When starting a new project, it’s important to make sure you pick the right tools for the job. Carefully selecting the tools you use can make achieving your goals easier, or it can make it impossibly difficult. Your website is one of those tools that can either work for you or against you. With dozens of popular platforms and a never ending sea of custom options, it may seem daunting to try and approach an unfamiliar technology. Today we’re going to walk you through several options you have for a web solution and help you decide which website platform would be the best for your business.
Your website is one of those tools that can either work for you, or against you.
For over 12 years, WordPress has been the blogging platform of choice for many. Its simple and straightforward approach to blogging has been a key ingredient in its success. If you’re looking to run a simple blogging site, this should be one of the first places you look.
WordPress is quite simple out of the box, but with a little know-how it can become quite flexible. WordPress is open source – meaning its software is free and anyone can contribute to it – which has paved the way for WordPress to have one of the largest plugin libraries around. With over 40k plugins to choose from, you don’t have to be a web developer to tweak the inner workings of WordPress to fit your needs. There are plugins to handle SEO, plugins to handle user comments, even a plugin that allows you to setup your own ecommerce store!
However, bear in mind these customizations come with a cost. The more you add on to your site, the more you need to maintain. Security updates are a pretty regular occurrence, and falling behind on these updates could put your site in unnecessary risk. “With great power comes great responsibility.”
If you’re on a budget, you can find some pre-built WordPress themes for incredibly cheap (think $50-$100 range). These themes won’t be as advanced as a custom solution, but they will get the job done if money is in short supply. If you need a more robust solution, you might want to look into hiring a developer to build out your custom WordPress machine. Custom development has many advantages; a professional will be taking care of all your customizations, which means no guess work on your end. If the developer is experienced, they probably have several ideas for improving your site that you might not have thought of on your own. Custom development for these sites will vary in cost depending on your needs, but be prepared to spend at least $3,000 on a custom built site.
Whether or not you need a professional blog solution, or a heavily customized blog/ecommerce hybrid, WordPress is worth taking a look at. Its flexibility and huge user community are assets to any aspiring professional blogger.
In contrast to WordPress, Squarespace has become an increasingly popular DIY website solution. Squarespace is extremely easy to use, and at $12/month, it might be one of the cheapest options out there. Squarespace has a built-in editor in the backend that makes it extremely user friendly. This editor makes it possible for users to build a fully-functioning website without ever touching a line of code. To add on to its ease of use, Squarespace allows users to handle everything inside their website. You can buy domain names and pre-built themes through Squarespace, and it even hosts its own ecommerce platform!
For all its ease of use, Squarespace does have some drawbacks. If you require more features than what comes packaged with Squarespace, you might be left high and dry. Although Squarespace has some flexibility, it pales in comparison to open source projects like WordPress. If you need a simple site on a budget, Squarespace should be high on your list of potential services.
WordPress and Squarespace are the reigning champs of the blogosphere, but what if all we need is an ecommerce solution? Shopify is the Squarespace of ecommerce sites. Although both WordPress and Squarespace offer up their own ecommerce solutions, sometimes they aren’t quite enough. If you’re running a more robust store, you might want to consider a solution such as Shopify.
Shopify is similar to Squarespace in that you don’t need to be a computer scientist to get it up and running. It’s pretty simple for your average joe to setup, and it offers a pretty impressive array of features, including free hosting, unlimited transactions, and scalable resources. You can also link up with other online stores such as Ebay and Amazon.
Price-wise, Shopify is pretty competitive. Its cheapest plan is roughly $30/month, but other packages can cost over $100/month. Depending on your needs, you can expect the cost to scale appropriately. For all its simplicity, Shopify offers a lot of functionality to users. If you’re planning on running an online store, it’s worth checking out.
If Shopify sounds great but you need just a little extra oomph in your store, you should consider looking at the software Magento. Magento is an open source software that enables users to create robust ecommerce solutions. Since Magento is open source, it has a good variety of flexibility. In the hands of a skilled developer, it can meet most of your business needs. If you are selling products through a variety of locations or have highly customizable products, looking into a Magento site would be a wise investment.
This functionality comes at a steep price tag however. All those customizations require an extensive knowledge of Magento, as well as advanced programming knowledge. These solutions take time and expertise to build, and their price is a reflection of that. Potential users of Magento should be prepared to spend at least $10k on a custom solution. If your ecommerce needs are not met by Shopify or other simple ecommerce solutions, it is worthwhile to look into Magento.
These sites are by no means the end-all list of web solutions. There are multitudes of blogging platforms, ecommerce solutions, and DIY website builders out there, and it’s up to you to find which web platform will the best for your business. Don’t be afraid to branch out from familiar services; you might just find that there’s another solution out there that better fits your needs.