Not all websites are built the same, just ask any developer. Platforms have limitations and different degrees of customization and functionality. Therefore, before diving into the development of your cannabis website, you should assess your options: WordPress, Squarespace, Magneto, and others.
Picking the right website depends on a lot of factors because switching website platforms isn’t something that you can just do during a Tuesday afternoon lunch break — it is a big undertaking. So from the outset, you need to ask some serious questions.
- What is the current size of my business and where do I envision it growing in the next five years?
- What type of cannabis business am I running and what is the purpose of having a website for my company?
- What types of functionality do I need or want on my website?
- How quickly do I need a site up and running?
- Do I have a developer or agency to create the website or this is a DIY project?
A truthful assessment of these questions (and more) can help you a good idea of the characteristics you are looking for in a website platform. From there, you can begin to best match your results with the available options.
WordPress is considered the king of website platforms. Nearly one-third of all websites are built on the WordPress platform — and for good reason. WordPress is a free open-sourced software that offers thousands of free plugins and themes for users. The main draw to WordPress is the available customization and ease of use for novice web builders. Additionally, making edits and changes to the live site is simple and straightforward, enabling teams to delegate web tasks to nearly anyone if necessary. WordPress also gives businesses the ability to scale as needed as their company and functionality evolve over time.
Specifically designed for large eCommerce companies, Magneto is the Cadillac of online store platforms. It is also a free open-sourced software and works best for the scalability of online stores that offer multiple product variations: companies such as Landrover and Vizio use this platform. However, Magneto is complex and requires knowledge of coding — meaning you’re going to need a developer to set up and manage your site. Themes also can get a bit pricey, just something to keep in mind if a budget is important.
Squarespace is more of a barebones website platform that has very noticeable limitations. It requires a monthly cost to house your site on their software ($12-$40) and lacks autosaving features and any real substantial eCommerce functionality. Squarespace does offer good customer service and access to learning materials. In addition, it provides businesses with the opportunity to quickly self-build a site from a selection of templates and get a website up and running in a matter of hours. Squarespace, WIX, and Weebly all fall under the same branch and offer users about the same level of customization and functionality.
What’s The Best Platform?
Again, this relates back to both your immediate needs and long-term growth projection. The best overall choice would most likely be WordPress as it gives you the most creative options and is a cost-effective platform for any type of cannabis business. Large eCommerce companies such as a state-wide dispensary may look into building with Magneto. We’d recommend avoiding platforms like Squarespace as your business will likely outgrow the design and user experience controls as your company expands.
At the end of the day, keep in mind that your website is often a consumer’s first impression of your business. You need to be on a platform that will support the impression you desire.