When you are an independant online business, the question of which website platform you should use can be a daunting task. Everyone has their preferred platform. But knowing which is right for you can feel confusing without having some insight. That’s why I am here, and can hopefully help you understand. I want to help you know what you’re getting out of the platforms I’ve listed below and give my personal ratings and feedback on each.
**Know that this is my personal opinion and that I have used ALL of these platforms to build a website. I am also NOT sponsored by any of the following websites for my opinion.**
These are in order of my least favorite website platforms to my FAVORITES!
1. Wix (wix.com)
My Rating: 4/10
PROs: Wix isn’t a BAD platform, let me start off by stating that. It’s actually a VERY user friendly program, non-expensive, and it has a lot of really great tools. It can connect to your shop like Etsy, and bring in social media with a lot of options from it’s store. These options cost extra, but it’s still such a great program for a new small business owner, with little to no budget and planning to do it all themselves.
Wix has decent templates and there is a variety of styles to pick from. It has an easy drag and drop feature that allows you to virtually move text and images wherever you want to. These features are perfect when you are new and don’t have a lot of design knowledge but need something to go live with. They also have a blog feature, but it’s not my favorite.
CONSs: Though Wix is a very customizable site, it doesn’t really allow you to have great SEO. There is a place to add your SEO but it’s just not idea to get traffic to your site through Google searches. That’s honestly a huge problem. Also, because their blog feature isn’t the greatest, it also doesn’t help you really get found well through Google search engines. There is also a bit of a learning curve. It’s easy to use, and fairly self-explanatory, but you still need to dig in to see all that the platform has to offer.
I gave Wix a 4 out of 10 because it’s a great basic site platform. It can get you what you need to start off until you can afford to use a higher rated platform or even hire a designer to create you a custom designed site. So, my recommendation would be, if you are new, and need something quick, that looks good, and can get you out there so people can be directed to your website, Wix is fine for starting out. If you plan to be a blogger or add other features, I’d recommend moving to another option, because though Wix has a store with lots of options to add to your site, it can start to add up and you’ll end up spending what you would have monthly on a better platform.
2. Shopify (shopify.com)
My Rating: 5/10
PROS: This is definitely made for the online seller. They have lots of options for you to get started right away with a shop! You can even pop into their drop ship option where you can choose to add products to your shop from other companies, and take a piece of the earnings for selling on your shop – but you don’t even have to ship the item, it’s taken care of for you, and that’s pretty sweet! It’s pretty easy to layout, there are a few decent Free template options and a ton of paid template options. Once you go live with your shop you have your entire system here to track orders, make sales, and manage everything. They also have an internal blog option to keep your site having fresh content. It’s a more customized and personalized version of Etsy – without Etsy.
CONS: It’s limiting as a non-designer or coder to get the site exactly how you might want it to appear when you use their templates. You only get a 14 day Free trial before they lock you out and force you to purchase a monthly payment plan option, which isn’t very cheap either. So if you’re ready to go with this option, I feel like you need to have all your ducks in a row and be ready to use this platform to build your online shop/site. It is a shoping website platform, so it’s not really great for you if you just want a basic site showcasing your work and don’t plan to sell anything.
CONCLUSION: I think Shopify is a great option for those trying to get out of an Etsy shop and have a lot of products ready to sell but want it to be on their own domain. It’s a great “next-step” option. But because of the limiting trial time, (2 weeks really isn’t a lot of time – especially if you have clients, kids, or a life – to get your entire website and shop up and running). It is a little pricey per month but hopefully you’ll be making up the difference in the awesome items you sell!
3. SquareSpace (squarespace.com)
My Rating: 6/10
PROS: SquareSpace seems to be one of the most commonly used website platforms next to WordPress that many online entrepreneurs are using. It has a lot of nice template options to choose from that make building a website easy without having to put too much thought into design or layout. It has a very clean online application with not a lot of bells and whistles so you dont get overwhelemed with all that the website building platform has to offer. There are a lot of ready designed templates to choose from that are well designed. There is also shop features, which is nice if you sell products as well. They have a blog option within the program so you can keep updating your website with new content, and that’s great!
CONS: I personally found SquareSpace to be quite limiting. If you aren’t one for designing and don’t mind not having options, then this is a great tool. But if you are even the slightest bit picky about where exactly things go – you may become frustrated by the limitations. The in-app blog sorta bums me out, I know lots of website builders have their own blog program, but it concerns me with putting your content and hard work of writing blogs within a program like this. It makes it near impossible to download all your blog content and put it somewhere else if you ever wanted to switch platforms. Which means all that content is gone. Just something to think about if blogging is a big part of your business.
CONCLUSION: I think SquareSpace is a great option for the new business and someone who has a basic need of having their information on a website for people to look up. If you are a heavy blogger, are picky at all about where things go and wanting things to look a specific way at all and need customization to a point, this may not be the right platform for you.
4. Showit5 (showit.co)
My Rating: 8/10
PROS: Showit is my favorite. I’m sure you’ve seen me brag about it before – and it’s totally an unpaid – non-affiliated opinion. I just LOVE Showit. What I love about it is that you can DRAG + DROP your website. And not to a specified location, but literally wherever you want it to be. (That is perfect for my type-A designer personality that can be very picky about the location of my buttons. 🙂 ) It’s connected to WORDPRESS. Yes, you can actually drag and drop what your blog looks like, and make sure it has the same exact navigation, colors, overall design and more by using Showit. It becomes a plugin – within WordPress, so you do all the design in Showit, but you login to WordPress and blog like normal. WordPress is by far the best blogging platform out there, so using these two together makes it a no-brainer option for me. This website and blog and all my clients are done through showit. It also has a lot of amazing template options for you if you’re not much of a designer both free and paid. It’s super easy to use, and easy to add SEO so you know what you’re getting and each page has bonus options of adding custom HTML, and more.
CONS: If you aren’t a designer, and lots of options scare you, it might not be the right option for you to do – at least on your own. You may want to hire a designer, like myself to help you get started, so you can adjust and modify as you need to later, but then you’re still getting EXACTLY what you want. The Showit plugin doesn’t allow you to work well with many other plugins. So if you have a shop, membership site, or anything it’s not ideal. However there are workarounds that you can use to make this still work for you – like creating a subdomain through a host and basically having a secondary wordpress site. It’s a little conveluted but it works, and it’s a great option and work around.
CONCLUSION: Can you guess? I think Showit is the best option for MOST businesses (unless you have a full shop and that is your primary business). There are ways to make it work, if you don’t mind the extra work, I do think it’s the next best option to having a completely custom coded website by a design/development agency. It’s pretty dang next to perfect in my opinion and why I gave it such a high rating. The other thing is they are constantly creating updates and bringing more to the platform, so who know’s what will be availble. ALSO – if you have multiple businesses, you can create a second website for 50% off! So that helps cut the cost down.
You can watch a video of me going through Showit5 in app where I talk about the basics of how it works to give you more insight on how it works:
5. WordPress.org (wordpress.org)
My Rating: 9/10
PROS: WordPress (.org NOT .com) is one of the BEST website & blog platforms as a small business owner you can use for your business. It’s completely customizable and there are MANY tools you can use to edit within WordPress using different theme options, plugins, and more. You’re able to use custom HTML and CSS to make this work exactly how you want it to. You’re able to create a powerful blog and through plugins you can be sure your writing strong blogs with Yoast SEO, and other plugin tools that tell you how you’re doing in-real-time as you write your blog. There are so many tools to use to make your website incredible, and I truly feel that WordPress is one of the best platforms you can use.
CONS: If you are overwhelmed by code, reading, and in general having TOO many options, WordPress is definitely not for you-especially if you’re DIYing your own website. There is a big learning curve and it’s not that easy to get used to. You’ll likely need to purchase a template/theme to upload and then you’ll have to figure out how to use that particular theme to make it look like you want it to. If you’re not great at code or understanding backend information with hosting and more it can feel like too much work, and you can feel lost. However you can find designers who will help you, and there are lots of YouTube video’s if you don’t mind having to learn a bit along the way.
CONCLUSION: I really love the power of WordPress, and am constantly amazed at what sites I find out are using WordPress. They have so many plugin options for stores, membership sites, and more that really allow you to get the exact needs you want for your website. It’s 100% customizable – it’s definitely a more advanced option and if you’re afraid of a little extra work, I’d stay clear and maybe use Showit above where you still get all the power of WordPress for your blog, but you can make it look like you want it to with Showit without having to use code.
That’s it! This is my overview of some of the best platforms out there for you to create your own website. I hope it helped explain some of the differences and gave you a sense of what each is like. And hopefully you’re not done reading this article feeling like this:
Because I’m assuming that may have been how you were feeling BEFORE this article and hopefully I was able to help you decided on which platform to use for your business! If you have any questions leave a comment below!
Thanks for reading!