Wix

Personally, I'm a fan of Wix services. I currently run 2 paid sites with Wix and I cannot complain about their platform or service. They are professional, helpful, quick to respond to issues, and even take time to listen and note customer needs for future development (I've seen them implement suggestions I've made, so this isn't just to appease customers). My first recommendation will always be Wix. It is user friendly for those without experience, with good customer support, great templates, and clean blog designs. 

Price: $13 US-$17 US / per month (paid annually)

          *Free option* with Wix ad banner & wix domain

           (youremail.wixsites.com/yourwebsitename)

**If you're lucky, you can catch Wix doing their 50% off deal. This happens several times a year.

Features: 

  • Clean, full customization with easy to use templates

  • Domain: Includes a free domain for 1 year. Renewed at $14.95 US / year afterward

  • eCommerce: Available but only with upgraded business plans (starting at $23 US / per month (paid annually))

  • Mobile Optimization: Yes

  • Storage: 3GB-10GB (depending on plan)

  • Marketing & App voucher (for the $17 plan and up): $100 Google and Bing ads, $100 in Local Listing + Site Booster and Form Builder app

  • Video Support

  • Newsletter integration

  • Support: Phone, Chat, Email, Forum

  • SEO: Optimization available

  • Analytics: Available

Downside: ​

  • Cost: it's not the most cost effective service available (but still the best, in my opinion)

Hosting Services

Choose the host that's best for you!

Click on the links to the right to see what each service costs and learn which services best suit your needs. 

**Some pricing is in CAD some in USD** pricing and available packages are largely based on location. Please check the pricing in your specific area for each service by clicking on the link in the host's name below.

 
 
 

Squarespace

Price: $12 US-$18 US / per month (paid annually) 

           No free option

Features:

  • Clean, easy to use templates

  • Great, customizable blogging features

  • Domain: Includes a free domain for 1 year. Renewed at $20+ / year afterward (the plus depends on the domain at time of purchase)

  • Marketing voucher (for the $18 plan and up): $100 Google Adwords Credits, Advanced Website Analytics, Promotional Pop-ups and Banners

  • eCommerce: Available for the $18 plan and up. Reported to not be so great 

  • Mobile Optimization: Yes

  • Storage: Unlimited

  • Video Support

  • Support: Chat, Email, FAQ

  • SEO: Optimization available

  • Analytics: Available

 

Downside: ​

  • Usability of the editor (limited customization in formatting & spacing)

  • No backup and restore feature

  • Only one sub-navigation

 

Weebly

Price: $7 CAD-$15 CAD / per month (paid annually)

         *Free option* Weebly domain (mywebsite.weebly.com)

Features: 

  • Easy to use, customizable templates

  • Domain:

    • Includes a free domain for 1 year. Renewed at $24 CAD/ year afterward (for $18 and up plans only)

    • Can connect custom domain (on paid plans only)

  • eCommerce: Available on all plans

  • Mobile Optimization: Yes

  • Storage: Unlimited (for $18 and up plans only)

  • Video Support

  • Support: Phone, Chat, Email, Forum

  • SEO: Optimization available

  • Analytics: Available

Downside: ​

  • Limited Design Flexibility

 

Shopify

The leading eCommerce solution

 

Price: $29 US / per month (paid annually)

There is a Lite service for $9 US / per month (paid annually), but this feature is very basic and only used to sell on social media. 

Features:

  • Excellent themes with modern and responsive designs

  • Easy to scale

  • Has a built in blog system (if required)

  • Geared towards supporting store owners open additional channels (e.g. Amazon, eBay or Facebook)

  • Domain: Includes a free domain for 1 year. Renewed at $14 US/ year afterward for a .com

  • eCommerce: Leading eCommerce platform

  • Mobile Optimization: Yes

  • Storage: Unlimited

  • Video support

  • Buyers can leave a product and user feedback

  • Shipping rates can be set for each country individually or by shipping carrier (UPS, FedEx, etc.)

  • Shopify can pull US tax rates automatically. Individual tax rates for other countries can be set individually

  • Add your own SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) numbers to each product

  • Support: Phone, Chat, Email

  • SEO: Optimization available

  • Analytics: Available

  • Shopify will only let you add a maximum of  3 variants (e.g. size, color and material). 

    • The system will then generate all the necessary combinations, and individual inventory tracking can be setup

    • The cap is at 100 combinations

Downside: ​

  • URLs not great for SEO

  • Transactions fees applied - 2%, 1% or 0.5% unless you have Shopify Payments which is not available in every country (currently available in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong)

  • Formatting non-eCommerce content is not so simple

  • They only offer a handful of free templates (about 10)

 

Format

Ideal site for portfolios

Price: $12-$18 / per month (paid annually)

Features: 

  • Easy to use templates (premium layouts only available with the $18 plan and up)

  • Especially great for photographers—includes proofing features, watermarking and integrations with Adobe Lightroom and Capture One

  • Mailing List Builder (only available with the $18 plan and up)

  • Image protection

  • Domain: Includes a free domain for 1 year. Renewed at $20 / year afterward

  • Client Proofing Galleries (1,000 images with $12 plan / 10,000 images with $18 plan)

  • eCommerce: Available (3 products with $12 plan / 60 products with $18 plan)

  • Mobile Optimization: Yes

  • Storage: 1,500 images (for the $12 plan)/  unlimited images (for the $18 plan)

  • Video Support

  • Support: 24/7 (priority support available with the $18 plan and up)

  • SEO: Optimization available

  • Analytics: Available

Wordpress

I'm personally not a fan of WordPress and I prefer not to work with the host if possible. The limitations and unfriendly back-end coding makes it difficult to work with. There is also limited template formatting without specialized knowledge in their specific code. 

Price: $5 CAD-$10 CAD / per month (paid annually)

          *Free option* with ads, limited design options, and wordpress domain (mywebsite.wordpress.com)

Features: 

  • Dozens of themes (Unlimited Premium Themes for the $10 package and above)

  • Domain: Includes a free domain for 1 year. Renewed at $24.99 CAD/ year afterward for .com and $20 CAD/ year for .ca

  • eCommerce: Available but only for the eCommerce package ($59 CAD/ year)

  • Mobile Optimization: Requires plug-in

  • Storage: 6GB / 13 GB (dependent on plan)

  • Video Support (only available with the $10 package and above) 

  • Support: Chat, Email

  • SEO: No optimization available

  • Analytics: Available

Downside: ​

  • Not the most intuitive

  • Difficult back-end coding

  • Poor price vs features ratio

  • Few SEO options

 

Feel free to compare some of the most commonly used hosts here to see what will work best for you. 

 
 
 

Domains: 

(in progress)

Domain names are required to have someone's contact information publicly available— domain privacy allows you to anonymize that information.

CM FICK

 SFF Author & Designer
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