When picking a platform to build your business website with, I think it’s important to understand the strengths and limitations of each platform as well as the strengths and limitations of you as a business owner managing your new website. Full disclosure, we make WordPress websites, and while WordPress is extremely versatile, if you’re a freelancer or small business owner looking to be a bit more hands-on with your website then there are plenty of fantastic options available in 2020.
With this in mind, below I’ve put a quick summary of 3 standout but vastly different platforms; Squarespace, Shopify and WordPress, to help you get an understanding of which direction you should consider taking for your business’ website.
Snapshot: DIY website builder, great for basic websites and portfolios.
While you can build a bunch of different sorts of websites with Squarespace, I think it lends itself best to those in creative industries looking to show off their portfolio online, or just to have a hub for their personal brand. Squarespace has a bunch of great templates that you can install with the click of a button, so getting started is a breeze.
There is a monthly fee for Squarespace which ranges from $16-$61 a month depending on the functionality you require, but that also covers your hosting which could cost you anywhere from $10-$50+ a month anyway.
Snapshot: All in one ecommerce platform that’s fairly easy to use.
Are you planning to sell products online? If so, then Shopify is probably your best bet. You can quickly get an online store up and running with one of their free or premium templates, packed full of great features. They also have point-of-sale technology with inventory tracking if your eCommerce store also has a physical presence.
You are limited to Shopify’s framework to an extent, so if you’re looking to take full control over the customisation of your online store then it might also be worth looking into WordPress and Woocommerce.
Snapshot: Fully customisable website platform with room to grow.
While Shopify and Squarespace have their specific purposes, there really are no restrictions on what is possible when building a website with WordPress. But WordPress is not a DIY website builder, yes there are templates you can buy and install, but a certain level of knowledge is required when doing so, especially when we begin diving into further customisation and properly maintaining your website into the future.
Further reading: The differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
You also can’t easily migrate a website from a DIY builder like Squarespace to WordPress, so if you think that one day you might need a website for your business that is built on a platform that will enable you to add custom functionality, then start with WordPress from the get go.
So before engaging a web developer, figure out what purpose your website will serve. Is it a basic portfolio for your photography business? Great! Try watching some YouTube tutorials, save on the development costs and give it a go yourself with a DIY website builder like Squarespace. Have a few products you want to start selling online? Start with Shopify, and as your business scales, you might want to start looking at WordPress to meet your needs of greater levels of customisation.