Which web design platform is the best for your business? If you’re starting with website design, the plethora of popular design tools and platforms available online can be disconcerting. Even if all you need is something quick and easy, uncertainty could push you into hiring a web design company to handle the project. This may be a more practical choice if you do not have the time to design your site personally.
That said, it is essential to know the fundamental differences between the most popular web design tools so you can advise your development team on your preferences and avoid unnecessary development costs from a do-over.
First things first, it is vital to know what functionality you need for your project and to compare this with how much you are willing to spend. Web design platforms may charge recurring fees or a one-off payment depending on their business models. They also have different features that target specific segments of the market. For instance: platforms such as Shopify and Magento are easy to use and particularly suited for eCommerce, while Drupal and Joomla are highly customizable, and developers usually prefer them for their support for PHP and HTML.
Non-subscription platforms will allow you to host your website on a separate server since you don’t lease the platform. Do keep it in mind, though, that just because they are not subscription-based doesn’t mean there won’t be any charges. You might have to pay for indirect fees such as themes plugins, and extra functionality.
In the early days of web design, Adobe Dreamweaver was king. Websites had to be coded manually in HTML, and Dreamweaver, along with a few others enabled users to do this through a visual interface. It isn’t as popular today as it was back then. But it still offers useful features such as the customizability and the ability to convert graphic designs into HTML code.
For the last ten years, word press has been the most common non-subscription platform in the world. The platform was originally meant for online blogging (to that end, it still provides exceptional support for blogging sites) but has evolved to become incredibly versatile and open source. Although word press is free, you’ll have to pay for a hosting plan, domain name, and premium themes.
Plugins and additional features offered on the platform are immensely useful and worth purchasing. For instance, if you are doing search engine optimization for your site, you could install plugins such as Yoast to help you with your effort. If you have any other needs, it’s highly probable there are plugins for them too. Word press is also a content management system. It allows non-technical personnel to manage their websites through simple modifications and add-ons. Though the latest versions of Dreamweaver can add CMS functionality, the feature comes pre-built in all word press installations.
Drupal and Joomla
Joomla and Drupal are similar to word press in the sense that both are non-subscription content management systems. The key difference, however, is that they are not as widely known and have less support from third-party developers. This means there are fewer themes and plugins compared to WordPress. Most developers also agree that word press is easier to use so that may be the preferable option. That said, they do offer several powerful features word press doesn’t, so you should study them more before you decide what you’ll use.
Subscription platforms typically require a monthly fee and may charge for other services depending on the platform provider. Some have free versions. Subscription platforms usually offer eCommerce capability. They also provide more security and technical support than non-subscription platforms. The most popular examples in this category are Weebly, Wix and Squarespace.
Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace are renowned for their ease of use and appealing pre-built design elements. They are built in such a way that allows non-professionals to design attractive websites, so everything is pretty self-explanatory. However, there are weaknesses to this approach. All these platforms operate on a subscription-based business model. Furthermore, due to a limitation to the number of available plugins and templates, they do not offer as much versatility such as word press, which has an ever-growing roster of third-party plugins, templates and optional features.
Besides, if you are looking for something that can is customizable with HTML code, then square space and Weebly may not work, because they are designed to be simple. Wix, on the other hand, can be customized with targeted code. Please note that once you subscribe to any of these platforms, you’ll be stuck with them, i.e. you’ll have to start over if you want to switch platforms.
If you are considering an eCommerce website design, you’ll need a platform that effectively caters to both the needs of both your business and its customers. Though all the options discussed thus far support eCommerce to some degree, you must choose the best for your business. The most popular are Magento, Word press combined with woo commerce and Shopify.
Word press and woo commerce
If your site is built on word press, you can enable eCommerce by merely installing the woo-commerce plugin. It allows you to display products and process credit card payments. It is easy and convenient to do but may not support huge websites. Shopify or Magento may work better.
Magneto has been the defacto eCommerce platform for several large brands such as Ford, Coca-cola, and Vizio. It offers several feature-laden extensions that provide countless possibilities for discounts, prices and data collection. However, it can get quite costly for large websites. A community-level subscription costs 10$ per month and may go up to 250$ per month for small websites. The enterprise package can cost anywhere between 25,000 and 125,000 each year, making it more suitable for large companies that have more resources.
Shopify is an eCommerce platform that is easily usable and affordable. It also has a large user base, so there is plenty of documentation to help you build your website. The platform does charge a monthly subscription and deduct a fee off each transaction, but this is manageable since most alternatives require vendors to use a third-party payment processor. The advantage with Shopify is that it comes bundled with a free payment processor.
There are several other eCommerce platforms besides these that are worth mentioning. They include but aren’t limited to Volusion, BigCommerce and Zen cart. Ultimately, the right choice for you will depend on your business’s specific needs. However, if you still aren’t sure what these are, start with word press. It is highly adaptable and offers several add-on features that make it suitable for almost any application. There are several website design companies in Uganda that you could consult for advice on the specific needs of your enterprise.