website thinking
November 1, 2016

What’s the best platform for hosting your website?

The internet is a wonderful thing. Never before in human history could we share so much information with so many people. You can get in on this-- starting your own website is easier than ever before. We wanted to provide a list of services that will get you off on the right foot.

What is a Web CMS?

A Web Content Management System, or CMS, provides a way for you to, well, manage content on a website. It gives users the means to edit and manage content without knowing how to build a site from the ground up. It’ll keep you from firing up an HTML editor and looking like this:

There are many different content management systems out there, and we wanted to give you the benefits and drawbacks for a few options. Today we’re looking at: WordPress, Tumblr, Squarespace, and Weebly.

First up: Wordpress

You can’t write an article about site building services without mentioning Wordpress. The service holds about 60% of the market according to research conducted by W^3Techs. Its extreme versatility makes it the backbone of many of the sites you visit.

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Pros:

Market dominance gives WordPress its greatest benefit—a huge community of users. There is a giant user base where you can find technical support, plugin recommendations, and best practice guides that will help you manage your website.

The platform is highly customizable, and there are many plugins and themes that let you design your website for whatever you need. It’s super easy to create a basic site, but the sky is the limit on what you can do.

Cons:

Wordpress subscribes to the mantra of “easy to learn, hard to master.” Starting a basic website is easy, but you’ll need coding knowledge in order to have something unique (although this holds true for most site hosing options).

Being easy to use also has its drawbacks. It’s simple to drop in a plugin for whatever you need, but this modularity can really slow down your site.

Second: Tumblr

Tumblr is an interesting hybrid of a blogging platform and a social media outlet. This is beneficial for users trying to showcase certain types of content.

Pros:

Tumblr is free. That’s always good. You also have the freedom to customize your blog to your liking using a preset theme as a jumping-off point.

Tumblr’s existence as a social media outlet also means that it’s great for short-form posts or photographic content. Furthermore, the social aspect of Tumblr also provides an existing audience. The site gives you tools that let you tap into users already in the Tumblr community. You’re making a blogging pizza with the community baked right into the crust.

Like this? (Source: California Pizza Kitchen/Tumblr)

Cons:

Photographic content, videos, and short text posts can do well on the site, but Tumblr doesn’t lend itself to long-form posts. People aren’t usually looking to read a novella while browsing through social media. This means that you're limited to certain types of content when using Tumblr.

Furthermore, you’re at the mercy of Tumblr as a company. Packing up and moving everything to another service is easier said than done if you ever get to that point.

Third: Squarespace

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Squarespace might just be the "hippest" member of this group, with a major focus on appearance and website design.

Pros:

Squarespace is a great place for people who want a beautiful website right out of the box-- it's a good option for people who want something to look pretty without having to do much in the way of customization. That's not to say you can't tinker with the design and the underlying code, it's just that you don't have to if you don't want to.

The service includes easy ecommerce tools for anyone wanting to dabble in selling things over the internet. Squarespace also allows for easy mobile readiness and design-- something that's incredibly important in this day and age.

Squarespace is the best option for anyone who doesn't want to spend a lot of time on their site, but still wants it to look great. 

Cons:

Squarespace doesn't offer a free service tier aside from a two week trial for new members-- so you'll have to commit some amount of money if you want to use this service for any length of time. However, the pricing is very fair at just $12/month for a basic website with up to 20 pages. This should be enough for most smaller operations.

While Squarespace offers very aestheticially pleasing templates, they don't offer quite as many as their competitors. It's possible that you might not be able to find exactly what suits your fancy-- but you can always modifiy templates as you see fit.

Last but not least: Weebly


 

Weebly is a smaller competitor that provides a very easy-to-use site editor and basic e-commerce tools built into the system.

Pros:

The included e-commerce tools allow the budding entrepreneur to host a storefront for their product. The site builder tool is very easy to use, so anyone can set up a site in a couple hours. You don’t need any web-coding experience because the design team put a lot of effort into making things smooth and simple.

Cons:

The premade template options are a bit lacking when compared to other site builders. Furthermore, the e-commerce tools are fairly basic as of right now. Businesses might want to upgrade to a more robust system when scaling up.