I get asked this question a lot - “Which platform should I choose?”.
As the web industry continues to grow, it's easy to feel overwhelmed when choosing the right platform for your business. Over the years, I’ve spent so much time working between various platforms to learn their features, functionality, customisation tools, SEO and more. There is always endless learning, developing and exploring to do.
Setting up the correct platform from the start will save time and money. I mainly work on Shopify and Squarespace and I can advise my clients on the best one for their brand, depending on their needs.
So, let’s dive straight in and discuss my most recommended platform and a few reasons why I LOVE it..
Shopify is a powerful e-commerce platform. Best suited for small and large companies who want to sell products online. Whether you have 1, 100 or 1000+ products available, Shopify is a globally hosted solution with a super-fast loading speed. Products and pages load in a matter of seconds which is a huge benefit to you and your customers!
App Integration - There are a HUGE range of apps available on Shopify, which can add extra features and functionalities to your store.
Powerful Marketing Tools - Shopify have pretty much nailed it when it comes to e-commerce, but they also have a bunch of useful marketing tools. SEO can be integrated into your store to improve visibility on search results. Analytics and advanced reports are provided for valuable sales information. Shopify also provide gift cards, discount codes, customised email templates and more.
Full access to code (Web Developers LOVE this) - Developers have full access to the website code on Shopify. This is why I adore it. This means your website can be customised to improve the overall look and make it stand out against your competition.
Excellent Admin - A clean and easy-to-use admin makes managing your digital space SO much better. My clients enjoy using the admin and are able to pick things up in no time.
Blogging feature - Anyone can add a blog to their Shopify store. It's a great way to share updates with your customers and it can also improve your SEO.
Websites I've built on Shopify include Born & Bred, Shauna Fay, Mike's Fancy Cheese, Roco & Miley, Make Up Pro Store.
Squarespace is ideal for a small businesses and its designs always look sophisticated, fresh and modern. It’s often used for portfolios websites with eye-catching imagery.
One thing Squarespace is known for is blogging. If a blog is going to be one of the main elements on your website, then Squarespace is a great choice. It recently introduced Squarespace Scheduling (used to manage bookings and appointments) and their own email marketing tool.
Squarespace is not ideal for large websites which require a deep menu hierarchy (basically a lot of links in the navigation and dropdown).
The templates on Squarespace look beautiful, but making customised changes to the layout can be limited for web developers. Only some of the code can be accessed with a Business Plan.
Some clients may find it difficult to make simple updates on the Squarespace Admin, especially moving elements on the website. A little more time and patience is required with this platform.
Websites I've built on Squarespace include Chantalle Coombes, Tattershalls Antiques.
Wix is a good alternative to Squarespace and suitable for small businesses. It's generally a bit more flexible and offers a range of apps that you can be integrated into your site and increase functionality. Let's take Louise Lavery's site for example, which I made on Wix.
Louise Lavery requested video tutorials on her website which would allow customers to pay and rent them out. Wix was the only platform I could find with this feature and I was really impressed with it for that reason.
I was also able to set up a booking system on Louise's website, which would allow her customers to book courses for specific dates.
Overall, this platform was perfect for what Louise needed and it had everything in the one place.
My downside with Wix is that web developers have no access to the code, which means customisation and layouts are limited. Wix doesn't provide stylish email templates either, so when a customer places an order, they will receive a generic and plain looking email. Unfortunately, there's no way to design this and make it tie in with your brand.
Platforms I don't offer and why..
WooCommerce is a e-commerce plugin for Wordpress websites. I've used Wordpress in the past but my experiences have been awful. There are issues with its security and the admin is messy and overloaded with information.
A couple of years ago, a company hired me to migrate three of their existing Wordpress sites to Shopify instead. They were delighted with the decision.
My problem with Big Cartel is similar to Wordpress - it's not secure enough. Big Cartel is a small platform with very little protection for sellers or buyers, which runs the risk of scams. It's free to use for the first 5 products, but the 'free' option should be seen as a warning in itself. Let me assure you that paying nothing each month for your store is NOT always a good thing. This was one of the first platforms I used for a test site, but due to lack of security and limited features, it's a no from me.
I hope you found this post helpful. If you can't decide which platform to choose, just send me a message here and I will get back to you. Your growth is important to me, so after a brief conversation and hearing about your business, I will suggest the best platform for you.