Choosing among small business CMS platforms is critical for the success of your small business website. Compare 8 top small business CMS platforms yourself.
The Foundation of Your Small Business Website
We work with a lot of small businesses, and this question comes up a lot: “What platform should I use for my small business website?” There are thousands of website platforms out there, and it can be challenging to select your best option. To help you make that decision, we have chosen a few of the top small business CMS platforms for you.
As a small business, it can be challenging to choose a content management system (CMS) to build your website. Depending on your budget, design specification, and long-term plans for your small business, one of these small business CMS platforms will be suited for your type of small business.
WordPress is currently the most widely used CMS, with 63.5% of the market share in 2020. W3 Techs
But not all small business CMS platforms are created equal. Some may work very well when you start your small business, but you will soon run into limitations. Other small business CMS platforms are quite advanced and more suited for more extensive and more established companies. We used our own experience and feedback from clients to sort through some of the many small business CMS platforms.
For the sake of this post, we limited ourselves to the eight most common and popular CMS platforms. The vast majority of small business websites use one of these. There are many more options available, and some of them may seem pretty cool. But overall, we recommend you stick with one of the following options.
Small Business CMS Platforms
Wix is the first of our small business CMS platforms. It is a free website builder and incorporates AI (Artificial Intelligence) to allow even novice users to build reasonably sophisticated sites quickly. 2.5% of websites built on a Content Management System use Wix, according to W3Techs.
In 2020, 2.4% of all websites using a Content Management System (CMS) use Wix. W3Techs
Wix is ideal for small businesses with a limited budget and little time to learn and use a more sophisticated content management system such as WordPress. Wix boasts a wide choice of well-designed templates and allows you to drag and drop content into your website quickly.
Advantages of Wix
The free version gives you 500MB of storage, secure hosting, custom domain name, and a wide array of templates and images to choose from when designing your website. For an additional monthly or yearly fee, you get unlimited bandwidth and a further 10GB of storage using your registered domain name. The reasonable prices make Wix a sensible choice for small businesses that require an essential, usable website. Wix is far more affordable than paying for a custom design.
Easy to Use
You can create an essential website within minutes, and the platform is simple to use – even for the technologically challenged. Wix is a practical tool for small businesses that want to manage their website easily on their own.
You can make changes to your website without having to go into the back-end of the platform. A simple SEO application allows search engines to find your site for your keywords.
Disadvantages of Wix
Restrictions for Business Growth
Wix is ideal for getting your small businesses online. But it won’t be able to offer much more than that. It is the perfect short-term solution for those without a website. Still, for small businesses wanting to invest in a website that will adapt as the business grows, it would be sensible to choose another, more flexible platform.
Squarespace has evolved into one of the more popular small business CMS platforms. It is perfect for companies that want a website that looks professional, expensive, and visually stunning but doesn’t exceed the budget at the same time. Designers, businesses, and people creating visually appealing portfolios use Squarespace.
In 2020, 2.4% of all websites using a Content Management System (CMS) use Squarespace. W3Techs
Advantages of Squarespace
Beautiful Designer Templates
Squarespace offers clean, minimalistic, sophisticated templates with rich imagery and strong visual appeal. The templates available are of high quality. They are in another class when compared to the free templates available on WordPress and Drupal.
Extensive Styling Options
Squarespace makes it very easy to customize your website’s design without editing the code. This CMS is the perfect option for those who aren’t coding experts. You can easily adjust fonts, colors, sidebar width, background images, padding, and just about anything else on a Squarespace website.
Disadvantages of Squarespace
Adding, dragging, and dropping can be slightly buggy and irritating when trying to place image blocks. If trying to move a block to the bottom of the screen, the page won’t automatically scroll with you. Although it isn’t a significant issue, it can be irritating when trying to update several pages at once, especially under a deadline.
Too Many Styling Options
Squarespace‘s Style Editor allows you to customize or style pretty much everything on the website without going into codes. But this can be overwhelming for those not overly familiar with web design.
It is a fantastic tool that allows you to design stunning websites without delving into complicated coding. Still, with so many styling options to choose from and alter, it can almost be a confusing experience for users new to the Squarespace CMS.
Shopify is another of the more popular small business CMS platforms, especially for e-commerce. It has it all in terms of an easy setup, with a handy dashboard area for quickly adding products, customizing the look of your site, and more. Shopify even asks you if you plan on moving from another platform during the sign-up process. The system then provides a link for importing products from your previous store.
In 2020, 4.2% of all websites using a Content Management System (CMS) use Shopify. W3Techs
Advantages of Shopify
Easy to Use
Whether you’re launching your first business or you have a brick-and-mortar store and want to sell online, Shopify can help. Shopify is one of the most liked e-commerce software among e-commerce small business owners.
Lots of Features
It’s packed with tons of features to help you launch and manage your online store, and it’s super easy to use because it doesn’t require any tech skills to get started. The platform also offers both basic and advanced capabilities, so it grows as your business grows.
Of the e-commerce software we reviewed, Shopify offers the best and most affordable packages for small businesses. Shopify Basic costs $29 monthly (and 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction). The Shopify plan is $79 monthly (and 2.6% + 30¢ per transaction). Advanced Shopify is $299 monthly (and 2.4% + 30¢ per transaction). Shopify Plus pricing starts at $2000 monthly. Use Shopify Payments to avoid extra fees.
No Hidden Fees
With Shopify, there are no hidden fees. There are no transaction fees if you use Shopify’s payment gateway. Note that this is separate from credit card processing fees, which range from 2.25 percent plus 30 cents per transaction to 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per transaction, depending on your plan.
Disadvantages of Shopify
Shopify is a hosted solution, meaning it only works on the Shopify server. While this may be a minor concern for most small business owners, it is something to consider.
Shopify templates are more expensive than the average WordPress theme, and a lot more costly than Squarespace or Wix. The additional cost may be a concern for cost-sensitive small business owners just starting their business.
According to Creative Minds, WordPress is a platform adopted by over 455 Million sites worldwide in 2020. WordPress also accounts for 20% of all self-hosted websites. And that makes it the overall most popular of all small business CMS platforms.
In 2020, 63.5% of all websites using a Content Management System (CMS) use WordPress. W3Techs
Advantages of WordPress
Easy to Operate
You can easily make changes to your website without knowing web coding. It is easy to add pages, blog posts, media, products, and change WordPress content. WordPress has helpful guides and support for each area of their platform if you do happen to find yourself stuck.
WordPress offers a wide variety of themes. Using a ready-made template can cut costs and time taken to build a website for your small business manually.
Almost Limitless Customization Options
WordPress offers more paid and unpaid themes and plugins than any other content management system. This flexibility means that if you want to add more features to your website, there’s a good chance that there’s a plugin available to do this.
Suitable for Small Business of all Types
Some other website platforms have left clients with a website that offers limited ability to make changes and a system that isn’t able to adapt to changes in the business. WordPress is so widely used that it inherently moves with changes and trends in the web design industry.
Regardless of who you use to manage your website, chances are they’re familiar with WordPress.
WordPress has many reliable SEO plugins available to download for help with website optimization. SEO can be a primary driver in traffic for many websites. Still, it can be difficult for small businesses will little time or to understand or implement the principles.
Disadvantages of WordPress
WordPress requires you to update the software frequently to keep your website up to date for current browsers and virus attacks. The frequent updates make it difficult for some plugins to adapt to the WordPress software changes, and they don’t tend to operate the way they should after updates.
It is advisable to take a backup copy of your website before updating your WordPress version in the event of any problems with the update that could affect your website. And if your web designer offers website maintenance plans, you should take advantage of that.
There is a Learning Curve
When making changes in the back-end of WordPress, they don’t always appear that way when looking in the actual web browser. This difference can be frustrating for those that aren’t overly familiar with web design or coding when trying to get text and images to appear the way they want them to look.
Changes Can be Costly and Time-Consuming
If your website uses a custom theme, and you decide you want to make significant changes to it, modifications could be time-consuming and costly. Every theme is programmed differently, so it would take time for a developer to understand how the particular theme works.
If you know that you will make significant changes to the theme in the future, it may be best to consider building from scratch to meet your specific requirements. We recommend that you discuss your current and future vision for your website with your designer before getting started.
If you have a WordPress website, then WooCommerce is for you. It is ideal for selling your products and services, specifically on the WordPress website. It is a WordPress plugin available free of cost with free and paid extensions providing additional features and functionality.
In 2020, 10.9% of all websites using a Content Management System (CMS) use WooCommerce. W3Techs
Since WooCommerce is the product of Automattic, you can rely on it. With the WooCommerce plugin, you have complete control over your data and are accessible. It also supports mobile devices; therefore, you can satisfy your mobile audience too with WooCommerce.
WooCommerce marked its existence in 2011, and since then, it has grown to be a popular platform. The success of WooCommerce lies in the hands of a robust team of developers that works continuously for its betterment. The main reason for its popularity is its open source and customizable nature. You can download, use, and modify it for free and expand the basic functionality of WooCommerce. Even novices can use WooCommerce without learning to code.
Advantages of WooCommerce
Free to Use
WooCommerce is cost-effective, as it features a ‘freemium’ business model. The core software is free, but you may have to pay for some of the new additions or features. If you are planning to start your online business, use WooCommerce to manage your online store with little investment.
A Lot of Flexibility
You can add infinite product lists in various categories with WooCommerce. Stores can be personalized and customized by using prebuilt themes and layouts.
With WooCommerce, you can sell physical, virtual, and even downloadable products. It offers the ability to accept almost all sorts of payments. In addition to this, you can also use custom templates and designs for different categories.
Professional Look and Functionality
WooCommerce is a highly organized platform that incorporates a sense of professionalism. The arrangement of tools and functionalities available make it look authentic and ready to use. From order tracking to checking delivery status, your customers find it easy to perform all required tasks.
It features an excellent shopping cart, secure and robust. WooCommerce is regularly updated to remove all bugs and issues.
WordPress Website SEO
By using WordPress SEO plugins, SEO is straight forward. These plugins are fully compatible with WooCommerce, along with its extensions. They provide specific functionality. Also, they are secure and regularly updated to ensure maximum compatibility and usability.
Disadvantages of WooCommerce
Not a Stand-Alone E-Commerce Platform
Like any plugin or extension to WordPress, WooCommerce has some disadvantages as well. First and foremost, users should understand that this is not a whole e-commerce content management system but a WordPress plugin.
Can Require the Use of Paid Extensions
Although WooCommerce is an open-source and free to install plugin, certain features are to be paid by the users. WooCommerce offers a wide range of paid themes and e-commerce features. Many of them are inexpensive and well worth your investment.
To keep your e-commerce store up to date, WooCommerce requires you to update the software frequently. The frequent updates can be time-consuming for store owners.
Drupal is almost beyond what we could call small business CMS platforms. It has developed into one of the most popular and complex open-source content management systems on the market. While you don’t need programming experience for regular use, Drupal is mostly used by more advanced developers because of its sophisticated programming interface. Drupal is suitable for large corporations and is best in the hands of multiple professionals.
In 2020, 2.7% of all websites using a Content Management System (CMS) use Drupal. W3Techs
Drupal has a significant learning curve and is known more for a developing platform than as a simple CMS tool. Thus, we consider Drupal to be more of an enterprise-level solution than a small business CMS.
Advantages of Drupal
Functionality and Flexibility
Drupal makes it possible to create simple or advanced websites, blogs, discussion boards, social networking pages, and much more. The platform has many tools, including advanced menu management, polls management, graphics modification tool, and user management. Drupal is flexible and can manage many content types such as videos, polls, user management, podcasts, statistics, texts.
Customization and Plugins
Drupal has thousands of plugins available. Since it’s an open-source platform, you can also create your plugins to use on your website. The script includes graphics management, allowing you to make simple as well as more complex page configurations.
The Drupal homepage is filled with discussion boards, documentation, and mailing lists for added support when you need it. There’s lots of information concerning the modification and management of the script.
Disadvantages of Drupal
Installation and Modification
Drupal requires advanced knowledge of installation and modification. The user interface isn’t as simple to use as WordPress or Joomla!
Drupal falls behind other platforms like WordPress when it comes to scalability and efficiency. Large websites will generate a more significant server load. Still, by using plugins to load a website to the server’s cache, you can reduce it.
Magento is another of the small business CMS platforms focused on e-commerce. It is best known and widely used as an e-commerce content management system. Recently acquired by Adobe, according to Creative Minds, over 12% of all e-commerce sites use Magento as their chosen CMS in 2020. There are hundreds of extensions and the ability to add additional functionality. Plus, it is more SEO-friendly than other e-commerce platforms.
In 2020, 1.3% of all websites using a Content Management System (CMS) use Magento. W3Techs
Advantages of Magento
Large User Community
Magento is powered by the community using the platform and can be edited by developers to tailor it to their store. The platform is a popular choice for e-commerce businesses, and help is readily available online from forums and support blogs when required.
Magento can manage online stores of any size. Whether you’re selling 1 product or 1 million, it is far more scalable than other e-commerce platforms such as WooCommerce that would struggle to hold more than 1,000 products.
Magento comes with simple, configurable, bundled, grouped, digital, and virtual products. Businesses can sell anything from home appliances to digital downloads at the same time without any extensions.
If you find that you want to add a feature to your website but not sure how to do it manually, there is a 90% chance that someone has already made a plugin for it on Magento. Most plugins are affordable and available for use on any type of e-commerce store.
Disadvantages of Magento
Complex to Learn
CMS platforms such as Wix or WordPress are easy to use even for those with basic knowledge of content management systems. However, Magento is far more complex, even for the best developers. It takes time to understand how the platform works.
It isn’t user-friendly and can be complex to manage and edit existing content. Due to its complexity, it is far more expensive to hire an advanced developer to make changes for you than other platforms.
Joomla! was one of the first small business CMS platforms. This CMS is easy-to-use, robust, and almost a combination of WordPress and Drupal. It boasts some incredible benefits for small businesses that need a CMS they can rely on as their business grows.
In 2020, 4.1% of all websites using a Content Management System (CMS) use Joomla. W3Techs
Joomla is suitable for companies with five or more employees. It is best when in the hands of an experienced professional. However, like any other platform, it still has it’s own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Joomla!
Developed in PHP
Joomla!’s framework uses PHP entirely. Therefore your pages should display well, and compatibility issues will be minimal. There is also a preview mode to check the display of your website.
Joomla! is ready to use right ‘out-of-the-box’ and only takes minutes to install. Anyone can download Joomla! from the Internet, install and use it. However, the installation process is significantly more difficult than WordPress.
Lots of Features
Joomla! can support more than two-level hierarchies using a more complex navigation pattern, available in recent versions of the platform. This feature provides more in-depth sites with additional pages and the ability to grow further as opposed to WordPress, which is simply not designed with hierarchies in mind.
Although Joomla! doesn’t have as many modules and templates as Drupal; it has significantly more plugins to allow you to modify your website in your way. WordPress is the CMS with the most plugins, however, there’s far more functionality built straight into Joomla!, meaning fewer plugins are required.
Joomla!’s URLs are SEO crawler friendly. This benefit is essential when search engines use bots to crawl your website and quickly identify what the page is about when they read the URL.
Disadvantages of Joomla!
Beginner to Intermediate Usability
Joomla! was designed for simple websites and blogs, for people with little knowledge of website building. But it isn’t the best option for those looking to build a truly custom website with complex infrastructures.
Use of Server Resources
Joomla! relies on a large number of server resources compared to other content management solutions, meaning that Joomla! can run a couple of sites successfully. However, you may experience slow loading times because of its use of server resources.
Joomla! utilizes SEO-unfriendly URLs compared to other CMS platforms. Joomla! is less effective than WordPress and Magento when it comes to optimizing your site for search engines. Out-of-the-box Joomla! isn’t very SEO friendly, but using the JoomSEF plugin can change that.
Selecting Your Small Business CMS Platform
Before deciding what CMS your small business should opt for, it is essential to determine your primary objective. Will you sell products online, frequently blog, create a forum for visitors to use, or a custom design for your business?
Each CMS specializes in different areas. For example, while Squarespace is more for the design-conscious, WordPress is an all-rounder for most small businesses. Magento is an advanced platform for e-commerce businesses.
Before you decide what CMS to choose, it is crucial to consider the following:
- What is the purpose of your website? Is it to encourage sign-ups, make online sales, or increase blog views?
- Are you happy with a pre-made theme, and if not, do you have the budget for a custom design?
- Who will be using the CMS? If users with basic knowledge of HTML will be using the CMS, it may not be best to go with something as complicated as Magento.
- What are your future growth plans for the business website? If your business is purely e-commerce, how many products do you have to sell? Does your chosen CMS accommodate this amount of products?
Don’t Try This On Your Own
We know that a lot of small business owners have limited funds. Therefore the temptation to try selecting small business CMS platforms and building your small business websites is very tempting. And we applaud your sense of daring and adventure. But we don’t recommend it!
Choosing your CMS and building your small business website is crucial for creating a successful online presence. If you miss any steps along the way or don’t know what you are doing, you can end up in serious trouble. Trust us on this one; we have seen the results when things go wrong too many times.
If you think hiring a professional is expensive, just wait until you hire an amateur or try to do it yourself!
Almost any small business owner can figure out the essentials to have on their business website. And many of you could start building your site. But there are a lot of moving parts, and some of them you don’t see until something breaks.
The big difference between the average small business owner and professionals like us is that we know what to do when things go (terribly) wrong! It comes from many years of breaking things and having to learn how to fix them! It is OK if you want to go through this yourself. But don’t you have better things to do?
Regardless of these small business CMS platforms you choose, there are things you need to do before you start developing your website. And it helps to avoid common website design flaws. Maybe the best way to do that is to get professional help.
We Can Help You Select Your Small Business CMS Platform
Here at PixoLabo, we offer a full range of mobile-first business website consulting and design services, including mobile-first web design and development, e-commerce solutions, search engine optimization, brand strategy, and design, and business website hosting and maintenance.
Feel free to reach out to us to learn more about our small business website design services, and how our team can help you select from these and other small business CMS platforms. The highly caffeinated team is always happy to help!
How Did You Select Your Small Business CMS Platform?
Do you have anything to add to our list of small business CMS platforms? Maybe you have your favorite you can share? Please leave your comments below so our audience can benefit as well, and grab our feed, so you don’t miss our next post! And help other small business owners get an outstanding small business website by sharing this post with them! Thanks, we appreciate your help!
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