Choosing a Platform: What Do You Want Your Website to Do?

website platform decisions

I’m in a lot of Facebook groups for bloggers, entrepreneurs, and the like. A few common questions run through all of these groups, one of them is the oft-debated “which platform is the best?” question.

First of all, what is a website platform?

A “website platform” is a website that has additional functionality included as a starting point. That’s the simple explanation, anyway. Examples of website platforms include WordPress (.com and the self-hosted .org), Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, Blogger, and more.

When I first joined these groups, I eagerly jumped in to offer my two cents. I’ve since realized that these questions will be repeated by somebody new tomorrow no matter how many I answer, so I’m more careful with my time. However, I notice a myth repeated over and over in those threads, and it irritates the mess out of me.

That myth is, “Don’t bother yourself with learning to use WordPress. [Insert platform] is easier, and better for people who don’t want to mess with all the ‘technical stuff.'”

Sigh.

justin timberlake blank stare gif - website platforms

Let’s be clear: Yes, I’m a WordPress fan, but I’m not a hater of the other options. I don’t care what platform somebody chooses for their business or blog. It doesn’t affect me at all.

The reason this irritates me runs deeper than the debate of “WordPress or Squarespace?!” It bothers me because it’s a knee-jerk response that recommends the path of least resistance, based on little to no data (in most cases). That is no way to start or run a business.

In many cases, these other platforms end up costing more over time, either in the inability to scale your business online, or paid out to keep it running on a platform that you don’t own. WordPress is not as complex and scary as many suggest, and this is coming from somebody who learned WordPress just a few years ago with no prior industry experience.

Consider these questions while researching the different website platforms:

  • What are your goals for your blog, or your business?
  • Do you plan to make money at any point with your site? How?
  • Do you want to put resources on your website for clients, or a members-only area, or any other unique features?
  • If money were no object, what kind of site would you want for you, your company, and your brand?

It’s ok if you don’t know the answers to these questions yet, but you should be thinking about them if you are looking into setting up a website of any kind.

Imagine if you were on the hunt for a new car, and the salesperson never asked you about your desires, family size, whether or not you travel, or any of those other foundational questions that they should want to know to pick the right vehicle for your needs.

What if instead, they walked you up to their favorite car and told you that it was what you needed and anything else is just “too technical to bother with”?

A website is like a vehicle for your business. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do?

driving-car-website-decisions

It’s not a decision to take lightly, especially if you plan to build a business and eventually make money with your website. Your goals and processes should guide these types of decisions, not fear of a learning curve.

WordPress is not as complicated as some would have you believe, especially with the tools available today. If you run around throwing together all of the supposedly easiest options, you will likely end up with a mess to sort out in a few years.

To the fans of other options, I am not bashing other platforms. They have their value, and this isn’t a post to compare the advantages and disadvantages. The point is not to put WordPress up as the be-all, end-all because that would be hypocritical. Those tools have their value, so does WordPress, and all of them have their limits and issues.

It boils down to this: where do you see your business in 5 years? Or even one year? How does your website fit into that plan?

You don’t have to build a $5,000+ website when you’re just starting out. It doesn’t have to be a major undertaking. Most hosts offer a one-click install of WordPress, which is wonderful. There are free themes to choose from, right in the WP dashboard. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but start simple and grow from there.

Not sure where to start? Check out these resources:

27 Reasons Why WordPress Crushes Squarespace Every Time (WPMUDev)

25 Legit Ways to Make Money Online Blogging with WordPress (WPBeginner)

How To Choose The Best Blogging Platform (WPBeginner)

Improving The WordPress User Experience < – this one has an interesting breakdown of data from actual people trying different tasks on three different platforms, their thoughts, and success/difficulty rates.

There are so many ways you could go, and that’s the beauty of it. If you choose to use a platform like Squarespace or Wix, or other options, just make sure that you are not taking the path of least resistance out of fear.

You owe it to your business to do the research before making this type of decision.


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