How to Choose the Best Website Platform For You
When starting a blog / website / online shop, there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to choosing which website platform you should use. If you ask someone for their opinion of which is best, their answer will most likely be, "it depends."
In my two years of business and four years of blogging, I have tried quite a few different platforms and I have a lot of opinions about them. In this post, I will try to narrow down your options for you so that you can make the best decision for your needs.
Keep in mind, these are just my opinions of the platforms based on my experience, but I will try to be as honest and comprehensive as possible.
If you would prefer to watch a video for this info, you can check out my youtube video on the topic here.
I used Blogger for my first blog, as it was pretty much all that was available at the time. Blogger used to be the standard choice when starting a blog or a simple website, but in my opinion, it is very outdated at this point. There is really only so much that you can do on a Blogger site in terms of customization. Most people who currently use blogger have had it completely redesigned by a professional web designer, as it is difficult to make a beautiful looking site on Blogger without HTML / coding knowledge. E-commerce is not available on Blogger, so if you have a shop, you will have to have it separate (Etsy shop, etc.) and have an external link on your Blogger site. Blogger also seems a bit glitchy to me. I had a terrible experience once where my images on Blogger suddenly started disappearing and I couldn't get them back! With that being said, it is free, which is a big selling point, and it is somewhat easy to use with practice. It might be a good place to start for those of you who are just experimenting with blogging, but if you're really serious about blogging, or if you're opening an online shop, I would not recommend Blogger.
+ budget friendly (free)
- limited customization without a web designer's help
- outdated-looking without a web designer's help
- glitchy (I lost tons of photos!)
- e-commerce not available
A lot of bloggers started switching over to Wordpress for a more customizable option from Blogger, and Wordpress is a very popular choice. However, I just didn't care for Wordpress personally. I like to be able to easily customize and change things quickly, and I found Wordpress to be complicated and confusing. I don't find it to be very user-friendly. If you have web design skills, Wordpress is probably the most customizable option, but if not, you will probably need to either hire help, or find a perfect template for you that does not need much changed. In regards to price, it is free but you will have to pay for hosting, as well as any additional plugins and some templates.
+ budget friendly (starts free!)
+ most customizable
- not very user friendly
- too confusing for the average person to customize (will probably need a web designer's help)
+/- e-commerce available, but as a plugin
Weebly is one of the more recent platforms that I've tried and I find it to be the most user-friendly of the bunch, and a great middle-of-the-road option in terms of price and design. The most basic plan starts free, but you will need to upgrade to a paid account to get some of the features. This is the platform that I would recommend to someone who just needs a very simple, basic design and who has little to no design / website knowledge. If one of my parents were needing a website, this is the one that I would recommend. It is easy to learn and has a simple drag-and-drop system. If you want something a little more fancy or professional, though, Weebly is limited in its customization. Weebly will give you a nice site, but not a beautiful site.
+ budget friendly (starts free!)
+ most user-friendly
- limited customization
- basic, somewhat boring design-wise
I have been using Shopify for my shop since I opened two years ago. I have had a great experience with it and I am very happy with my website. It is more pricey than the other three options that I mentioned, but if you are opening an e-commerce website, it is the best choice. It is pretty easy to customize and has lots of beautiful themes, but it takes a little bit of getting used to in the beginning. Shopify is my top recommendation for e-commerce focused sites because that is their specialty, they have low transaction fees, and lots of great apps.
+ best choice for e-commerce focused websites
+ beautiful design options
+ easy to customize
- initial set-up takes some getting used to
If you were wondering which platform I used to create this blog, it's Squarespace! I am so happy with it. While it is a bit more pricey than the other free platforms, you are pretty much guaranteed to create a beautiful website with Squarespace. There are no ugly theme options. It is very user friendly as well. If you are serious about starting a blog, or you want a website that is really going to impress, I would recommend Squarespace. It also has e-commerce capabilities so if you want to have a small shop, you can do that. I wouldn't recommend Squarespace to people who are wanting a website focused around a shop (like my shop, Charm & Gumption), simply because the transaction fees are a bit higher and it just isn't set up for that in the way that Shopify is, but basically every other type of website would turn out beautifully with Squarespace.
+ best choice for blogs & regular websites (not e-commerce focused)
+ beautiful designs
+ easy to customize
+ very user friendly
+ e-commerce is available, but...
- not the best for e-commerce. higher transaction rates than shopify, and paypal not accepted.
If you're looking for information about other platforms like Wix or GoDaddy, unfortunately I do not have experience with those, and I only want to give recommendations on platforms that I have tried myself.
Hopefully this little rundown will be helpful for those of you starting a blog or business and trying to decide on a website. Let me know if you have tried any of these platforms, and your thoughts, in the comments!
like what you see? follow me!