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Launching Your Own Website? How to Choose Which Platform is Right for You

Published September 21, 2021

6 min read

By Laura Boyle

Website building was once exclusively the domain of professional designers and developers – but not anymore! Now, it’s easier than ever to design, build and launch your own website with no design experience and zero knowledge of how to code.

We review some of the best website building platforms in this article, complete with advantages, disadvantages, features and pricing. To finish, we’ll talk about the key points to bear in mind when choosing the right builder for your site.

Here are seven of the best platforms for building and launching your own website:

Woman planning to launch her website

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1. WordPress

WordPress is the longest standing and most widely used website building platform. It’s also entirely free and open access, which makes it the most affordable option on this list. WordPress users must open their own hosting account, though this is a relatively simple process. This platform is incredibly versatile and can be used to build any type of website. WordPress gives users thousands of pre-set themes and access to nearly 60,000 free plugins.

WordPress has a free option, but users must consider the cost of a domain name and hosting. There are four additional plans available, all with different features (though they all include a free domain for one year and top-notch hosting):

Pros
  • Thousands of themes to choose from
  • Suitable for any type of site
  • Free to use
  • Well respected and trustworthy
Cons
  • Users must pay a monthly fee
  • Limited SEO optimization features

Screenshot: WordPress

2. Wix

Wix is another widely used website builder which affords users an elevated level of creative control. The platform is known for being easy to use and suitable for first-time website creators. It has an integrated AI feature which can be used to auto-create pages. Like WordPress, Wix is suitable for building any type of website. Users have access to more than 500 templates, but cannot switch themes once the website is live.

Wix has a free version and a wide variety of premium plans, available for $5 to $35 a month, depending on what features you require and whether you need e-commerce capabilities.

Pros
  • AI auto-design feature
  • Many easy to use templates
  • Suitable for beginners
Cons
  • Theme cannot be changed once the website is live
  • Free and lowest tier versions will display Wix ads on your site
  • Domain name must be purchased separately on lower plans

Screenshot: Wix

3. Squarespace

Squarespace is a slightly more advanced website builder, which may be harder to use than Wix or WordPress. Though this platform is better suited to intermediate and experienced website creators, it does offer greater creative scope and control. There are fewer pre-set designs and templates to choose from, though the options users do have are superior to those of other site-building platforms.

Squarespace offers a 14-day free trial version. They have four paid subscription plans:

Pros
  • Superior templates
  • Free trial
  • Greater creative control
  • Occasional discounts on new websites
  • Save up to 30% if you pay for a full year
Cons
  • Not as suitable for beginners
  • Limited third-party integrations

SquareSpace

Screenshot: SquareSpace

4. Weebly

Many consider Weebly to be the best site-building platform for small businesses, as it includes a range of ecommerce features that are ideal for online selling. It also makes great professional portfolios for those who want to advertise their work. Weebly is very beginner-friendly and allows users to create visually impactful pages, with zero coding knowledge. As they are a hosted platform, Weebly will take care of all the backend support for your site.

Weebly has a free version, and several paid plans ranging from $7 to $30 a month.

Pros
  • Extremely beginner friendly
  • Ideal for ecommerce sites
  • Great templates
  • No need to arrange hosting/backend support
Cons
  • Customization is limited
  • They take 3% of every sale made through the site (unless you choose their “Business Plan”)

Screenshot: Weebly

5. GoDaddy

GoDaddy’s website building service is a smart choice for people who want a quick and easy option. Their platform is incredibly user-friendly and offers the fastest end-to-end service on the market. Its simplicity also means that GoDaddy offers users limited creative scope, and as such, is not suitable for building complex or extremely unique websites. The platform is easy to use on all devices, whereas other options are only suitable for laptop or desktop.

GoDaddy offers a one-month free trial. Their paid plans start at $10 a month.

Pros
  • Great if you need a website quickly
  • Easy to use
  • Suitable for phones and tablets
  • One-month free trial
Cons
  • Limited creative flexibility
  • Not suitable for complex sites
  • Marginally more expensive than other options

Screenshot: GoDaddy

6. Zyro

Zyro is one of the more basic options on this list, though that does come hand-in-hand with certain advantages. Though Zyro’s features are limited in comparison to most other website builders, the features it does offer are excellent. They offer a limited range of templates with a few customization options, though the templates themselves are high quality in terms of UX design. Zyro websites are easy to build and simple to update.

Zyro’s paid plans include:

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Includes a free logo designer
  • Templates score high for UX
  • Free hosting
  • 30-day money back guarantee
Cons
  • Limited third-party compatibility
  • Few templates to choose from
  • No scheduling feature for blogs

Screenshot: Zyro

7. Shopify

Shopify is specifically designed for ecommerce websites. The platform has been responsible for more than $40 billion worth of sales and is currently used by half a million businesses worldwide. As a dedicated ecommerce site builder, Shopify includes selling features you will not find on other platforms, like inventory management and advanced marketing tools.

It’s relatively easy to use and has a wide range of templates to choose from. Users can also link their website to an in-store location, to track and manage all business sales in one place.

Shopify offers several pricing plans:

Pros
  • Designed specifically for ecommerce
  • Beautiful online storefront themes
  • 14 day free trial
  • 1200+ plug in apps included
  • 24/7 customer support
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Moving to other hosting platforms is tricky
  • Only suitable for ecommerce sites
  • Transaction fees may apply

Screenshot: Shopify

Tips for Choosing the Right Platform

Choosing the right platform for your website is not always straightforward. As you can see from this list, several of the most popular platforms are multi-purpose in terms of the types of sites they can build. Plus, most platforms come with a similar set of standard features. Let’s wrap up with some points to consider when weighing your options:

Budget is important – This is especially true if you’re a small business or just getting started. Any sales you experience could easily be cancelled out by an expensive monthly subscription and other add-on costs.

Consider the long term – Be mindful of how you may want to develop your website as your business grows and changes, and what you may want to add as new design features emerge. Some website building platforms can easily be integrated with other tools, while others cannot. Similarly, some platforms are slower to fix bugs and add updates. These are things you need to consider if your endeavour is likely to be long term.

Keep your purpose in mind – Try not to be lured in by impressive features if the basic function of the website builder doesn’t match your requirements. Do you really need thousands of templates or plugins? Choosing a platform that is fit for purpose should always be your top priority.

Take advantage of free trials – Do not jump straight into a paid version of a platform if a free try version is available. Utilizing the free trial period will give you the chance to find out just how suitable the builder is for your specific business and level of tech-y-ness. It may also allow you to compare two similar platforms if you’re not sure which one is the right fit.

About the Author

Author

Laura Boyle is an expert writer and researcher with over a decade of experience producing high-value marketing collateral in the fields of medicine, business, and finance. Laura is also the Co-Founder of UK-based copywriting agency Black & Gold, where she works as a lead writer, creating branded content for clients all over the world. In her spare time, Laura can be found bingeing on good food and great books – usually at the same time.

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