There are many platforms to pick from for your website and to be honest it can be a bit overwhelming. Which one is the best? Which is easiest to maintain? Which will let me customize it the most? Which will look more professional? All of these are good questions. When it comes to quality and style there are 3 platforms that stand out: WordPress, Shopify, and Webflow. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. I am here to help you select the platform that will work for you by breaking down its pros and cons. First Things First:
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a free and open-source CMS (Content Management System) with a powerful backend that allows for a variety of customization for your website. Because it’s open-source there is an ocean of plugins and additional features that can be easily added.
- WordPress is an open-source CMS which means it is free for you to install and use!
- WordPress is highly customizable and allows you to add functionality left and right with either code or a plugin (Including E-commerce!).
- Thousands of plugins are available, many of them free which is pretty uncommon. This means you could install WordPress for free and get most of the functionality you need for no extra cost.
- Naturally made for blog-style websites which allows for pages, blog posts, categories, and tags. You can expand on this further with plugins.
- Even though there are MANY plugins you can use, the basic WordPress installation doesn’t come with a lot of features. This makes your website reliant on plugins. Anything like SEO, Image compression, a theme, and page builders are additional plugins that can quickly add up and make your website run slower.
- Generally speaking, builders add extra code that would not need to be there if writing a website from scratch which can make your site heavy.
- Plugins need to be updated often and regular maintenance is required to ensure optimal performance.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a complete commerce platform that lets merchants start, grow, and manage a business online. With Shopify, merchants can build and customize an online store and sell in multiple places, including web, mobile, in-person, brick-and-mortar locations, and pop-up shops as well as across multiple channels from social media to online marketplaces.
- Shopify was built to be an e-commerce store so this is ideal if your number one goal is a great customer experience. It is pretty much the best user experience for online stores.
- Unlike WordPress which requires plugins in order to have e-commerce functionality, Shopify inherently has all the capabilities needed to run an online store. Plugins require constant updates which can cause issues or downtime.
- In order to get started with Shopify you need to purchase a plan which starts at $29/month (there is also a lower one if you only want Shopify buttons but we will skip that for now). However! Shopify hosts your site for you which usually would be a separate cost.
- Most Shopify apps, which are basically plugins or functionality additions, are paid add-ons billed on a monthly basis which can make your monthly subscription quite pricy if you have a complex website.
- Shopify is not as flexible as Webflow or WordPress when it comes to design. There are many beautiful themes but they are usually limiting. If you prefer to use a builder, in my experience they usually lack features and mobile flexibility when compared to WordPress or Webflow.
What is Webflow:
Webflow is a visual content management system that appeals more to web designers for its high customization. It includes hosting, security, website building tools, and website performance all in one dashboard.
- You can start a Webflow project and take as much time as you need on the free plan until you are ready to make your site live.
- The basic Webflow plan starts at $14/month which is basically your hosting. This is pretty competitive and in my experience performs better than most hosts I have worked with.
- Webflow has hands down the most comprehensive builder I have worked with. There are builders for WordPress that compare such as Elementor, however, Webflow’s builder keeps your code cleaner and therefore faster.
- Webflow allows you to easily create custom post types and custom fields for any type of information on your website. For example, if you have a website that has cake recipes instead of blog posts, you can straight up create a "Recipes" post type with fields like “Ingredients” and “Bake Time” without the need for any additional plugins. All supported natively.
- Webflow capabilities when it comes to animation will blow you away with the most customization out of the three platforms.
- Building on Webflow can be daunting for people that are not versed in web design. Though it is important to mention that after the site is built it is easy to maintain.
- No inherent SEO for custom post types or collections, Note they can be added when a template page is made.
- Even though Webflow is highly customizable as far as appearance goes Webflow does not have plugins or apps the same way WordPress or Shopify do. This means that if you wanted some highly customized functionality on your site, like say a unique customer portal, that would have to be done through a third party instead of the main site.
- When it comes to WordPress or Shopify there are a lot of presets such as pre-made cards, pre-made blog templates, and pre-made animations. But with Webflow you have to manually create all the designs and animation. This can be great if you have a brand you want to really make shine but it can require more finessing and attention.
So which is the best? Well, that depends on what you are trying to do. Do you need a beautiful website that loads fast and doesn’t have crazy features? Webflow will probably be best. Got a cool website that needs a couple of interesting integrations and some extra hand coding? WordPress is probably the best choice. Need a powerful e-commerce site? Shopify usually does the trick. The world of website design and development is vast and I only touched on 3 giants in the industry. If you have any questions or have a project in mind and want some help getting started, give us a call! We would be happy to help (or you know… geek out about web stuff).