Making the ultimate commitment… Which web platform is right for you?

Making the ultimate commitment… Which web platform is right for you?

Photo by Federica Galli on Unsplash

 

When it comes to choosing the right web platform, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. There is SO MUCH to know about each different platform and, without doing oodles of research, how are you supposed to know what will be the best solution specifically for you?

In order to choose the right platform for your business, there are some important things you need to think about. Your budget, the purpose of your website, and what technical skills you’ll need to maintain it, are all important considerations. On top of that, as you work through your options, always remember:

  • Your decision does not have to be final like with basically everything in life, nothing is permanent. The web platform you chose isn’t working for you? It’s ok to switch when, and if, you need but be aware that this can be a costly exercise, especially if you have a lot of content to transfer.
  • Your website will grow and change over time kinda like I said above, nothing is permanent. Your business will inevitably change, and you need to ensure your website can do the same. Go for a platform you are comfortable working with so it can be easily updated or, allow room in your budget to enlist your web agency partner as needed.
  • Websites take time to build – well, the ones which will actually sell your products or services do anyway! Some advertisers say their product will help you build a website in an hour <insert eye roll>. However, the real truth is that a well-built, functional website will take A LOT of time and effort to create, and to get right. Whether you choose to go it alone or to hire someone else to build it, don’t get conned by anyone promising the earth. If it seems too good to be true, it is and, they won’t do your business (or image) any favours.

 

And, now for the good news! That oodles of research I mentioned you’d probably need. Well, I’ve done it for you!

I’ve worked with several different platforms (in Australia) over my years in the business. From my years of experience, I’ve put together a cheat-sheet, containing all my findings of the pros and cons of each. Please note: this is all based on my own, personal experience through research I have conducted and is valid at the time of writing this article.

So I know the first thing that you are going to want to know is… How much does each platform cost?

ARGH! This is a loaded question, if ever I saw one.

Pricing will be highly dependent on:

  • final site quality
  • your requirements – including functionality and amount of content
  • level of strategy implemented
  • level of service required

 

Essentially when you opt for a lower price, you’ll have to compromise on, at least, one (if not all) of the things above. For example, a quote may be temptingly low, but you could find yourself with a templated site with terrible design and or imagery that will help to repel, not attract your clients, OR you will find there’s little strategy implemented so your information will not be clear for your clients which will effect both your image and sales OR worst of all 6 months on you will still have no website from poor service.

From my experience, the prices below are what you could expect to pay, in Sydney, for a site-build. You can of course DIY all options yourself as well.

 

ShopifyWordpressSquareSpace
:
Cost to build with a developer*
Shopify:
Low-End, templated solution - $2.5K
Mid-Range - $5-8K
Agency - $10K+
Wordpress:
Low-End, templated solution - $500+
Mid-Range - $2.5-6K
Agency - $5K+
SquareSpace:
Low-End, templated solution - $0+
Mid-Range - $2.5-4.5K
Agency - $5K+
:
Cost per year*
Shopify:
FROM $29USD p/m for a basic plan and initial template purchase ($0-300)Some paid plugins may be necessary for special integrations.
Wordpress:
Varies dependent on your needs.

Costs per year include things such as:

Initial template purchase ($0-200+)
Hosting (from$4.95 p/m + although I wouldn't recommend hosting which is this cheap It wont do you any favours). For affordable, good Aussie hosting, I always recommend Cloudways with Cloudflare for your DNS (from around $20p/m).
Paid plugins (when required). Some are free but, well-built, malicious-free plugins can cost from $20+ per year/one off fee.
Security + Maintenance costs - normally on top of your hosting. You can opt to DIY if you know what you’re doing.
Website updates – if you can’t do them yourself, can be a costly extra expense.
SquareSpace:
Business Plans start from $25AUD p/m (billed annually
Some paid plugins may be necessary for special integrations.
:
Hosting + security updates
Shopify:
Included.
Wordpress:
Extra cost.

Plugins and platform must be updated continuously for site security.

One of the biggest pitfalls with Wordpress is, without experience, premium hosting (including security updates and bug fixes) is an expensive add on.

For quality hosting, look for:

-  servers in Aus.

-  good cust. Service

-  good speeds

As above, I recommend Cloudways with Cloudflare for your DNS
SquareSpace:
Included.
:
Additional costs
Shopify:
2.9% + 0.3c transaction fee each sale
Wordpress:
Paid plugins + developer costs if they’re building and maintaining your site
SquareSpace:
Paid plugins can be extra
:
Suitable for (business type)
Shopify:
· Dedicated E-commerce
Our #1 pick for large, E-comm solutions with features like:

· Multi-currency payments
· Third party app integration
· Advanced reporting
· Better payment gateway options
Wordpress:
· Business
· Information
· Blog
· Portfolio
SquareSpace:
· Business
· Information
· Blog
· Portfolio
· Small E-comm ‘hobby’ store (esp those starting out)
:
We wouldn’t recommend for
Shopify:
Anything that isn’t E-comm.

If your site isn’t selling stuff, this is not your best option.
Wordpress:
E-commerce, UNLESS you ave either solid wordpress skills or the budget to pay for premium hosting and security to manage the backend of your site.

In our experience if you want more of a hassle-free, plug and play kinda experience, Shopify is the more solid choice which will create less hassles for you in the long run.
SquareSpace:
Large E-comm store.

SquareSpace will no doubt improve it’s ecomm functionalites as time goes on but as it stands now, Shopify has much better features
:
Support
Shopify:
Good phone and web support in Australia. Help available as required.
Wordpress:
Being an open source platform, means no central place for support so this can often be tricky and time consuming to navigate.

We recommend working with a web developer to help understand if issues are related to your:

· integrations
· structure or
· hosting
SquareSpace:
Good web support in Australia.

However, SS support won’t assist if you’ve added custom code.
:
Technical Skill required to create + launch
Shopify:
Moderate +
Wordpress:
Moderate > Advanced
SquareSpace:
Novice >
:
Technical Skill required to manage + update after training
Shopify:
Novice
Wordpress:
Moderate
SquareSpace:
Novice
:
Adding on extra functions after the initial build
Shopify:
Easy add-ons include:

· extra pages
· blogs
Changing and customising layouts from template bounds is easy for a developer, or someone with coding knowledge.
Wordpress:
Fairly easy to:

· add single pages
· duplicate pages
· build pages when you stick to the template boundaries

Web developer required for:

· blogs
· portfolio
· E-comm
· Customised page design
SquareSpace:
Easy add ons include:

· blogs
· portfolio
· basic E-comm
:
Customisation
Shopify:
Basic customisation of templates is easy, including:

· changing imagery
· changing type


Changing and customising layouts from template bounds is easy for a developer, or someone with coding knowledge.
Wordpress:
Basic customisation of templates is easy, including:

· changing imagery
· changing type


Changing and customising layouts from template bounds is easy for a developer, or someone with coding knowledge.
SquareSpace:
Templates can be customised BUT there are limits.Great visual customisation available through advanced tweaks – SS web designer required.

Custom CSS required for template changes.
:
SEO functionality
Shopify:
· good
· easy to use
· Page title + meta description auto-generated based on page content.
Wordpress:
· superior - 100% full control.
· SEO plugins included with many themes
· advanced SEO capabilities with additional plugins – Yoast is our #1 pick
SquareSpace:
· easy to use editor for SEO titles and meta-descriptions
· less capability than other two options but covers the essentials
:
3rd Party apps + plugins
Shopify:
· plugins for specific functions can be added, normally at an extra cost
Wordpress:
· Integrates with pretty much anything required.
· free and paid plugins available.


ALWAYS get WP plugins from a reputable source.
SquareSpace:
· limited selection
· It’s worth double-checking what’s available if you need certain functionality

 

In summary, we would recommend:

  • Shopify for larger E-commerce solutions – especially for those who want an easy plug and play experience.
  • SquareSpace for smaller business who want a plug and play option.
  • WordPress for advanced customised websites where you have budget for quality hosting and maintenance.

 

Interested in reading more? We filled in our knowledge blanks from, and would recommend you taking a look at, these great articles:

https://www.stylefactoryproductions.com/blog/shopify-vs-squarespace
https://www.stylefactoryproductions.com/blog/shopify-vs-wordpress

 

If you’d like to chat through any of this or, you’d like to know more about which platform would best suit you, please get in touch!

 

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