One of the most common questions I hear when people are looking at getting a website for their business is "what's the best web platform to use?"
Unfortunately the answer isn't as easy as you might expect it to be. Web platforms have come a long way in the last 5-10 years and now there are platforms build specifically to suit many different types of businesses, and the skill level of those operating them.
When choosing a web platform for your business there are several things you should take into consideration:
1. Your Budget
There are two parts to this:
how much you can afford to spend to set-up the website (design/build costs); and
how much you can afford to spend on ongoing maintenance and subscription costs.
Ongoing costs to consider include paying someone to monitor updates and add new content to your site (if you're not willing or able to do this yourself), the cost of your domain name, and hosting (essentially rent for the space your website is occupying on the web).
2. What features your site needs
Think about what you want your site to be able to do. Some special features you might need are:
E-commerce (the ability to sell products online)
Private membership section
Private photo galleries
Booking systems (ie: for travel/tourism businesses)
Appointment booking systems (for service providers)
Not all platforms provide the same features, and not all features are free to use. It's important to be really clear on what you need before you commit to a platform.
3. What integrations your site needs
Integrations are when your site teams up with another app to work in sync. Some integrations may cross over with features I've listed above.
For ecommerce this could be something like a POS or accounting integration which will streamline your workflow by syncing your in-shop systems with your website systems (ie: Shopify POS, Lightspeed, Xero).
Other integrations could be things like being able to have your Instagram feed or Facebook reviews showing on your site (and updating automatically), linking your e-newsletter app (like Mailchimp, MailerLite, etc) with a form on your site so you have another way to build up your email database, or an automated booking system/scheduler like Timely or Acuity.
Ask around to find out what features other business-owners in your industry have found most useful.
4. Who is going to be maintaining your site
Good websites need to be updated frequently - it keeps your content fresh and helps your Google rankings.
Some web platforms (like Wordpress) also require regular system updates to keep everything running smoothly and maintain your site security.
Think about who is going to be doing most of the work on your site. Is this something you're going to pay to outsource, are you going to do the work yourself, or is it going to be an employee's responsibility?
If you're planning on doing the work in-house you need to choose a platform that suits the skill level of the person doing the work.
Don't just trust the word of your designer/developer or a friend who says it's easy to use. While they have your best interests at heart, what's "easy" for them may not be "easy" or intuitive for you.
While there's definitely some value in referrals, it's a good idea to set up a few free trials on different platforms so you can get some actual experience before you commit to one.
Some of the most popular web platforms in 2022 are:
Elementor (a drag-and-drop version of Wordpress)
Still not sure which platform is best for you? I'm available for free consultation calls so we can talk through the different options, and can even set up and walk you through some platform trials.
[DISCLAIMER: Some of the links contained in this article are affiliate links which may result in me receiving a small commission payment or account credit if you sign up to their service. I am only an affiliate for apps I have personally used and loved.]