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There are a lot of different website platforms to choose from. So, which one is right for your business? In this article, we will compare several all-in-one web platforms to self-hosted websites built with WordPress. We will describe each platform, and give the pros and cons of each. We will also give examples of the types of companies that are best suited for each platform. By the end of this article, you should have a good idea of which platform is best for your business!

Before we begin, let's describe what website hosting and website builders are.

What is website hosting?website hosting

Website hosting is simply the process of storing your website's files on a server. This allows people to access your website from anywhere in the world. When you choose your web hosting platform, you are essentially renting space on their server.

What are website builders?

Website builders are tools that allow you to create a website without any coding experience. They are usually very user-friendly, and allow you to create a website by dragging and dropping different elements onto the page.

Do you need both a website builder and hosting platform?

That depends on your needs. If you want a simple, all-in-one platform to create and host your website, then a hosted web platform like Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, or Godaddy is a good choice. These platforms are easy to use, and include everything you need to get your website up and running. They are ideal for small businesses or individuals who don't have experience building websites.

If you want more control over your website and the ability to customize it however you want, then a self-hosted platform like WordPress is a better choice. WordPress is free and open source, so you can download it and install it on the server of your choice. This gives you complete control over your website's design and functionality. However, it typically requires more technical knowledge and experience than the all-in-one platforms do.

Let's break down the pros and cons of each option...

Web host + web builder all-in-one

Using a web hosting plan that includes a website builder gives you the ability to create a professional-looking website even if you don't have any prior coding experince.

ShopifyShopify - website for ecommerce

Shopify is a leading ecommerce platform that enables businesses of all sizes to create and operate an online store. The platform offers a wide range of features and tools to help businesses create and run their online stores, including:

  • Shopify Payments, which allows businesses to accept credit card payments

  • Shopify Shipping, which provides discounted shipping rates

  • Shopify POS, which allows businesses to sell in brick-and-mortar locations.

  • 24/7 customer support.

While Shopify is well-suited for businesses of all types, it is particularly well-suited for businesses that sell physical goods, as it includes built-in shipping and inventory management features. Additionally, Shopify offers a wide range of design templates and themes that give businesses the ability to create a unique and professional-looking website.

Shopify pros and cons

Overall, Shopify is a great option for businesses that are looking for an easy-to-use platform to launch and grow their online store.

Pros

  • 24/7 customer support

  • Sell across multiple channels such as Amazon, Facebook, Instagram and Ebay

  • Fast web hosting and good security

  • Wide variety of options for receiving payments

Cons

  • Shopify fees are based on the monthly sales volume of your store, which can quickly become expensive for businesses that generate a lot of revenue.

  • Customization limitations

  • Inflexable exit strategy

Best for

  • Companies that sell both physical and digital goods or services

  • Companies whose primary purpose is an online store

WixWix websites

Wix is another web-hosting platform that enables users to create and maintain their own websites. Unlike Shopify, which is geared towards online stores, Wix is designed for a wide range of businesses, from small businesses to bloggers to large corporations.

One of the main benefits of Wix is that it is extremely user-friendly, making it ideal for those who are not tech-savvy. In addition, Wix offers a variety of templates and designs that can be customized to suit the needs of any business.

Wix pros and cons

Wix is an all-in-one solution for creating a simple website you can get up and running fast. It has the benefit of being relatively inexpensive but lacks good SEO functionality.

Pros

  • 24/7 customer support

  • Easy editing interface (very beginner-friendly)

  • Wide variety of options for receiving payments

  • You're not locked into long-term plans

Cons

  • Dragon drop designs can limit your creativity

  • Weak SEO capabilities

  • No unlimited bandwidth or storage

Best for

  • Companies who want a website that has ecommerce functionality but isn't only an online store

  • Smaller ecommerce businesses, bloggers, and creatives

SquarespaceSquarespace

Squarespace is a web hosting platform that offers the user a simple way to create and manage their website. The platform provides users with access to a range of features and tools, including templates, analytics, and e-commerce tools. Squarespace also offers a range of options for customizing website designs.

However, the platform does have some drawbacks. For example, Squarespace does not offer a domain name registration service, so businesses will need to use a third-party service to register their domain name.

Squarespace pros and cons

Overall, Squarespace is a good option for small companies who want an easy-to-use platform with a wide range of features.

Pros

  • Simple and easy to use

  • Ready-made templates

  • All-in-one platform

Cons

  • No domain name registration service 

  • No phone support

  • Advanced marketing and SEO tools are lacking

Best for

  • Small business owners and "Solopreneurs"

  • eCommerce businesses with or without a brick and morter location

Weeblyweebly

Weebly is another web-hosting platform that offers users an easy way to create and manage their websites. Like the others, it is well suited for small businesses that do not have the time or skills to create a more complex website.

While Weebly does have some limitations, it also offers several advantages, including an easy-to-use interface, a wide range of templates and designs, and affordable pricing plans. For these reasons, Weebly is an ideal platform for companies who want to establish a simple online presence. However, businesses with more complex needs may want to consider another web-hosting platform.

While the platform is generally suited to small businesses and individuals, it can also be used by larger companies. The main benefits of using Squarespace are its ease of use and its flexibility.

The platform is also very user-friendly, making it ideal for those who are not familiar with web design. However, there are some drawbacks to using Squarespace, such as the fact that it lacks certain features that are available on other platforms. Additionally, Squarespace can be more expensive than some of its competitors.

The monthly subscription price includes your site, hosting, and security so you don’t have to worry about multiple providers all working harmoniously together.

Weebly pros and cons

Weebly is best suited for small businesses and individuals who are looking for an easy way to build a website without having to learn to code.

Pros

  • Easy to use drag-and-drop interface

  • Great for ecommerce

  • Wide range of templates and designs

  • No need to buy a domain if you use their free subdomain

Cons

  • Limited customization options

  • Limited to 5 or 25 products for sale on the two lower plans

  • Help can be expensive

Best for

  • Small business lite eCommerce

  • Beginners who want to get their webstie up and running fast

GodaddyGodaddy Free website

GoDaddy is a web hosting platform that offers a variety of services to its users. Godaddy is best suited for small businesses that are just starting out and need an affordable way to get their website up and running. The platform offers a variety of features, including domain name registration, web hosting, email hosting, and more.

However, there are some drawbacks to using GoDaddy as well. First, the platform can be quite expensive for larger businesses. Additionally, GoDaddy doesn't offer some of the more advanced features that other web hosting platforms provide.

GoDaddy pros and cons

Overall, GoDaddy is a good option for small businesses that need an affordable way to get started with their online presence. However, larger businesses may want to consider other options.

Pros

  • Affordable

  • Reliable and secure platform

  • Variety of features

  • 24/7 customer service

Cons

  • Customer service response time can be slow

  • No live chat support

  • Limited site design

  • Limited ecommerce functionality

Best for

  • Website beginners

  • Companies who need a light web presence, but not advanced ecommerce

Self-hosted websites

In the section we will be discussing self-hosting a website using WordPress. Self-hosted websites allow the most flexibility and functionality, however, when you choose a self-hosted website, you will be responsible for setting everything up on the server and making sure your site is secure.

WordPress isn't the only self-hosted option available, but it is by far the most popular.

Self-hosting can be less expensive and offer more flexibility, plus you can avoid vendor lock-in. Vendor lock-in refers to a situation where a customer is unable to switch to a different provider without substantial costs, having become so functionally dependent on their current platform.

WordPressWordpress

WordPress is a popular content management system (CMS) that can be used to create everything from simple websites to complex ecommerce platforms.

You can build a Wordpress blog to increase your website's search engine optimization, add ecommerce functionality to your site, or add virtually any other functionality and customization your website needs.

Because WordPress is so popular, there is a huge community of developers and designers who create themes and plugins for the platform. This means that you can find a design that suits your needs and add functionality with plugins, without having to hire a developer or learn code yourself.

Additionally, WordPress is a very versatile platform and can be used for a wide variety of websites and businesses.

However, because it is so popular, it can also be subject to security vulnerabilities. Additionally, unless you are using a managed WordPress hosting service, you will be responsible for keeping your WordPress installation up to date.

WordPress pros and cons

Overall, WordPress is a great option for businesses of all sizes who need a flexible and customizable website platform.  If you are a novice web designer there are plenty of tutorials and articles on how to build a WordPress blog.

Pros:

  • Flexible and versatile

  • Can be used for a wide variety of websites

  • Lots of themes and plugins available

  • Free except for any premium themes or plugins you may want

Cons:

  • Security vulnerabilities

  • Updates are the responsibility of the user

Best for

  • Businesses who want complete control over the functionality and design of their website.

  • Blog-heavy websites or affiliate marketers

  • Virtually any type of business is ideal for a WordPress website if they have, or can hire for, the skills necessary to build and maintain the site.

Conclusion

When it comes to choosing a website hosting company, it is important to select one that fits the needs of your business. It is also important to consider the size and complexity of your business currently and its future growth potential.

Hosted web platforms like Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, and Godaddy are great options for small businesses that need an affordable way to get started online. These platforms are user-friendly and offer a variety of features. Self-hosted website options like WordPress offer more flexibility and can be less expensive, but require more technical knowledge to use.

If you need help choosing which web-hosting platform is best for you, sign up for a SCORE mentor who will be happy to guide and advise you. It's Free!

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About the Author(s)

Teri Ambrose

Marketing advice, training and strategy for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and new marketing professionals at TeriAmbrose.com

Digital Marketing Consultant, teriambrose.com
All-in-one Web Platforms vs. WordPress: Which is Right for Your Business?