The Top 3 Website Building Platforms Compared
Building a website can be exciting but also daunting. The thought of creating a website from scratch can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve never done it before. If this is your first time building a website, then you may not know where to start, including which platform to build your website with.
In this article we will cover my top 3 choices for the best website platforms to design your site and the pros and cons of each. It’s important to note that there are many other website platforms out there, and these are just my top 3. I have experience with all of these platforms and am going to give you a brief overview of each one so you can decide which is best for your needs.
Best for: Small, service based businesses
SquareSpace is a website building platform that makes it easy for anyone to create a professional website. It’s ideal for small businesses and individuals who want to build and host a website without having to deal with complicated code or technical issues.
SquareSpace’s intuitive drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to create a stunning website in minutes. The platform also features powerful ecommerce tools so you can start selling products online right away.
Squarespace has a variety of plans to suit your needs and budget:
Basic — $23 per month
Business— $33 per month
Basic Commerce— $36 per month
Advanced Commerce— $65 per month
Pros of Squarespace:
Easy to use – Squarespace offers a drag-and-drop website builder that makes it easy for users without any coding experience to create beautiful websites. It’s also possible to connect your own domain name, which makes it simple for people to find your site online.
A central dashboard – From within the Squarespace dashboard, you can manage every aspect of your website including design, hosting and marketing tools. This makes it easier for anyone who wants to take their business online but doesn’t have time or expertise to deal with multiple platforms.
You don’t need technical knowledge – With Squarespace, you don’t need any technical knowledge at all! All you need is a little time and patience – which means anyone can build their own website from scratch with no experience at all!
Multiple templates available- Squarespace offers a wide variety of templates that you can use to get started. This makes it easy for anyone to find a design they love, and all you have to do is add your own content! You can even choose from different layouts and color schemes if you want an extra personal touch. You have the option of using a free template provided by Squarespace or purchasing a premium template from Squarespace or third party marketplaces like Etsy and Creative Market.
Payment processing integrations- Squarespace has built-in payment processing integrations, which makes it easy to set up your store and start accepting payments. You can choose from many different integrations, including Stripe, PayPal and more! This is especially helpful if you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of experience with payments or building websites in general.
Minimal SEO capabilities- While Squarespace has made some improvements to their website builder in the past few years, it still doesn’t have the same amount of SEO capabilities that many other platforms do. If you want to optimize your site for search engines like Google, then Squarespace may not be the best choice for you.
Not optimized for blogging- Squarespace is a great tool for building your website, but it’s not ideal for blogging. If you want to have a blog on your site, then you should consider checking out one of the other options on this list.
Limited design features- While the Squarespace website builder is easy to use and allows you to create a beautiful website, it doesn’t have many design features. If you want more control over what your site looks like, then you may want to consider another platform instead (like WordPress).
Pricey for ecommerce businesses- If you’re building an ecommerce store, then Squarespace may not be the best choice. While there is a plan that includes ecommerce features, it’s pretty expensive. If you want more control over your online store, then consider one of the other platforms on this list instead.
Best for: Product based businesses
Shopify is a powerful ecommerce platform for small to medium-sized business. It gives you everything you need to create an awesome online store, including apps like Shopify POS (Point of Sale, which allows you to manage your brick and mortar sales within Shopify), shipping software, marketing tools and more.
Shopify has several plans to meet any ecommerce business’s needs:
Basic: $29 per month
Shopify: $79 per month
Advanced: $299 per month
Pros of Shopify:
Easy to use – Shopify has a simple user interface that doesn’t require much technical knowledge. This makes it easy for non-technical entrepreneurs to set up your own online store without any help from a developer or designer.
Mobile friendly – Shopify stores are mobile responsive and optimized so that users can easily browse your products while they’re on their mobile devices. This means more sales!
Shopify Payments – Accepting payments on your site couldn’t be easier with Shopify Payments; all you need is a form on your website where customers can enter their payment information directly into the checkout process. You don’t need to worry about setting up separate payment gateways, setting up subscriptions or handling refunds because Shopify handles it all for you!
Apps galore – Shopify has over 2000 apps in its App Store that you can add to your store for free or at low costs depending on what features they offer. Apps can help you do anything from design your store to boosting SEO to integrating your social media channels and more!
Built in Analytics- Shopify has built in analytics so you can track the performance of your store, see what customers are buying and how often they are coming back to shop again. This helps you make better decisions about which products to feature and how to advertise them.
Excellent theme options- Shopify has tons of free and paid themes that you can choose from to give your store a unique look. There are also many apps in the App Store that let you customize the appearance of your site even further. While Shopify’s premium themes can cost a few hundred dollars, you can find more affordable options on third party marketplaces like Theme Forest or use one of Shopify’s free templates.
Pricing- Shopify’s pricing is based on a monthly subscription model that starts at $29/month. This doesn’t include any extra fees like transaction fees which are between 2% and 3% depending on what payment processor you use. While the more robust plans are quite expensive, I’ve never had a client who needed more than a basic plan, which would be typical for most small-medium sized businesses.
Not suited for service based businesses- While Shopify is great for selling physical products, it’s not ideal for service based businesses. If you want to sell services like coaching or consulting, then you should use a platform like Squarespace or WordPress.
Not optimized for blogging- If you’re planning on blogging a lot, then Shopify is not going to be your best bet. You can still do it, but it won’t be as easy or optimized as some other platforms like WordPress.
Limited Design Functions- Shopify isn’t the best for creating custom designs. If you want to create unique, bespoke designs for your store or product pages, then you’ll have to hire an outside designer.
Best for: Building custom websites
WordPress is the most popular website platform in the world, and for good reason. It’s free and highly customizable.
WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that allows users to create, edit and publish blogs and websites from a single interface. WordPress is also called a blogging platform because it was originally designed for publishing blogs. However, its flexibility means that it can be used for many different types of websites: business sites, e-commerce stores, portfolio sites and more.
Pros of WordPress:
Extensive free and premium theme options- Themes are pre-designed templates that you can use to customize your website. There are thousands of free and premium WordPress themes available, so you can easily find one that fits your brand’s aesthetic. Since wordpress is so popular, you can find tons of premium themes on marketplaces like theme forest, creative market, and etsy.
Huge collection of plugins- WordPress has a huge community of developers who create plugins that you can use to add specific features to your website. There are thousands of free and premium plugins available, so you’re sure to find one that fits your needs. Plugin developers also offer support for their products, so if you run into any issues using them, there are ways to get help from the creator.
Highly customizable design- WordPress is extremely customizable and you can easily change your theme’s colors, fonts, and layout without having to learn coding. All you have to do is install a new plugin, like a page builder (I recommend Elementor Pro), and you’ll have full control over your website’s design.
Advanced features and capabilities- With wordpress themes and plugins, you can create almost any kind of website you want. You can sell subscriptions, create a membership site or your own social media platform, sell custom products, and even create your own multivendor marketplace (like etsy). The word really is at your fingertips to create any kind of website you want.
Robust SEO support- WordPress themes are designed to make your website SEO-friendly so it can rank higher in Google search results. With a good theme, you can optimize your site for any keywords, create quality content that’s optimized for search engines, and even use plugins like Yoast SEO to improve your site’s rankings. All of these features will help you get more traffic from organic search.
Great for blogging- WordPress themes are designed to make it easy for you to create a blog. Most of them have built-in support for popular plugins like Jetpack, which lets you add powerful features like social sharing buttons, email capture forms and more. You can also use plugins like Google Analytics or Yoast SEO to track visitor stats and optimize your site for search engines, respectively.
You’ll need a page builder for full customizability- Most WordPress themes are designed to be easy to use, but they’re not as customizable as the page builders. If you want complete control over your design, then you’ll need a plugin like Elementor Pro that lets you create custom layouts from scratch. You’ll also need to learn how to use these tools and figure out which features are most important for your site.
Not as intuitive to navigate- If you’re new to WordPress, then it can be confusing to navigate the dashboard. You’ll need to learn where all the different settings are and how to use them. The good news is that there are plenty of guides out there that can help you get started with WordPress.
Harder to mobile optimize- If you use a page builder, then it’s going to be harder for you to optimize your site for mobile. You’ll need to make sure that your elements are responsive and that they look good on different devices, otherwise your visitors will have a frustrating experience when trying to access your site from their phones or tablets.
THE BOTTOM LINE
All three of the platforms we discussed are great options for different reasons depending on what is most important to you. Shopify is best for ecommerce and Squarespace is best for service based businesses that want an easy website building experience with basic features. If you are up for more of a challenge because you want a site that will exceed your expectations, then you’ll want to use WordPress.
All three platforms have the ability to build websites that look great and are easy-to-use. The key is finding the right one for your business and then taking advantage of their features to make sure that you get the most out of your site.