eCommerce site on WordPress using a WooCommerce plugin, Shopify makes the entire process so simple, even I can’t argue with it. This is because I was a huge evangelist for using WordPress and WooCommerce for years and years and was highly skeptical when a client required me to research and compare all the top eCommerce solutions for a big project.
I did lots of research to prove that WordPress was going to be the winner of this little contest until I researched Shopify. In one day, I was changed. Shopify came out the winner back in 2015 and has not looked back since.
You get a fully functioning store in about 10 minutes for free for 14 days. If you decide to keep it after that, it’s only $29/mo.
Everything You Need
Looks & Functionality
Just like WordPress, Shopify has many templates and plugins that can extend the functionality and the look of your site. BUT, with Shopify it is not all free. There are basic templates that are free and they are beautiful but anything beyond that you can expect to pay from $160 to $280 for a premium template. Most plugins (called apps) will cost from $5/mo to $30/mo and beyond. Most however come with a trial period from 7 days to 30 days.
Having said all that, you don’t need any of the paid things to make your site ready to sell products. You can be ready to go in 10 minutes.
Customizations & Heavy Development
For businesses that have high sales and need more control, Shopify offers Shopify Plus which costs about $2000 per month. But this gives you access to code that the basic accounts don’t get as well as you get a personal account manager that will help you accomplish what you need and you also get access to tech support that puts you at the top of the list.
The company I did this research for ended up going with the Shopify Plus account and it has been a blessing. Any issues we ran into with building the store were resolved by the Account Manager and Support. They are still on this platform today and no other solution comes close to what they need.
3. Wix or Squarespace
- Yes, some will need this
- Cheap entry – $14 to $16 per month
- Quick way to get Internet presence
- A big pain to move later
- Don’t do it unless you have no other choice
Why would I include these in my list? Yes, these have a purpose in this web design game. Although I would never want to recommend anyone uses these services to build a site, there are circumstances when this is just what the doctor ordered.
Wix & Squarespace are DIY website platforms where you can go and throw up a site in a mater of minutes using their online website builder software.
The only reason I would say go ahead and use this service is if you have no money to invest in a website and have zero knowledge to figure it out your self. For only $14 to $16 per month you can use this service to drag and drop a website together and have web presence when otherwise you wouldn’t.
Sadly, once you are in, anything you create is stuck there. When your site grows and you can afford to get a real site, everything will need to be started from scratch. The content you created, the links that have accumulated to the site will need to be redirected one by one. It will be a big pain moving.
Now ponder on this very hard before you make this decision and then move forward.
- Not bad, just not best
- Perfect if you have a reason to use it
- Chose the right platform now, to avoid moving later
- My personal opinion – from 18+ years of experience
There are so many other platforms out there roaming the jungle of the Internets. They all have their pluses and minuses, they all have their purposes. I am definitely not saying they are bad. There are reasons to use them on individual basis. But if you have a choice and want to make the best decision, why not go with the best now and avoid having to move platforms … because that is not fun!
The above statements are my own opinions based on the experience I’ve had over the years of working in the web design industry. This does not mean everyone will agree with me but I think I am pretty spot on.
What Do You Think?
What has your experience been with platforms? Have you used another platform that you think is great? Tell us about it, to help our readers make their decision.