Doing business has changed dramatically in the online era. Even at a business to business level, the most valuable marketing and branding asset for any company is its website. Without exaggeration, the first impression a potential customer gets of your company is by looking at your website.
A professional, clean design, good functionality and fast-loading pages are the three key elements which define a great website. And all these elements depend on one thing: the platform you choose for building your website. There is no one-size-fits-all platform and the choice depends greatly on your available budget and level of expertise on managing and updating your website.
Today we will look at the three types of platforms with the most popular providers to choose from:
1. Website Builders
Website builders are an all-in-one web hosting and development platform. Once you sign up for the service, you get your domain name and you can start building your website after picking a template.
The pros of website builders are:
- Affordable monthly plans for hosting your website
- Free domain name included in the package
- No technical knowledge for creating and maintaining your website.
There are also some downsides to these platforms:
- Minimum customisation of the templates
- Difficult to scale – if your website needs to grow into a complex structure, website builders are not the best choice
- No plugins or third party integration
The most popular website builders available on the market are Wix and Weebly. Both of them feature free and premium plans and feature the pros and cons presented above.
2. Content Management Systems
CMS website platforms are increasingly popular, both among companies and web developers. The most frequently used such platforms are WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. These website platforms are fully scalable – you can start with a small presentation website and grow it to a complex structure with different sections, such as intranet, blog sections, and so on.
WordPress is usually dubbed the most popular website platform available and it may be so from the point of view of the ease of use, number of available plugins and constant developments and updates.
However, there are also some cons to this platform, and the key one is that, being an open source platform with many contributors, it is also exposed to hacking attacks. At the same time, if you do not want to spend a lot of time taking care of your website, the constant platform and plugin updates may prove annoying.
Drupal is not a DIY platform – it requires advanced coding knowledge, so you will definitely need to hire a web developer to create and maintain your website. But the investment is worth your money: Drupal is a stable, secure and flexible platform, with many plugins and possibilities of customisations.
More user friendly than Drupal, Joomla is a fast-growing web platform with a thriving community. It can create scalable, secure and customisable websites. However, this platform has limited SEO support and not all of the plugins are free (unlike in WordPress and Drupal). The content management panel is more complex than the one provided by WordPress, but it is possible to learn quickly how to add, edit or delete content, and manage your own website.
eCommerce platforms are reserved for online stores. There are two key players for this type of web platform: Magento and BigCommerce. Both platforms offer top notch security and full integration for the most frequently used payment systems. They also offer a wide range of customisation for your website and good SEO support. Additionally, BigCommerce also offers a built-in blog.
These platforms are not free to use, except for the Magento Community Edition which had limited functionality. The premium Magento edition varies between $15 and $125 per month, while BigCommerce costs between $34.95 and $199.95.