Choosing A Website Platform

Choosing A Website Platform - Which Platform Is Right For You?

For the TLDR: Jump right to our recommendation

You want to build a website but there are so many platforms to choose from. How do you decide which one is right for you? In this article we are going to look at 5 of the most popular platforms:

We're going to review each platform across 4 areas: The learning curve & how easy it is to get started. Does the platform support ecommerce & how easy is it to integrate outside platforms. Support & getting help for each platform. Lastly, the cost associated with each.

Slope Tech NYC is not affiliated with ANY of these platforms. Our only goal is to help you decide which is best for your unique needs. If you have any questions, you can contact us here or schedule a free consultation with us to discuss your needs in further detail.

Wix

The Learning Curve:

Wix has a very intuitive drag and drop interface which makes it very easy to pick up. Even if you have no experience building websites, you should have no problem getting started with Wix. They provide themes and templates that you can use as a starting point and then customize to your liking, or you can also start from scratch with blank pages.

The drag and drop system that Wix uses lets you place elements nearly anywhere on the page which gives you a lot of freedom to create a unique site. This can be dangerous though, as it is possible to place content in areas where some site visitors may not be able to see, depending on their screen size.

Ecommerce & Integrations:

There are ecommerce and marketing features built in at higher price tiers and it is quite easy to integrate outside platforms.

Support & Getting Help:

Wix has a great help center which our clients have had success with. They can also connect you with a verified partner developer if you need a professional touch. More info here: https://support.wix.com/en/

Cost:

The most basic plan starts at $16/month. The most basic ecommerce plan starts at $27/month. More info here: https://www.wix.com/upgrade/website

Squarespace

The Learning Curve:

Squarespace has a very simple drag and drop interface that lets you create beautiful websites very quickly. Like Wix, you can choose a template to get started or start from scratch. The Squarespace drag and drop system lets you choose elements and sections and place them on a grid-like layout. You don’t have as much freedom to place elements anywhere you want, like with Wix, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. The constraints prevent you from placing important content in places that your site visitors won’t be able to see.

Ecommerce & Integrations:

Ecommerce and marketing features are built into Squarespace in the higher price tiers, and integrating other platforms is simple.

Support & Getting Help:

Support & Getting help: The Squarespace help center is great and very responsive. They also have a great library of tutorial videos which we always recommend to our Squarespace clients. More info here: support.squarespace.com/hc/en-us

Cost:

The basic plan starts at $16/month. The most basic ecommerce plan starts at $23/month (with a 3% fee on each transaction). You can bump up to the $27/month plan to avoid the 3% fee. More info here: squarespace.com/pricing

Shopify

The Learning Curve:

Shopify is the best ecommerce platform out there in our opinion. If your focus is ecommerce, they have the most features and support for all your online selling needs. Building your site may not be as easy as other platforms on this list though. Their site builder let’s you choose a template for each section of the website with little customization options at first glance. If you want to really personalize your site, you’ll need to customize the theme code directly, which can be daunting for first time website creators. 

Ecommerce & Integrations:

Ecommerce is the name of the game with Shopify, there are tons of features built in to create the best shopping experience for your customers. Marketing integrations are straightforward with addons from Shopify’s app store.

Support & Getting Help:

Shopify support is good and they can help you diagnose issues you have with your site, especially on the ecommerce side of things. Like Squarespace, they have some great tutorial videos that can answer almost any question you might have. Because it’s one of the most popular ecommerce platforms, there are lots of developers out there for hire who can help you customize your theme.

Cost:

The basic plan starts at $29/month. More info here: shopify.com/pricing

WordPress

The Learning Curve:

WordPress has been around the longest of any platform on this list, and is the most used because of this. The learning curve can be quite steep though. WordPress relies heavily on 3rd party themes and plugins. Themes affect the look of your site. You can purchase a theme from a theme marketplace, or build your own. Building your own theme usually requires knowledge of coding, which is not very accessible to the average person. If you want to build a theme without code, you’ll need to install a plugin, like Elementor, to help. Another issue with WordPress: hosting is not built in, so you’ll have to find a 3rd party hosting provider like dreamhost. The one good thing WordPress provides is their CMS (Content management system) which is highly customizable. It is a great option for a site that has lots of different kinds of content. If you are just starting a simple blog though, any other platform on this list (minus Shopify) would be much easier to get started with.

Ecommerce & Integrations:

For ecommerce, marketing features, and integrating other platforms, you’ll need to install plugins which may come at an additional cost. Not ideal if you want to get up and running quickly with minimal friction setting up additional platforms.

Support & Getting Help:

Support directly from WordPress is not the greatest (at least we haven’t had great experiences). But one of the few major pluses of WordPress is that, because it has been around since the early days of the internet, there are tons of developers out there waiting to help you out. The only problem is finding one that won’t charge you an arm & a leg and who has the communication skills to give you what you need and not leave you high and dry. More info here: wordpress.com/support/

Cost:

The “personal” plan starts at just $4/month, but if you want any advanced features that require plugins you’ll need to bump up to the $23/month plan. Remember, you’ll also have to find a hosting provider, which will be an additional monthly or yearly cost, along with any premium plugins you need, it can start to add up. More info here: wordpress.com/pricing/

Webflow

The Learning Curve:

Webflow has a very cool interface (from a pro web developer perspective) but the learning curve can be steep if you don’t have an understanding of web technologies like HTML & CSS. You can pick from pre-built templates to get started or build from scratch, though building from scratch or customizing templates can be difficult if you don’t know CSS. The Webflow designer interface gives you full control over every aspect of each element in CSS, but it can be overwhelming if you don’t have prior knowledge. A big plus for Webflow is their powerful CMS which rivals WordPress in our opinion. The CMS is highly customizable and lets you create dynamic content with complex relationships easily.

Ecommerce & Integrations:

Ecommerce features are built in at higher price tiers, and integrating outside platforms is quite easy.

Support & Getting Help:

Though still in its infancy as a major player in the website platform space, Webflow has great support. Their documentation is not the most thorough, so some trial and error is sometimes needed, but more and more Webflow developers and designers are popping up every day, and they'll even connect you with one in their network. More info here: university.webflow.com/support

Cost:

Site plans start at $12/month, though you may want to bump up to the $16/month option for a few more features. Ecommerce plans start at $29/month. More info here: webflow.com/pricing

Our Website Platform Recommendation

Our recommendation depends on your unique situation. There is truly no one-size-fits all solution for building a website.

If you want to get started yourself and don’t want to worry about hiring a professional, Wix or Squarespace are the way to go.

For the creative individual who wants full control over the look and feel of their site with few guardrails: Wix is the perfect solution.

If you want a beautiful site in no time without having to fuss over small details like spacing and responsive elements: Squarespace is a great option, and the platform will hold your hand a bit more than Wix so you don’t have to worry.

For the ecommerce brand owner with selling as the main focus, Shopify is a no brainer. Just keep in mind you can always consult a pro if you can’t seem to get the look you want.

While WordPress is a popular platform, we at Slope Tech have heard many horror stories of people starting with WordPress or hiring a WordPress developer only to be left with a useless site that they have no control over. The reliance on 3rd party plugins can leave your site vulnerable to hackers, and having to find a 3rd party host is a hassle that newer platforms take care of for you. We only recommend WordPress if you know specifically what you want from it or have prior experience. To date we have helped 3 of our clients move away from WordPress to a newer, more modern platform, and the number continues to grow.

If your reason for choosing WordPress is the CMS, Webflow provides a powerful, future facing alternative. While the designer interface may be daunting at first, the templates they provide are robust, and it has many features built in that WordPress requires 3rd party plugins for. Webflow is our WordPress alternative and our favorite platform (though it is not for everyone due to the steep learning curve). The site you’re looking at right now is built with Webflow!

Next Steps

Whatever platform you choose, it should align with your own unique circumstances, not some design company's chosen platform, or the platform a developer is affiliated with. Of course, there are many other platforms not listed here, but these 5 are our go-to picks and the ones we usually recommend to our consulting clients (except for WordPress).

If you have any questions, our website experts are standing by to assist you. Talk to one of our experts now for free.

You can also schedule a FREE CONSULTATION with us, and we can point you in the right direction on you website journey.

Thanks!

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