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How To Choose The Best Website Platform

Looking to build a website? If you want to retain some control, you might not want a fully coded site and that’s an understandable choice… I’ve worked on almost every website platform available; this comprehensive list of website platforms will help guide you as you choose a builder that will allow your business to grow.

Are you looking to build a website? If you want to retain some control, you might not want a fully coded site and that’s an understandable choice… The thing is, retaining control comes at a cost and a price. You need to find the best website platform or builder that aligns with your business’s goals and needs, fits your budget, works with your existing business processes and software.

Finding the best website platform can be tiresome, especially with so many options, but it doesn’t have to be as difficult. In this review, I have shortlisted the best website platforms, including tips on looking for a good website platform.

Over the years, I’ve worked on almost every website platform available. I can say with complete confidence that this comprehensive list of website platforms will help guide you as you choose a builder that will allow your business to grow.

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How To Choose The Best Website Platform

  1. Consider Scalability of the Website Platform

  2. Consider How SEO-friendly The Website Platform Is

  3. Make Sure The Website Platform Has Developer Access

  4. Consider the Ease-of-use of the Website Platform

  5. Consider the Cost of the Website Platform

Things To Consider When Choosing A Website Platform

When browsing for the best website platforms for small businesses, there are a couple of criteria that’ll ease your search. This will eliminate the chances of getting a website that doesn’t suit your goals and needs.

Criteria for Choosing The Best Website Platform

  • Scalability – you want to choose a website platform that will grow with your small business. Website platforms come at a cost, so it is wise to look for one with scalable features so that you don’t have to change the website platform as you progress.

  • SEO – An SEO-friendly website is guaranteed to help you generate traffic when paired with an SEO strategy. You need a website platform that produces strong sitemaps, allows for developer access for technical SEO, and can integrate marketing tools.

  • Developer Access – Even though some platforms come with templates ready, it is still crucial to have a website platform with developer access. This way, you can tweak a few features to suit your business needs and make necessary changes to SEO.

  • Ease of Use –  No one wants a complex website platform. An ideal website builder should be easy to use, with accessible features.

  • Cost –  It is crucial to know exactly how much you’re going to spend on a website platform. You can quickly rule out overpriced website platforms and compare price and value with the remaining ones.

7 Website Platforms For Small Businesses

Squarespace

Squarespace is an amazing website builder made for creatives looking to build their websites. It is ideal for anyone who fancies design and wants their website with lots of photos and videos. Squarespace has over 2 million subscribers, and it is reason enough to place the builder among trusted brands. The builder does not require a text-heavy site, and if your website is not focused on high-quality images, you may have issues navigating through Squarespace.

Pros

  • Wide variety of out-of-the-box features
  • Integrates with popular business apps (OpenTable, MailChimp, etc.)
  • Allows customization
  • Has limited developer access
  • Easy to use SEO functionality
  • Creates a detailed sitemap
  • Mobile-friendly designs

Cons

  • Limited to stock plugins and modules

  • Limited built-in templates available

Pricing

Squarespace does not have a free version. Its first tier starts at $12 per month plus unlimited bandwidth, free domain for 1 year, unlimited storage, and templates. The business plan comes at $18 per month. And finally, the Squarespace commerce plan is for a well-established retail store and has plans costing $26 and $40 per month respectively.

Small businesses that benefit from Squarespace

Several small businesses benefit from Squarespace. In fact, the company has been ranked one of the best site builders for professional photographers. Here are other companies that should recommend using Squarespace:

  • Bloggers
  • Small e-Commerce Stores
  • Photographers
  • Musicians
  • Fashion Designers
  • Personal websites for resumes
  • Entrepreneurs

5 Squarespace Website Platform FAQs 

Squarespace is not free. It has a 14-day trial period only for new customers to give the builder a try.

Squarespace is available in six languages: French, English, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Since Squarespace does not have a free plan, it may not be the most affordable website builder on the market. But, most of the builder’s features are worth paying for.

Yes, although as a SEO professional–it’s missing some things that would make it great! It has several SEO tools to help you rank in search engines. Squarespace is customizable with mobile-friendly pages.

Yes and no. Squarespace is great for small e-commerce businesses with limited products and limited product options. It does have awesome features for e-commerce companies with professional templates and in-built features like a cart, checkout buttons, and digital payment services.

Why I recommend Squarespace

Squarespace is an easy-to-use website builder that once set up by a professional designer and SEO team, can be easily managed without much ongoing, outsourced support. The sitemaps are second only to those of WordPress. The built-in SEO guidance covers the basics.

Shopify

Shopify is a fully-fledged e-commerce platform with over 1 million users in the world. It is the only website builder that accepts third-party developers to customize themes and apps for customers. The company was formed in 2006 when a young German teenager went out to sell snowboards online. He quickly came up with an e-commerce solution and realized others could also use it. Today, Shopify is the leading e-commerce platform globally and the number one tool for small businesses.

Pros

  • Easy to use. Everything is accessible with a few clicks
  • Mobile-friendly designs
  • Full access to the developer’s code
  • 24-hour customer support team

Cons

  • Large transaction fees for third party payments (Paypal/Skrill)

  • Not ideal for non-e-commerce content

  • Shopify’s URL structure is not ideal for SEO-friendliness
  • The collection system a bit complicated

Pricing

Basically, Shopify has four payment plans, but the cheapest Lite package does not include a website builder, so we did not include it in our pricing review. Here are the three main Shopify monthly payment plans when paid for annually.  Prices range from $26.10-299.00/mo plus paid plugins.

Small businesses that benefit from Shopify

Shopify is an excellent tool for small businesses that sell digital or physical services. Brands that require login to make a purchase would benefit from using Shopify. Such small businesses can be booksellers, SaaS, dropshipping, etc.

  • Small e-Commerce Stores

5 Shopify Website Platform FAQs 

Shopify has a 14-day trial for those who want to test out the website builder.

Shopify is available in 21 languages, including Danish, Spanish, English, French, German, Finnish, Chinese, Thai, etc.

Shopify offers value for money when you pick the right plan. The e-commerce builder has tons of apps and add-ons that will help your small business grow.

Yes. Shopify comes with several SEO features that online stores may require. While it isn’t the best SEO-friendly builder, there are a few good SEO features (e.g., editing SEO parameters like title tag, description, etc.).

Absolutely. It is the one e-commerce solution significant businesses rely on. Shopify has all beginner and advanced e-commerce features and plans that go up to $40,000/month (Shopify Plus).

Why I do not recommend Shopify

Shopify can be a great tool, but for businesses who seek to grow, you’ll quickly outgrow the functionality of Shopify. It lacks the necessary components to strengthen SEO.

WordPress

WordPress is an excellent site builder for people with over 37% of the world’s websites using the platform. The open-source CMS is a standout option for bloggers as it has full flexibility and customization features. It is also great for other small businesses like e-commerce, selling digital products, etc.

Pros

  • Wide variety of out-of-the-box features
  • Integrates with popular business apps (OpenTable, MailChimp, etc.)
  • Allows for complete customization
  • Has full developer access
  • Easy to use SEO functionality
  • Creates detailed sitemaps
  • Built-in templates
  • Ability to custom design
  • Drag-and-drop functionality when using Elementor

Cons

  • Not so easy for beginners

  • No phone tech support

  • Shopify’s URL structure is not ideal for SEO-friendliness
  • The collection system a bit complicated

WordPress Pricing

WordPress has quite affordable rates, and apart from the free plan, you get a couple of options. Currently, WordPress offers a Personal plan costing $4 per month, Premium Plan at $8 per month, Business Plan at $25 per month, and finally, an e-Commerce plan at $45 per month.

Small businesses that benefit from WordPress

WordPress is great for all businesses!  

  • Bloggers

  • e-Commerce Stores

  • Photographers

  • Musicians

  • Fashion Designers

  • Personal websites for resumes

  • Entrepreneurs

  • NFTs

5 WordPress Website Platform FAQs 

WordPress has a free subscription that comes with 6GB of storage. To increase the capacity and get more features, you’ll have to go for other plans.

WordPress comes in many different languages (65+), including English, French, Italian, German, and Chinese.

WordPress is an ideal option for SEO because it allows editing tags, titles, keywords, etc. The builder also has several SEO-based plugins available.

WordPress is an ideal e-commerce solution as it has payment features ideal for small e-commerce businesses. It is also actively used by thousands of live e-commerce sites.

WordPress is probably the most affordable website builder in the market. Apart from its free plan, the paid package prices are easily reachable and have features you’d find on expensive site builders.

Why I recommend WordPress

WordPress is endlessly customizable and scalable. No matter when or how your business grows, the same website can be used to help you scale your business and meet new goals.

Showit

Initially designed for photographers, Showit is a website platform with drag and drop features and a WordPress blog platform. It is decent for beginners who don’t want to get involved in website building’s technical legwork. The site builder has advanced over the years and has great-looking templates for professionals and other additional features to boost online presence.

Pros

  • Stylish template designs

  • Drag and drop functionality

Cons

  • Cannot be used for e-commerce
  • TERRIBLE for developers
  • Cannot code
  • Very limited integrations
  • Built-in page structure produces TERRIBLE sitemaps
  • Designs are not mobile responsive

Showit Pricing

Once you have completed your 14-day trial, Showit offers other additional plans. The basic, Basic Blog, and  Advanced Blog monthly plan costs $19, $24, and $34/mo respectively. Also, Showit offers advanced plans for huge blogs with more than 50k monthly traffic. The advanced blog 50k+ is $64 per month and $124 per month for 100k+ users.

Small businesses that benefit from Showit

Showit is for sites with image-heavy content like wedding studios, photography, music, bloggers, creative entrepreneurs, etc.

  • Personal websites for resumes
  • Photographers
  • Coaches
  • Entrepreneurs

5 Showit Website Platform FAQs 

Showit has a 14-day free trial that will prompt you to pay for any of their monthly plans when you finish.

Currently, Showit is available in English only.

Not out of the box. Showit has all features you need to optimize your content for search engines. It is compatible with WordPress for pages, categories, and blogs but requires a lot of customization to get it setup correctly for SEO.

Showit has a variety of features that are worth the price. Photographers and bloggers will find Showit a nice place to jumpstart their company.

ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Showit lacks a bit of flexibility for e-commerce businesses. If you want to start an e-commerce site, Showit IS NOT a good option. Showit promotes a workaround with Shopify ‘buttons’ which strips all SEO value and doesn’t allow you to sell on your domain.

Why I recommend Showit

While we have many clients who use Showit and we’re able to manipulate the platform to get amazing SEO results, Showit isn’t ideal for SEO without expert assistance.

Overall, it’s an above-average drag-and-drop website builder which benefits beginners, but offers no technical access. Limited support who does not understand technical issues. 

 

Flothemes 

Flothemes is a simple website builder. It is integrated with WordPress and offers tons of templates for your website. With Flothemes, you can build a site quickly in simple steps.

Pros

Easy to use templates

Customizable for photography

Mobile friendly

Allow various plugins

Cons

Tricky to understand some features if building from scratch (domain hosts, CMS, etc.)

A couple of WordPress plugins may mess up with code.

Pricing

Flothemes have a one-off price for each theme. Most will start at $279, although you’ll come across discounted themes every now and then.

Small businesses that benefit

Flothemes is an ideal tool for photography sites, culinary arts, blogging, videography, and other service-based businesses.

5 Flowtheme FAQs
Is Flothemes free?

No. All Flothemes templates come at a price, and the cheapest starts from $279.

Does Flothemes support plugins?

Flothemes allows numerous plugins starting with FloLaunch, which helps you start your site in test mode.

Does Flothemes offer good value for money?

When you compare the price of building a website from scratch and Flotheme’s price per theme, it is an excellent value for money.

Is Flothemes good for SEO?

Flothemes is okay for SEO as it has WordPress capabilities and allows edits on specific content parameters.

Is Flothemes good for e-commerce?

Flothemes is not suitable for e-commerce.

Weebly 

Weebly is a famous website builder that is easy to use with drag and drop features. It is worth noting that Square acquired Weebly in 2018, and it saw a sharper focus on e-commerce. It doesn’t do that well.

Pros

Customizable templates

Cons

No personal restore when your site is down

Drag and drop feature is limited to basic functions

Extremely difficult to migrate the website to another platform

Not built to be a true website platform

Pricing

Weebly has friendly pricing plans with a free monthly plan for newbies. The rest are Personal, Professional, and Performance plan, each costing $6, $12, and $26 respectively. These monthly prices are based on a 1-year contract with Weebly.

Small businesses that benefit

Weebly is good for personal portfolios. Other than that—don’t use it.

 5 Weebly FAQs

Is Weebly free?

Weebly has a free plan available to all users. However, the plan is limited to a couple of features, and you’d need to upgrade to access more advanced options.

Which languages does Weebly offer?

Weebly is a multilingual site and has many languages on board. However, the site’s navigation is only available in English and French (CA).

Does Weebly offer good value for money?

Weebly has a free plan, which you can use to create a simple website. Subscriptions are also not expensive and open up a lot of plugins.

Is Weebly good for SEO?
This is a joke. No, it is not.
Is Weebly good for e-commerce?

Yes. It has an advanced e-commerce platform with SSL encryption for payment options. There is also an added shipping and tax calculator unique to Weebly only.

Why I don’t recommend Weebly

I won’t even honor this with details except to say don’t do it.

Wix

Wix is a website builder with simple customizing features and does not require you to have coding skills. It uses a drag and drop feature with hundreds of templates to choose from. Don’t use Wix.

Pros

Templates with editable elements

Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI)

Automatic site backup

Cons

It is not easy to change templates

Domain hosting is almost impossible to move

Not scalable

No developer access

Wix page loading speed is a little bit slower

No built-in stats

Pricing

Wix has a free version, and you can use it to create a simple website. However, professional business owners have four more options with Wix: The Combo, Unlimited, Pro, and VIP plan. Each plan has its perks, with prices going for $14, $18, $23, and $39/mo respectively. Also, for larger businesses, there is the Wix Enterprise which costs $500 per month.

Small businesses that benefit

Wix is a website builder that works for personal portfolios.

5 Wix FAQs
Is Wix free?

Wix has a free version for new users. But there are a couple of paid versions, depending on your business needs.

Does Wix run on PC and MAC?

Wix is a website builder compatible with all browsers, and it doesn’t matter if you are using a mac device or a PC.

Does Wix offer good value for money?

Wix is a great builder and has all the features useful for website building. Its free plan brings excellent value for money as you can come up with a simple website for free.

Is Wix good for SEO?
Fuck no… Wix is terrible in optimization, and with a solid SEO strategy, your site can easily rank on search engines.
Is Wix good for e-commerce?

Absolutely! Wix has several e-commerce features such as multi-currency payments, SSL encryption, additional e-commerce plugins, and more.

Why I don’t recommend Wix

I won’t even honor this with details except to say don’t do it.

Square 

Square is a finance company with its primary focus on making money from commerce transactions. They acquired Weebly in order to entice unsuspecting small businesses into using their POS system for e-commerce. Square-Weebly’s site builder is an excuse for a website platform.

Pros

Simple and intuitive design

Allows POS systems

Unlimited bandwidth storage

Cons

No 24/7 customer support

Limited to one template only

Not scalable

No developer access

Wix page loading speed is a little bit slower

No built-in stats

No SEO

Pricing

Square has several options for business owners. The e-commerce tiers include Free, Professional, Performance, and Premium. The Professional is priced at $16 per month, while the Performance and Premium are priced at $29 and $72 per month respectively. DON’T use this.

Small businesses that benefit

Square is a finance company that should be used by independent small businesses that don’t intend to do e-commerce.

5 Square FAQs
Is Square free?
Square is free, but users can choose to go for the three payment tiers offered by e-commerce sites.
Does Square offer good value for money?

Since there is a free version, Square is a decent builder for small businesses. However, if you run a non-e-commerce site, you might not get everything you need.

Is Square good for SEO?

Not at all, not even a little bit.

Is Square good for e-commerce?

Definitely not, it is purposely built for quickly built, barely functional e-commerce sites. Square has integrations with payment brands, shipping labels, and advanced site statistics.

Why we don’t recommend Square

I won’t even honor this with details except to say don’t do it.