How to choose the right platform for your business website

It’s no secret that a strong web presence is paramount to success for almost any business these days. A thoughtfully designed, well-constructed website is a powerful marketing tool that can attract and engage customers as your only 24/7 salesperson.

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However, there are so many platform options on which to build your business website that even the most technologically keen business owners may find their heads spinning during the decision-making process. Many decision-makers find the sheer number of options to be the primary reason to choose a technical discovery or software consultation service. That way, they can let tech experts help determine the best way forward. Whether you use a software consultant or try to figure it out on your own, this guide will help you understand the process behind the platform choice for your business.

Define the needs and goals of your website

Before you begin researching platforms, you must understand what it is you want to do with your website. Some considerations may include:

Your website’s purpose

Is your website strictly for marketing purposes, or do you want to use it to sell products and services? Many business websites combine both, which can impact the platform you choose.


Do you imagine growth in the near or distant future? Does your business ramp up and down seasonally or in response to external variables? Your website’s platform should easily accommodate changes in visitor or transaction volume, up or down.

Customization considerations

Some businesses with unique workflows, designs, or functions on their websites require a higher degree of customization. If your business falls into one of these categories, it’s important to choose a platform that will support a high level of customization.

Determine your budget

Budget is not a dirty word! Money often plays a significant role when companies choose their website platform. While some platforms are free, many still require a subscription or hosting fees. No matter what you choose, most website platforms carry ongoing expenses like domain registration, plugins/themes, and hosting. 

You should also remember that while designated website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify are easy to set up and use, they may not have all the capabilities you need for your business and may not accommodate your needs as you grow. We don’t discourage clients from these options, however, as some of the biggest companies in the world run on WordPress and Shopify: if those solutions are best for you, too, then we are happy to help in any way we can. 

We do, however, recommend taking plenty of time to determine your budget, involving all stakeholders, and doing your best to honestly consider your present and future needs. If you find yourself stuck, a software consultant can help you look at what you value most and how to make the most of your budget, no matter how large or small. In general, software consultation sounds more expensive than it is, and a technology expert can help you determine where to scrimp and where to spend when it comes to website platforms (and more). 

Decide if you’ll use a design template or go custom

Website templates are very popular right now, as they give business owners proven blueprints to build from at a lower upfront cost. You may choose to buy a template that will make your website look custom without paying the custom price tag. 

If you choose to go this route, be sure to find a designer whose templates work on your platform contenders or use a website builder that already has templates. Squarespace, Wix, WordPress, Shopify, and Showit all use templates, but you may find that they lack customizability or originality. When that happens, you should reach out to a custom designer. 

Custom web design can be componentized for use far into the future. While more expensive up front, it can save you hours of headache, frustration, and money in the future as it can grow with your business. Custom designs also provide you with greater flexibility and freedom of expression, which often translates into a more compelling and trafficked website. 

Decide who will update your website

This goes along with the frequency of updating, but it is a hefty consideration. Do you have a technically savvy marketing team or another leader who is comfortable updating within a content management system? Or will you need a platform that provides a more user-friendly interface and guardrails for updates? Do you plan to outsource maintenance to a team of developers or contractors? All of these scenarios may affect the platform of choice for your website since the platform should fit the needs of the people who are most likely to use it.

Three common platform options & their pros/cons

Once you’ve determined your needs, budget, template, update frequency, and who will manage your website, you might still be overwhelmed by choices. Here’s a quick and simple breakdown of three common choices business owners can make and what’s good or less good about them.

Website builders (Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, etc.)

Website builders have dramatically increased in popularity and prominence over the last few years, and wading through these alone can feel daunting. If you need a website as soon as possible, these might be the best option, and many small businesses start out on these platforms. As your company grows, you may find yourself paying close attention to the “cons” list here, though: almost every business owner hopes to outgrow the capabilities of website builders!


  • Quick to learn
  • Affordable
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Lots of templates to choose from


  • Your site will never look like the sample on their homepage
  • You will not own anything on the platform
  • Minimal control for additional features
  • Hidden fees

Content management systems (WordPress, namely)

Content management systems (CMSes) like WordPress are software solutions for creating and managing digital content. They offer an interface between your website's back and front ends and give you more control over its design, function, and performance. CMSes are ideal for marketing purposes and provide a reliable foundation for the future growth of many types of companies.

When you use a CMS, you purchase a domain, set up hosting, and install the CMS software on your web server for your domain. You can choose a theme, add plugins for specific functions (like eCommerce, forms, etc.), and then start generating that content. In addition to setup, you’ll need regular maintenance like backups, updates, and security features.


  • Control
  • Many advanced functions
  • Theme options
  • Better performance than website builders
  • Longevity - WP has been around for a LONG time


  • Requires technical skill/understanding
  • Steeper learning curve
  • You do most of the maintenance
  • You may have to find or request more niche features

Custom websites

CMSes make great frameworks for many websites, and even the most technically skilled shops often start with WordPress when customizing. And if you want functions that have never existed before, or you need deep integrations with complex software or databases, a custom website solution might be the best fit for you. 


  • You own and control all of it
  • Originality
  • Outstanding performance


  • More expensive
  • More technical understanding required
  • Regular maintenance

The truth? There is no perfect, one-size-fits-all solution

Although we’ve compiled a decent-sized list of considerations and options for website platforms in this blog entry, we realize that it still might not answer the question of “What’s right for ME?” If you find yourself stuck, feel free to reach out to us here at By the Pixel for a technical discovery. We love helping clients solve complex problems using technology, and website platforms are often one of the first things we can help you evaluate. 

Our friendly and knowledgeable team is happy to listen, answer questions, and help you find the best solutions for your unique needs. With over a decade of experience helping businesses in a broad range of industries, we have the passion and skills to help you succeed.