Which website builder is right for you?
So, you’ve decided you want your own website and now you’ve realised just how many different tools there are available, to help you get started.
It can a bit overwhelming at first and these tools are often called Content Management Systems, or CMS, platforms or software.
Each of these allows you to create, publish and manage digital content, but how do you decide which one is right for you?
If you want a free website that can be launched quickly, you may want to take a look at something like Wix or WordPress.com . This is Wix, they let you start with a Template, they’re easy to customise and self-hosted and you can get a fairly decent website, quickly up and running. It’s a good place to start if you’ve never had a website, and you are literally at the very bottom end of the budget scale.
If I just click back here, these are the Wix packages, so you’re going to be paying at least $3 a month, and that just covers your hosting, storage space with Wix in itself. As you can see, if you want to add more features you can pay more for those, as time goes on.
This is WordPress.com, now you might’ve heard of WordPress because it does power quite a lot of Internet websites now and there is so much involved in WordPress websites, that they’re a great place to start.
One of the benefits, I must say, is that if you start on WordPress.com and later decide that you’ve grown out of the cheap-end of the scale, you can pay to manoeuvre up paid packages, like the other website Wix.
But also if you decide to go to WordPress.org which we’ll cover in a moment, then you’re already in the right place, you’re already on that platform.
Another option is, if you are willing to pay a little bit more, looking for something more artistic or visual and still want a quick launch to get it live, Squarespace might be the answer.
It’s got beautiful templates, it’s self-hosted and it’s easy to customise. Plus, they offer great 24-hour support as well. Oftentimes you’ll see photographers or lifestyle bloggers using Squarespace for that reason.
Their pricing is slightly a bit more, the starting point here is $10 per month, but again, a lot of the time you could pay that just for hosting alone, so the fact you get all these features as well, it’s a great starting point. Again, if you’re just looking to quickly pop a portfolio online or something like that, they’ve got lots of Template options available.
Let’s say you really want to create a design that stands out, so something like Webflow may be your answer. It’s the sort of new kid on the block compared to some of the platforms, but it has been going for some years.
Imagine creating something in Photoshop, it’s pretty much exactly what you’re doing, but on the Webflow website itself and behind the scenes it’s creating all the code, ready to put it live online for you.
They now offer self-hosting and you can tweak and refine that as you go. It is slightly more geared towards Designers and Agency-types and that’s where their plans are coming from.
For those who are like Web Designers who didn’t know how to code, it was a great place for them to make a start, but it can get a little bit overwhelming with all the tools and configuration options as well.
Now, if you’re more of an advanced user, or maybe you want more of a long term solution, you could build and customise something over time, or maybe migrate from one of these platforms, to increase your space (bandwidth) and looking to do more with the customisation and more complex functionality, from the ground up, then WordPress is the way to go.
This is WordPress.org and this software is downloaded and then uploaded onto your hosting, and you’d usually hire a Developer or Web Designer, to help you with that, or even build the website for you on your behalf.
You get loads of integrations with the Plugins, Theme options are from free to paid, to again building it or designing it from scratch. You can integrate things like your Newsletter provider (such as Mailchimp) or Google Analytics, and much more.
The only downside of WordPress is you do need to pay, obviously for that, and that could be a sliding scale of how much you want to spend and how much you want to get out of it. But, this is usually used for… a lot of in-house (Marketing, PR, Creative) Agencies will use this platform if you decide to use them… a lot of large, powerful websites are run on WordPress also.
Pricing plans: No plans. Depends on budget for Theme and/or Plugins used.
And finally, if you’re thinking about selling products, I cannot recommend Shopify enough. You can do eCommerce on all of the other platforms, but Shopify is built with pure eCommerce in mind from the ground up. It’s the easiest option and optimised for end-to-end eCommerce, for you to start selling.
Their basic package starts at $29 per month, and that includes hosting. It also includes the fees for the merchant selling, so that’s already set up for you, you don’t have to faff-on with adding things like PayPal unless you want to of course!
We currently have a smashing deal for those new to Shopify!
For a limited time, we’re allowing you to sign-up and give Shopify a whirl, unlimited on the Basic Shopify plan, for 60 days.
Again, they have free themes, they have paid themes, you can pay a Developer to build something really extravagant, top brands are running on Shopify, and it’s very scalable so if you started adding more products or SKU’s, etc. you can go up their pricing scale as well.
You can always build a new website, no matter what your budget is, and you can always save yourself a headache, if you start with the end in mind. What do you foresee your website being in the end? That might help you choose a tool from the get-go.
Caroline brings over 15 years as a Designer and Developer; featured in .NET magazine, the only woman in the UK accredited for Google Mobile Sites. A business mentor with Enterprise Nation, STEM Ambassador and Google Women Techmaker Ambassador Previous client projects include Blackberry, FIAT, Clark Shoes and Sky.