arnold on Oct 05, 2018
If you want to build a website or are considering upgrading your website, one of the first decisions you need to make is what Platform or Content Management System (CMS) to build your website on.
Most of the time if you ask me the answer to that question, it is going to be WordPress mainly because I have been using it forever and am biased. However, there are a few times that I recommend other platforms depending on how the website will be used.
In this tutorial I am going to cover the most popular free and paid options and I will tell you which platforms to avoid and which to consider. At the end, I will cover the reason I choose WordPress for most of my web design projects.
Platforms to Avoid:
Let’s get this out of the way. You should almost never consider building a website on a drag and drop auto-builder such as WIX or Weebly or anything similar. With these website you are limited in the modifications and changes you can make, and the back-end coding is clunky and bad for search engine optimization.
These sites make it very difficult to implement common digital marketing tools and don’t do well in the search engines plain and simple. I have, on occasion, seen a WIX or Weebly website look good visually, but I have never seen a Wix or Weebly website dominate the search engines.
If you need a website that acts as nothing more than an online brochure and doing well in search results does not matter to you at all now or in the future, you could use an auto build platform.
Best E-commerce Platforms To Use To Build A Website
The only time I will suggest using another platform to build a website is if it is an e-commerce website. WordPress does E-commerce (with it’s WooCommerce plugin) and does it well. I still build most of my E-commerce websites on WordPress as WordPress is the best for Search Engine Optimization.
However, the platform Magento is a much more powerful platform for companies that only do E-commerce or have large inventories. Websites you may recognize that use Magento include Warby Parker, Nike, Ford and Coca Cola.
Magento is the industry standard for E-commerce website however the only problem is that there is a much larger learning curve for Magento. Whereas a business owner can learn WordPress in just a few hours, Magento requires some experience with coding.
As an alternative to Magento, if you have a small E-commerce website I often recommend Shopify and then SquareSpace. These two E-commerce websites have a variety of templates you can choose to get a website up quickly. What makes these two sites so great is that they handle all the payment and checkout stuff for you.
Setting up payment systems and checkouts is not easy on any platform. There are a lot of programs to sign up for (authorize.net, PayPal, UPS shipping, FedEx, USPS, etc) and lots of things you need to configure to get all those to work. Shopify processes all payments for you automatically for one monthly fee.
If you need to get an E-commerce website up fast then Shopify or SquareSpace are your solution. The only negatives is that they don’t do as good in the search engines as WordPress does and you are limited in the layouts if you don’t know how to program.
Lastly, the amount and quality of free templates on these sites has drastically reduced over the years and you are almost forced to pay for a premium template ($50 – $200).
I have used several other E-commerce platforms such as OpenCart and PrestaCart and I found them to be not very user friendly and always reverted back to WordPress.
Which Platform Should I Use For My Non E-commerce Website?
For the majority of businesses I recommend WordPress; Plain and Simple. 30% of all website are created on WordPress which is the highest percentage by far.
There are also over 75 million websites created on WordPress. Example of famous websites built with WordPress include Bloomberg, BBC, TechCrunch, Variety and ColoState.edu.
The reasons that I am comfortable recommending WordPress are as follows.
- It is Open Source and Free. It does not cost you anything to use the WordPress program. You need to pay to host it but that is it, at a minimum.
- It has a small learning curve. You can easily learn how to use WordPress in a day. It is very intuitive and well documented.
- There is a lot of third party help. You can Google any question about WordPress and it has been answered at least ten times. This makes figuring out WordPress even easier.
- Third Party plugins will help you accomplish anything you can think of. If you can think of a functionality you want WordPress to do there is probably already a plugin that does it and it is probably free. No other CMS has as many plugins as WordPress and a lot of CMS’s only have paid plugins.
- WordPress Sites do really good in the search engines. Third Party plugins make it easy to configure your on-site SEO and Site Speed optimizations.
- There are thousands of really good templates and frameworks to help make building an industry specific website simple. Need a Realtor Website? Doctor Website? Lawyer website? There are hundred of templates built specifically for each industry.
- Website changes are usually quick and easy.
Disadvantages of WordPress:
Can be easily hacked. A lot of third party plugins means a lot of vulnerabilities. You need to pay attention to updates and website security with your WordPress website.
When built from template can be slow to load. A lot of WordPress website are built from templates which are overloaded with code. Couple that with too many plugins and you can sometimes get a website that is too bloated on the backend.