Choosing the Best Hosted Website Platform
What is the difference between Wix, Squarespace, WordPress, and Shopify, and which website platform is best for you?
In today’s increasingly connected world, you need a compelling online presence to make your mark and differentiate your business or product. Building a website and supporting social media are essential components of your marketing strategy. However, it can be challenging to pick the right website platform when there are so many out there. Where do you begin?
What Platforms are Available?
Several website platforms are commonly used, and choosing one would depend on what you want your website to do. Let’s assume you want a hosted website–that is, one where the software required to run the website is hosted on servers elsewhere. You don’t need to worry about installing, running, or maintaining that software; someone else (with more technical skill!) does it for you. So what options are available?
Wix: Best General Use Platform
In technical circles, the acronym, WYSIWYG (‘what you see is what you get’), is common. Of the available hosted platforms, Wix probably illustrates this concept most readily. The website build interface allows users to easily drag-and-drop graphic elements onto web pages, and users can choose from ready-made templates to get the look and feel they want for their website.
Ease of use and setup makes Wix the best ‘general use’ website platform. Users simply set up and pay for what they use on the Wix platform. It’s great for beginner marketers or basic informational websites and does not require any technical knowledge to use.
Squarespace: Best Platform for Graphics
If you’re looking for an easy to use and simple to set up website, but require a site that uses a lot of graphics–image galleries, videos, and the like–then Squarespace would be your best bet. Like the Wix platform, Squarespace provides a WYSIWYG set up and drag-and-drop design. But Squarespace provides more tools and graphics capabilities geared toward creating visually-striking websites.
If you need customized features or graphics, Squarespace allows for some custom code integration. It also includes a blogging engine and commenting feature, both of which are useful for search engine optimization (SEO). ECommerce and analytics capabilities are also available in Squarespace.
WordPress: Most Flexible Platform
Back in the day, when ‘web logs’–now known as ‘blogs’–were starting to get increasing traction online, several different blogging platforms were used. Anyone remember Blogger? Over time, one platform floated to the top through ease of use, features, plugins, and sheer number of users: WordPress. The most flexible of the available platforms, WordPress has been around for a while, and not surprisingly has the largest community and the most plugins. Today, the WordPress platform is more than just a blogging tool–it is a website builder and hoster.
As a blogging platform, WordPress is ideal for curation of content. All content is archived and readily available, and can be well-organized for easy retrieval and access. As a website platform, WordPress provides the most flexibility: WYSIWYG simplicity and templates, as well as custom features and plugins.
Unlike other hosted platforms, WordPress provides users the ability to host their own sites if they choose. WordPress also provides built-in SEO plugins, such as integration into the Facebook marketplace, something not readily available in Wix or Squarespace.
Shopify: Best Platform for Ecommerce
Selling something? Then use Shopify. It’s the platform focused on and built specifically for eCommerce. Shopify has all eCommerce-related functions built-in, including credit card processing, security, and the like.
Shopify has pre-built templates, but a bit more custom work might be required to get a polished, finished look. Like WordPress, Shopify also provides some SEO plugins available through their app store.
Choose the Right Platform for Your Needs
Ultimately, there is no ‘wrong’ hosted website platform. Most of them do provide the same basic functionality, but there may be one that is more ‘right’ for your needs. Understanding which platform is most suitable will help you focus your overall marketing strategy.
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