By Chris Wendt
Picture this: you’re in your local grocery store looking for the perfect bottle of wine for your evening. Hundreds of bottles line the shelves with various reviews, awards, price points, and displays. Unless you have learned something about wine, or have some sort of guidance, you are equally as likely to pick something terrific as you are something awful. This experience might also be familiar to many small business owners looking to expand their brand through a new website.
Choosing a web development platform for your business is similar to choosing a wine for your Friday evening festivities. Before you pick a bottle of wine you will need to know your budget, what the wine will be served with, and how much wine you will need. In comparison, when choosing a website builder, you can begin the process by choosing a budget, the essential functions you need the website to serve, and how much value you expect to get out of the website.
Each website builder will try to entice you with colorful logos, buzzwords, and a long list of customer testimonials. Usually wine is grouped into “two-buck-chuck” or cheaper options, the tried and true, and the “good stuff” that might set you back a bit more. You can do your own research to find the best fit for your business, but use this as a starting point when narrowing your search.
When thinking of wine, this is the cheap stuff – yes, it is wine, but it is probably not winning an award any time soon. When looking at website builders these are the options that serve as a similar starting point. If you are simply looking for a place to drag and drop some content, write some blogs, or sell a handful of items then these options will most likely serve all your needs. The biggest drawbacks are that these sites are not usually effective at scaling with your business, and there is probably a better option that offers increased functionality for your business (more on that in a second.)
- Simple editing options often make these platforms easy to learn
- Intended for small businesses
- Reduced customization
- Less control over on-page Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
For the wine drinker this is your go-to, a bottle that you already know is good for the money you’re spending. WordPress has established itself as a reliable standard for web developers, with approximately one third of all known websites using WordPress (w3techs.com.) WordPress is inexpensive, extremely customizable, and has thousands of free plugins and themes to help you make your website do exactly what you want. The only downside is that WordPress can take more time to learn. You will probably want to have a web developer you can speak with when you are first learning this platform or be prepared to watch a couple hours of YouTube videos. The good thing is that if you start on WordPress, it is easy to scale as your business grows.
- Endlessly customizable with free themes and plugins
- Able to grow with your business
- Steeper learning curve
- Easy to become overwhelmed by options
The Expensive Stuff
Let’s be honest – unless you are a sommelier, or have taken a couple of wine classes can you really point out that big of a difference between a $20 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon versus one that cost $100? The answer is probably not, and this also applies to websites. The most expensive option for a website builder is to design a Content Management System yourself, building in the exact functionality you need. This takes an in-depth knowledge that you would probably need to spend a couple months acquiring, as opposed to a few hours of videos for other options listed. When you finally finish your entirely custom website after several months, you might find that it does not look that much different from a website that someone put a couple of days into. Ultimately, this option should be reserved for large companies or those who have an ambition to monetize the platform.
- Complete control over everything your website can or cannot do
- Able to sell or otherwise monetize the website builder you create
- You must build it yourself from scratch
- The learning curve and cost make this option unrealistic for most people
Building a website and choosing a bottle of wine are both rewarding experiences. Both are drastically affected by the amount of knowledge you have, how much time and effort you put into it, and the result you hope to walk away with. The best part about websites is that if you start building on a platform and find out that you don’t like it, it’s not too difficult to move your content to another website builder that is better suited to your needs. Whatever the result, it is highly recommended that you have a bottle of wine on hand to celebrate when you finally do launch your website.
About the Author
Chris Wendt is a Digital Marketing Specialist at ChoiceLocal. In his spare time he enjoys exploring the city, learning news things, and taking advantage of Cleveland’s brewery and music communities.