For most of us traveling down the road less written, blogging and developing a website is a necessity. For many, choosing a website building platform—learning about them and figuring out which one is best—is grueling. The options overwhelm.
As you investigate various blogging and site-building platforms, you’re not looking for the “best” product available on the market. You’re looking for a best fit.
There’s a best fit for
- Your content
- your abilities,
- your goals,
- your technical aptitude,
- your budget, and
- your time.
Hopefully, you can find several options that “fit” your needs, and that you’ll get to decide on aesthetics. But first, you have to make sure your foot will fit in the shoe—and that the shoe is going to be comfortable to wear.
A Balancing Act
For most, if not all of us, it will come down to a balancing act between user-friendliness and functionality. And, unfortunately, there is often a trade-off.
In general, the ‘friendliest’ options limit you in some way. The most flexible options require a little more know-how or willingness to learn. You’ll want to find a platform that matches your needs and abilities. If you like exploring code or want things just so, you might want to choose something that gives you greater control and flexibility. If the whole concept intimidates you, you might want to err on the side of user-friendliness.
This isn’t to say that choosing a website building platform, is an engraved-in-stone decision or that you can’t change your mind later. You can. There are ways to “migrate” your site to a new platform. But, it’s not always convenient, so it’s better to engage in a little forethought to find the best place for you to start.
Why the fit matters:
Because building a website, especially the first time you do it, can be time consuming, finding a good fit matters. In fact, it is analogous to buying shoes for a child. You want it to support their feet (meet their needs), be comfortable to wear, yet be large and flexible enough to get them through the season. You don’t want them to outgrow it too soon.
If you do have aspirations of attracting a large audience or are using your blog to increase your authority or web-presence, you do want to make sure you’re making the best choice you can. In her article How to Choose the Best Platform for Your Blog,Ginny Soskey, emphasizes the importance of picking the right platform from the start. ”While it’s fine to make a transfer one time, you shouldn’t really be jumping around from platform to platform… You’ll end up having a very fragmented web presence, which will be hard to overcome with even the best SEO efforts.”
How to Decide Which Website Building Platform is for You
Because these platforms change and update so quickly, Internet research will give you the most up to date information.
The WordPress.com and WordPress.org nomenclature creates a little bit of a quagmire when you read reviews and comparative studies. Many writers do not clearly state whether they are referring to the free WordPress (WordPress.com) or the self-hosted WordPress.org. Most of the time when they don’t specify, they mean the self-hosted version, but not always. You’ll have to read carefully to be sure.
Read developers opinions as well as user feedback. They both bring a valuable perspective. You might run across “reviews” that read like infomercials, and some of them are. Luckily, most blogs have “about the author” info, where you can read about their background and qualifications.
The research itself doesn’t make sense in a vacuum. You have to compare it with your goals, motives, limits, and preferences. If you grade each option in terms of your needs, you can home in on the best fits for you. Flunk (eliminate) those that don’t score well for you on:
- Definite must haves—functionality that you absolutely require or feel strongly about having.
- Wants—Features and functionalities that would be nice to have, but that you’re not sure how much you would use.
- Limits (Budget, Technical know-how): Establish your limits and as you look at the many options available to you, decide which ones are simply out of reach for you in the short to mid-term.
How did you decide what website building platform to use? Were you happy with your choice?