So which website platform is the best? In this article we will explore a number of different platforms you can use to build a new website, from the basic web builders provided by the big hosting companies to the more bespoke alternatives and which one you might consider for each task. We’ll look at things like the software and also domains and hosting.
For more information take a look through our Useful Tools section which has a list of great apps and plugins many of which are mentioned below.
Let’s begin with what you need to consider. What is your level of experience with websites, how much time do you have personally to invest in the project and what kind of a budget do you have…
I want to do this by myself
Great! I admire anyone who wants to learn new skills or increase their knowledge. A web domain (the address your website can be found at) and a cheap hosting account can be easily bought via any of the big hosting company’s websites. Just type in 123Reg or JustHost and you’ll find it’s very easy to do.
We would always recommend using a secure UK based company so you know where everything is stored and your data kept secure like Krystal Hosting. You can click here to see their domain and web hosting packages.
These bigger suppliers will always offer you use of their free website platform building tool which is usually a type of visual builder like Wix or SquareSpace. You select a template and drag and drop the bits and pieces into place. This can be the quickest and cheapest option out there and it may be the best option to begin with for businesses looking to set up something inexpensive, providing you are willing to spend the time doing it.
I want something a bit more sophisticated
Like everything in life there are other options and if you want to give a more professional look and feel to your website (and let’s face it your website is often the first time people come across your business so you want it to stand out) then you might like to look at WordPress.
WordPress is the most commonly used platform to build websites on as the basic version is all open source and free to use. It is also easy to set up a new site with plenty of free themes and templates you can enter information into and away you go. With a vast amount of tutorials online you can always find a ‘how to’ video for the problem you are facing.
Starting out with a WordPress website might also help in future as it is easier for a new design or web company to take over and update or manage for you.
This again comes down to time – do you have the time and will to learn how to setup and build a whole WordPress website? Advanced visual builders like Elementor can make the job easier as they offer the flexibility of a visual interface to build your pages.
We’ve written more about Elementor in this article – What is Elementor? – it’s a great plugin if you’re using WordPress as your website platform.
What about a Website Platform for eCommerce and selling online?
The eCommerce space has a few options jostling for space, mainly Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce and Magento.
Firstly, if you’re on a budget you could try Shopify. Shopify is a simple and straightforward setup for your first web store allowing you all the essentials to build your shop. You rent space on a server provided to you by Shopify. You can choose from a number of free and paid for designs for your shop. Everything is integrated with Stripe payments so you can take card payments online for your goods or services and adding new products is very straightforward. You can also add point of sale devices (PoS) and run your inventory via Shopify as it all integrates very easily. It’s a quick way to get set up but you pay a monthly fee for the system and if you stop paying that fee you lose pretty much everything.
If you have started out with WordPress then you have a number of options including WooCommerce and others such as BigCommerce. These are shop integrations for your WordPress site which you load as a plugin opening up all the shop functions you require. You can also then pick and choose your own payment gateways such as GoCardless, Stripe, PayPal and others allowing you to be more selective about payment methods and the transaction rates you are paying. There is much more you can then customise.
For the highly experienced online retailer there is Magento. A highly advanced system you will need to pay a dedicated expert to configure your store but again you pay for what you get.
We are WordPress and WooCommerce experts but also build complex Shopify stores too. If you would like to see any examples please check out Our Work.