Let me guess…
You’ve researched all the options under ‘website platform’ and now you’re more confused and overwhelmed than ever?
Even as a web designer, I’ve definitely been there.
It’s easy to get caught up in what others are using, what you feel you ‘should’ be using and to a certain degree neglect what you need yourself.
But before going any further, I want to be honest with you – this post will not give you an exact recommendation. This will not tell you what platform you should choose. Really, there isn’t a one-size fits all option and there will be pros and cons to every choice. Personally, I’ve used Wix, Squarespace, WordPress, Weebly, 1and1, and a ton of WordPress themes. Again, I can’t say that there has been a perfect option. Ultimately though, what I do want is for you to go be able to make a choice that works best for YOU!
1. What are your needs & wants.
First things first, you have to determine what factors are the most important to you and your business. Will it be flexibility, complete control, ease of use, versatility, all in one, etc. Write down a list of what is most important to you and your business.
Also, write down a few key notes on the functionality that you will need for your website. This can be taking payments, setting up a shop, membership, strictly informational, having forms, allowing people to mix and match a subscription, etc.
Now as you go through the rest of your list, keep the functionality that you’re looking for in mind. There are some platforms like Wix or Squarespace that have slightly more limitations that come with them. However, there are third-party sites that may allow you to add the functionality to those platforms. That may come at an extra cost but again, this will ultimately be about what you need for your business.
Come up with a monthly and yearly budget for your online platform. Also come up with an additional budget if you plan or decide to invest in a designer. Typically these platform costs are not paid by the designer unless they offer maintenance but all of those costs are dependent on who you hire.
Now when you are making your monthly and yearly budget, make sure you are considering your functionality needs list. Like mentioned above, some add-ons come with an additional monthly or yearly fee.
For example: WordPress itself is free. However, you need to pay hosting, which is usually $3.95-$15/month. Then if you decided you don’t want the free themes and prefer a specific theme or premium theme, they can range from $45-$300 (some paid yearly). If you want additional functionality (in WordPress they’re call plugins) then some are free and some charge a fee that ranges starting from $5-$35+.
When you are putting together your budget, keep this in mind. Some platforms may initially seem pricier than others but may end up being less once all the aspects are put together.
3. Tech Skills
Regardless if you DIY or invest in a web designer, I believe you should still have control over your site. Again, if you learn how to do it yourself or your designer teaches you, you should have the ability to make changes or at least know what’s going on.
That being said, each website platform is different and requires a different level of tech skills. Squarespace & Wix & some WordPress Themes offer drag and drop builders so the ease of use and learning curve is better for those with less tech skills. Some require coding or a lot of backend work.
In regards to that as well, Squarespace is an all-in-one platform, which means once you learn one thing on the platform, you can generally use the rest. WordPress, although there are basic functionalities within each theme, they are all built differently so will each have their own learning curve.
Action Step: Check out the free trials! A lot of platforms now offer free trials, so go try them out. See how you feel and if you like it. Also, watch some youtube tutorials about the platform and see whether or not you feel like it’s already to complicated or doable.
4. Comfort level & ability to move forward
Again, this is about you and what works best for you! I’ve seen and heard and done myself was not make a decision or make a decision based on someone else’s business that I wasn’t happy with. Then you feel stuck, you lack excitement, you don’t want to post or even try to build because you don’t really like the platform. You have to keep in mind that you need to move forward with your business and keep taking action.