Which platform should you use to build a new e-commerce website?

by | Jul 6, 2022 | Website Development

“I’m building a new website. What platform should I use!?”

We hear this question all. the. time. So we decided to help you answer it! Here, we’re going to discuss the different platforms we use for website design, when we use each one, and hopefully help you determine which one is right for your new website.

Let’s dive in!

Shopify

If you are not planning on selling anything on your website, then Shopify is not the right platform for you.

Shopify is the best option for a simplified selling experience, but it does not allow much customizability to the look and feel of your website.

Pros

  • built to be easy for the shop owner to use daily for tracking inventory and fulfilling orders
  • simple editing for DIY changes to the site

Cons

  • limited design options
  • themes can cost extra
  • may require custom code to get the desired appearance, which can cost extra

As far as appearance, we’ve found that Shopify is very outdated in how they allow you to edit its sites. This is fine for simple websites, but very frustrating if you have grand visions for the site’s appearance. We have a few developers who can help add custom code to get the job done, but it makes the site more expensive. Shopify is built to be a do-it-yourself editor for cookie-cutter sites, so it is very simple with limited options. The advantage is that this makes editing easy for the user! But it also means that for agencies like ours, it’s hard to get Shopify to do what we want. If your goal is a simplified selling experience, Shopify is great. But if you want a design-intensive website, we would likely recommend WordPress or Squarespace before Shopify.

Squarespace

Squarespace is a great hybrid of the simplicity of Shopify without compromising on design capabilities. Although Squarespace is still more limited than WordPress in terms of design, it provides an excellent shopping and selling experience.

Squarespace is the best option for a completely DIY website.

Pros

  • easy to manage inventory and fulfill orders
  • easy to edit for DIY changes to the site

Cons

  • limited customizations for appearance
  • the plan could be costly, depending on your business needs

If you want to build your own beautiful site that’s easy to edit and simple to use, go with Squarespace. It may cost a little more than other options listed here, but the bang for your buck is greater, as well. The editing experience within Squarespace is easier to use than either Shopify or WordPress, making it a brilliant option for a do-it-yourself website.

WordPress (+ WooCommerce)

If you want to build your own website and you have no prior web development experience, WordPress is probably not the option for you. However, if you’re working with a designer and developer, they will likely recommend using WordPress. This is because WordPress is the best option for a completely customizable website.

Pros

  • appearance is completely customizable
  • wide variety of plugins to make the site exactly what you want
  • Stratos can do it all; no need to outsource for custom code

Cons

  • harder to manage in the backend
  • more options = more complex
  • complicates the selling experience

We love WordPress because it provides more customizability and flexibility for your website. However you imagine your site, we can make it happen with WordPress.

The disadvantage is that editing in the backend can be more difficult. As always, more options = more complexity. Because WordPress has so many more options for customizing your site, editing the site could be more complicated. At Stratos, when we wrap up your website, we send you some tutorial videos so you can learn how to make simple edits to your site’s content (swapping out some text, replacing an image, etc.). If your website is hosted with us or you’ve purchased a Website Care Plan, we’ll make any edits you want to see within a few days.

If you’re working with a developer or agency like ours, WordPress is likely your best option for building a website. It’s cost-effective, won’t require any custom coding or outsourcing of developers, and your developer can make any edits you may need in the future.

TL;DR

  • Use Shopify when you don’t care what your site looks like, you just need to get your products on the web.
  • Use Shopify when you’re working with a developer who can custom-code exactly what you want.
  • Use Squarespace when you want to be able to edit your website yourself if you need to.
  • Use Squarespace when you want to sell products but you also want a gorgeous website.
  • Use WordPress when you’re working with a developer or agency, or you have some web development experience and don’t mind getting into the nitty-gritty.

What did we leave out? Do you use one of these platforms and have something you love or hate that you didn’t see on this list? Let us know!

Ready to build your new website? Request an appointment.

About the Author

Operations Manager at Stratos Creative Marketing | Website | + posts

Kat helps our staff stay on task by managing the inner workings of Stratos. She works behind the scenes to ensure our staff has everything they need to get the job done, and our clients are proud of the work we are producing.

2 Comments

  1. Charity

    What are your thoughts on Wix?
    What about Craft CMS

    • Kat

      As developers and designers we definitely dont recommend Wix, but for DIYers it can be a good option. It’s best for simple landing pages, though, not full-on e-commerce sites.

      I don’t know if anyone on our team has experience with Craft CMS, actually.

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