WiX or Wordpress? Shopify or Squarespace? Choosing the right platform for your needs.
According to recent stats, Wordpress now occupies more than 35% of the internet. That’s a HUGE market share. To put things in perspective, Amazon occupies a 37% market share and we know full well how insanely huge they are as a brand. So it comes as no surprise that a typical website design agency will work on, and recommend Wordpress to you as the ‘best’ website platform. But is this ALWAYS the case?
The number of people choosing to build their sites on platforms like Shopify, WiX, or SquareSpace (to name but a few) is growing. Shopify, for example, is now worth more than eBay! From 2018-2019, WiX almost tripled their market share and SquareSpace almost doubled theirs. This introduction and growth of competition in the marketplace brings innovation in design, opportunity for new business and a new way to do things - but it can also bring confusion for you, the consumer, when it comes to figuring out which one you should be using. Typically, web designers/developers will work with a single platform. They’ll have their own reasons for choosing the platform and will have worked hard to master their skills in order to launch their services. A little like you have brands you love for your own personal reasons - so do us web designers. If a friend asked you where you buy your clothes, or your skin care, you’ll likely recommend somewhere you love because the products/services are right for you. This doesn’t necessarily mean though that this will also be true for your friend. When comparing website platforms, I like to use a comparison between a Range Rover and a Smart Car. If I asked you which is the better car, you’d like have your own opinion, but it’s important to ask the question… ‘Which one is better for WHO?’ If you’re a single pensioner, living in a one bedroom flat in the middle of a city, on a low income but need a car so you can easily visit grandchildren elsewhere in the city, then you’d choose the Smart Car. Having a Range Rover would be ridiculous! If you live out of town, have a large family and a dog, a fab disposable income and take long journeys often, the Range Rover would be the better car. So we need to ask the same question when comparing website platforms. WHO is it for and WHAT do they need? Just because there are more Range Rovers on the road than Smart Cars doesn’t change the fact that for some, the Smart Car is a far superior option, and so we shouldn’t assume that because Wordpress has a 35% market share it’s automatically ‘the best’.
In my opinion, the best thing to do with a developer who tells you any one platform is best for you without first understanding what you need from them, from your site and how much you want to spend is RUN. They don’t have YOUR needs at heart. So let’s look at the points you need to consider…
1. Can you code? Do you want to code? Do you have time to learn? If the answer is no, do you have the budget in your business to pay someone who can? Getting truly custom on Wordpress requires code. The alternative is a drag and drop plugin like Elementor which will allow you to create a Wordpress site without it, but there’s only so much freedom and flexibility here in terms of design. You’ll pick a template, customise it and you’re done.
2. Do you want to manage things yourself? Or do you want to pay a developer? Are you tech savvy or a total technophobe? If you don’t have the budget to outsource things to a designer, and you’re a complete technophobe, choosing a drab and drop developer like Elementor, WiX, Weebly, Shopify or Squarespace might be for you. Some are more user friendly than others. If you jump on YouTube you can find videos touring the back end of most of these platforms so you can see what’s what before you sign up to anything.
3. How much involvement do you want? For example, WiX is what we call an ‘all in one’. You build the site within their platform, host it there, and you’re done. As a platform they have a 99.8% uptime rate so it’s very rare things will go wrong or drop out, but if they do, they have a support team on hand who will work on your behalf to fix whatever broke. If it went down, chances are it would be back up before you’d noticed. Wordpress for example is what we call ‘self hosted’ meaning you build your site and then choose a company to host it for you. This freedom to shop around can mean cheaper hosting, but if your site were to drop out you have 2 choices… 1 - ask (and pay) for your web developer to figure out what went wrong and fix it or 2 - find the error and fix it yourself. It could be a break in code, and out of date plugin, or with your hosting. If that sounds like something you don’t want to have to involve yourself in or pay for, then an ‘all in one’ might be a better option.
4. How will your business grow? Are you a small service based business using their website to showcase their expertise and services? Or are you Debenhams? If you are a small business and don’t (and won’t) require a huge amount of functionality as you grow then the platform you choose won’t make a difference to this. If you plan to scale to a huge e-commerce business, you’d likely be better on a more flexible platform like Wordpress from day 1.
Search Google for your specific needs - e-commerce, digital product sales, memberships, online courses, service bookings, restaurant bookings… most platforms have capabilities to handle these things.
5. SEO - This has been a HUGE deal over the years specifically with WiX but ultimately now, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the platform you choose has very little to 0 effect on the search engine performance of your website. In fact, a recent competition seems to have proven this. 2 SEO agencies were asked to compete for the same keyword. One site had to be built on WiX, one on ‘an alternative platform of their choosing’. I believe the alternative platform was Wordpress. They were given equal amounts of time and then the results independently checked LIVE on a specific date. The site built on WiX far outranked the alternative site. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that the way your website ranks is more down to the quality of content, build, SEO and off-site efforts than the actual platform, so you are now free to choose whichever platform you prefer without the worry of performance.
You can view full details of the competition here... https://www.wix.com/seo-battle?fbclid=IwAR0hqPEzM0lsgRq4LrlWtyiLZbb-nZxNYLcA7EmFJeyhPoWXYDW71KDXiWo
Website platforms have been such a huge deal for such a long time, it’s really refreshing to see technology change and update and ultimately give way to more competition. It’s awesome to see small business owners empowered with the technology to build something themselves with little prior knowledge or time invested and get their business off the ground.
My advice, as a professional, is to seek a professional as soon as you can afford it. Your website should be built strategically, with clear messaging and call to action and should embody your brand. It’s likely to be the first impression your client has of your business so of course, it should be a good one! SEO should be done by a professional in order to get the best results too. All the above are an awesome way to get started and begin making some money online though - just remember to invest when you can. If you'd like help getting your busin
ess online, or are ready to invest in some expert branding and bespoke design, just drop me a message and let's chat through your needs!