[Road to Entrepreneurship] Three Recommended Website Building Platforms | Reap

[Road to Entrepreneurship] Three Recommended Website Building Platforms

Jenny

7 min read

To start a business, you need to know how to build a brand. Nowadays, the so-called brand image is no longer as simple as drawing a logo, making a business card or finding a celebrity as a spokesperson. In the era of Big Data and vast digitalisation, online/web image is in fact the real spokesperson of the brand, whether that of an individual or an enterprise, the very first step to improve the brand's online image definitely starts with the website. Your website’s outlook determines to a certain extent your business outlook, so creating a great website is definitely not something to be taken lightly.

Do you still need a website?

Social media has been prevalent for more than a decade, with Instagram accounts, Facebook pages and YouTube channels being the designated means of almost every corporate public relations team and marketing personnel today, not to mention the plethora of online and one-person businesses that deploy social media as their main operating and profit-making platform.

Then, is the website a thing of the past? A resounding no! The number of websites worldwide exceeded a whopping 1.8 billion at the beginning of 2021, doubling the number five years ago (i.e., 2016), and the growth rate in this five-year period is much higher than the previous five years (i.e., 2011-2015). It is evident that even though some embrace social media as their sole business domain, there are definitely more people clinging to the idea of websites, precisely because corporate websites can do a lot more than social media alone.

The advantages of corporate websites over corporate social media platforms can be summarised as follows:

Stability and Sustainability

In the face of the ever-changing terms and conditions across the social media platforms in recent years, building your own websites can spare you from the potential risks of content censorship and feature changes. You may have to regain control for the maintenance and traffic/click rate of your own websites, which are not at all ideally managed on the social platforms.

Necessity for “Messaging 1.0”

Website can be described as a “Messaging 1.0” platform, which has its own unique values compared to the “Messaging 2.0” interactions in social media. For example, in terms of business promotion as well as brand image building and management, a website is easier for planning and administration-just as a door sign or home decoration never needs to be judged by the public-and the interference-free and high individuality features enjoyed by a corporate website are absolutely unparalleled.

Versatility/Multifunctionality

Whether it's for online retail, systems with login credentials, or real-time customer services, the diversity and autonomy of your business and services can only be best realised on your own website.

Data and Operation Management

The value behind the website’s operation should by no means be underestimated. While the marketing value of website (traffic/statistic) analytics is not to be overlooked, the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) value that can be created by your own website built from scratch is even more significant in terms of enhancing brand awareness.

Write Your Own Website

But where should I begin to write a good corporate website? Twenty years ago, you had to pay an IT company hundreds of thousands to perform this unimaginable feat for you. Nowadays, you can definitely write a good website all by yourself. There is currently a wide array of website building platforms on the market that allow employers, employees or freelancers to take the matter into their own hands. Thanks to the rise of Freemium's (free + premium) Business Model in recent years, many website building platforms offer free but restricted services to users on a long-term basis, allowing users to begin working on it free and create their ideal web pages step by step.

Comparison of the Three Major Website Building Platforms

 

Wix

Strikingly

WordPress

Ease of Use

■■■■

■■■■■

■■■

Mobility and Compatibility

■■

■■■

■■■■■

Internet Speed

■■

■■■

■■■■

Themes and Plugins

■■■

■■

■■■■■

Free Version Performance

■■■■

■■■

■■

Mobile Device Performance

■■■■

■■■■■

■■■

SEO Performance

■■■

■■■■

Total Score

23

25

30

* 5 (■■■■■) is the highest and the most ideal score.

It is difficult to assert which website building platforms are essentially good/bad. We can only try to differentiate the existing platforms’ characteristic balance between free and paid features, convenience and depth, simplicity and sophistication, as well as down-to-earth and over-the-top, where users have to choose according to their specific needs. We will introduce three website building platforms, each suitable for its own purpose, helping users in their brand management.

Website Building Platform #1 – Wix

Founded in Israel in 2006, Wix is the most popular web production platform in recent years and one of the platforms with the most users in the world, with the number of users just surpassed 200 million this year.

Easy to Use, Even for Beginners 

Wix's biggest selling point is its ease of use/beginner-friendliness. Users don’t need to be an expert in programming to master Wix, and they also don’t necessarily need to know anything about HTML and CSS. As long as you know the basic operations of Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, you can create your own webpage in Wix simply by piecing together its sea of theme templates and gallery of graphics with the aid of tutorial videos. Thus, it is especially suitable for newcomers to take their first step in creating their websites, gradually moving from free to paid users when they grow from amateurs to professionals.

With more than 500 theme templates and a built-in free gallery with countless image materials, Wix comes as a blessing for users in a hurry to create a website, just like the default themes in PowerPoint, so that people who don't have time to dwell about it can easily pick a ready-made theme and use it as their own. In addition, the simple drag-and-drop method of web page layout guarantees the finished product to be the absolute opposite of formulaic. In addition, Wix's mobile editor is an indispensable asset, allowing users to effortlessly create web pages that are readable on mobile devices. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the theme template must be chosen carefully, as it cannot be modified once selected.

Low Cost but with Limited Compatibility 

In terms of cost, the free version of Wix suffices to create a decent outlook for the website, and there is no need to rent a web host to install the site. Of course, you can spend the spared "rental fee" on Wix's paid plans, which range from USD4.50 to USD35.00 per month for different home and business plans, and can be used to increase bandwidth, storage space, as well as cut down on the ads that flood the free version. Dedicated domain names are also a reason to pay-the free version is accompanied with a domain name with "wix.com". If the website is to be built for long-term business development, paying for a domain name is a must.

As the saying goes, “you can’t have your cake and eat it”, the easy-to-use Wix naturally has its drawbacks. For example, because the background pages are written and executed in JavaScript, there is room for improvement for the web pages’ load time as well as the SEO performance on Google search engine. Moreover, precisely because Wix takes too much care of its own website, the web pages created through Wix basically stay in place with very limited ability to enable extension and export to other platforms.

All in all, Wix is a one-stop solution or springboard to success for small businesses or one-person enterprises in pursuit of a formal online identity, and for freelance artists who wish to showcase their works via their websites.

Website Building Platform #2 – Strikingly

Strikingly is one of the hottest emerging web production platforms in Hong Kong and the Chinese-speaking world, founded in 2012 as a seed-funded Chinese start-up in the US, no wonder its full support for the Chinese interface is one of the major selling points.

Mobile Device Oriented

Strikingly's simple operation is comparable to that of Wix, and can be easily mastered without any knowledge of computer languages. With the "what you see is what you create" page editor, you can swiftly create a professional website simply by piecing together theme templates. With clear instructional guidelines and a native Chinese interface, even a freelancer or marketer who is not familiar with programming can create web pages with ease. Of course, the localised customer service-in terms of response time, friendliness and professional content-also earns Strikingly a lot more bonus points. Strikingly is one of the few website building platforms that use mobile device interface as the main focus of web page editing. In this generation where more than half of the users browse web pages through their mobile devices, a website’s mobile friendliness is especially vital, and at the same time makes Strikingly more convenient for web page editing.

Easy to Search, Free Web Hosting

In terms of features and programmes, Strikingly is not a halfpenny the worst. Not only does its built-in e-commerce functionality enhance business flexibility, but its data monitoring and analysis performance also greatly assists marketers in their forward-looking work. In terms of SEO, Strikingly's pages outperformed Wix's in search engines due to coding differences. Since the site is also self-hosted rather than installed through a web host, it saves the cost of renting a web host, however, like Wix, it is more limited in terms of website expansion and exportation capabilities.

Limited Features of Free version

As for the different plans, although Strikingly also uses the Freemium model, the performance of its free version is not satisfactory-some features are not available with a limited number of pages that can be created. What’s preferable is that the paid plans all come with a 14-day free trial, and the Pro-version, which costs only USD16.00 per month, is basically sufficient for all website building needs, including of course the option of domain customisation.

Therefore, if you don't mind paying a monthly fee, Strikingly is a great choice for both internal and external factors, especially for small businesses who would like to try their luck in the World Wide Web.

Website Building Platform #3 – WordPress

WordPress, an American company evolved from "b2/cafelog" in 2003, is a PHP and MySQL-based content management platform. It is also one of the pioneering website building platforms, through which about one-third of the world's websites are built.

Great Plug-ins but Difficult to Use

WordPress harbours both template system and plug-in framework, but it is not as easy to operate compared with Wix and Strikingly, where you only need to take a ready-made theme and use the simple skills equivalent to operating Word, PowerPoint or Paintbrush to build a website. However, precisely because of WordPress’s greater flexibility and freedom, the editing cannot be accomplished at one stroke, sometimes even with conflicting functions. What’s more, beginners may find it inevitably confusing to understand the external web host and explore thousands of theme templates/plug-ins. Many users liken Wix and WordPress to iPhone and Android phone respectively-the former is simple, clean but flat and unvaried, the latter is unique but takes time for the layout design. Others liken Strikingly and WordPress to different forms of residence, where the former is a five-star serviced apartment and the latter is a self-decorated home of one’s own. Therefore, each website building platform has its own merits and it all depends on the purpose, function, traffic, and sustainability of the website.

Autonomous Expansion and Exportation with High Compatibility 

One of the pros of WordPress is its nature of Open-Source Software (OSS), by which every website created is not attached to the website building platform, and the user can gain absolute control of its content and data. Don't ever be misled by the "Word" in WordPress! Webpage presentation on WordPress is not limited to text-driven blogs, instead its prowess covers official corporate websites, online shopping websites, and pretty much any other website formats that can be found on the Internet. Its rich varieties of themes and plug-ins are the other perks-if you find two employees in the same company to create web pages via WordPress, the two pages will probably end up entirely different. Moreover, the web pages built by WordPress have very high compatibility and can thus be easily expanded and exported to other platforms. Don’t forget WordPress’s indubitable flexibility in meeting SEO requirements, too.

Professional Performance and Value for Money 

As for the cost, WordPress is available in both free and paid versions, and web hosting naturally involves certain fees. However, considering its professional performance and functional features, the monthly fee of dozens of USD is definitely worth it. This meagre cost is actually negligible for enterprises, especially when compared to the past when you had to spend hundreds of thousands to commission an IT company to create your website, it is now a lot more cost-effective with WordPress.

Conclusion

All in all, Wix and Strikingly are definitely the easiest choices for a beginner aiming to build a website in a few days, whereas WordPress wins by its professionality and diverse features. If you want to create a sustainable, high-traffic, content-rich website for your business with constant updates and innovations, WordPress is the surest choice.