In my last post, I talked about branding and provided some strategies to consider when thinking about what you want your brand represent. For this post I will discuss various web developing solutions of which there are many. The one thing I cannot stress enough is how important it is to do your research - a lesson I learned the hard way. I currently have subscriptions to three platforms which could have been avoided had I first done my due diligence. The downside of me having these subscriptions is that only one is active on a live site – the upside is that I can share my experiences and learnings with you in this blog AND I have two other platforms I could potentially use to launch other sites. Having tested numerous builders, I feel like I'm in a good position to provide some recommendations.
Before I started my jewelry business, I contemplated launching a website analytics business. I wanted to teach myself Google analytics and it aligned closely to what I had been doing in my career over the past 11 years. Once I made this decision, I needed to figure out which platform would work best for me. I didn’t know much about any of the platforms and decided to go with one I had heard a lot about, WordPress but as I started working with it, I didn’t find it quite as user-friendly as I anticipated. However, they did offer three theme types – business, restaurant and salon - which helped simplify the process. It is also one of the more flexible platforms and has been around the longest thereby cultivating a huge community of developers which has led to a constant creation of new features.
After working with WordPress, I moved onto Wix which I found to be extremely user-friendly - there were less restrictions on where I could place elements which was a huge plus to me. I really liked the drag and drop options and the ease with which I could enter SEO meta tags. What I didn't like was that the starter package required displaying Wix ads on my site Another downside is that there is no easy way to change themes. I ran into this issue when I wanted to change my site theme and attempted to swap templates. The process was so convoluted (at least for me it was) that I don't think I could explain how I did it. In any case, not long after I started working with Wix, I discovered my passion for making jewelry, at which point, I knew I needed to set up an eCommerce site if I wanted to sell any of it. This led me to Shopify, which I found to be extremely user-friendly and also checked off all the boxes I needed to set up my online jewelry boutique. That said, had I first done my homework, I would have discovered that Wix (to which I had already had a subscription) also offered an eCommerce solution.
So, there you have it!! I, unnecessarily, have three subscriptions to three different platforms. So, now that I’ve shared with you what not to do, I will provide some recommendations on what you should consider when conducting your research.
Listed below are two sites which do a great side-by- side comparison of what they consider to be their top website builder solutions.
Criteria for Website Builder Expert
- Ease of Use
- Customer Support
Top Website Builders in 2018
Criteria for FitSmallBuisness.com
- Editor Ease of use
- Website Performance
- Customer Service
Top Website Builders in 2018
As you can see, both comparisons have slight variations. When conducting your research, not only do you have to weigh out each of the platform’s features but it’s important to understand what criteria are most important to you. Is it more important for you to understand website performance or would you rather work with a more popular platform? This will help you select which review will provide you with the best insights.
It should also be noted that there are hosted vs. non-hosted platforms. Eric Davis, founder and developer of Little Stream Software, which helps eCommerce entrepreneurs customize their Shopify stores wrote an interesting article on the pro and cons of hosted platforms. To summarize:
Benefits of Hosted Platforms
- No hosting/server worries
- Limited security risk
- Many features
- Easily scalable
Disadvantages of Hosted Platform
- Limitations on custom features
- Higher Cost
- Not great for non-standard stores
- Heavy reliance on customer support
Per Davis, there are several options to consider when choosing a platform: are you just starting out, do you want to avoid hiring developers (if you are new to or are not familiar with coding) and will you have irregular traffic (traffic spikes) which is less easily absorbed by self-hosted platforms. However, if you need custom code or have a non-standard business model, you may want to go with a self-hosted platform.
According to Nerd Marketing, owned by Drew, who runs an agency for eCommerce retailers, choosing a shopping cart should be an integral part of a business decision. His best rated shopping cart are Woocommerce, Shopify and Magento.
He drills the decision-making process down to three factors:
- Popularity –the more popular a platform, the larger the developer and customer base
- Cost - Which shopping carts are low-cost or free which will improve your profitability?
- Which ones are full-featured?
Above all else, choosing the right website builder for you will save you money and time. Most all website builder solutions have options that can fit most developers – just be sure to choose the right one for you from the start. My recommendation to you -
Figure out your business objectives first prior to starting your research