Which website building platform is right for my company?
We’re often asked, should you hire a web designer to build you a bespoke site or go for the DIY option. While using a professional is certainly a good option if you have the budget, it’s also not the only way. It’s getting easier and easier to produce a great looking site yourself.
Here we review and compare website building platforms to help you find the best for your business.
We (or a member of our team) have used all these platforms previously to build sites for various projects we’ve been involved with, and here are some of our stories & thoughts on how good they are. If you’ve used another one or have a different experience of using them, let us know.
Simple and Sophisticated
Squarespace offers eye-catching templates with a good volume of design flexibility (although perhaps not quite as much flexibility as some others on the market). It also caters for novices in website creation, offering a quick response time on any email enquiries sent - very useful in the early stages! However, we found it very simple to use once you get the hang of it, and had less and less need to ask questions. There’s a good community platform for more complex questions down the line such as code injections and style tweaks. It also offers the ability to maximise SEO performance through various tweaks and additions. Although there’s conflicting information out there on which is better for search engine optimisation, Squarespace or Wordpress. It’s free initially to get set up and going, but after the 14 day trial you will need to switch to their personal or business plan if you wish to continue.
Our rating - 4 stars (out of 5!)
(Check out their prices here – as well as a handy Q&A section: https://www.squarespace.com/pricing)
Suitable for all ages
Wordpress offers a free content management service, with hosting a custom domain available for a fee. Suitable for all levels from beginner to website connoisseur, editing posts and adding images or video is extremely easy, however you can benefit from reading up on Wordpress lingo early on. The most widely used of all website building platforms, with a huge amount of flexibility and ability to customise your site with loads of plugins available. To get a really good looking and high performance site though, we think you need to have at the very least a bit of design and coding skill to make the most of it. Once you get that though (or better), you can do almost anything with a Wordpress site.
Our rating - 4 stars
Prices scaled to your needs
Weebly offers a scalable price package, allowing you to create a site for free or use the full package for business purposes. All priced packages also offer a free year of domain hosting. You’ll need to upgrade to the paid service if you want to remove the Weebly logo from your page. Weebly is extremely easy to use, allowing you to drag and drop text and images to your website to manage layout. We think it’s good for the creating simple fashion sites. It’s also popular with bloggers through easy to use social linking. A nice simple platform. Plus saying the name puts a smile on our faces! Weeeeebly! :)
Our rating - 3 stars
(Costs here: http://www.weebly.com/uk/pricing)
Varied and creative
Wix offers 510 different templates and a user-friendly package that is suitable for the non-coder. You can also create custom designs, although it’s worth “trialling” a few designs before you pick one, as you can’t pick a new template once you’ve chosen one for your website. This difficulty with changing templates is perhaps one of the platforms biggest drawbacks. We also found creating and editing sites in their site builder a bit clunky. The ability to optimise your site for search engines (i.e.. Google!) is a bit questionable as well.
Our rating - 2.5 stars
(Costs here: http://www.wix.com/upgrade/website)
Ultimate easy access
Jimbo aims to remove all barriers to formatting and content with you being able to drag and move around content and layout to your heart’s content. The platform also permits most content, from Maps to video and audio. Be careful before you upload though, as all changes go directly to your live website. Less well known than some others, but still a great platform that is very simple to use to good effect, producing impressive professional results. Good for novices.
Our rating - 3 stars
(Here’s their prices: Jimdo offers a free, Pro and Business service http://www.jimdo.com/pricing)
Formerly partnered with Jimdo, 1&1 is one of the oldest brands and was set up as early as 1988. 1&1 has the most competitive starter package in this list, with prices starting from “0 upwards”. 1&1 has everything the new website builder needs to get started, however it may be worth avoiding some of their templates as they are some of the widely used on the net. A popular platform and well known in the UK certainly (most probably because of their TV ads). However, we find most of the sites created with 1&1 a bit boring. Web design has moved on, and these guys feel like they haven’t quite got with the programme yet.
Our rating - 2 stars
(Check them out here: http://www.1and1.co.uk)
Which platform is best for you? Tweet at @CityVirtualHub or leave your comments for us below. Or better still, send us link and show us what you’ve done with your business’ site. What do you think of ours? Can you tell which platform we used?