Boasting modern templates, robust portfolio features, and an intuitive interface, Squarespace is known for its world-class design and its “no coding required” setup. It’s best for promotional websites, personal branding, small businesses, and showcasing online portfolios. Like all top modern website build platforms, Squarespace includes easy content authoring, site hosting, built-in security, automatic backups, site analytics, and solid support.
If ultra-speedy-setup and breadth of features over design are your priorities, consider Wix over Squarespace. If blogging or publishing content is your primary goal, go with WordPress.com (see below). If you’re building an online store, go with Shopify (see below).
With a deep heritage as a blogging and publishing platform, WordPress powers over one-third of the web. Its vast ecosystem of plugins, themes, tutorials, and massive community of freelancers feeds its growth. Success begets success. If your content is king, enjoy the same success as tens of millions of small-to-medium businesses, bloggers, top brands, and the global kings of publishing like NYTimes, Bloomberg, Wired, Vogue, and Disney.
The most complete and well-tuned online store builder, Shopify is — pardon the cliche — in a class of its own. Their templates are world-class and performant. They’ve streamlined their store setup and maintenance process to an insane degree. They’ve gobbled up and integrated top ancillary services — like shipping apps/companies — to facilitate the complete sales and service cycle. Their store reports and analytics are excellent. Lastly, there’s a vast base of store plug-ins and a broad developer community, both critical for store customization.
Best for small to medium-sized businesses, entrepreneurs, and creatives seeking excellent quality managed WordPress hosting at a cost-effective price. We like how Flywheel simplifies the complex: they automate the otherwise messy under-the-hood WebOps to keep your WordPress site running fast, ultra-secure, constantly live, and scalable. We especially like their one-click pushes from your local site to staging site and then staging to your live site. In addition, their dashboard for managing your site and admin is powerful yet Intuitive.
Alternative to Flywheel Hosting
Consider WPEngine for large-scale sites and enterprise-level WordPress managed hosting. Best for highly trafficked sites with tech-savvy developers with some WebOps chops.
Google’s Workspace email is the best price-to-quality email hosting for entrepreneurs, personal brands, and small to medium-sized businesses. Google’s email hosting platform is, in Seinfeld-speak, the master of its domain. Formerly G Suite, the Google Workspace package includes multiple alias emails for your account. In other words, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and multiple other aliases piggyback on firstname.lastname@example.org. It works with your mail app of choice as well as the web browser-based Gmail UI you may be used to from your free personal Gmail account. The base plan costs about $60 a year — for one primary email member (countless aliases included). A nice bonus: the Google Workspace plan includes Google’s Workspace services, like Google Docs, Sheets, Drive, etc.
Namecheap’s domain registrar heritage runs deep. They are reputable, their dashboard is simple to use, and their customer service is speedy as well as helpful — as is their documentation. They integrate well with the top website hosting platforms. Namecheap is also great for searching available domain names. Admittedly, we don’t love the “cheap” in their name. The “good value” connotation is spot on, but “cheap” insinuates “low quality,” which they are not.
TIP: Some domain selling services offer a low initial domain registration cost and then a high annual renewal rate. Compare the total price of a domain based on five-plus years of use.
Figma is the most popular website design tool for web designers for a reason — its intuitive feature set serves designers of all levels. Like most modern applications, the software steps out of your way, contextually offering more and more advanced options just when the need arises. Figma is great for brainstorming designs, laying out responsive website pages, producing web-optimized images, and it excels at sharing, remotely presenting, and collaborating on design files. This collaboration ability is the feature that most distinguishes Figma from other leading design apps, namely the also excellent Sketch App. (For purely editing photos, we embrace Adobe Photoshop and the newer, less expensive Affinity Photo.) Figma was built from the ground up to be collaborative — so much so that its files reside on cloud-based servers, a potentially big advantage for designers on teams, shared style guides, and automatic cloud backups. Work is never lost.
With over 300 million images and growing, Shutterstock’s image library leads the pack in breadth and depth. Shutterstock is the go-to stock image source for many designers — for websites, social media, print, vector media illustrations — as well as for video, animation, and background music.
Easily share, organize, and automatically backup your digital assets — files, graphics, videos, and content. Share these assets with your team, contractors, clients, and family through a simple-to-use interface. The files are easily accessible on your desktop, phone, or through an intuitive web-based interface. They’re automatically backed up and archived on an ultra-secure cloud platform. Using Dropbox streamlines our workflow, helping us maintain “one point of truth” for our latest (“master”) files. In addition, Dropbox makes backing up seamless and painless. We’ve been using Dropbox for a decade for both work and personal files.
Reach your customers with elegantly styled, targeted emails. Use drag-and-drop tools for design and Mailchimp’s custom insights to boost email performance — data-backed feedback like A/B and multivariate testing results, personalized content suggestions for more performance emails, and audience engagement results for honing your approach and target. Leverage easy-to-use customer segmentation, reports, and analytics. Advanced plans include sales growth and optimization features, enabling you to target lost customers, automatically send email reminders for abandoned shopping carts, and cross-sell products to existing customers. Mailchimp includes a free starter plan and the first-tier paid plan starting at $11/month.
Turn qualified leads into customers while monitoring and optimizing your ROI. Hubspot is the chosen inbound marketing platform for marketers from cost-conscious startups to digital marketing agencies to CMOs at global enterprise-level businesses. With HubSpot, you test your marketing campaigns quickly and efficiently to discover what works, optimize, and get better quality results faster. Easily create trackable, customized, and automated email campaigns and conduct A/B testing. In addition, Hubspot can automate your social posts — controlling the when, what, and to who.
Make a quality first impression, one that lasts. Moo’s high-quality design and reasonable price make them our favorite business card printing service. The quality of their paper stock is high with excellent premium options — we especially like their triple-stacked business card with the middle color stripe. In addition, their online printing process is intuitive — it’s easy to upload your design files for printing or use their modern, sophisticated, and minimal pre-designed cards and stationery.