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The Best Website Platform for Your Online Store

Running a business can be overwhelming, and managing your website can be as stressful as trying to find a full-length shirt at Target (#millennialproblems)

But here’s the thing: Your website isn’t just a digital billboard; it’s the heartbeat of your business—your virtual storefront that's working hard to convert your products into money for you.

Now, when it comes to maintaining a website, we all dream of something stress-free. Something that not only looks stunning but is also a breeze to manage. That’s the ultimate dream, right? So, it’s no wonder that the burning question I hear time and time again from business owners is, “What’s the best website platform for small businesses?”

Everyone’s searching for that golden ticket, that secret formula, that one thing that will pave the way to wild success and unlock a river of money straight into their bank account. Sometimes running a business feels like it should be a science—a well-documented experiment that can deliver repeatable results.

"If they [<-- insert business you admire] are using [insert website platform] for their business and making multi-seven figures, then that's what I need to be doing! Right?"

Wrong. There’s no "one-size-fits-all" answer.

You may see some web designers pushing one platform as "the best." But here at Happyland, we understand that there's no such thing as a perfect website platform. They all have their pros and cons. The key is to understand your particular business needs and preferred workflow and choose the website platform that works best for you.

Here's our high-level breakdown of six of the most popular platforms for e-commerce businesses:

Squarespace (Best for the DIYer with limited Skus)

Squarespace, a popular platform boasting around 2.8 million live websites, is designed for small business owners to easily manage and design their websites. In recent years, the platform has grown a lot, with features like e-commerce email marketing, and a user-friendly on-page editor. Squarespace also has a "members area" which is great for subscriptions or courses.

👍 Pros:

  • User-Friendly: Squarespace is known for its simplicity, making it a breeze for beginners to set up and manage their websites without getting tangled in complex coding.
  • All-in-One Ecosystem: Squarespace serves as a one-stop-shop for your online needs, from domain purchase to email campaigns, fostering reliability and minimal downtime.
  • Customer Support: Squarespace has robust support and excellent customer service. You won’t feel stranded on your e-commerce journey, as the platform provides assistance to ensure a smooth experience (note: Squarespace does not provide support if your website has custom coding).

❌ Cons:

  • Limitations: While their templates are visually appealing, they often carry a distinct "Squarespace-yness," making it challenging for businesses aiming to stand out and can be challenging to change or edit without complex code. Not only that, but Squarespace lacks a lot of other features that are helpful for product businesses.
  • Transaction Fees: Depending on your subscription plan, Squarespace may charge transaction fees on top of payment processor fees. However it's only a few extra dollars per month to upgrade to a plan without transaction fees so you'll need to keep an eye out to make sure you're on the best plan for your needs.
  • E-commerce Limitations: Squarespace struggles with more extensive product catalogs. Squarespace doesn't have a great product management system which could leave you feeling frustrated or overwhelmed having to manually manage a lot of individual product pages. This makes it less suitable for e-commerce businesses with a large product catalog or a lot of skus.

Our Take

Squarespace is a fine choice for small to medium-sized businesses, offering a user-friendly experience with visually appealing templates. However, it wasn't built with e-commerce it mind and is best suited for businesses that don't sell things directly on their website. Generally speaking, we don't recommend it for our e-commerce clients. Additionally, if you're a growing business aiming for extensive customization and scalability may find the platform's limitations restrictive. But if you're in the early stages of your business journey and prioritize ease of use, lots of control over design customization, and the ability to quickly and easily build out multiple landing pages, Squarespace could be a good fit.

Wordpress (Best for Content Management and Robust Growth)

Powering one-third of the top 1,000 websites across the globe, WordPress is an open-source platform celebrated for its adaptability. What started as a blogging platform has evolved into the world's most popular CMS, accommodating various website types, including e-commerce.

👍 Pros:

  • Extreme Customization: WordPress offers unparalleled customization with a vast array of plugins. This adaptability makes it suitable for businesses of any size, allowing you to tailor your online store to your specific needs.
  • Community Support: Being the leading website platform globally, WordPress enjoys extensive community support. A vast pool of resources, forums, and plugins is available to help you navigate the intricacies of e-commerce.
  • Content Management Capabilities (CMS): WordPress excels in content management, making it an ideal choice for businesses focusing on both products and informational content (ie: a blog).


  • Complexity: The dual existence of (self-hosted) and (hosted) can be confusing for users. Setting up the open-source version requires additional hosting arrangements.
  • Security Concerns: WordPress’s popularity makes it a target for cyber threats. Regular updates and security measures are crucial for maintaining a secure e-commerce site. Neglecting security measures can expose your store to potential risks.
  • DIY Challenges: While website builders ease the initial setup, in-depth customization often requires a skilled web development team. This could lead to additional costs and dependencies on external professionals for ongoing support.

Happyland's Take

WordPress remains a powerful choice for e-commerce, particularly for businesses aiming for extreme customization and content management capabilities. However, users should be prepared for a learning curve and invest in security measures to safeguard their e-commerce operations. It's imperative to pay for reputable hosting with customer support, as WordPress itself doesn't offer any kind of support. We don't recommend it for most small business owners because of the complexity and clunkiness of the platform and back end usability, but if you are willing to invest in the learning curve to do it yourself, or are able to hire a trustworthy development team for a 100% hands-free site, Wordpress could be the right fit for your online store.

Webflow (Best for Aesthetics and Easy Customization)

The rising star since 2013, Webflow is the perfect blend of creative freedom and ease of use. With over half a million websites, Webflow has evolved into a powerful, highly customizable, wildly flexible web platform that can accommodate almost any type of website.

(Side note: I remember when it launched and thought it was just the COOLEST thing ever, and if you're wondering, yes, you are currently reading this article on a Webflow-hosted website. 😊)

👍 Pros:

  • Creative Freedom for Product Display: Webflow's design flexibility extends to e-commerce, allowing businesses to showcase products creatively. This is particularly advantageous for brands with a strong focus on aesthetics.
  • Integrated Shopping Experience: As an all-in-one platform, Webflow provides an integrated shopping experience. Users can seamlessly manage products, payments, and the overall shopping process without relying on external services.
  • Responsive Design for Mobile Shopping: Webflow's responsive design ensures that the e-commerce experience remains smooth and visually appealing across various devices, including mobile phones and tablets.


  • Learning Curve for e-commerce Features: While Webflow excels in design, its learning curve is a beast. Webflow does offer Webflow University, an in-depth, free, online course (read: series of videos) that serve as helpful tutorials for nearly every feature within Webflow, but this can be time-consuming, especially for those new to the platform or who are wanting to launch something quickly.
  • Potential for Add-On Costs: Some advanced e-commerce features may require third-party integrations, leading to additional costs. Businesses should carefully assess their needs and budget before committing to specific add-ons.

Our Take

Webflow's strength lies in its extreme customizability and creative design possibilities. It's an excellent choice for businesses seeking a visually appealing and unique website. Here at Happyland, Webflow is our go-to platform for clients who want to create a custom online experience unlike any other. While Webflow may not be the best fit for those looking for a completely DIY solution, once built, it is easy to manage your content and products.

Shopify (Our #1 Pick)

Powering almost 4 million websites, Shopify is the industry go-to for product-focused businesses, claiming over 10% of the global e-commerce market. It is a popular choice with even large brands like Kylie Cosmetics, Skims, and Tesla. It's safe to say if you've shopped online, you've shopped on a Shopify-powered website.

👍 Pros:

  • E-commerce Prowess: Tailored for product-centric businesses, Shopify simplifies product management, offers shoppable collections, and integrates with a variety of sales channels. It's a powerhouse for businesses centered around products.
  • Flexibility: Users can choose between pre-designed themes for a DIY approach or hire a developer for a fully customized website, striking a balance between flexibility and ease of use. Shopify allows users to get their site up and running quickly.
  • Built-in Marketing Tools: Shopify includes built-in email marketing and other integrations to streamline marketing efforts, providing a comprehensive suite of tools for businesses.


  • DIY Challenges: Often perceived as a DIY platform, Shopify's complexity can be time-consuming and confusing for those attempting to manage their shop without professional help. While its vast theme selection does allow users to select a nice design and get their shop online quickly, if you want to customize your site beyond the theme template, you'll need to delve into the Shopify code language, Liquid.
  • Additional Costs: While apps extend functionality for Shopify sites, their subscription costs can accumulate, potentially surprising users with hidden expenses. Some simple app features can be easily built in with some custom coding, or by purchasing a premium template, but again, that leads to additional costs.

Our Take

In our opinion, Shopify stands tall as THE e-commerce powerhouse, offering an extensive suite of tools tailored for businesses centered around products. Its flexibility accommodates both small businesses and major brands, making it the go-to choice for those seeking a reliable and feature-rich platform. However, the DIY nature of Shopify can pose challenges for users without prior experience, and the potential accumulation of costs from various third-party apps warrants careful consideration.

Are you ready to talk to an expert about which website platform is right for your business? I suggest booking a call with a web strategist (cough cough... ahem... you can book a call with a really good one by clicking here 😉).

Book a complimentary info call with us today to start the conversation!

We help our clients make more money with their brand and website by designing engaging visual identities and strategic websites.

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About the Author

Brittany Wong

Brittany Wong is the Founder and Creative Director of Happyland Creative®, a design studio helping small business owners make more money with their branding.