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Which website builder to use?

Matthew Gira
7 min read

There are so many different website builders available and it’s almost impossible to escape their ads. There’s a Squarespace ad on TV, another person on Twitter talking about Webflow and how great their tutorial videos are, and every person who started a website 15 years ago will tell you about how great Wordpress is.

All of these different options can be overwhelming, so in this post, I’m going to cover 4 different website builders I’ve personally used and have had success with.

As I start covering these 4 different website builders, it’s really important to keep in mind that these 4 different website builders are built for different types of use cases. There’s no such thing as a website builder that is perfect for everyone on the planet. It’s all about fit and how the website builder fits your needs as a business owner.

Shopify

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Let’s start with the best website builder for those that have e-commerce stores: Shopify. In a lot of ways, Shopify is a competitor to Amazon, but they still have a long way to go to truly compete with Amazon.

What I like about Shopify is that no matter how big or small your store is, Shopify can help manage it. It has a starter account which is a great option for those that are just getting started. If you’re just testing whether or not you have a good business idea, the starter plan is fantastic. You can literally be setup within minutes and have the full backend of Shopify. Pretty amazing.

For those that have a store already, Shopify is so good at helping you manage your store. It can help with inventory management (including connecting with Fulfillment by Amazon), getting discounts on shipping goods to customers, and connects with so many different tools you may already be using. Shopify has over 6,000 apps built into its app store.

If you ever do in-person sales, Shopify has a Point of Sale system available. So, you don’t need any extra plug ins or anything like that. You can purchase a card reader from Shopify (around $50) or coming soon, just have customers tap their card on your phone. How freaking cool!

Shopify can act as a great one stop shop (literally) for your e-commerce business.

Shopify’s starter account is only $5/month and the full store account starts at $29/month. It’s all really reasonable pricing. Especially that starter account.

If you’re looking to create a basic website without a store, a blog, or some super duper fancy landing page for your business - please don’t use Shopify. That’s just dumb.

Squarespace

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What isn’t dumb is building a basic website using Squarespace. Squarespace is the 2nd website builder I want to cover and is a great drag and drop website builder.

If you’ve never built a website before - it doesn’t get much easier than on Squarespace. You can create a full website with all of the pages you need for a basic website in just a morning or afternoon. Not a full day, just a few hours. It’s that simple. It’s very plug and play.

With that being said Squarespace is very template dependent. You can edit a lot in Squarespace like brand colors, photos, words, etc. The items you need to edit for building a website. However, if you’re looking to be super granular on SEO options or build a really dynamic website, Squarespace is not for you. It’s not to say Squarespace is bad for SEO either - it’s actually pretty solid. I’ve ranked numberous pages

Squarespace is for those that don’t want to be very techy, but want a good looking website without paying someone to build and manage their website. Again, if Squarespace is a great option if you’re building your very first website.

The last part that I love about Squarespace is their analytics dashboard. If I could import their analytics dashboard into my current website builder (coming up soon!), I totally would. Google Analytics can definitely be very overwhelming with so many different windows and options. For me, I only really want to see the basic information most of the time and don’t really want to learn Google Analytics. I just want to know things like “How many people are visiting my website?” or “what search terms am I ranking for?”. Obviously, I can find these answers in Google Analytics, but seeing those answers in Squarespace’s analytics dashboard is one, much prettier, and two, so much easier to find and see.

For pricing, Squarespace is quite affordable. Plans start at $16/month and if you’re a student, you can have 50% off an annual subscription. It’s only $96 for your first year if you’re a student. That’s a pretty good deal, especially as it comes with a free domain! That’s $20 in savings already.

Webflow

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Okay - now to the website builder you can’t avoid if you’re part of startup twitter - Webflow. Webflow is great. It really is. There’s pretty much nothing Webflow can’t do. However, there’s definitely a learning curve to it.

You can think of Webflow as a fully customizable version of Squarespace. Unlike Squarespace, if you want to customize literally any feature on your website from SEO characteristics or a curve on a button, you can do that in Webflow.

That level of customization is great for the right person. If you’re building your first ever website, I wouldn’t recommend Webflow. If you want something more powerful than Squarespace though and want to be able to bet on your website scaling with your business, Webflow is a great option.

To get over the learning curve of Webflow, it’s actually a really wonderful experience. Webflow’s education team has some of the best tutorial videos you’ll ever see. The graphics and teaching style is amazing and they’re quite entertaining with jokes throughout the tutorials. I’ve never seen a tech company come close to the quality of tutorials that Webflow has. These tutorials aren’t always the shortest, but you can definitely have a working knowledge of Webflow if you spend a couple days on it. Learning the basics of Webflow is a great long weekend project! You can even build your first Webflow website for free. It’s not with your own domain, but it gives you a great starting point.

That’s all of the good things about Webflow. There’s one crucial element that I wish Webflow was better about - their blogging experience.

Webflow’s blogging experience is…fine. But with all of the niceness to Webflow, this blogging experience feels like it should be 10x better. It’s a very basic text editor and honestly isn’t very intuitive compared to the other aspects of Webflow.

This isn’t to say you can’t create a fantastic blog in Webflow. You definitely can. It’s just not the best writing experience for blogging.

If you are looking for a great experience when it comes to writing blogs, there’s one great option for that: Ghost.

Ghost

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If you are a writer of any sort, there is no better writing experience than writing a blog post in Ghost. If you love the experience of writing in Notion, Ghost has a lot of similar vibes to it.

It’s this writing experience that led me to switching my own personal website from Webflow to Ghost.

Me switching from Webflow to Ghost is not saying Ghost is better than Webflow. It just was a better fit for my own personal website where writing and being home for all of the content I’m creating right now can live. I don’t have e-commerce and am currently just focusing on creating content. That’s why Ghost was the best fit for me.

For creators, like myself, Ghost is a great option because it’s built for writing and even has the ability to send newsletters within it. If you’re looking for an all in one option when it comes to a newsletter and a website, Ghost is hard to beat.

Personally, I’m still using ConvertKit for my own email newsletter and that’s only because there’s so many additional features to ConvertKit’s newsletter tool compared to Ghost’s. Ghost doesn’t have advanced automation features or the ability to create custom landing pages which is crucial for me when it comes to a newsletter.

The other downside to Ghost is that it’s not the best for beginners. It’s slightly technical, especially when it comes to editing a template. There’s some CSS involved and if you’re like me who isn’t a software engineer in any way, that can be overwhelming quick.

Thankfully, I was able to get through this by purchasing a template website for Ghost and knowing where to edit the CSS, but it’s slightly annoying. Especially as every time Ghost updates, I’ll need to update the template a bit most likely. It’s not a huge deal to me, but I wish updates would take care of everything like you have in Squarespace or Webflow.

If you’re looking for how to compare Ghost to other website builders, you can think of Ghost as an in-between Webflow, Wordpress, and Squarespace with a really fantastic writing experience.

Ghost can be hosted independently by you or on the Ghost servers for as low as $9/month.

There’s a lot of different options for building a website. Not to be broken record, but the most important factor is finding the right fit for your purposes! There’s no website builder that is perfect for everyone (even Webflow!). It’s also okay to use one particular website builder for a while and transition to a different option later on. It’s an annoying process, but it’s not the end of the world