20th July 2017
How to choose the best platform for your website
Do you need a new website? If so, you may be trying to figure out the best platform to use.
Should you opt for a template WordPress site or a WordPress site built from scratch? Would Joomla be better or a site built with Drupal? Maybe you’re thinking about creating your own site with a platform like Squarespace or Wix?
Each of these options has different pros and cons, and will fit different needs and budgets. It’s important to remember that the platform you choose will ultimately affect the versatility of your website, how easy it is to update and the return on your investment in the long-term. You want a website that is not only right for you but also right for your clients.
To help you choose the best platform for your website – and because we’re familiar with all of the platforms mentioned above – we’ve put together our own quick guide.
Squarespace offers a number of classy, beautiful website templates to work from. Many of the templates are especially suitable for image-heavy sites. All of the features are already built-in, so there’s no stressing about whether a plug-in is compatible.
Other pros of Squarespace websites include in-built analytics, fast page speeds and excellent security.
Although a Squarespace website may initially be cheaper than having a bespoke website built, you will have to pay ongoing monthly payments to essentially rent your website from Squarespace. Also, because all of the features are built in, it can be difficult to customise the design and functionality to create a website that adequately reflects your business.
In our experience, Squarespace websites aren’t as strong from an SEO perspective, often struggling to hit page one of Google, which means you may have to spend more on your marketing long-term.
Like Squarespace, Wix is an all-inclusive website builder, ideal for the DIY creator with a small budget. The backend isn’t the prettiest to look it but it is fairly simple to use and intuitive for inexperienced users.
Wix features some attractive templates – sorted around business-type – from which to build your website, and page load speeds and security are good.
There is a free website option but there are some restrictions around the file storage and available features. Plus, your web address would have to appear as: http://yourwebsite.wix.com/yourwebsite. Even with a paid-for starter plan, your website will feature adverts for Wix. As with Squarespace, for the best functionality and options, you will need to pay to ‘rent’ your website from Wix on a monthly basis.
It can be time-consuming to design a page in Wix to appear exactly the way you want it. Also, there are some third party apps but they have limited functionality when compared to WordPress plugins, for example.
Joomla has a powerful, user-friendly interface, which is great for managing a site with a large amount of blog articles. It’s easy to install and the free plugins add a great deal of functionality. The administration panel offers a huge range of functions that, once mastered, offers plenty of potential for customisation.
In our experience, WordPress websites look great and the dashboard is easy to understand, while Drupal websites are incredibly customisable and loved by developers. Joomla sits somewhere in the middle, never quite ticking any of these boxes. This can make it a poor choice if your website is going to need lots of extra features.
In all honesty, there is very little that Drupal can’t achieve in the hands of an experienced developer. New features can be added by using the vast range of ‘modules’ created for the platform.
The basic version of Drupal is pretty uninspiring because it’s a platform that comes into its own with the addition of modules. This is also a platform for highly experienced developers as it’s not quite as user-friendly as WordPress.
WordPress is currently the most widely used website platform in the world, thanks to the design freedom, flexibility, functionality and huge amount of resources available to novice and professional web developers alike.
There is a vast amount of plugins available to adapt WordPress sites to your clients’ needs – it’s even possible to add a shop facility, as well as a host of engaging, dynamic features.
One option, if you want a WordPress site, is to choose a WordPress theme (i.e. template) as a starting point. This can be a quick and effective way of getting a professional, visitor-friendly site up and running.
WordPress themes can be vulnerable to hacking and can have slow page speeds without the right plugins to compress your images and so on. Although a web developer can change something in the backend of a template site with bespoke code, you will probably find you have to pay for extra to upgrade and it can sometimes be a challenge to get adaptations to work.
Bespoke WordPress site
At Cosmetic Digital, this is hands-down our favourite option as a website platform. It is possible to build a completely unique and bespoke website from scratch in WordPress. This gives you more control and ensures that every feature is tailor made to the needs of your clients. This is a fantastic way to stand out in the marketplace.
Whether you want to add a shop facility, an interactive map, a skin assessment, booking forms or more, WordPress offers unlimited possibilities.
In our opinion, what sets it apart from the rest is that WordPress is user-friendly, even if you have limited experience with websites. With a bespoke WordPress site, we are able to capitalise on this by creating a dashboard that gives you easy access to make updates to content on the site without relying on a developer to do it for you.
WordPress can be used by most companies, which is ideal for any businesses changing design or marketing agencies.
If you’re shopping on price, then there are cheaper options than a custom-made WordPress site. The site may also take slightly longer to develop than an ‘out of the box’ template option because of the unique features and customisation.