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Get a closer look under the hood: developers advise the platform for a site

Web development is a double jackpot for marketers. In addition to controversial design points, it is essential to understand what is under the hood of a site. Agencies advise different technologies, arguing what the best choice is. Are any of it real or are managers just trying to sell? Especially for marketers with an analytical mindset, we share a simple technologies description, that is used to develop websites.

Tilda, Squarespace, Readymag

What it is: A website builder and design platform of a new generation. Flexible, but limited in functionality.
Suitable for: Landings, simple corporate sites, online stores with basic functionality.
Not suitable for: Any site that needs complex functionality: calendars, tabs, products, sections.

Pros:

  • Cheap and fast. The site on the designer can be made without the help of programmers so the development costs will be several times cheaper.
  • Aesthetically pleasing. Modern designers are made with restrictions that help the design to be aesthetic: for example, basic fonts combinе very well.

Cons:

  • Scalability. The site on the builder platform will be difficult to finalize. It has precisely these features that were laid down initially – an animated picture. Personal account for the user and the calculator are not possible.
  • SEO optimization. Because the design-builder is a cloud-based solution with the production-ready code, the chances of optimizing the site are meager. The creators of the platforms are trying to solve this issue, but all other things being equal, the site on Tilda / Squarespace / Readymag will always lose to the site on a more advanced engine.

Developers, who work with a specific framework on an ongoing basis, have the most profound understanding of the topic:

Daniel Todorov, web designer at Masters about Tilda
Tilda is the best choice for commercial sites, landing pages, shops with a small number of goods or special projects. Tilda sites are well indexed by search engines since the entire code is well structured and compressed in advance. To improve ranking, you can tag, optimize images, and specify keywords for individual pages. It will be more challenging to work with a large online store, a site with a personal account or just a highly loaded project, where a very custom design and functions are needed.

 

WordPress

What it is: The most popular technology for corporate sites. According to different estimates from 65 to 80% of sites on the Internet are WordPress based. WordPress websites consist of a blank template, which already has a design for crucial pages. Templates are ready-made, and you can buy them on popular sites like Evanto Market. Many developers design a theme especially for a case, code and connect it to the WordPress engine itself. It is where the confusion arises – many mistakenly believe that WP by default means a ready-made template, but this is not the case.
Suitable for: Corporate websites, blogs and news portals, simple online stores (up to 1000 products, without complex warehouse account integration and complex filters)
Not suitable for: Creating portals, social networks, web applications.

Pros:

  • Popularity. WordPress developers are one of the most numerous in all web development. If you need to find a contractor – it will be easy to do.
  •  Documentation. WP is a technology where almost everything that humanity could come to mind was made. For example, if you want to make the slider on the main page of the site work with the  increasing acceleration and the effect of “gurgling” pictures – on the Internet, most likely, there is a description, a suitable library, and discussion on the WordPress developers forum how to implement it.

Cons:

  • Difficulties in choosing contractors. It is the dark side of the technology’s popularity. Because of the relatively low entry barriers of WP, developers vary from completely unintelligent individuals to amazing experts. It is challenging to distinguish one from another without technical knowledge.
  • Cybersecurity. WordPress developers often sin by downloading pirated versions of plug-ins and engine extensions. It is where 90% of WP-sites vulnerabilities are hidden. Buying official versions of plug-ins, this risk can be reduced to a minimum, but the probability of catching a virus on your website remains.
  • Scalability. In contrast to the designers on WP, it is quite possible, for example, to create a user’s account. Theoretically, you can also make a web application for webinars. The technological “can” border is rather blurred. Complicating the functionality, you almost always have to sacrifice the speed of the site response.

Takeaways:

WP’s popularity – both a blessing and a curse. If you need to develop a website with a calendar, a news blog, or complex animations that go beyond the designers, this is your choice. It is essential to be able to distinguish sellers of ready-made templates from professional developers. For more complex solutions that are close to web applications, it is better to look at more difficult technologies.

Shopify

What is it: One of the most popular engines for online stores. The system is half closed and can be considered as an analog of prom.ua. Shopify is a SaaS platform. The code itself is not stored on your server, but in the cloud. For Shopify, it is possible to tinker with themes and experiment with appearance, but functional improvements to the platform are minimal.

Suitable for: uncomplicated online stores.

Not suitable for: marketplaces, complex trading platforms.

Pros:

  • Popularity. Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms in the world. The number of add-ons, as well as developers working with this platform, is one of the highest.
  • Simplicity. Creating a shop on it is much easier than creating a shop from scratch, developing a theme, setting up plug-ins on other systems like Opencart or Magento.
  • Support. In the case of difficulties arising, it will be possible to contact support. If the store is made on WordPress – this isn’t possible.

Cons:

  •  Limited functionality. All the functionality available for building on Shopify is limited. Creating a store on this platform, it is impossible to write and upload your plug-ins, for example, for product bundles, bonuses, or promotional codes.
  • Specific code on Liquid. The framework on which the themes for Shopify are written is not always familiar to programmers. To work on Shopify, you need to look for specialists with experience, which can be difficult because of their relevance – the majority has been working the foreign market very closely and for a long time.
  • Proceeds from the trafficking. Choosing Shopify, you have to deduct a small percentage of each sale.

 

Stanislav Parshin, head of Alisa.ua online store about Shopify
Choose Shopify if this is your first online store and you know English. It is suitable for a quick check of a business model or a niche store with a simple catalog. For example, you have a small production of honey near Poltava, or you are young brand streetwear. Buy the theme of registration in the official store, and you can get the first orders in a couple of weeks. We have been working with this CMS for five years after we did not “pull” the development on Magento. It was one of my best business decisions.

Takeaways:

If you are building an online store that does not require complex functionality and you want to save time – Shopify definitely will be a good option. If there should be something more difficult under the hood, you should look at more flexible technologies.

Magento

What it is: а leading CMS for online stores, more popular in the United States. In recent years, also gaining popularity in Eastern Europe.

Suitable for: Online stores and marketplaces of almost any level of complexity.

Not suitable for: Web applications.

Pros:

  • Technical forethought. Programmers often praise Magento for MVC architecture. For users, this is manifested in the speed and response of the site itself.
  • SEO optimization. Magento code is well perceived by search engines.
  • Support. Shop owners always receive timely advice and updates on changes to the system.

Cons:

  • Cost. Magento license isn’t cheap. Also, the cost of plug-ins and add-ins starts from $ 200. The developers at Magento are reclaimed and work for the foreign market; therefore, their rate will always be higher.
  • Focus on the western market. By default, payment and delivery services, that could be connected out-of-the-box – are American. If the store needs to provide for something other than PayPal or UPS, there will be some additional efforts.

 

Denis Rogachev – Head of E-commerce at Comfy about Magenta
Magenta was proposed by a contractor who was chosen as a development partner. Pros – this is a convenient CMS solution with a relatively affordable development cost, cons – the lack of database scaling in older versions and, as a result, a complex system in terms of performance optimization.

Takeaways:

Magento – is a rather expensive platform. If you work on the US market – this is the right choice. When working on a local market – this is one of the options. Accurately calculate your budget to see if this solution is suitable for you or whether it is worth looking for some alternatives.

Laravel

What it is: Unlike the technologies mentioned above, Laravel is a framework. With a simple analogy – if WordPress or Magento engines are a wardrobe or a chest of drawers from IKEA, that can be assembled into a pre-designed piece of furniture, a Tilda or Squarespace is a rented chest of drawers, then Laravel is a set of boards and fixtures, from which you can make almost anything.
Suitable for: For almost any web development.
Not suitable for: On Laravel, you can make both a simple landing page and a social network. The term “not suitable” can only be applied for temporary and financial inexpediency.

Pros:

  • Flexibility. The framework is practically unlimited in its capabilities. On it, you can write a social network, calculator pay-back mortgage, online store, real estate, or tickets booking service. A large number of libraries is constantly being updated.
  • Popularity. Today Laravel is the most popular framework in the world. Discussions on the forums of programmers, descriptions of libraries, live examples – all this helps programmers to create complex solutions faster and with fewer errors and vulnerabilities.
  • Free. You only pay for developer hours at no additional cost for licenses and support.

Cons:

  • Multifunctionality. It is both an advantage and disadvantage at the same time. On the one hand, Laravel websites can be scaled without sacrificing download speed and architecture. On the other hand, every little detail, such as a carousel with a photo or a menu, will have to be done almost from scratch. On complex projects like online stores or social networks, this may appear time-consuming.

 

Kostya Pelikhovsky about Laravel
Development under a framework like Symfony or Laravel requires a client’s understanding that each month, there are tasks specifically in terms of functionality that differs from a store, a blog or just a sales channel. There is a need for specific functions, connections of payment systems, and marketing experiments. When choosing a particular framework, it is better to consult a pro. Lara is an abbreviated Symfony. With its pros and cons.

Takeaways:

The most popular technology for complex services. No need for a license can both reduce the cost of the project and add hours to the development. The best choice for creating sophisticated platforms, portals, and web applications.

Briefly about less popular, but often encountered engines

  • Opencart – a popular CMS for online stores in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. It’s free and has many of the out-of-the-box solutions necessary for online trading. Despite the availability of paid and free plug-ins and add-ons, some functions are sometimes not enough. Building into the existing architecture could be extremely problematic. Doesn’t work with Western payment and delivery services.
  • Joomla – WordPress big brother. Massive and extremely problematic in terms of security engine. By default, it causes developers a sense of rejection. It is rapidly losing popularity.
  • Yii2 – a popular framework in Russia and China. Inherently reminiscent of Laravel, with some differences in architecture. In recent years, it is losing popularity.
  • 1s Bitrix – a specific paid engine, designed for the Russian market. Complicated, paid, quite limited in architecture, but having a couple of functional advantages and a large number of blanks. Quite expensive in terms of development.
  • Drupal is a popular open source content management system. The main advantages of Drupal is a flexible architecture and a competent developer community. It means you have access to excellent modules, timely bug fixes, and kernel updates, as well as an endless stream of online documentation and manuals.
  • Modx – a professional tool for website development. Free and open source. Developers often give preference to MODX over WordPress because you can create high-quality blogs with a multi-functional control panel.

Best way to check how successful your CMS choice – is to ask the developers a few questions:

  • Will it be possible to implement the desired functionality on the site?
  • How long will the development take?
  • Will the site be well indexed by search engines?
  • Will I need to buy additional functionality?
  • Is it possible to customize the design?
  • Is it possible to “finalize” the site without involving developers in the process?

The main message:

Developing a tool for solving business problems is often immersion in topics that are new to the entrepreneur. Processes can be very different from the usual and not understandable for a person outside of IT. You are lucky if the contractor offers to fix the initial technical task. The next stage is the choice of the engine or said the heart of your project. The struggle between good and evil is nothing compared to this process. However, there is quite a simple criterion – the money you are willing to invest.

1. Up to $200 per month. If you have up to $10k for your entire project – you can get by with any suitable CMS. For example, this is Wix or Tilda for a simple selling page. WordPress for a blog or news site. These are website builders and design platforms so you can do most of it yourself.

2. From $ 500 per month are long-term investments. Suppose you going to make money on a resource and compete in the digital market. Accordingly, the need for spending money and time on advertising and content. This category includes online stores with a small number of articles and turnover. There is a very controversial solution for business, because of “monsters” based on WordPress, OpenCart, MODX, Drupal, and PrestaShop. Hired freelancers are frequently changing. Somewhere new features are added, but some extra functions are cut out. You will spend lots of money, time, and nerves on it. My advice: find other sales channels. Combine some simple ones and develop sales in social networks.

3. There are SaaS solutions like Shopify or Prom. On the one hand, everything is done for you and inexpensive. On the other hand, everything turnes into a headache, when something that is not there in the modules is necessary. Or you need your own, unique design and functionality.

4. You do know Zen and understand why to pay a programmer from $1000. Within these limits is a development under a framework such as Symfony or Laravel.

Jegor Walowski

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