Whether you’re a small business owner, restaurant, lawyer, real estate agent or consultant, having a website is no longer a “nice to have” – it’s an absolute must-have for any business or brand.
The good news is it’s now easier & more cost-effective than ever to create a website of your very own.
“But Justin…I’ve never done this before, where do I start?”
First things first, we need to choose the right platform to build your new website that will scale with you and your business as you grow.
In this article, we’ll help you choose the best website builder by going over the pros and cons of the most popular options plus what we recommend for our clients and why.
Your first step should be to determine the primary goal of your web presence. Do you want to sell a product? Attract potential customers for your services? Build a portfolio page?
By first establishing your digital purpose, you’ll be able to prioritize the tools, plugins, and capabilities you want in your builder and not get pulled off track by fancy add-ons that aren’t actually helping you achieve your goal.
Now that you’ve got an idea of what you want your website to do, let’s talk about what we call, “The Big 5” in website development.
The Big 5
WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, WordPress, and Shopify.
To be frank … all of these website platforms are pretty straightforward regardless of experience or not. The real difference comes down to ease of use, scalability, and customization.
Let’s make this easy and do a comparison chart!
As you can see, it comes down to what do you want your website to do and what do you see your website doing in the future. Think long term when making a decision … can this platform scale with your business?
Now that we’ve gone through The Big 5, let’s talk about what we at Day by Day Digital use and why.
Before we dive into our primo opinions, I’d like to share our background in website development & design as all of our opinions are experience-based vs based on research and comparison charts.
Day by Day Digital has built over 200 websites, 239 to be exact, in its 10 years of experience working with small businesses and national brands. We’ve used “The Big 5” + a variety of other website platforms and have come to the conclusion that there are two platforms that fill the needs of nearly all businesses.
When we recommend one of these two platforms our clients typically ask…
- If I need to make updates myself or manage in-house can I easily do so? Yep!
- If I want to scale my business online in the future can this website platform scale with any custom integrations, eCommerce, or anything I may need? You know it!
- Are these website platforms constantly staying up-to-date, adding new features, and secure from online threats? Yes, yes, and yuuppp!
We love working with these platforms and seriously, like for real, recommend using one of them for any business.
Shopify vs WordPress
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a web application that has been developed to allow businesses to launch their own online stores. It includes a variety of templates (or themes) that can be customized to match the needs of particular companies, and it enables both tangible and virtual items to be sold.
One of Shopify’s most important concepts is to allow people without any technical or design expertise to build their own online store — you don’t need to know how to code in order to use it.
However, Shopify does enable qualified developers to modify the HTML and CSS for those seeking to custom tailor their businesses even more.
Everything runs on Shopify’s servers because Shopify is a hosted solution. As a result, you won’t have to worry about purchasing web hosting or setting up software on your own – the goal is for practically everything you’ll need to set up and operate your business to be included “out of the box.”
Because it’s a web application, it runs in the cloud – so you can manage your store from anywhere as long as you have access to a web browser and the internet.
What is WordPress
WordPress is a hosted software, like Shopify, and is available at WordPress.com for a monthly fee (from $4 to $45). You get access to a wide range of features that allow you to create and manage a basic blog site or eCommerce store for a modest cost each month.
Self-hosted WordPress is a program that you download from wordpress.org and then install on your own web server.
It’s open-source, which means the code behind it is freely available and may be readily changed. This means that WordPress-powered websites can be significantly modified and in the hands of an experienced website developer is the perfect platform for just about any web design project you can think of.
What sort of users are Shopify and WordPress aimed at?
I would say that Shopify’s main demographic are users who lack web development skills and/or a budget to hire someone to build a store.
While you can definitely make a killer custom Shopify store, their biggest advantage would have to be speed to market…we’ve built entire Shopify stores in less than a day for some clients.
WordPress attracts a wider group of users from web design beginners to experienced developers and teams for hire.
WordPress, like Shopify, is suitable for those who are new to web design and aren’t particularly tech-savvy. It’s not hard to create and maintain a WordPress site without any technical knowledge — especially if you’re content with using a “visual editor” interface such as Divi.
HOWEVER… experienced developers know the power and scalability of WordPress – it is truly limitless.
What does Day by Day Digital recommend?
We get asked this all the time…
As we discussed earlier – it really depends on what you’re needing to accomplish with your website now and in the future.
If you’re a small business selling products online and want to get up and going fast with a small budget, Shopify is absolutely perfect for you.
For businesses looking to invest in their long-term digital presence, we ALWAYS recommend self-hosted WordPress.
Even if it’s a smaller project and you may or may not scale online in the future … leveraging WordPress assures that you have the ability to do just about anything online which sets you up for long-term success.
So the real question is … should you design & develop a website yourself?
Well, let me ask you this – if you knew that I had no experience in cooking would you come to my restaurant and eat? Would you bring your friends and colleagues?
My guess is probably not lol.
Just like a chef trains to prepare meals for the hungry and create that Instagram-worthy dishes, website developers train to implement best practices to showcase your business online for the best experience.
While you can certainly design & develop a website yourself … we recommend hiring someone like Day by Day Digital saving you time, money, and ultimately fast-tracking your business to scale.
When websites are done correctly, they are ultimately your automated online sales team working for you – 24/7 – generating leads, selling products, and opening doors you never knew existed.
If you or someone you know wants to learn more about just how big a strategic website’s impact can be, click here to contact us today.