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Every business needs a website, and every business has different needs: different online objectives, products, services and more. No cookie-cutter website platform will work perfectly for everyone.
There are some platforms that we hear of more than others, like WordPress for blogs and small local businesses and Shopify for all things ecommerce related. There are other players in the space, along with fully custom builds.
Before you blindly select a website platform, there are some things you need to consider to find the best website platform for your specific needs — not one that is just considered the “best option” according to some random blogger who more than likely has an affiliate link or two slipped into the article.
Here are five things to consider when choosing a website platform for your business.
1. The intended use of your website
What do you need your website to do? Are you wanting to simply showcase products, services and company information, or are you looking to sell directly on your website? If you are just looking for an online presence for your business, then a WordPress site with a blog will do the trick.
If you are a brand looking to sell direct to consumers, then Shopify is a plug-and-play option that offers low-cost options and a very low barrier of entry. If you have unique needs, then you might need a fully custom build.
Alternatively, if you have no intention of blogging or utilizing SEO, then a simple single page HTML website can be used. Far too many times, businesses will be on a platform that isn’t up to par in terms of what they need or they build on something that is complete overkill.
2. Your technical expertise
Different website platforms require different levels of technical expertise. If you are willing to spend the time to learn a platform, it will help you get the most out of your website. This is something that many don’t consider. Sure, having a website up is a start, but don’t forget it’s a tool for your business.
When you know how to leverage a website to its full potential, it can have a significant impact on the success of your business. For example, a Shopify store that connects a domain, uploads some products, and then lets it sit there isn’t going to grow quickly, if at all.
On the other hand, someone with a lot of technical knowledge can leverage the tracking and insights to drive more sales and then utilize abandonment recovery and upselling, among other things, to drive sales.
3. Your budget
You can download, install and set up a WordPress website for free. In total it will cost you about $12 for a domain, and you can get low-cost shared hosting for $5 per month. On the ecommerce side, you can build a website on Shopify using a free template and be up and running for $29 per month.
Then, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, is a fully customized build, with custom databases, functionality and more. You could drop a quarter-million dollars on a fully customized elaborate build.
Don’t discredit the lower cost opportunities, as they are quite capable of handling large companies. Some of the largest ecommerce brands in the world run on Shopify and generate millions of dollars daily using the same tech stack that is available to you.
4. Design customization options
How customizable do you need your website to be? If you aren’t needing anything too elaborate, there are endless options when it comes to available themes. Whether you are building on Shopify or WordPress, there are free themes that work very well and offer some degree of customization.
There are also thousands of paid themes available, priced anywhere from $39 to $200, that give you affordable access to sleek website designs and features that can be adjusted to match your needs and branding.
If you are looking for custom animation and something unique, you will need to hire a front-end and back-end team to build it from the ground up. This kind of one-off customization will cost a pretty penny, but for some businesses, the expense is worth it.
5. Ease of updating and available resources
Most of the popular DIY platforms like Shopify, WordPress, BigCommerce, Wix and Squarespace all have plenty of resources online to help guide you. This includes blog and video content they produce and content that users create.
So, if you don’t have the budget to hire an onsite development team to manage and update your website, look for a platform that you feel comfortable (and confident) learning about. Today, almost anything related to development can be found on YouTube.