So you want to build a website?
If your reasons for doing so are business related, then it’s usually safe to presume that want is more of a ‘need’.
You may have already started researching how to go about getting your big ideas online and so would of come across a plethora of names sounding more like breakfast cereals than website creation tools, or if you haven’t yet, hold tight… Woocommerce, Joomla, Squarespace, Weebly, Shopify, WordPress, Drupal, Wix and a few more past these more common ones.
So if you are thinking “who an earth do I choose? How do I pick one over the other? Can I set it up myself or do I need a developer? and a developer now wants to sell me a custom coded site – overloaaaaaddddddd…..” Then read on.
Ok, so let’s put some kind of perspective on all of these different options.
Weebly, Wix and Squarespace are all different websites for building, erm, websites.
You sign up, pay a yearly fee and using a ‘drag and drop’ feature, you can easily craft a great looking website around their existing templates.
If you need a simple site, you can basically build it and then ‘set and forget’. The great thing about these guys are that they host the website for you, which also means that all the security and updates are also taken care of. Your new website will be humming along in the background doing it’s thing whilst you get on with running your business – nice.
However, in their ease of use and simplicity also comes their restrictions.
Apart from some pretty basic changes with the correct code which you can add yourself (once you’ve figured out what that is) there is not a lot you can do with these websites past their original templates.
In other words, these websites, as great as they are, won’t necessarily grow with you when your business calls for different functions to be added, or you simply just need to upscale.
This is were the other CMS (Content Management System) builders come in.
WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are all self-hosted – Which means to run these babies you need a domain name (as you would with any website – your internet address) and a hosting plan with a dedicated website hosting company, which start from as little as a few bucks a month and you can move up to a larger package as and when your online endeavours require it.
WordPress is the standout here without a doubt. WordPress is so popular as a platform that a staggering 24% of the entire internet is now based on it.
With it being such a massive online force, comes with it, countless tutorials and avenues of help if needs be.
…. Also, if you think that WordPress is just for smaller businesses and limited in its use, consider that the giants such as BBC, Bloomberg, Star Wars, Sony Music, MTV, Microsoft, Disney, The New York Times to name a few, use it.
In effect, the hosting could be all you have to pay for in having a great looking and functioning website as these CMS are all free to download and use.
With these systems, you upload and install all the files and everything that goes along with your website, such as your images and media, onto your own server space and you are in total control of your website.
Even that is not as bad as it sounds as these days most large hosting companies will install these systems onto your server for you with just a few clicks – even if they do call it a ‘one click install’ it usually takes three or four mouse presses out of your day.
However, the onus is then on you to design and actually build your site, maintain its security updates and ensure everything is running as it should be.
So why bother with all that hassle when you could throw a few bucks at Squarespace each month and take the easy option?
Well, as we mentioned before, where the limitations lie with sites like Squarespace are actually the strengths with the likes of WordPress.
Using a CMS like WordPress and hosting the site yourself will give you the advantage of having the site look exactly how you envisage it, away from any pre-defined templates.
But more importantly, your site can now grow with you and expand in any way you need it to go.
Need e-commerce? No
problem. Just integrate Woocommerce and you have a fully functional shopping experience.
Want to create a membership site or host an online course? Easy, just download and install whatever you want and once all the settings are correct, your website now have all these features and there is no limit to where you can take it.
It may be a bit more of a hassle to get things up and running, but over the long term, you have a website which you can adjust, add to and pretty much keep for as long as you need it.
If, on the other hand you just need a really simple site, then Squarespace is definitely the way to go. Just bare in mind that if your future needs changes, then its likely you will be rebuilding it on a platform like WordPress eventually. It just depends if you want that hassle further down the line.