How To Choose A Website Platform

Posted on March 10, 2020 • Written by Chance Carlin
how to choose a website platform

With so many options available for Content Management Systems to power your website, it can be really hard to make a choice.  Your options can vary from hosted plug-and-play systems like Squarespace or Wix, to open-source solutions like Joomla, ExpressionEngine, WordPress, or Drupal, all the way to specialized systems like Magento, Shopify, or BigCommerce.  

Each of these systems has pros and cons, and different business use cases, and it’s really up to you to decide what your business needs are and which system will help meet them. Here at Fruition, we embrace open-source solutions as they allow for customizability without requiring huge licensing fees to use the software. We’ve also had the most success in optimizing these platforms for search engines and connecting them to other important marketing initiatives and tools. Today, we’re taking a look at WordPress, Drupal, and Magento to explain why these three systems fit the majority of our clients’ needs and to help you discover if one of these options is right for you.

Drupal

When To Use It: 

Drupal is a powerhouse of a CMS and has a large amount of customizability that makes it a great fit for large sites that:

  • Are highly transactional 
  • Have a wide variety of content to show users 
  • Have a lot of content entries 
  • Have many different user types 
  • Need to integrate with other platforms to consume & send data  

What We Like About It: 

Drupal is open source, which allows Drupal developers to create free Contributed Modules for the community. These modules provide extra functionality to your site, including:

  • E-commerce capabilities 
  • Form creators 
  • Headless capabilities
  • Advanced search
  • Google Analytics integrations  

As an open source platform, there aren’t any licensing fees to use the software. Your upfront costs to use Drupal would be the initial site design, site development, and ongoing hosting and maintenance. 

What You Should be Aware Of:

The power and customizability of this platform requires more Drupal-specialized developers to deliver on project requirements. Since Drupal has been around for a long time, there’s a large pool of active developers who can help build a new project or maintain an existing site, and these costs will vary drastically based on your needs. As for long-term maintenance, you will need to make sure your software is up-to-date with the latest Drupal releases and security updates.

READ MORE: Whitepaper: What to Consider When Updating to Drupal 8

Magento 

When To Use It: 

Magento is an e-commerce platform for companies that are fully invested in their online sales, and we recommend it for stores that have a large number of SKUs and more complex needs. Out-of-the box, Magento comes loaded with the majority of the features you’ll need to run your online business, and there’s a healthy community of extensions and developers that can take Magento’s capabilities even further.

What We Like About It: 

You can download Magento’s open source option without paying any licensing fees, so you’ll only need to pay for design and development work to get your site running. There are fees for Magento Commerce and Commerce Cloud, but these come with additional features and support from the Magento team.  

What You Should Be Aware Of: 

As an extremely robust system, Magento requires a high level of expertise to implement properly and development costs can be expensive. Make sure to choose a partner that has experience connecting with your payment systems, return processes, fulfillment systems, tax calculators, CRMs, and everything else you need to run your store successfully. 

If Magento isn’t the right fit for you, there are also simpler platforms like WordPress + WooCommerce or Shopify. These options have a lot of features that can take you a long way, and they are generally easier to get off the ground.

READ MORE: Last Call: Why You Should Upgrade To Magento 2

WordPress 

When To Use It:

WordPress is the most widely-used CMS on the market, and for good reason. With a huge following of developers, WordPress has a lot of templates and hosting options that make creating a new website easy. 

Additionally, WordPress has a great option for adding ecommerce to your store via the WooCommerce plugin. We recommend WooCommerce to any of our clients that have a smaller SKU count (under ~1000) and don’t have extremely complicated requirements for customer groups, fulfillment, and payments. WooCommerce also has great add-ons for offering subscription based services/products, supporting special pricing, and offering promotions. 

What We Like About It: 

Like Drupal and Magento, WordPress is open-source and free to use, but is much easier to get started with. This flexibility, plus the ability to create different types of content to power your site, makes WordPress a great option for smaller brochure sites that:

  • Posts blogs
  • Showcases products and services 
  • Shows team members 
  • Business with multiple locations
  • Has web forms 
  • Delivers valuable content to users  

What You Should Be Aware Of: 

There are a lot of free plugins that can be used to gain functionality, but you should be careful to only use those that are well-vetted and well-maintained. This same advice applies to premium plugins – make sure to read the reviews and consult with your developer, because not all plugins are built with the highest quality.  

READ MORE: Your Guide to Selling Online with WooCommerce

The Bottom Line 

If you’re on a platform that’s not a great fit for you or your business, you’re not alone. We talk to a lot of clients that are in this situation, and use this as an opportunity to take a fresh look at the site design, features, and functionality. We’ll make positive changes to your current site while we migrate the site to a platform that will better fit your needs. 

If you’re exploring web platforms and are stuck on which one you should choose, we would be happy to chat with you about your options! 

Get In Touch!
Chance Carlin

Written by Chance Carlin

Chance Carlin is the Technical Sales Engineer at Fruition. Chance’s career has varied from working in hospitality and sales to owning a video production and web development company. He’s captured live concert footage of Papdosio and The Dendrites, built his first website for a local Denver restaurant called City O’ City, and put together animations for some of Fruition’s largest clients. Now the Technical Sales Engineer at Fruition, Chance is looking forward to being a part of the team that is responsible for keeping the company growing. In his free time, Chance enjoys hiking, skiing, golfing and going to concerts.

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