Which website platform should I use?

The website platform you choose should really come down to four things:

  1. What you plan to do with the website (ecommerce vs. blog only, etc.).
  2. Your level of comfort with software and code.
  3. What you want your website to look like.
  4. Your budget.

WordPress, Squarespace, Ghost, Weebly, Wix, Shopify… if you’re brand new to website creation, trying to choose which platform to build your site on can be overwhelming. And, if you decide you hate the one you’ve chosen, it’s no small task to move to another one.

While I exclusively use WordPress for a few reasons, something else may work for you. Let’s go over the pros and cons of each. We’ll start with my favourite.

WordPress

More than 23.1 billion WordPress webpages are viewed every month. While that doesn’t mean it’s the most user-friendly platform to use, it’s certainly the most popular. Primarily a blogging platform, with the right template and website designer you can set up a great-looking, user-friendly website.

You can create a free WordPress blog to get a feel for the content management system.

Like any website, I recommend investing a little money in your WordPress website to get a quality theme and design you like, and a custom URL that you can host on WordPress.com or host through another provider (recommended).

Getting started with a new WordPress website isn’t as straightforward as it is with some other website. You’ll need to install WordPress on your hosting platform (ask me about this service), then set everything up using the framework provided by a custom template you choose. There are free templates and paid templates. Paid ones are typically better quality and easier to customize with little website design and coding knowledge.

There are hundreds of WordPress templates to choose from. My favourites are ones from StudioPress (built on the Genesis framework) and Elegant Themes’ Divi, which is super user-friendly. Find a template that looks as close as possible to what you desire. Your designer can customize from there.

With WordPress, you can custom design each page, add a blog that you can schedule posts to, add email sign-up forms, social media share buttons, and much more. WordPress is an open-source platform, meaning that many people have access to its structure. Because of this, there are a ton of free plugins which give you added functions. An example is the SEO (search engine optimization) by Yoast plugin, which helps you make your website more search-engine friendly.

The first few times you try to find your way around your WordPress website will be confusing, but trust me: you’ll get used to it quick.

Squarespace

Squarespace is a good choice for you if you want an all-in-one system that’s easy to set up and design, and if you’re comfortale paying a little more for fewer customization options.

Squarespace sites look great, but you can usually tell you’re on one as soon as you land there because they all look more or less the same. Unlike WordPress, there is less opportunity to make your website unique. This also gives you less opportunity to make a terrible looking website.

It’s also not cheap compared to other platforms, because of how convenient it is for users. You can sign up for free 14-day trial to see if it’s right for you.

The all-in-one system allows you to set up hosting and your website, and then connect your email and Google calendar, edit images, sell using e-commerce, and more. You can also use custom styling on Squarespace, though it’s targeted at people who are looking to use templates.

Ghost

Ghost is like a simplified WordPress that’s meant specifically for blogging. It has a great interface and I love its live preview feature. On WordPress you have to click a button to see a live preview which opens in a different page. It’s not really a big deal, but if your main goal is to write a ton of blog posts, it can be cumbersome.

If you plan on doing e-commerce or want to build a full website, then Ghost likely isn’t the best choice. I’m going to keep my eye on this platform though.

Try Ghost for free.

Weebly

If the thought of coding and creating a website has prevented you from starting your website, Weebly might be a good choice. It’s a drag-and-drop builder that’s simple to use, and it has templates to help get you started.

Weebly (and Wix, which we’ll cover in a second) is probably the most affordable option, because you won’t need to hire a designer to set the site up for you. But! If you don’t trust your aesthetic and you have no experience or knowledge of website design strategy, I’d recommend consulting a pro.

Set up a free basic Weebly site.

Wix

Wix is crazy-easy to use, but it’s not my favourite. It’s slow and it can be really glitchy to work on, especially if you’re trying to edit your mobile view.

Also, Wix isn’t responsive like other options, meaning that it doesn’t fluidly change shape to fit whatever screen you’re using. It has a desktop view and a mobile view. To some, this doesn’t matter, but if you’re considering a website that you want to have around for a while, then you’ll want responsive.

Like Weebly, Wix has a drag-and-drop editor, allowing you to do pretty much anything with it. As I mentioned, this can be a good or a bad thing, depending on your skill and aesthetic. If you want to give it a try you can set up a free site.

Shopify

Shopify is strictly an e-commerce platform, and an easy-to-use one at that. If you want to sell products directly to customers without having to worry about limited inventory or clunky sales systems, check out Shopify.

There are lots of Shopify themes to choose from, and you can create a really great customized website. If you want to customize things significantly, you’ll want the help of a designer. You’ll also want to be sure to go through Shopify’s tutorials to set up your store correctly. Once it’s done though, it’s smooth sailing. You can also hook up mobile point of sale (POS) systems to it, making it a great option if you also sell in markets or other events.

Try a 14-day trial of Shopify.

If you have questions, or if you would like to talk about getting set up with a WordPress website, contact me.

Good luck!