Welcome to the marketing uncensored podcast with me, your host James Sweete.
In this episode I am going to be taking you through how to find the best website platform for your business.
We will look at the most popular platforms that are available, and their use cases. We will see which platforms are best for different business types, and their functionality. I will outline what you will need from a website, why you need a website and I will outline the technologies that our clients often use and love.
I will highlight the key pointers that you need to think about, before choosing your website platform. After all, this will be the bare-bone foundations for your website, so it’s important you make the right choice now. As making changes later, can be extremely time consuming and or costly to your business.
Of course if you already have a website, you may have already made this decision and so may not need to hear this and so could move onto the next episode where we will start focusing more on the growth and marketing of your website. Or feel free to stick with it, you never know… I might cover something you may not have thought about.
So are we all set? Well let’s jump straight in shall we?
Your website is the forefront of your business. It’s generally the first thing people see when they find you online before they make a purchase or contact you regarding your products or services. So it absolutely astounds me that so many business owners often give it second thought. Often business owners will opt for the cheapest solution or something “that will just do the job” when realistically, it should be the most important aspect of your business. In some instances, your website… is your business. Especially for people in the e-commerce world. So you should always be prepared to invest the most into this.
So the one question I get all the time is James what is the best website platform? And like absolutely everything in the digital marketing world, the answer is very simple… it depends.
It’s usually dependant on business case, budget and where you are in your businesses journey.
If your business is just starting out then often the more basic platforms are suitable. These platforms I would call the DIY or do it yourself platforms. These would be your likes of Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, Webflow, Go-daddy builder etc. There are literally loads of these now all across the market. These all allow someone with absolutely zero website knowledge to very easily and build a website. They all usually work with a nice drag and drop interface. With platforms like this you can often easily have a website up and running in a matter of hours in just a few clicks, for very little cost at all. Whilst I never sell these to my clients, there are many web companies and freelancers out there that do. So there are some business cases for these platforms.
There are then what I would say are your slightly intermediate builders. These are the likes of WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Django etc. These are more case specific, they usually require a hosting environment but the important factor here is you own and control everything outright. It’s yours you can take the code move it elsewhere and you are not tied into any contracts or tied to one provider. These are also often much more customisable and allow you much more control over your website from a technical and marketing perspective. These often allow for a much more professional approach to your site, and allow for much more flexibility as your business grows. Most of my clients are people who have out grown their Wix or Squarespace website and require something with more flexibility, automation and functionality. Not even to mention when I comes to the technical SEO side of things. Which for now your DIY builders just don’t quite have the abilities to compete as well. Although they are improving as time goes on I must give them credit there.
If you are an online shop, you should have a dedicated e-commerce platform for your business. Yes you can build shops in the DIY builders. But these are very limited and so although they can be ok for very small startup hobby businesses. They generally just can’t cut it for larger companies. They don’t offer even close to the functionality and reporting that you can get from a dedicated e-commerce solution.
So whilst yes, you can still have a shop on the previously mentioned platforms and there are sometimes use cases where these can be used for this. Remember, these platforms aren’t built to be shopping solutions. Dedicated e-commerce website software often contains many more options and features around financial reporting, product management and order processing and so much more.
So depending on the use and business case it is always wise to research each platform carefully. Utilise any free trials or demos to get a feel for which is best for your business.
Suitable software for an e-commerce business would be For example, Shopify, big commerce, Magneto, Opencart, Prestashop or woo commerce which yes I know is a plugin for WordPress, so its not technically a dedicated e-commerce platform. But it does actually do this fairly well, and due to all the vast plugins WordPress has, you can make this a relatively viable solution in some instances if WordPress is your go to solution for your website.
The other key part is most people are familiar with WordPress already, so this means no new staff training and so the learning curve isn’t quite as steep as it would be to learn an entirely new platform.
As I keep reiterating it all depends on your business needs.
Sometimes if you want something more bespoke than an off the shelf website platform. Obviously you can hire a developer to create your dream platform for you, which can often automate and run most of your business for you. This is what I often do for most of my clients. We would work out exactly how your business works, and then integrate that into your website the best we can to automate as much as possible.
Your website can do so much more than just bring you customers. In some instances they can be an extension of your business and even run some of tedious admin and other tasks behind the scenes for you.
So I have thrown a lot of use cases here… so you might well be wondering so what do I go for?
Well in my opinion, and I am sure I will get some back lash for this, but if you want a DIY builder, something you can easily manage your content that’s intuitive and works very well without needing much knowledge and you don’t need an e-commerce platform. But you still want to do it yourself. Then I think WordPress is great for most website instances. BUT this is heavily caveated.
People love WordPress, I have clients that love WordPress. But developers and designers can hate WordPress. And I get it. I did as well. The reason for this is WordPress is just the basic platform, and you then usually need to add some plugins to do what you need and this is where most people’s issue with WordPress comes from. Believe me when I say I hated on this platform so much for such a long time. Heck when I started my business I had so many agencies hire me to fix their hacked and broken down WordPress sites, that this alone was my case study as to why I never provided it to my customers. But thankfully WordPress has come a long way since then.
Also the other issue is plugins in the WordPress repository can be provided by literally anyone. So you have no idea of their coding ability and how safe they are. Now this has become a lot better over the years. But they can still break and cause issues that can take your website down or make it a security risk. But if you don’t use any unknown plugins, and keep everything minimal. WordPress can be a very viable solution. Now i would say you only need 4/5 plugins on a WordPress install and most people are dumbfounded by this.
I had a client come to me once asking why their website was so slow. I logged in to their WP-admin and honestly they had over 200 plugins installed, and this was just clogging the site with unnecessary bloat. I could barely get anything to load. Considering site speed is a huge ranking factor and a user experience issue so me removing them and fixing that alone helped them launch their website in the the 21st century and they even said how it improved their ranking and started generating more customers. And all I did was delete stuff!
So yes if you have a WordPress site you should have, 4/5 plugins max. So firstly
You will want a security plugin. Yes before any smarty pants come at me, saying well security should be dealt with by the server. You are correct. But in most instances it isn’t. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t say, don’t bother with a burglar alarm as your door locks should stop people getting in. It’s best to be safe than sorry. So in the real world, it’s best to have a plugin do this for you as a fail safe. If you manage your own server and you are clued up on security you may not need it. But this won’t apply to most people.
Something like, WP Defendor, Wordfence, Sucuri, I think even jetpack. Has some basic built in firewall security protection so that should be more than sufficient.
You will then need an SEO plugin, this will be something that allows you to edit meta data and these can also help you with Google schema, analysing content and link analysis. Some even have built in analytics to help you see how well your site does. Something like Yoast, AIO SEO or Rank Math would will be suitable for this.
After this, its back to that good old… it depends option.
So some people like to have a very visual interface, to edit their content. So something like Elementor, Divi, Visual Composer or WP bakery can make building the site so much easier. Now again people are going to shout woah but these builders add code that boat the website and make an imbalanced text to code ratio which can effect ranking performance. In some instances yes that is correct, BUT… if it allows you the ability to easily add and edit pages yourself. So you are regularly creating content. VS not regularly creating your own content then it out weighs it tenfold. Having a platform you can easily create on is much more important. I’m not even sure if Google’s text to code ratio is really that high up on their list anymore. This is likely thanks to the likes of wix and Squarespace which lets face, if you have ever viewed the source code on that, it’s just disgusting.
Anyway, i digress and maybe that’s a little technical to discuss here.
So then after any visual editor plugins you would merely need a caching plugin, something like w3total
Cache, WP rocket, WP super cache will suffice for this. This is to allow your site to load super fast. This can ensure your website gives the best user experience possible, which we all know is what Google is looking for its searchers and so this alone can help your websites SEO in a very big way.
Please remember i have only listed the most popular plugins I have used here there are others, and you only want to install one. Don’t think installing all the seo plugins for example would help you in seo. It would actually make things very bad. So only use 1 from each section, which ever you do chose.
So what if you are wanting an e-commerce platform I hear you shout?
If you, like a lot of people, love WordPress, then Woocomerce opens up e-commerce capability right out of your WordPress website. As I’ve already said, it’s not the best, but it’s not the worst either.
Or if you want something more focused on eCommerce then, Shopify is a great paid click and run out of the box solution. However I personally prefer the stand alone systems and I find Opencart is a great contender for this. I also think it’s slightly under estimated for this. It’s free, forever, and you just need a hosting environment to run it and you can run a shop straight out of the box. Just like WordPress, you can easily install a template and you are up and running straight away. The good thing with Opencart is it has caching and image optimisation built in out of the box, so you literally just need a nice theme, and you can start adding products and get your self up and running straight away. Our clients love the reporting tools, in-depth analytics and the ability to manage the catalog easily. This has great customisability as well. As its a standalone system you have full control over everything. You can optimise it heavily for speed. Also it has great seo features built in to the admin panel and you can really optimise this to be lightning fast and it can be quite a powerful money making machine if setup right.
Of course this subject can go on forever literally, but I am out of time for today. So if you want to continue the conversation, join us in our Facebook group [Marketing Uncensored – Facebook Group]. Just search for marketing uncensored podcast. If you enjoyed this episode why not give us a 5 star rating in your podcast app. It will honestly mean a lot to me. If there are any subjects you would like me to cover in future episodes, feel free to drop me a message on social media and I hope you can join me on the next episode.