How To Choose The Right Platform For Your New Blog

So you decided you want to start a blog.

You’ve got a killer niche that you’re passionate about. Tons of ideas for content and the perfect domain to encapsulate your brand. Now there’s just one little thing left to do. Building a beautiful website.

There are a few options that have proven themselves as tried and true tools for hosting and managing a blog or personal website. And don’t worry, you don’t need to be a web designer or expert coder to design the website of your dreams.

The four most intuitive options for web design beginners — Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, and Weebly — all make it easy to efficiently build and update your site and get your blog up and running. Depending on your needs, vision, and budget, each platform has pros and cons and it’s ultimately up to you to choose which one feels right to you. Luckily, all of these options have a free version you can try before committing to a package and publishing your site.

Wix

Wix rose to popularity in the early 2000’s as one of the first drag-and-drop, template oriented website builders. It lets users customize and create websites without worrying about code. The tool has a combination of over 500 free and paid templates, tailored to meet the needs of different industries and niches.

There are six different pricing plans to choose from, as well as one free plan. The Combo Plan and higher come with a free registered domain, where the Connect Domain plan requires you to connect a pre-purchased domain. Wix also has its own analytics tools which give you access to basic information about your websites traffic and the activities of the visitors. You can access information like who is visiting your site, where they’re from, which pages they visited and how long they stayed on each page. Analytics tools are available on the premium plans only.

Keep in mind…

If you use Wix to secure your domain and build your site, you won’t technically own your website. This system puts you at the mercy of using their platform indefinitely and they make it difficult to switch away from their platform in the future. If anything happens to Wix’s servers or their business, it could be very detrimental to your site and your business. And while there are a decent number of good looking themes to choose from, the platform requires you to reinsert all of your content into a new theme should you choose to switch themes in the future.

Who’s it best for?

The website novice who is looking to drag and drop content onto a straightforward website or single page blog.

Squarespace

As one of the easiest interfaces, Squarespace’s major selling points are its usability, user-friendly design tools, and clean, minimal design templates. The software allows you to make changes quickly, and immediately update and publish your site. Squarespace also lets users have multiple team members and administrators manage the site.

Squarespace has some of the best free blog templates as well as a wide variety of templates available for purchase on sites like Etsy and Creative Market. A quick search will give you access to thousands of premade templates sold online and available for free. All of Squarespace’s templates are responsive, meaning you’ll never have to worry about losing your design when people view your content on their mobile devices.

The host also provides automatic updates to their platform. Unlike hosts like WordPress, where you have to manually update plugins and applications, Squarespace will update your site automatically, saving you the time and headache of remembering when you’re due for an update. You can preview your site before it goes live with Squarespace’s preview tool. This is a huge benefit for users since it will let you preview changes to your site before you hit “publish.”

Keep in mind…

Squarespace templates rely heavily on images and content, but the site doesn’t offer many options for stock photos to help you craft your content. Their layouts work well with creative industries and very visual brands and companies but technical industries that can’t rely on aesthetics may have a hard time filling the space in most of the site’s templates. The themes are also only customizable to a certain degree so if you have a very specific vision for your blog, Squarespace might not give you the flexibility you’re looking for.

Who’s it for?

People in creative niches with little to no web design knowledge who want a no-nonsense site or blog with a heavy focus on aesthetics.

Weebly

Weebly is one of the fastest growing hosting platforms because of its diverse selection of templates, drag and drop functionality and low price point. Their themes are extremely functional and can get the job done at setting up and launching a beautiful and functional blog. They offer a lot of clean layouts and even have an in-house stock image library to help populate your site with images if you don’t already have your own.

Weebly plans range in price from $4 per month for their starter plan all the way up to their Business plan at $25 per month. They also offer savings if you commit to an entire year.

Keep in mind…

Weebly themes can only be customized to a certain extent. More advanced customization needs to be done by changing the template’s HTML and CSS codes which requires more advanced knowledge of web development. The site also only allows you to add Weebly approved plug-ins and add-ons to your site which can limit your access to additional features you might be interested in.

Another thing to consider is that not all the layouts are responsive, meaning certain templates won’t translate well onto mobile devices. The tool also doesn’t allow users preview their site or preview before publishing.

Who’s it for?

Bloggers on a budget who want an easy way to build their site and have it up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible OR users who know CSS and want to create their own templates on a budget.

WordPress

WordPress, while the priciest of the four, is the most comprehensive website builder for bloggers who have a very specific vision in mind and are considering expanding their site in the future. Not only does WordPress offer the most flexibility in terms of designing and maintaining your site, they also have the largest library of plug-ins and pre-designed themes out of any of the other four options mentioned. Their themes range from extremely professional and sleek business themes to fun and playful themes, giving you great options to choose from based on the vibe of your blog and who you are trying to appeal to.

WordPress has a free version that allows you to host your site on a “.wordpress.com” domain, and four paid versions with varying levels of support and customization. Their $4/month personal plan is a great option for personal website and blogs and comes with a lot of functionality and room to grow.

Keep in mind…

WordPress has a lot of features and functionality but that also means it comes with a bit of a learning curve. There is a lot that you can do on the site to customize your site and that can make the process overwhelming at times. WordPress also requires you to stay on top of their system updates as well as regularly update any plugins you use on your site or risk losing functionality in different aspects of your site, slow loading times, or having it appear offline altogether.

Who’s it for?

Serious bloggers looking to build and grow their site over time without the hassle of switching platforms. Bloggers who want to incorporate multiple pages and categories into one blog domain.

It may seem overwhelming with the number of options of website builders out there, but once you break down exactly what you’re looking for in a platform, the right option will make your blogging journey easy and enjoyable. Choosing the right platform your blog will create peace of mind and excitement and give you momentum to get posting!

Originally published here

June 26, 2018