Choosing your e-commerce website builder
When you’re looking to launch your e-commerce business, the options can be overwhelming. Should you sell your product through a marketplace like Etsy, Amazon or eBay? Should you hire someone to build an online store for you? Like many other entrepreneurs, you probably want to take charge of the branding and management of your website, without paying an exorbitant rate to a web developer.
Web development used to be a daunting job requiring highly-specialized coding skills and experience. Now anyone can build an e-commerce website using affordable, accessible, and easy-to-use e-commerce platforms. You’ve probably heard of site builders like Weebly and SquareSpace, as well as the popular open-source content management systems like WordPress and Joomla. E-commerce website builders make it easy to venture out on your own and create an internet home for your products that you can customize and control.
Thanks to these services, you can have your e-commerce business website up and running in no time — and with Ecwid, you can turn your website into a robust and powerful online store, complete with a shopping cart and secure checkout system. Now all you have to do is decide which e-commerce platform is best for you.
Platforms on the cloud
For the simplest and fastest e-commerce website design experience, head to the cloud. Dozens of website builders have appeared in recent years, so you have plenty of options to choose from. A few of the most popular and low cost platforms for e-commerce websites are Weebly, Squarespace, Wix and Adobe Muse.
1. They’re (almost) free and (always) easy
Website builders aim for a consistent and beautiful user experience. The builder takes care of the code and hosting of your site; you just add content and plugins to create your custom e-commerce store. Weebly, a reliable all-around builder, and Wix, a free-form builder, are both geared towards beginners who have no web design experience. They offer free website hosting for limited features and branded domains; going premium affords you custom domain names and additional features at a low cost.
2. Pick from dozens of designs — or DIY
The beauty of web builders is their flexibility and simplicity. There are no surprises and no code — web builders are called WYSIWYGs for what you see is what you get. Don’t want to worry about perfecting the design for your e-commerce website? Easy — it’s all been taken care of for you. With hundreds of options, it’s easy to find the perfect theme for your e-commerce website design and tailor it to fit your brand.
If HTML/CSS and graphic design is your jam, let the themes be your guide. Weebly and SquareSpace allow access to the front-end code, so you can make changes as you wish. And while you can’t change any code in Wix, there are no limits to your visual design — add transitions and dynamic elements to create a cool and contemporary e-commerce website experience.
SquareSpace is a builder with famously clean yet customizable designs, all crafted with the mobile experience in mind. If you’re an Adobe design devotee, Muse may be right for you. There is no coding required to use their beautiful responsive designs, but you retain all the creative control.
Platforms requiring you to download and host
If you’re looking for an ecommerce website with more functionality and don’t mind a little extra work, consider using a content management system as your e-commerce website builder. Content management systems like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are hugely popular with everyone from novice bloggers to expert web developers.
1. They really are free… but not always so easy.
Many content management systems are open source, meaning anyone can access and use the platform to make a powerful and robust e-commerce website for free. Unlike cloud web builders, you download the platform and set it up on your computer, then you must find and pay for a hosting provider and domain name. Try WordPress and its famous five-minute install, or use a hosting provider to do all the setup for you. It may take a little more work to install, but the payoff of using these platforms can be huge.
2. Help is always there.
Platforms like Drupal and Joomla are used by people all over the world to build millions of websites, so the power of community is on your side. If you need tech support, you have access to endless video tutorials, forums and how-to articles to help you solve any problem you may encounter.
What if you decide you want the functionality without the responsibility? No problem. Developers all around the world are experienced with these platforms; it’s easy to find someone to build and maintain your website for you. You’re never without help.
3. The possibilities are endless.
Thanks to open-source contributors, WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal websites can be made to do just about anything. Choose from thousands of free or paid plugins, themes, and designs to make your website stand out.
Nuts and bolts
When choosing your e-commerce website builder, make sure to plan for the growth of your business. How much can you afford to pay for your website design, subscription, hosting, and domain? Do you need a simple, clean design that a site builder can manage? How much do you plan for your e-commerce store to grow? Larger websites with additional features may find that WordPress and Joomla to work well for them. Smaller boutique e-commerce shops might find that Weebly or Wix are a better fit.
All of these site builders and content management systems work perfectly with Ecwid. Many platforms offer their own limited e-commerce options, often for a higher monthly rate and additional transaction fees. But nothing compares to the power of Ecwid’s simple and compatible e-commerce plugins. They offer boundless customization options, secure transactions, and a feature-rich product management dashboard. Best of all, Ecwid is free to use, and it offers additional features at affordable pricing that scales to the size of your store.
With Ecwid, you can achieve the best of both worlds for your e-commerce site at a much lower cost.