This day and age there are a plethora of content management systems on the market. You’ve probably heard a few of the names bounced around: WordPress, Concrete5, Magenta, SquareSpace or Wix. But which is best for your small business? While no two businesses have the same needs, there are clear pros and cons of each that will help you and your web developer make the right decision.
To start, we should put these into two categories: open source and SAAS. Open source means that the software you use to run your website is free to use and modify. That makes it very easy to use and add features to. WordPress, Concrete5 and Magento are all examples of Open Source software. SAAS, or Software As a service, means that you pay to use software that someone created and now maintains.
When shopping, the price tag is one of the first things a consumer looks at and it’s no different here. When looking at the price tag, it’s important to factor in the price of the website over its entire lifetime, as well as any additional features or plugins. Open Source is free by nature. SAAS websites always have a monthly fee, to cover licensing and maintenance. The fee is not enough to break the bank, but is residual and will remain for the life of the website.
Over time, this cost adds up fast. Secondly, don’t forget to factor in the cost of extra features such as a shopping cart, booking, shipping plugins, etc. Open source software is generally priced as a flat rate, while SquareSpace and Wix are more likely to have extra monthly fees for any extra features. These fees can be harder to anticipate so be sure to look into whatever you might need and count that into the overall cost.
SEO Optimization Capabilities
There is no point in building a website that no one can find, so SEO marketing capability is crucial. Some claim that WordPress is more difficult to optimize and won’t rank as well as other content management systems. While some of the premade themes are bloated and slow, making SEO optimization more complicated, this goes out the window with a custom WordPress theme (or even a well-made premade theme). Custom WordPress themes are faster, leaner and 100% optimizable and 100% marketable. They lack nothing.
In general, open source is better for marketing and SEO. With full access to the core files, the sky is the limit. Secondly, many of the DIY website platforms are difficult to optimize. Without access to the files, you can only take a website so far. A SAAS company will try to sell you on their SEO capabilities, but they are usually only surface deep and limited.
Extensions, Plugins and Add-on Capability
You want your website to grow with you. Do you plan to add a shopping cart, booking, or custom API integrations? This is where the various platforms really differ. Open Source tends to have more room to grow. With full access to the files, you can build out whatever features you might need, no matter how custom or unique.
WordPress really shines in this area. As the most popular Content Management System on the market, there is a plugin that does almost anything. Their plugins tend to be stable, flexible and competitively priced. With over 27% of all websites on the internet using WordPress, developers are creating more and more plugins. I advise people to research the plugins BEFORE deciding on a CMS, so they don’t lock themselves into something that cannot do what they want.
Concrete5 also does a decent job with their extensions repository. It’s fairly simple to create a custom plugin for Concrete5 and build out whatever features you might need.
Who Owns the Website?
Lastly, is the question of who owns your website? This is a question most clients have never even thought to ask but is absolutely crucial. If you build with SquareSpace, Wix or any SAAS website builder, the answer is NOT YOU. The company owns the website, and you pay them monthly to ’rent’ the website. You cannot separate your website from their service, so if you decide to move away from their platform, your website will need to be rebuilt from scratch. If for some reason you miss a payment, your website will cease to exist with zero recourse.
These are just a few of the things to think about when choosing a website software platform. Here at Tandem, we have extensive experience with all of the above platforms, and can help you make the right decision for your Summit County small business. Reach out to us today to get started!