Best CMS for Small Business Websites in 2021

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What makes a CMS good for your business?

A CMS (content management system) is the interface through which you manage your website and its content.

From all your pages to the design elements and links, your CMS helps you to build, edit, and maintain your website.

In this piece, you’ll learn about the best CMS for small business, some alternatives, and why it’s the best CMS option out there.

WordPress Alternatives: Squarespace vs Shopify

This won’t be one of those articles where you’re kept in suspense about which option is the best. WordPress has been the best CMS for most small businesses for several years running and this year nothing has changed. 

WordPress is the top option for a reason.

But there are other WordPress alternatives that can make sense in some situations.

Depending on your business model and industry, WordPress isn’t the end all be all for your needs.

Content management systems like Squarespace and Shopify can be great alternatives for certain use cases.

But overall, WordPress is the best option because it’s so adaptable and can work for pretty much any industry or business model. Due to its flexibility and its capabilities, it’s not limited to who best it can serve.

That’s not the case for the other content management systems that will be covered below.

Squarespace pros and cons

Squarespace is a great CMS I’ve used personally for several websites.

At one point I even favored the UI (user interface) to WordPress due to its simplicity and the fact that so much was taken out of your hands.

It felt really easy to set up and go.

Squarespace is a solid option for people who don’t want to have to deal with many design elements of how to put a website together. The templates make things very easy to use and the interface is pretty intuitive overall.

Pros of Squarespace

One thing about Squarespace is that it’s more fitted for personal brands, consultants, professional services, and freelancers than other types of businesses.

Because these types of people usually sell a service, consulting, or information, there’s no need for transactions to be done through the website. Most likely people involved in those types of things send invoices or have their own system for payments and contracts with clients.

Their website is more likely used as a source of sharing content and supplying contact information to set up meetings and appointments.

Most of the themes and templates on SquareSpace naturally lean toward these type of sole proprietor type website set-ups. 

The homepage, the blog section, the about page, the contact page, and the portfolio page. Very simple and straightforward.

Personal brands, consultants, and freelancers should definitely consider what they need their website to do and how they see it scaling. 

WordPress can absolutely deliver a great website for a personal brand, freelancer, or consultant but Squarespace can usually be set up more quickly and with less of a learning curve.

It’s usually easier to set up and maintain a Squarespace site than a WordPress site, especially for those who lack experience.

Cons of Squarespace

Squarespace does have limitations for businesses that sell physical products or a multitude of products and services. A brick and mortar business would certainly need a site with more options than Squarespace has.

Unless someone is purely selling infoproducts, consulting, or selling some type of service, Squarespace isn’t ideal.

Some of its issues include:

  • It’s weak for eCommerce and selling physical products
  • Low customizability 
  • eCommerce functionality is more expensive
  • There are better options for selling physical products (Shopify, Wix, WordPress)

If your business requires employees or is something you’re considering scaling past just a personal brand or sole proprietorship, skip Squarespace and go straight to WordPress.

Shopify pros and cons

Shopify is another CMS I’ve had a great experience with. It’s extremely popular and it’s one of the most popular eCommerce platforms in the world because it appeals to so many people.

Shopify is a great option for businesses that operate solely online and are selling physical products. Most particularly, Shopify is a good option for solopreneurs and very small operations that rely on social media and influencer marketing.

Pros of Shopify

Lots of influencers, personal brands, and eCommerce brands that are heavily relying on social media use Shopify.

Not every brand or business relies on its website to bring in traffic or help with marketing. Some sites are more transactional than others.

For brands or companies that heavily rely on converting traffic from social media platforms, posts, influencers, and ads, Shopify can handle the basics of what they need.

A site that can help them make transactions from the traffic they’ve built in other places.

It’s a great way to quickly set up a business website that’s quickly ready to take orders and ship packages to people.

  • Very accessible for beginners, solopreneurs, and the non-tech savvy
  • Easy platform to set-up for social media brands and influencers
  • Very strong app ecosystem that offers additional features and tools
  • Custom built for selling products with solid hardware and software integrations available

Cons of shopify

  • Low customizability 
  • Really weak blogging capabilities 
  • Not ideal for certain SEO tactics due to inflexible architecture 
  • Can be harder to differentiate your brand against other brands relying on the same themes and templates

Shopify has lots of limitations due to the way its constructed.

The trade-off for having things set up for you is that a lot of the website architecture and search engine optimization functionality is lacking. 

If you plan on relying on or heavily featuring your blog as part of your website/business, Shopify is out of the question.

Shopify is built specifically for eCommerce operations.

And within eCommerce platforms, WooCommerce has more functionality and features available than Shopify.

Shopify can work for some brands, but it has quite a few handicaps.

Why WordPress is the best CMS for small business websites

WordPress is the best CMS for most businesses for arguably over to a decade and it’s retained its number 1 spot for a reason.

  • It’s the most flexible and has the most features available
  • WordPress has the WooCommerce plugin available for eCommerce stores
  • Even though it’s more customizable, it also comes with lots of themes available 
  • WordPress has a very customizable website architecture and is very SEO friendly
  • It’s the most highly adaptable of all the content management systems mentioned in this article
  • It’s got a robust plugin ecosystem of 54,000 free plugins in addition to lots of paid plugins that add even more features and tools

WordPress is a CMS that any small business can grow with.

There’s a reason WordPress is powering 35% of the internet. It’s tried, tested, and true when it comes to managing websites.

According to W3Techs, 30.3% of the top 1000 websites use WordPress.

With WordPress you don’t have to worry about changing or upgrading your CMS if you get to a certain size or you change your business model.

The power of the WooCommerce plugin lets you easily adapt your WordPress site to be set up for selling products online and hosting an online store.

More eCommerce stores are hosted on WooCommerce (31%) than on Shopify (20%) according to Built With. 

WordPress can do almost anything that content management systems like Squarespace and Shopify do but can often do them better and in more ways.

Is WordPress right for your business?

Think about your business model and how you need to interact with customers through your website.

Whether you’re selling products directly online or you’re just setting phonecalls/ virtual meetings with people. 

The reason platforms like Shopify and Squarespace are so good is theirs out of the box set up options that make it easy for even novices to get started.

The only real advantages they have over WordPress are ease of use and speed to deploy.

Using a platform that can grow with you can save you a lot of hassle in the long run if you choose to get more serious about your website capabilities in the future. You can avoid having to go through the headaches associated with website migration projects if you’re using a platform that can evolve with you.

9 times out of 10 if you see your business potentially growing or changing a lot over time, you should go with WordPress from the start. 

If you’re a business that needs help with digital marketing or optimizing your website, please contact us.

Shameen is an SEO consultant and content strategy expert with a focus on organic growth marketing. Other interests include independent journalism and fitness.

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