In 2018 and beyond, every business that wants to acquire new customers and retain the loyal ones, needs to have a website. Decades ago, it was enough to rely on word-of-mouth and old media to get the word out there, but now it is imperative to back those efforts up with a digital marketing strategy.
Contrary to the opinion of many small business owners who don’t have an established online base, launching a website is neither difficult nor expensive. One of the main reasons for it is the vast number of options when it comes to website platforms. Some of them are even free or very affordable, particularly when compared to what you are getting in return.
This vastness, however, brings one more additional complication: how to decide which platform is the best for your business? Here, let us help.
Which functions do you need the most?
This is the first question you need to answer and it will depend mostly on what exactly do you do. If you are selling products, you will need a platform which can process the payments efficiently and safely. If your line of work requires the constant upload of photographs and videos (maybe you are a photographer), you should look for the platform which allows making frequent changes without dealing with a ton of code. Make a list of your priorities, and search for the best platform based on them.
How skillful are you in the digital environment?
The ease-of-use is an important factor for making your choice, especially if you are not a closet hacker. Of course, what is easy for you might not be so easy to someone else, and vice versa. You will need to asses just how many of the digital demands you can tackle, and research to the accessibility of the most popular platforms.
What can you afford?
You have probably heard about the term “you get what you paid for”, but it doesn’t have to be that way when it comes to website platforms. Some of the best ones are very affordable and allow the use of many features for free, while the later upgrades have to be paid. Nevertheless, before you embark the adventure of searching the right choice for you, asses your budget.
Does it allow customization?
First, think about the degree of customization you are looking for. If you want your website to be the image of your brand and you think that a certain platform is not giving you what you need, move on. Most platforms, especially the more affordable ones, offer standard templates which can be slightly customized to differ from other websites built with the same tools. If that is enough for you, go for it.
Does it require coding?
Unless you have an IT person in your company or you are a coder, you should stay away from platforms which require coding. In this case one coma too many can crash your whole website, and this is not a risk you want to take.
Some of the best available options
Now that you are aware of the important considerations for choosing a web platform, you can go through some of the most popular options, and see if any of them meets your needs.
WordPress is a free and a powerful platform which allows a high degree of customization, and it is no wonder that it is the biggest blogging platform in the world. Since it provides with streamlined experience, WordPress is very easy to install, even for beginners in the digital realm, but it does require some learning process for future use. It is not a popular solution for e-commerce sites, but it does provide with various plugins which bring it close to the e-commerce giants like OpenCart and Shopify.
If you want to start fresh, Wix allows you to cherry-pick the layout and features to the detail with just a few clicks. It is very functional when it comes to e-commerce shops, blogs, and members-only sites. Since it uses the drag-and-drop technique to create the layout, Wix is easy to use even for people who are totally computer illiterate. However, this can pose a problem for those who don’t have a keen eye for design, because it lacks structure. Unlike WordPress, it is not a free platform.
This is a template-based platform which allows you to build a responsive and well-designed website with no coding skills whatsoever. It supports different types of businesses, ranging from e-commerce websites to portfolios. Jimdo is an excellent option for absolute beginners since editing is super simple. It is not free, but if you invest additionally, you can get a customized design.
Other notable platforms for a business website are GoDaddy, SiteBuilder, Web.com, Site123, Fiverr, and Weebly.
Of course, we can’t make this big decision for you. You have all the tools you need in front of you, now you just need to think about what you want, how you want to get it, and do your research. Good luck.