Whether you’re starting a new company or have been in business for a while, when it comes time to design or update your company’s website, one of the decisions you’ll need to make is which platform on which to host your site, says Ronke Bade-Ojo, founder of The Pink Creative, a branding and website design studio.
Bade-Ojo recorded a video on the topic to help women business owners make this important choice.
The four most popular website platforms that small business owners select, Bade-Ojo says, are:
Which one is best for your business comes down to how tech-savvy you are and which features you are likely to make use of.
Product-based businesses frequently opt to go with Shopify, she says, which is considered “the industry standard.” It is also easy to set up and use, she says. Wix is another option but it is very limited from a search engine optimization (SEO) perspective and for that reason, she doesn’t generally recommend it.
Service-based businesses typically choose between Squarespace and WordPress, she says. Squarespace is easy to use “but limited as far as customization goes,” which means that long-term it may not suit your needs. WordPress “is the most robust platform available,” she says, and the only real disadvantage of selecting WordPress is that you’ll probably need a professional to set up and help manage your site.
Factors to Consider
Beyond whether you have a product or service-oriented business, there are other considerations to keep in mind when selecting a website platform, says Bade-Ojo. These are:
- How often you plan to update the site. The frequency with which you update your site may depend on how often the products or services you offer change. Bade-Ojo gives an example of a photographer and says she has found that photographers prefer to update their websites with their photos regularly. If that’s the case, you’ll want to be sure you are comfortable updating your site yourself or are prepared to pay someone else to do the work for you.
- How tech-savvy you are. The more tech-savvy you are, the more options you have. If you’re comfortable working in the back end of a website, any of the platforms can work for you. However, if you have no plans to learn web design, you’ll either want to select a platform that is simple to navigate or set aside the budget for someone else to do the work for you.
- Whether you plan to blog regularly. If you intend to blog on a regular basis, WordPress is likely to be your best option, she says, because of the many built-in SEO features it has.
If you’re in the process of starting a business and don’t have an existing website you’re working from, Bade-Ojo recommends buying a website template and keeping your site super simple at the outset. The reason is that your business is going to go through many changes over the next couple of years, so there is no reason to overspend or invest too much time and energy in a site that you will undoubtedly outgrow soon. Keep it simple.
When you get to a point where your business has matured and you’re ready to invest in a professionally designed site, Bade-Ojo recommends interviewing several web design firms before making your final choice. She suggests paying attention to:
- Chemistry. You’ll be working closely with the designer, so make sure you like and trust them. Do they seem to understand your vision for your site? Can they communicate their ideas well? Are you in sync as far as your expectations?
- Availability. Confirm that the designers you’re considering are able to work within your desired timeframe. Can they complete the work by your deadline, or by a date you agree to? You don’t want to hire someone and then have to wait many months for the finished product.
- Design style. Most important, have you looked at their portfolio and seen designs you like for your website? Are there examples that are similar to what you envision for your company’s site? It’s better to choose a designer who has already proven they understand your aesthetic than to try to get someone who has more of a whimsical style, for example, to create something that is traditional or elegant; it may be too hard for them.
The good news is that if you select one platform and decide it’s not the best choice for you later, you can move your site. You’re not wedded to a platform forever.