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Chromebook Review (2018) - Should I Buy a Chromebook?
 Chromebook review (image of a Chromebook computer).

"Should I buy a Chromebook?" is a question that is asked with increasing frequency by both individuals and businesses looking to reduce their computing costs. This Chromebook review explores the pros and cons of using Chromebooks and other Chrome OS-based computers and helps you answer that question...

Because of the nature of the work I do, and the nature of the times we live in, I seem to have devices coming out of my ears.

Depending on where I'm working, I switch between an iMac, a Windows laptop, an iPhone and an iPad, but one thing I've noticed about all these devices is that a hell of a lot of what I'm doing on them is now being done in Chrome.

Increasingly I seem to be neglecting Word, Outlook, Excel and so on (all installed Microsoft products) in favour of online, cloud-based equivalents (mostly Google products) that run via a browser.

This observation, coupled with some adverts featuring shiny computers on Facebook (after all, Facebook knows I like shiny computers), got me wondering about Chromebooks and whether you could run a business on one. This in turn naturally led to me buying a Chromebook and writing a blog post about the whole bloody thing. On a Chromebook.

But before we get to all that, let's discuss what a Chromebook actually is.

What is a Chromebook?

A Chromebook is basically a laptop that you use primarily when you are online, and one that you don't really save files onto.

Nearly everything — word processing, spreadsheet-eyeballing, note-taking and no doubt other dubious activities — is done online via Google's Chrome browser and pretty much everything you produce is saved onto the 'cloud'.

This means that Chromebooks generally don't come with much storage and don't require a particularly fast processor...which in turn makes them very cheap compared to 'normal' computers.

Chromebooks run Chrome OS, a stripped-back, Linux-based operating system which revolves mainly around the Chrome browser. Although an increasing number of apps which also work offline are now available for it, the idea is that most of what you do on a Chrome OS device is done online using the Chrome browser.

There are some really great things about Chromebooks — and some not so great. Let’s take a look at the good stuff first.

The pros of using Chromebooks

Chromebooks can lower your hardware and IT costs

Chromebooks have the potential to lower IT costs in a few ways.

Firstly, and for the reasons discussed above, they are much cheaper to buy than 'normal' computers. I'm typing this on a machine that cost me just $175 (albeit in a sale, but you can definitely pick a decent enough machine up for less than $300).

My mid-range Windows laptop cost four times as much as this without - when it comes to using Chrome and cloud-based software at least - being four times as good.

So whether you're an individual or a business, there are significant savings to be made by purchasing a Chromebook (or if you fit into the latter category, lots of them). If you apply these sort of cost differentials across a large team's computing requirements, you're talking about saving a lot of money.

Secondly, because Chromebooks do not rely on installed software, there is less of a need for an IT department to, well, install software. Or update it. Or support it. Any updates to your Chromebook and the cloud-based software you use (Google Docs etc.) are carried out regularly and automatically by Google, and if you're a G Suite (Google Apps) customer, you have a 24/7 Google helpdesk at your disposal too.

Thirdly, because there are no moving parts in them, Chromebooks are arguably less prone to developing mechanical faults, meaning greater reliability and longevity - and a lack of repair bills.

And finally, because your team is working in the cloud, you don't need to spend as much money on physical storage to handle networking or backups.

(Note that depending on the G Suite plan you’re on, you may need to invest in a third-party cloud backup service, however, to ensure any data in G Suite remains backed up).

Chromebooks can lower your software costs

For many individuals and businesses, G Suite, Google's set of productivity apps, is now capable of handling core computing needs - word processing, spreadsheets, email and diary management - perfectly well, and very cheaply (G Suite for Work costs £3.30 per user per month).

And if you don't want to work with G Suite, there are cheap or even free browser-based alternatives available to you - not least a free browser-based version of Microsoft Office or the entry-level Office 365 plan, which provides you with an email account and cloud storage for a few dollars per month in addition to the online versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc. Microsoft Access can't be used on a Chromebook however.

(For a detailed overview of when and why you might want to use G Suite or Office 365, you can check out our Office 365 vs G Suite comparison post.)

Chromebooks are less vulnerable to viruses

Because of the emphasis on cloud-based working, using a Chromebook doesn't tend to involve much installation of software; accordingly, it's quite difficult for users to get a virus on one (note: you can still get 'phished' on a Chromebook, which is something different).  

And on top of that, Chromebooks are generally viewed as one of the more robust systems going from a virus protection point of view: automatic updates, 'sandboxing' and 'verified boots' help prevent infection (you can find out more about these terms on Google's Chromebook Security help page).

All this means that if you are using a Chromebook, you can generally forget the costs associated with virus and malware protection software - or paying IT professionals to clear up the mess you made on the network after you opened that attachment from that nice lady from Russia. 

They can encourage collaboration and improve productivity

Because Chromebooks aren't really about installing standalone pieces of software on your computer, those using them are effectively nudged in the direction of using web apps that allow multiple users to access and edit files together in real time. This opens up a lot of collaborative possibilities and new ways of working.

Additionally, with a Chromebook, less seems to get in the way of actually doing work. Chrome OS is clutter-free, stable, and free of the 'bloat' or 'lag' that you often get with other operating systems.

Chromebooks also boot up incredibly quickly (in about 5-10 seconds) and are 'instant-on' from sleep. Any system that comes with lack of distractions, delays and crashes has good implications for productivity.

You're dealing with a robust platform

Whether we're talking about email clients like Gmail, CRM tools like Salesforce, accounting solutions such as Xero, e-newsletter apps such as Mailchimp or helpdesks such as Zendesk, they all have two things in common: they are examples of software titles used by millions of businesses all over the world, and they are all applications that run in a web browser.

If your team access all their key tools in a web browser, then why not provide them with system that is designed explicitly for doing that? Even modest Chromebooks provide an astonishingly fast and stable environment for working with browser-based applications.

The same goes for using a Chromebook for personal entertainment - if the main reason you're getting a laptop is to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime shows on it, there is little point in forking out for an expensive Apple product when you can access video content perfectly well via Chrome.

Chromebooks are ideal for a workforce that moves around a lot

If you travels a lot, then Chromebooks can be an excellent option.

They are generally much lighter and thinner than traditional laptops (due to the lack of moving parts) — so this makes them much easier to transport.

The thing to watch out for, of course, is the lack of an internet connection: less of an issue these days, with tethering via phone options and ever improving wifi, but it is possible to hit a black spot. If that happens, there are offline working options available for some Chrome Apps (notably Gmail).

The integration with G Suite is great

Over 5 million individuals and companies use G Suite now - and if you or your business is included in that number, then you will be hard-pressed to find a nicer, more reliable and tightly-integrated way to work with this suite of products than on a Chrome OS device.

The cons of using a Chromebook

That all sounded fantastic didn't it? But before you rush out and by a Chromebook, there are a couple of significant downsides to consider.

You can't install Microsoft Office on Chromebooks

Whatever your feelings about MS Office apps, a generation has been brought up using them, which means that 1) your team will face a learning curve if you insist on them using other products and 2) you will probably need to supply content in Microsoft Office format to other organisations that you deal with.

The good news is that G Suite is perfectly capable of creating, editing and saving MS Office files; but you should note that when it comes to editing complicated MS Office documents, you may have to watch out for formatting problems when you save your files.

Alternatively, you can always use the online version of MS Office (free or paid) on a Chromebook: whilst not providing as comprehensive a set of tools as the desktop version, it nonetheless enables you to edit most Word, Excel and Powerpoint files in a browser and without some of the formatting headaches you might occasionally run into with G Suite.

It's important to note that 'power-users' of MS Office products may still need to use the desktop versions (as many advanced features are not currently available in the online versions of MS Office apps) and MS Access currently won't run in a browser.

But all in all, not being able to install the desktop version of MS Office on your Chromebook shouldn't hold you back too much when it comes to document editing.

If you can’t live without the installed versions of the Microsoft Office apps however, then maybe a Chromebook is not for you.

They are not ideal for working on multimedia projects

If your business is one which deals with a lot of audio or video related projects, then you are probably better off working on a traditional desktop.

It's not that there aren't powerful Chromebooks available that could handle this kind of work (the Chromebook Pixel, for example); it's more that the software typically used for multimedia projects - Pro Tools, Final Cut Pro etc. - is not currently browser-based. 

Interestingly however, a version of Photoshop is on the way for Chromebook - a 'streamed' edition which runs on a remote server and is accessed via the Chrome browser. It's currently a beta version limited to North America-based Adobe education customers with a paid Creative Cloud membership, but should be rolled out more widely soon, along with other Adobe Creative Cloud apps. This points to the fact that Chromebooks in time, may actually end up becoming a good option for working on multimedia projects; it'll be interesting to see how that all pans out.

(For the record, it should be pointed out that basic image editing on a Chromebook won't pose any problems - there are plenty of simple editors available, both cloud-based and offline.)

Chromebooks are not best suited to gaming

If you're into gaming — or at least playing the latest games — then a Chromebook won't be the best option for you, because they generally aren't powerful enough to cope with the graphical and computational demands of modern games.

That said, because some Chromebooks allow you to run Android apps, you do have some options when it comes to Android games. Laptop Mag has a good rundown of some good Android gaming options here.

They are (obviously) not as functional offline

Chromebooks are for obvious reasons less useful offline than online - but you still use them to access and edit Google Drive files when you're not connected to the internet, and you can use an offline version of Gmail too.

An increasing number of other apps which work offline are being made available for Chrome OS too; so as long as you plan things in advance, and make sure you save the right files onto your Chromebook before you go offline, you should still be able to get a decent amount of work done when you are not connected to the internet.

What about Chromeboxes, Chromebases and Chromebits?

Chromeboxes are essentially the desktop version of Chromebooks: tiny little boxes that run Chrome OS and are reminiscent of a Mac Mini or an Apple TV box.

You generally have to sort yourself out with a keyboard, mouse, and monitor when you buy one, but they are still much cheaper than traditional desktop machines.

Chromebases are 'all in one' computers that run Chrome OS; they look something like of the current generation of iMacs.

And finally, there's the Chromebit to consider - a dongle that just plugs into the HDMI port on a television and turns your telly into a computer. Remarkably funky stuff.

 A Chromebase - an 'all-in-one' computer that runs Chrome OS.

A Chromebase - an 'all-in-one' computer that runs Chrome OS.

The pros and cons of using a Chromebook generally apply to using any of the above Chrome OS devices - assuming Chrome OS works for your business, you just have to make a call on the appropriate form factor.

Summary: pros and cons of using Chromebooks (and other Chrome-based computing devices)

So, should you buy a Chromebook? Well, we hope that this Chromebook review has helped you answer that question. To sum up, and help you make a final decision, here's a list of the main pros and cons of using one:


  • Chromebooks (and other Chrome OS devices) are very cheap by comparison to traditional laptops / computers.

  • Chrome OS is fast and stable.

  • Machines are typically light, compact and easy to transport

  • Viruses and malware pose less of a risk.

  • They can reduce reliance on IT professionals and lower software costs.

  • The integration with G Suite is excellent.

  • They're a good option if you chiefly use browser-based apps for work or entertainment.


  • You can't Skype on Chromebooks.

  • Whilst you can use Microsoft Office on them (the online version), some features will not be available.

  • They are not (yet) ideal for multimedia applications.

  • Working offline on a Chromebook arguably requires a bit more advance planning than using a traditional laptop.

  • They're not great for gaming.

  • If you are extremely dependent on a piece of software that does not run in a browser or on Chrome OS, Chromebooks are not for you.

2018 Chromebooks to consider

Below you'll find some popular Chromebooks to take a look at. Please note that the links used involve affiliate advertising.

Entry level

Below you'll find some Chromebooks that have been highly rated by reviewers on Amazon (we've only included computers on this list which cost less than £300, have 50+ reviews, and a minimum of a four star rating). Acer typically does well in this market, in the UK at least.

High end

If you're looking for a far more powerful Chromebook, then Google Chromebook Pixelbooks are worth considering. As the name suggests, these are Google's own take on the Chromebook and accordingly you'll find that they are beautiful in design and extremely fast.

However, you can expect to pay Apple-style prices to get your hands on one:

The bottom line is that if your needs are not particularly demanding then an entry level Chromebook should serve you fine; if you've got cash to splash and really want to work on Chrome OS you'll love the Pixelbook.

 Google's Chromebook: the Pixelbook

Google's Chromebook: the Pixelbook

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New Office 365 setup services available from Style Factory
 Office 365 logo

We’re really pleased to announce that we’re now able to assist clients with Office 365 setup and migration.

Office 365 is one of the two productivity suite ‘big hitters’ (the other being G Suite). Its main selling point is that on most plans, not only do you get access to all browser versions of the classic Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, Outlook etc.), you also get the desktop versions too.

You can view a full overview of Office 365 features and pricing plans here.

If you’re interested in using Office 365 as your productivity suite, please do contact us today to find out how we can assist you with a smooth and risk-free set up of / migration to this industry leading solution.

If you are unsure as to whether Office 365 or G Suite is a better fit for your organisation, then you might like to read our Office vs G Suite comparison. (We also offer G Suite setup and migration services.)

Just get in touch if you have any queries!

Six Simple Ways to Make your Site More Visible in Google Search Results
 Ways to make your website more visible on Google (image of a magnifying glass)

Getting a good placement in Google search results may seem tough, but you can make life a lot easier for yourself and your website by taking some simple, Google-recommended, steps to help the search engine giant know you’re there.

In this article, we give you some key tips to make Google sit up and notice your site. 

1. Register your site with Google Search Console

Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) is a free service from Google that allows you to submit your website (and its sitemap) to Google for indexing.

That’s not all though: you can use the tool to do a lot of other useful things including:

  • check important backlinks to your site

  • ensure that Google is not experiencing any crawl errors with your site

  • let Google know if different versions of your websites exist for different countries

  • view the kinds of search queries that are driving traffic to your site

  • tell Google when you’ve updated a piece of content so that the fresh version can be displayed in search results more quickly.

Most importantly, by submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console you are telling the search giant that your website exists. Which of course is the starting point to appearing in search results.

As soon as you register your site with Search Console, Google will send you an email with several tips about how to use the tool to maximise your visibility in results. Make sure you follow them!

2. Link your site to Google MyBusiness, and start using Google+ properly

Google My Business

Registering your business on Google My Business (essentially the successor to Google Places) can help it appear in relevant geographic search results.

When you do this, Google will send a postcard containing a pin to your business address – you can use this to ‘verify’ your business with Google.

This verification lets Google know that your business operates in the physical location you stated, meaning that you have a stronger chance of appearing in search results – and on Google Maps – for people who are searching for a business like yours in the area in which you operate.

If, for example, you run a web design business in Hackney, London and somebody with a Hackney IP whacks ‘web design Hackney’ or even ‘web design’ into Google, you may surprise yourself by popping up in a higher-than-expected position in search.

The bottom line is that Google My Business is a massive part of local SEO, and if your business relies on attracting customers in your own area, registering on this service is absolutely vital.


When you register your business with Google MyBusiness, you will be provided with a Google+ page (if you don’t already have one). Use it! Google is increasingly showing business’ Google+ pages in search results when people search for that that business' name (usually in a big, hard-to-avoid box on the right-hand side of the results).

This means that potential customers are now quite likely to see the Google+ information before they encounter your website – so if your Google+ page isn’t updated or contains incorrect information (like an old telephone number), then this is going to work against you.

There is a debate to be had as to whether the number of Google 'plus ones' has any bearing on search results (Google says not, but some Moz data suggests otherwise) - but either way it’s a good idea to share content from your site on Google Plus and let people “+1” it easily (at the very least this will raise its visibility on Google+).

You can make it easy for people to +1 your content from your site by adding sharing icons to it (via a service like Addthis), or simply by grabbing a plus one button from Google direct (they give you a snippet of code you can add to your site’s HTML).

3. Make your site load as fast as it can, particularly on mobile

Google has been using 'site speed' as a ranking signal since 2010 - and as such it's important to ensure that your site is loading as fast as possible.

This means that you should

  • minimise the number of HTTPS requests on your site (to do this, keep use of scripts to a minimum and use images only when they are genuinely beneficial to your content)

  • ensure your image file sizes are as small as they can be (you can use tools like Tiny Png to help you compress them with minimal loss of picture quality)

  • use fast hosting

For a more comprehensive run down of the things you can do to speed up your site, I'd advise using Google's Page Speed Insights tool (screenshot below).

Not only will this help you to you to test how fast your site is loading (on both mobile and desktop), it will provide you with a report containing a checklist of things that you need to do to help you speed up your website's performance.

 Google's PageSpeed Tools can help you find ways to improve the loading times of your website.

Google's PageSpeed Tools can help you find ways to improve the loading times of your website.

It's particularly important to ensure that your website is blazingly fast on a mobile, and that the user experience for people viewing it on smartphones is as good as possible.

Studies show that 29% of smartphone users will immediately switch to another site if they are not satisfied with how your site performs; as such Google places a strong emphasis on rewarding sites that load quickly on mobile devices with higher positions in search. Another thing worth bearing in mind is that Google prefers mobile sites that are clutter free - i.e., ones that don’t feature obtrusive popups or ‘interstitials.’

You can view Google's mobile SEO overview guide here, which outlines how you can maximise your mobile site's visibility in search results.

4. Use relevant keywords in your page titles, meta descriptions and URLs

Ensure that your page titles and meta descriptions contain

  • accurate, concise descriptions of your page content

  • keywords that you are hoping to perform well for you in search

  • some location details if relevant.

Google often shows snippets of your meta descriptions in search results, and can use them to decide how relevant your site is to particular searches (by monitoring the clickthrough rates they generate in search results, with higher clickthrough rates indicating that a page answers a particular search query well).

 In the above example of a search result, you can see that in addition to including the business name in the page title, the site owner has included some information about the type of food served, along with some geographical information.

In the above example of a search result, you can see that in addition to including the business name in the page title, the site owner has included some information about the type of food served, along with some geographical information.

Avoid being spammy though by stuffing titles and meta descriptions with too many 'catch all' keywords however, because this can:

  • actively damage your chances of appearing high in search results (Google's algorithms are, to say the least, pretty good at spotting spam)

  • make your site appear appear off-putting or 'cheap looking' to users who come across it during searches.

In addition to focusing on creating well-optimised page titles and meta descriptions, you should try to ensure that your site URLs also include keywords that you are focusing on for search purposes.

This makes it easier for users to spot relevant pages in search results, and also means that if somebody creates a link to your site from theirs, but only copies the URL, the keywords in the URL would become the anchor text. As Google looks at what words are in the anchor text when indexing content, accurate ones can help you rank better. 

As a very simple example, if you are trying to sell guitars on your website, a 'clean URL' of would be more likely to help your search engine cause than a more generic 

5. Create backlinks to your site

Even if you've got fantastically well-constructed page titles, meta descriptions and URLs, they're usually fairly useless unless you've got 'backlinks' pointing to your website too.

Backlinks are essentially links from other sites to your site, and in a very simple sense Google counts them as 'votes' for your content.

There are two main ways to generate backlinks: 

  • via outreach, by asking other site / blog owners to feature links to your content on their sites

  • by creating long, keyword-rich blog posts that are extremely relevant to your business niche (if they are REALLY interesting / helpful articles about your area of business, they are more likely to attract a relevant audience, a proportion of which will create backlinks to them).

Avoid using companies that promise to create thousands of backlinks for you however - Google can and will penalise your site if it thinks there is spammy activity going on in this regard.

Our ‘Super Simple SEO’ e-book features a lot of tactics you can use to build backlinks effectively (along with other key SEO tips).

6. Follow Google's advice

Google are actually pretty helpful when it comes to advising you how to improve your site’s performance in search results – so helpful in fact, that they provide a free guide to optimising your site for Google search.

Read it cover to cover and make sure you are following all their advice. The guide can be found here and deals with the nuts and bolts of SEO – how to use headers, meta data and keyword-rich content appropriately.

As mentioned earlier, it's worth checking out Google's mobile SEO overview document too.

You might also find Google's guide to page titles and snippets handy too (you'll find a video at the end of this post, and an article on the topic here).

If you're a Google+ user, you might want to stay posted to the Google Webmasters page - where you'll regularly get tips on SEO and other Google-related issues straight from the horse's mouth.

More ways to boost your position in search results

I hope the above tips have helped you understand how to make your site more visible in Google search results! However, there are a lot more steps you can take to improve your ranking, and if you're interested in finding out more about these and want to make more substantial improvements to your site's performance in Google, then you might like to download our 'Super Simple SEO' book.

Written in a friendly, jargon-free way, the book is ideal for website owners who need to get quickly to grips with SEO without spending a fortune on consultants or online courses. Find out more about the book and download it here.

You can also join our mailing list for more tips on SEO.

Any thoughts?

Got any search tips of your own? Feel free to share in the comments section below (note: if you're viewing this on a mobile device, you may be reading our faster-loading AMP version, which doesn't currently show them. You can view and leave comments by visiting the regular version of this page.

More SEO resources from Style Factory

If you'd like some more advice on how to improve your site's general visibility in search, make sure you join our mailing list (we send out regular tips on SEO).

Additionally, you may find these resources useful:

Wix Review (2018) - The 10 Big Things You Need To Know
 Wix review image (Wix logo beside a coffee cup)

In this Wix review, I take an in-depth look at one of the most popular website building platforms available. This article will help you if you are considering using Wix to build your website, or want to know exactly what it is and what it does. Do feel free to leave a comment or query at the end of this review — we are always keen to hear thoughts on the product from anyone who currently uses Wix or is thinking of doing so.

Our overall rating: 3.5/5

You probably want to know: 

  • What is Wix?
  • Does Wix have all the functionality I need for my website?
  • Can I use Wix for free?
  • Is Wix really as mobile-friendly as it claims?
  • Is Wix any good for eCommerce?

Read on to find out the answers to these questions, and more.

1 What is Wix?

Wix is a cloud-based service that allows you to design and build your own website without needing to know how to code. 

Wix was founded in 2006, and is one of the larger website building companies, with 1,800 employees and 110 million users. It has several offices in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, but only one in Western Europe at this time (in Germany). 

For perspective, Squarespace has about half the number of employees and ‘millions’ of users, Jimdo has 200 employees and 20 million users, and Moonfruit has 5 million users and a small office in London. 

The large size of the company gives long-term security (i.e., reduces the risk of the organisation folding, taking your website with it), and means you can look forward to regular feature updates.

Does Wix provide all the functionality I need for my website? 

Wix allows users to create websites using a simple and intuitive drag-and-drop user interface. 

A Wix website can be used for:

  • blogging
  • hosting an online forum
  • building an online store to sell digital and physical products
  • appointment booking
  • collecting contact details

and more.

However, you will need to pay to use some of these features - which brings us to...

2 Pricing - can I use Wix for free?

There are 6 Wix plans available - a free plan and 5 ‘premium’ paid plans.

If you want to get an online presence, with minimal effort, for a temporary purpose, then you may be able to get away with the free plan. Think a 50th Birthday, wedding, or small community garage sale. For pretty much anything else, you will need a premium (paid) plan. 

The free plan doesn’t allow you to connect your own domain, use an external mailbox, or collect payment online.

Each plan includes all the functionality from cheaper plans. All plans include mandatory free hosting (more about that ‘mandatory’ later).

Free Wix plan

The Wix free plan allows you to use all 500 of the Wix templates, and as noted above, also provides free hosting. You can make use of images, clip art and icons provided by Wix, and can add apps from the Wix app market (this provides both paid and free apps). 

On the free plan, you get 500MB bandwidth of storage, and 500MB bandwidth. This should be plenty for a new website with less than 2K visitors per month. The free plan allows you to play around and build a website without giving out credit card details.

Connect Domain plan ($5 per month) 

In addition to the features provided on the free plan, the 'Connect domain' plan provides you with the option to you to use your own web address, e.g., rather than a subdomain of Wix, such as It comes with 500MB storage and 1GB bandwidth.

Combo plan ($10 per month)

The ‘Combo’ plan removes Wix brand advertising from your site. This advertising is fairly intrusive, inserting a noticeable call to action at the top of your site. 

 The Wix advertising displayed on certain plans can be a bit intrusive

The Wix advertising displayed on certain plans can be a bit intrusive

This plan also gives you a free domain registration for the first year.  However, this represents a minimal saving. For example, the first year of registration of a .com domain with is $8.99USD. The Combo plan comes with 3GB storage and 2GB bandwidth.  

Unlimited plan ($14 per month)

The ‘Unlimited’ plan is the cheapest Wix plan that you can realistically use to run a small business website with.

Crucially, this plan allows you to collect contact information from visitors to your website using custom web forms. Web forms are essential if you want to use your site to build an email list.

This plan also offers $300 of ‘Ad Vouchers’. These can be used to pay for advertising with Google Adwords, Bing Ads, and Local Listing. However, it’s quite easy to get similar ad vouchers elsewhere.

The plan also provides access to the site booster app – a third party app by AppSharp that submits your website to search engines.  

Finally, the Wix ‘Unlimited’ plan comes with 10GB storage and unlimited bandwidth.

eCommerce plan ($17 per month)

This plan adds online selling capability, allowing you to accept credit cards, PayPal, and offline payments. 

The payment processing options vary depending on your location, but include Stripe, Square, and Worldpay in the UK. The eCommerce plan provides 20GB storage and unlimited bandwidth. (We'll discuss Wix's e-commerce features in more depth later on in the review).

VIP plan ($25USD/month)

The VIP plan gives you higher priority for user support. It’s slightly concerning that Wix felt the need to include this option – what is their standard customer service like, to make it worth an extra 30% for VIP service? You also get a one-time website review by Wix experts. Otherwise, it’s the same as the eCommerce plan.

Domain name registration

You can register a new domain name through Wix, or connect a domain you already own.

If you are registering a new domain you get a 1-year free domain registration voucher with Wix premium plans

Wix’s renewal fees are comparable to providers such as, and you can transfer the domain away from them later if you choose to. 

If you don’t already have a domain registered, and if you decide to use Wix to build your website, then registering via Wix is a reasonable option.


You don’t have a choice with hosting – you must use Wix’s ‘free’ hosting. In practice you are paying a monthly fee for your website, and it’s just a matter of marketing as to whether the fee is called a hosting fee or a Wix premium plan. 

Wix claim 99.8% uptime, which is acceptable. They rather vaguely say that they have servers ‘all over the world’ – this may be a disadvantage if you want to use servers located in Europe, for example, or to avoid servers in a particular country due to privacy concerns. 


You can either buy email mailboxes through Wix (these are provided via G Suite), or alternatively, you can configure your Wix domain’s DNS settings so that your email solution of choice can be used. 

Helpfully, if you have an existing mailbox which you’d like to use with a Wix-purchased domain, Wix will perform the setup for you if you send Wix support a screenshot of the configuration required by your email provider. 

If you purchase email accounts through Wix, the fee is $5 USD per month per mailbox, with discounts available for annual payment. This includes 30GB of inbox and cloud storage space. 

External mailboxes can only be used with premium (paid) plans. 

3 Wix Templates

Wix gives you a choice of over 500 templates. Even better, all of them are free, which is not the case with competitors Shopify and Bigcommerce

The templates look professional and are visually appealing — Wix websites certainly don’t look like a do-it-yourself creation. The templates make good use of spacing and fonts to create impact, and are particularly effective when used with high quality photographs. 

 Some examples of Wix templates

Some examples of Wix templates

And speaking of photography, Wix also provides a large library of professionally shot images that you can use for free; and on top of that, you can access Shutterstock directly from Wix Editor. 

The templates are organised into intuitive categories, which mean you should be able to find a template which meets your needs fairly easily. The large number of templates means you can get very specific: for example, in the online stores category, there is a category for Fashion and Clothing, with 19 different templates. Compare this to Jimdo's four main categories with one or two templates in each, and you can see that templates are a major strength for Wix. 

Wix has created good quality sample text, pictures, and layouts. These get you started, give you a sanity check about what to include, and help avoid writer’s block. 

One big caveat is that you need to find the right template and stick with it, because you can’t change templates. That’s right — if you change templates part way through your website creation, you will need to start again from scratch. Not fun. Many of Wix’s competitors are more flexible - Jimdo, for example, allows you to switch templates part way through without losing any content, and the same goes for Squarespace.


Wix makes it easy to add functions like parallax scrolling, animations, and video backgrounds to your website. These functions are automatically disabled in mobile view to improve performance.

That said, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should - animations are a common source of usability and performance problems. 

4 Content management and interface

Wix offers three options for building websites:

  • Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI)
  • Wix Editor
  • Wix Code

Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI)

Wix ADI is usable by anyone, no matter how much they hate computers. Wix ADI creates your website by asking you some basic questions and collecting whatever information is available from an online search of your business. Editing is done via a drag and drop user interface that automatically lays out the pages for you.

Wix Editor

Wix Editor requires some basic computing skills: it's roughly equivalent in complexity to using Microsoft Word to lay out a newsletter. Wix Editor gives you flexibility to alter the layout, but there are still limitations compared to a fully-fledged HTML/CSS solution. 

Wix Code

Wix Code allows you to create database collections. If that sounds scary and not at all like something you’d ever want to do, then instead think of Data Collections as spreadsheets. 

Wix Code lets you create a spreadsheet, and then create lots of web pages automatically using a template populated with data from the spreadsheet. Wix Code also allows you to add javascript, Application Program Interfaces (APIs), and custom page behaviours.  

Wix Code is definitely on the technical end of the spectrum - but even if you never use it, it opens up possibilities if you decide to hire a web developer down the line.

Is Wix really as mobile-friendly as it claims?

More and more users are moving to mobile access, in some cases exclusively. This means mobile-friendliness is essential for your website. Wix claims your website will “Look amazing on every screen with a mobile-friendly version of your website”, and makes much of your ability to customise the mobile friendly view of your website.   

However, Wix uses something called absolute positioning, which means web elements are positioned by pixel rather than relative to the user’s screen. Absolute positioning gives you more flexibility in positioning elements, but means your website will not adapt as well to different screen sizes.  

Competitors such as Weebly use the ‘container’ approach, which limits your flexibility but supports responsive design. Responsive design means that page elements are positioned relative to the screen of the viewing device.  

Google recommends responsive design, which is a pretty good indicator that it’s the way of the future. But it's difficult to see how existing Wix websites will be able to transition to responsive designs going forward.

The use of absolute positioning means that although Wix claims to provide some responsive elements, Wix websites are not fully ‘responsive’. ‘Pixel perfect’ layouts have a tendency to look good on the screen of the person who designed the website, but not on mobile devices, or even other monitors that are a different resolution.  

In practice this means that Wix websites (including Wix’s own website!) are prone to usability issues when it comes to layout, with parts of the webpage going missing off the screen. 

To be fair, Wix does make it easy to hide, resize, and move elements on mobile devices, and provides a ‘mobile view’ for you to do this. So, with a bit of thought and effort, you should be able to create a website that displays nicely on a mobile device.

However, websites using absolute positioning will inevitably be less mobile-friendly than a website built using responsive design.

Do I have access to the code for my website? Can I change providers or export my website?

In short, no. Wix doesn’t allow you to access the code for your website, change or access the CSS files or export your website to another provider.

(A workaround for exporting your site is possible by copying and pasting the content from it into another CMS — fine for small to medium sites, but not so good for large ones).

Also, Wix hosting is mandatory - you can’t use another company to host your website. This means you need to be really sure you will be happy with Wix for the long term - if you decide to change provider you will need to rebuild your website.

5 E-commerce functionality

You will need to be on a Wix eCommerce plan ($17USD/month) or higher to access online selling capability. 

If you are, you’ll find that the platform does a pretty good job of making eCommerce accessible and ‘non-scary’ for entrepreneurs trying online selling for the first time. Getting started is quick and straightforward - enter the data, set up payment options, and off you go. 

Core e-commerce functionality in Wix

Wix provides a good range of e-commerce functionality, although some of it is only available in the U.S. You can:

  • sell an unlimited number of products (digital or physical) in an unlimited number of variants
  • permit users to filter and sort your products
  • manage your store from your phone, using a mobile app
  • enter tracking information for physical products (via FedEx, UPS, USPS, or any other carrier you choose)
  • use Point of Sale Functionality via Square (U.S. only)
  • provide customers with real time shipping calculations (Brazil and the U.S. only)

Wix makes it particularly easy to sell digital products - a complete novice can build a website and start selling digital goods in an hour or so (provided they have already produced the product, of course!). It provides built-in functionality for your customers to download their products, and sends automated emails to acknowledge purchases. 

Wix also has quite flexible tax and shipping options. You can set up tax on a per-region basis, which you may need to do in order to support VAT MOSS (VAT Mini One Stop Shop) when selling digital goods to European customers. Unfortunately, this will need to be done manually — unlike competing platform Shopify, there is no way to automatically set VAT rates for digital goods.

You can also set shipping rates per region, and configure rules to calculate shipping based on weight or price, as well as flat rate and store pickup.

So far, so good, but Wix eCommerce has a few significant limitations, which you should be aware of, with the most serious omissions being:

  • no support for dropshipping
  • no abandoned cart autorecovery
  • no bulk import of products (Wix says it is currently working on re-enabling this feature, however).

That said, Wix is adding new eCommerce functionality at an impressive rate — so if a feature isn’t here today, there is a good chance the company is working on it. 

Payment gateways and transaction fees

Wix works with a reasonably large number of payment gateways. The options vary depending on your location, but in total 17 are available, and these include big hitters such as Paypal, Stripe, Square, and Worldpay. 

Wix’s payment gateway offering is less impressive than that provided by rivals Bigcommerce or Shopify (which offer 40+ and 100+ payment gateway options respectively), but is considerably more extensive than that provided by Squarespace (which provides only 2).

In terms of transaction fees, although your payment gateway provider will take a cut of your sales, Wix won’t. This compares favourably against some other competing e-commerce solutions (notably Shopify, which charges transaction fees if you use an external payment gateway provider).

Ultimately however, Wix is not the best option for a business operation where online sales are the main income source — such businesses would be better advised to investigate Bigcommerce or Shopify instead — but for a small business selling a few products on the side, or just getting started, it is an acceptable option.

And finally, if you are not happy with the e-commerce functionality provided by Wix, you could always consider using a dedicated online store product like Ecwid in conjunction with the platform (you can read our full Ecwid review here).

6 Integration with other apps

Wix has an App Market with over 250 apps, some made by Wix and some by third parties.  You need to dig a bit to get prices, and most apps involve monthly subscriptions, or have only limited functionality in the ‘free’ version. This could add significantly to the cost of your website. 

The App Market is easy to use, and provides lots of neat options you can add to your website, including online chat, popups and calendars.

 The Wix app market

The Wix app market

Another way to add functionality from third-party apps is by using a HTML block to insert a widget from one of those apps.

7 Data capture

Wix provides some basic built-in forms for your customers to send you a message or provide contact information. If you want custom forms you can add an app like FormBuilder from the Wix app store (FormBuilder is free with the Unlimited plan). 

Contact data captured on your Wix website is automatically added to your website’s ‘address book’ (a contact list). You can also import contacts or add them manually to this list.

An interesting Wix feature is built-in email marketing.  Most of its key competitors don’t yet provide this. Wix allows you to send e-newsletters to your subscribers using its ‘ShoutOut’ functionality. 

You get three free ShoutOuts (email broadcasts) per month to up to 5000 emails.  If this is not enough for you, you can pay extra for a premium ShoutOut add-on. 

The Basic ShoutOut add-on ($4.90USD/month) allows you to send 5 emails to 9,500 email addresses, and removes Wix advertising. 

The Business Essential add-on is $12.90USD/month, connects to your domain, and allows you to send up to 20 emails per month to 50,000 email addresses. 

The Pro Unlimited add-on is $44.90USD/month, and allows you to send an unlimited number of emails to 1 million email addresses. You also get access to a VIP support line (another example of paying for support - slightly worrying).

You can also connect Wix to an external mail provider (e.g. AWeber, MailChimp, ConvertKit, or GetResponse) by adding an HTML block to your website. You are pretty much left to your own devices if you want to do this - Wix provides some basic guidance, but you get the impression their heart isn’t really in it - they would prefer you to use ShoutOut. 

8 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and analytics


Wix SEO functionality is generally good — it allows you to easily perform key SEO tasks, including:

  • adding alt text
  • adding meta descriptions
  • editing page URLs
  • creating 301 redirects

One SEO feature which may particularly appeal to SEO novices is Wix’s ‘SEO Wiz’ tool. This walks you through the key steps for optimizing your website for search engines, helping you to to update your page titles, meta descriptions, alt text, and so on. If you have no idea what all these SEO terms are, not to worry — Wix’s SEO Wiz explains what you are doing, and more importantly, why.  

(If you are new to SEO, you might find our post on increasing site visibility in Google and our SEO e-book, ‘Super Simple SEO’, helpful.)

If you’re on a premium plan the SEO Wiz can also help you register your site with Google Search Console.  

One quibble I have is that some of the more technical options can take a while to track down - for example, it took me a good 30 minutes to figure out how to edit header code meta tags (the ‘click here’ link to edit them kept trying to build me a new website). When I did finally track the meta tags downs, they were easy to edit.

A significant omission in the SEO department is Wix’s lack of support for Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP pages load extremely quickly on mobile devices and can bring some SEO benefits when used (as well as improved conversion rates).

Key competitors Squarespace, Bigcommerce and Shopify all provide support for AMP in various ways (with Bigcommerce’s offering on that front being the most comprehensive) so it’s a shame to see Wix’s lack of support for this important new technology.

Wix’s blog previously supported Accelerated Mobile Pages - the ‘new’ (released 2017) Wix blog does not. I wasn’t able to find an explanation as to why not, or information on when Wix might start supporting it again.

Analytics and conversion tracking

Wix has good support for analytics tools, providing built-in integrations for:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google AdWords
  • Google Tag Manager
  • Facebook Pixel
  • Yandex Metrica
  • Verification Code

You can use Google tag manager to implement any other third party code or pixels, or add custom code directly to your Wix site to track conversions. 

9 Support

When using Wix, I was able to find answers to almost everything I wanted to know by searching in Wix's Help Centre, which contains a large library of articles and good search functionality. There is also excellent contextual help provided throughout the site. 

If you can’t find what you need in the Help Centre, then you can contact support by clicking ‘No’ in response to ‘Did this answer your question?’ at the bottom of each support page. Wix provide support over the phone and via email, but there’s no live chat. Not all of Wix’s key competitors provide phone support — Squarespace and Jimdo, I’m looking at you! — so a thumbs up to Wix for doing so.

Phone support is available on weekdays from 5am to 5pm Pacific Time (1pm to 1am GMT), and offers help in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. You will need to request a callback, which at least means you don’t need to wait on hold.  

You can also submit an email ticket. Wix doesn’t commit to a timeline for answering these, simply promising to get back to you ‘as soon as possible’.  When I submitted a question, they got back to me at the start of the next business day.

If you are paying extra for VIP support, then you will jump the line so long as you use the email address associated with the account. This could be a bit awkward if it’s not the website owner looking for help.

It’s a bit concerning that Wix are selling priority customer service with the VIP plan - it suggests customer service is enough of an issue that people are willing to pay more for a better experience.

10 Should I use Wix?

Wix review conclusions

Wix allows a complete novice to create a website with a LOT of functionality. For a relatively low monthly fee, you can get a site that features a blog, a forum, an online store, a gallery of pictures, a mailing list, newsletters, appointment booking and much else besides...An interactive website that previously would have cost a fortune for a web developer to create can now be yours in a few short hours.

Wix is also very easy to use — there are lots of well designed wizards, support tools, training videos, and help files that provide very effective hand holding for even the most nervous of users. 

Wix help is also well written — technical terms are explained in plain English, and when I had questions the search tools provided me with short and to-the-point articles that answered them pretty much every time. 

This amount of functionality, particularly on a purely cloud-based platform, does come with downsides, however. 

When you are building your website, Wix can be slow to respond, and this is made worse by the animations, which are everywhere. Almost every button has some kind of appear/disappear or hover over functionality, which can be quite annoying, and is certainly unnecessary. The chirpy ‘building awesomeness’ tagline gets rather old when you are staring at it yet again whilst waiting for the Wix Editor to open. 

The use of absolute positioning is also a real drawback — although there are workarounds available to ensure the mobile version of your site displays nicely, sites created with Wix are not yet truly responsive.

The other major drawback is that Wix makes it difficult to change your mind — you will have to stick with the template you picked when you first built your website, or rebuild it completely. You can’t use another hosting provider. And you can’t export your website or access the code.

The pricing is also rather opaque: the headline prices are reasonable, but once you start adding functionality, and apps, upgrading to send more ShoutOuts, and so on, it’s easy to see how the costs can add up.

Ultimately, Wix is a good choice for a small business or individual on a relatively low budget, wanting to quickly create an attractive website with a lot of features — if you find yourself in that category, you’ll be pleased with the range of ‘out of the box’ functionality that Wix provides. Wix is far less appealing however for businesses with a strong reliance on online selling, or for larger businesses that want very bespoke functionality on their website.

Below you’ll find a summary of the key pros and cons of the platform. If you’re interested in trying Wix out, you can also take advantage of a free trial.

Wix Pros

  • It’s easy to use.
  • It’s reasonably priced.
  • It includes a wide range of professionally-shot photographs for use on your site.
  • Phone support is available, which is not the case with several other leading website building tools.
  • A large range of templates is provided (500+), which feature useful sample content.
  • Lots of functionality is available out of the box.
  • There’s a built in email marketing tool - something which is not currently provided by most of Wix’s competitors.
  • SEO functionality is pretty good.
  • A reasonably well-stocked app store is available to beef up the functionality of your store.
  • A totally free version is available, as is a free trial.

Wix Cons

  • You can’t switch your site to another template after you’ve built it.
  • You can’t export your website data.
  • Although workarounds are available to make a Wix site display correctly on a mobile, the sites that you build with Wix are not fully responsive.
  • The platform doesn’t currently support AMP format.
  • The cost of ‘extras’ and ‘upgrades’ may add up, making the true cost of your site difficult to predict in advance.
  • If you want a premium level of support, you’ll need to pay for it.

Alternatives to Wix

If you’re looking to build a largely content-driven site (i.e., you’re not too worried about e-commerce), then Squarespace and Jimdo are worth a look. 

Squarespace is a more elegant and professional website building solution than Wix, and provides truly responsive websites, but it is more expensive. If you need a cheaper option, you could do worse than investigate Jimdo, because it provides a similar feature set to Wix whilst again providing fully responsive websites.

If you’re interested in online selling, then Bigcommerce or Shopify are likely to meet your needs considerably better than Wix, Jimdo or Squarespace.

And finally there’s Wordpress, which can serve both as a good platform for showcasing and e-commerce. It typically requires a bit more configuration and ongoing maintenance on the user’s side however than a hosted solution like Wix.

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Shopify vs Wordpress (2018) - Which is Best? | Comparison Review, Full Pros and Cons
 Shopify vs Wordpress Comparison. Image featuring the Wordpress and Shopify logos in a notepad.

Shopify vs Wordpress: which is best? This is a question a lot of startups find themselves asking, and in this post I'm going tackle it in depth!

Read on for a full examination of both platforms and their key features; and the reasons why you might choose one of them over the other when building an e-commerce website.

By the end of this comparison, you should have a much better idea of which platform will serve your business’ needs best.

Let’s start with a quick overview of both platforms.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a web application that has been specifically designed to allow merchants build and launch their own online store.

It provides a range of templates that can be customised to meet individual businesses’ branding requirements, and it allows both physical and digital goods to be sold.

One of the fundamental ideas behind Shopify is that users without technical or design skills can create a store themselves, without resorting to coding. However, Shopify also allows you to edit the HTML and CSS of your website, which means that those who do have coding skills will be able to customize their stores more extensively.

Shopify is a hosted solution, which means everything runs on Shopify’s servers. So, you don’t need to worry about buying web hosting or installing software anywhere; the idea is that pretty much everything you need to build and run your store happens ‘out of the box’ (that said, you can customise a Shopify store to meet more bespoke requirements through the addition of apps - more on which later).

Shopify is a software as a service ('SaaS') tool - this means that you don't own a copy of the software, but pay a monthly fee to use it instead. Being a web application, it runs in the cloud; this means that as long as you have access to a web browser and the internet, you can manage your store from anywhere.

What is Wordpress?

There are two different versions of Wordpress available:

Hosted Wordpress

Hosted Wordpress - available at - is, like Shopify, a software as a service (SaaS) tool. You pay a monthly fee and you get access to a broad range of features which enable you to build and maintain a website.

It’s less of an ‘all in one’ solution than Shopify however, as users need to use third party tools like Ecwid (or indeed Shopify!) to add e-commerce features to it.

Self-hosted Wordpress

Self-hosted Wordpress is a piece of software that you download from and then install on your own web server. It’s open-source, meaning that the code behind it is freely available and may be easily tweaked.

In practice, this means that sites built with Wordpress can be customized to the nth degree - it’s an extremely flexible tool that, in the hands of the right developer, or via the installation of the right plugins, can be adapted to meet the requirements of nearly any website design project.

You can install Wordpress on your server for free, but there are hosting costs, domain registration charges and potential plugin / development costs to consider. We’ll discuss all this in more depth later on in this post.

This Shopify vs Wordpress comparison is going to focus on the version of the Wordpress that most people use: the self-hosted version.

What sort of users are Shopify and Wordpress aimed at?

It’s probably fair to say that Shopify’s main audience is users without web development skills.

As mentioned above, the key idea behind Shopify is that anyone can use the platform to make their own online store – quickly, and without needing to code at all. 

Wordpress by contrast caters for two groups of users.

Like Shopify, Wordpress is suitable for users who are not tech-savvy; it is certainly possible to create and maintain a Wordpress site without needing any coding skills (particularly if you’re happy to use a ‘visual editor’ interface for Wordpress like Divi). Users who don’t want to go near any HTML or CSS can definitely avoid doing so with WordPress.

(I’d argue however that in many cases, more configuration of Wordpress is needed before you can publish a website; and that depending on what you want to do, setting up a Wordpress site can involve a considerably steeper learning curve than Shopify.)

The second audience that Wordpress caters for is users who have loads of web development experience. These users can work with the platform to pretty much build any sort of website, and host it anywhere they like.

Although it is possible to modify Shopify in a lot of ways (through coding or the addition of apps), there are more limits to what you can do, and you are always going to have to host it on Shopify’s servers.

How many people use Wordpress and Shopify?

When choosing a website building solution, it’s important to get a sense of how many people use it to create their sites or online stores.

This is because generally speaking, if a particular platform has a large userbase, you will find that there are more more support options, resources and apps / plugins available for it online. There will also be a smaller chance of it ‘disappearing’ and taking your website with it!

The latter issue is particularly important for users who are considering using a fully hosted solution like Shopify – such companies can and do encounter financial difficulties, and can close product lines as a result (the disappearance of Magento Go is a well-known example of this). A large userbase minimizes the risk of this.

The good news is that Wordpress and Shopify both enjoy a lot of popularity and have large userbases. Depending on who you believe on the internet, there are 65-75 million Wordpress sites in existence; and according to Shopify, the platform powers 600,000 stores.

Given these numbers, Wordpress is technically the safer bet in the longevity stakes, but Shopify is one of the most popular products of its kind and it is unlikely that either platform is going anywhere anytime soon.

Pricing: how much does it cost to use Shopify and Wordpress?

Shopify fees

Shopify provides five pricing plans:

  • Lite: $9 per month.
  • Basic: $29 per month.
  • Shopify: $79 per month.
  • Advanced: $299 per month.
  • Plus: negotiable, but typically around $2000 per month.

As you might expect, the features you get access to on each Shopify plan vary according to the one you’re on, but a few key differences are as follows:

  • The ‘Lite’ plan allows you to embed a Shopify ‘buy button’ on an existing site, or sell via Facebook, but you don’t get a standalone, fully functional store on this plan.
  • Phone support is only supported on the $29 and higher plans.
  • Credit card fees and transaction fees decrease as the monthly plans become more expensive.
  • The ‘Shopify Plus’ plan is an enterprise grade plan aimed at larger organisations, or those with more advanced requirements regarding APIs, server uptime and support.

For a more detailed breakdown on the differences in costs, please see our dedicated article on Shopify fees.

Wordpress fees

It’s much harder to say how much a Wordpress site costs to build – that’s because there are so many variables involved.

A common misconception is that Wordpress is an entirely free solution, but that’s not true, because although you can get the software for free, there are other things you’ll need to get a Wordpress-powered site or online store off the ground, namely:

  • hosting (server space on which to install Wordpress and store your site)
  • themes (the design for your site)
  • e-commerce integration (addition of tools that will let you sell products online)
  • plugins (apps that can be added to your site to add more functionality)

And of course, depending on your ambitions or technical skills, you may also need to pay for a developer to assist you with the build.

The one thing you'll always have to pay for hosting: without it you have nowhere to install Wordpress. There are a wide range of options available on this front, but the key choice you’ll have to make is:

  • whether you’d like to use a ‘shared hosting’ company (cheaper but usually slower and less optimized for Wordpress sites)
  • a dedicated Wordpress hosting provider (for example WP Engine) that specialises exclusively in Wordpress hosting (which will be faster and more secure — but more expensive).

For a small to medium-sized project it’s probably fair to say that you’d be looking at costs of between $4 (shared hosting) and $30 (managed WP hosting) a month. 

With regard to the other factors, you can technically get away with using a free template, e-commerce integration, and plugins - but realistically, to get higher quality results it’s usually worth investing in your site.

Below you’ll find some figures which demonstrate some costs you might expect if you were building your site yourself:

  • Annual hosting, using managed Wordpress hosting from WP Engine as an example: $348 (recurring cost)
  • Premium theme: $175
  • Annual cost for e-commerce integration (using Ecwid as an example): $180 (recurring cost)
  • 4 paid-for plugins: $100

If you were to use a developer to help you configure, build and maintain your site, you’d have significantly higher costs (but in all likelihood would be getting a better product).

In terms of how these sorts of costs compare to using Shopify, again we’re looking at a ‘how long is a piece of string scenario’. But let's try to come up with some examples!

At the lower end of the pricing scale, assuming you’re using the Shopify $29 ‘Basic plan’ plus one $10-per-month app, you’d be talking about a $468 annual commitment.

At the higher end of things, if you were on the Shopify $299-per-month plan, and using three $10 per month apps, you could end up spending $3948 per year on your site.

If your needs are simple then, using Shopify can actually work out cheaper than using Wordpress, despite it being a paid-for option and Wordpress being an open source one. But equally, it can work out a lot dearer!

The only way to work out which is more economical for you in the long run is to make a clear list of all your requirements and price them up for each platform as best as you can.

Pricing, however, should not be the only thing you think about in your Wordpress vs Shopify decision-making process. It’s just as important to look at functionality and features.

Let’s do that now.


Quantity and quality

A key concern of anyone building an online store is: how pretty will my site look?

Well, Shopify offers a classy set of templates – there are 10 free ones, and 55 paid-for ones available on the Shopify site (most of which come in 2 or 3 variants, making the numbers of templates available larger than the above figures suggest).

All these templates are professionally designed, easily edited and responsive (meaning they’ll display nicely on any type of device – mobile, tablet, desktop etc.).

 Examples of themes that are included with Shopify.

Examples of themes that are included with Shopify.

With these templates, you can be pretty confident of solid support (either from Shopify in the case of the free templates, or a Shopify-approved supplier in the case of the paid-for ones).

If that range of templates isn’t enough, you can buy other ones from third party designers – for example on Theme Forest.

However, the number of Shopify templates available pales in comparison to the huge number of templates available for Wordpress - although it’s hard to put a precise figure on the number of Wordpress themes in existence, we can confidently talk about thousands, both free and paid-for. (You can buy Wordpress templates from stores such as Template Monster or Theme Fuse).

Because the Shopify product is designed very much with non-technical users in mind, it’s probably fair to say that the Shopify templates are a little bit easier to customise, but tweaking a (well-constructed) Wordpress template shouldn't involve that much of a learning curve either.

For me, Wordpress is ultimately the winner in a template shoot-out: the sheer quantity of themes available ensures most users will have plenty of high quality options to choose from.

This choice does bring a downside however: first, it will be harder to choose a template; and second, you need to ensure that you are getting a ‘safe’ one.

Getting a ‘safe’ template means sourcing it from a reputable source - some Wordpress templates contain malicious code which can compromise the security of your site. This is not something you really need to worry about at all with Shopify templates, so long as you buy your template from the Shopify site. (If buying elsewhere, the health warning about malicious code applies here too of course).

Behaviour / performance on mobile

All officially-supported Shopify templates are responsive, meaning that they will all adjust themselves automatically so that they display nicely on any device.

In this day and age, it isn't at all hard to locate a responsive Wordpress template, but you will need to double check its suitability across devices before installing it: there are still a lot of templates kicking around which aren’t suitable for all devices.

You can also use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) on both Shopify and Wordpress. AMP is a Google-backed project which drastically speeds up the loading of your pages on mobile devices by stripping out certain bits of code; using it gives your content a speed bump and can improve its visibility in search results.

To get AMP functionality working on both platforms though you’ll need to install a third-party app (Shopify) or plugin (Wordpress). With Shopify, this means installing something like RocketAmp; various options exist for Wordpress.

One nice aspect of the RocketAmp app for Shopify is that you can be confident that it will display all your content in AMP format when necessary – i.e., not just static pages and blog posts but product pages too. With Wordpress, whether or not you can get product pages to display in AMP format will depend on the both the e-commerce and AMP plugins used.

Interface and ease of use

The basic layouts of the Shopify and Wordpress interfaces are similar enough, in that the left-hand side of the screen is used to host a menu from which you can select pieces of content to edit or settings to tweak. Shopify's is arguably slightly more contemporary and 'clean' in appearance. 

Shopify's interface

Both platforms also take a similar approach when it comes to editing and publishing content – you locate your content and edit it in the back end; you can then preview or publish it.

This differs from the approach taken by some other platforms – notably Squarespace – which display a more instant or real-time view of your edits (this is because such platforms allow you to work ‘on page’, with your changes being displayed in situ and in real time).

However, you can use visual editor plugins in Wordpress to help you create a design and content management environment which operates in a similar fashion; this may appeal to people who are relatively new to web design (and is not something you can yet do with Shopify). The thing to watch out for here though is 'bloat' — some of the visual editors for Wordpress can slow down your website by adding unnecessary or badly-written code to proceedings (this in turn can have a negative impact on SEO and usability).

The Wordpress interface

Shopify’s interface is very intuitive for anyone interested in building and managing an online store – and this shouldn’t come as a surprise: the platform has been designed with that purpose in mind. You can manage products, collections and sales channels really easily.

It’s hard to make a direct comparison with Wordpress in this front, because in order to sell products, you will need to make use of a third party plugin such as Woocommerce, Ecwid or WP E-Commerce. We’ll discuss these in more depth later on in the review.

Content management in Shopify and Wordpress

When it comes to management of static pages and posts, I’d argue that Wordpress beats Shopify fairly comprehensively. There are two main reasons for this.

First, and very importantly, Wordpress comes with content versioning - every single version of a page or post can be stored on the system and you can roll back to any of them at any point. Shopify doesn’t let you do this.

Second, Wordpress allows you to use categories and tags in a much more flexible way than Shopify (you can also create your own custom content types in Wordpress). This allows you to present your site content in more relevant ways to users, who can also filter it more easily to meet their needs.

When it comes to content management of the e-commerce side of things, again it’s hard to make a direct comparison between Shopify and Wordpress. This is because e-commerce is not available ‘out of the box’ with Wordpress, so how the two platforms stack up against each other in this regard will depend on the e-commerce app you choose to power Wordpress (more on this decision anon).

What it is possible to say is that managing products and collections is very straightforward in Shopify. Because it’s a dedicated e-commerce application, a lot of thought has been put into this, and it shows.

And worth a particular mention are Shopify’s ‘automated collections’ – these allow you to use rules (based on things like product title, price, tag etc.) to create collections. This can save HOURS of time (or days if we’re talking about a large store).


Of the two products under discussion, Wordpress is definitely the more flexible of the two. It’s been around longer and is much more widely used as a platform than Shopify, meaning that the number of templates, plugins and integrations for the platform dwarf what’s available for Shopify.

Additionally, the open source nature of the platform and the fact that you have total control over your own hosting means that Wordpress can be manipulated to create bespoke websites more easily than Shopify.

That said, Shopify’s app store contains an impressive number of apps (2000+) which allow you to significantly extend the functionality of a site built on the platform. You also get access to your store’s CSS and HTML on all $29+ plans. For most users, this will be more than enough flexibility; and for more advanced or corporate level users, it’s likely that the enterprise-grade Shopify Plus plans will meet their requirements.

E-commerce functionality

Most users of this review will be looking specifically at how Wordpress and Shopify compare in the e-commerce functionality department.

And frustratingly, it’s difficult to come up with definitive advice on this. This is because – and as discussed earlier – Wordpress doesn’t have an e-commerce tool built-in. You have to use a third-party option.

You could argue that this gives Shopify an immediate advantage when it comes to e-commerce, because it’s a dedicated online store builder, and accordingly much everything you need to get your store up and running is provided out of the box.

For a full overview of all the e-commerce functionality you get with Shopify, I’d suggest reading our dedicated Shopify review. But for the purposes of this post, I’ll just say that Shopify is one of the most solid, fully-specced options out there for building an online store (particularly if you intend to dropship goods); and that my key reservations are

  • that if you intend to sell products that come with a lot of options, it’s not as flexible as it could be (if this sounds like you, Bigcommerce might be a better bet)
  • sometimes you have to buy a third party app to get the functionality in Shopify you need.

Whilst Shopify is definitely the better 'all-in-one' e-ccomerce option, the e-commerce options are ultimately more extensive with Wordpress, because you have significantly greater choice regarding the exact technical solution used for online selling.

To add e-commerce to a Wordpress site, you need to use a third-party plugin. Some of the best known include:

Unfortunately, with the exception of Ecwid, we don’t have reviews of all these products available just yet. So, if you’re going down the Wordpress route, it will be a case of trying to do your own research online to work out which is the best fit for you. To help you with this though, here are a few key questions to consider during this process:

  • Is the pricing of this solution competitive?
  • Is it easy to use?
  • What payment gateways can I use with it?
  • How many product variants and options can I use?
  • What are the SEO features like?
  • Does it facilitate point-of-sale transactions?
  • Does it facilitate AMP on product pages?
  • Is there a mobile app available for it?

For the record, Shopify scores highly on all these fronts – with the exception of product variants and options (which are a bit limited, although you can use an app from Shopify’s app store to increase flexibility on this front).

And of course, there’s always the option of using Shopify as your e-commerce solution for Wordpress – its $9 per month ‘Lite’ plan allows you to embed products and a simple shopping cart system on an existing Wordpress site.

SEO for Wordpress and Shopify

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is vital to the performance of any website.

Without good visibility in search results, you can’t really expect much in the way of traffic or sales. Yes, you can use Adwords to drive traffic to your site, but a decent placement in organic search results is in most cases vital to the long-term success of an online business.

If we’re dealing with general content (static pages and posts), I’d argue that Wordpress is definitely the winner in the SEO department in a Wordpress vs Shopify shootout.

For a start, Wordpress allows you to install Yoast, one of the best SEO tools available. This tool analyses your content in some depth from an SEO perspective, and outputs a list of key steps you can take to improve the quality of your pages and posts.

The Yoast plugin for Wordpress gives you a complete overview of all the things you should do to improve the SEO of a piece of content.

On top of that, it allows you to create SEO friendly sitemaps and set canonical URLs to avoid duplicate content (something Google very much approves of).

Wordpress is also slightly better at creating clean URLs (simple URL structures that Google likes).

And because a Wordpress site can be hosted on any server, you can choose a super-fast one; you aren’t restricted to the shared hosting on Shopify (which, whilst perfectly acceptable from a speed point of view, is not necessarily the fastest available). 'Page speed' is important because it's a ranking signal, with faster-loading sites given preference in search results.

How good the e-commerce SEO side of things is on Wordpress, however, depends very much on your chosen e-commerce solution. When you’re deciding which solution to go for, the key things to watch out for in my view on this front are:

  • How editable the titles, meta descriptions and alt text are on your product pages
  • How ‘clean’ you can make the product page URLs
  • How fast your product pages load
  • Whether or not you can use AMP to display products

You should ensure that whichever plugin you use to handle e-commerce on your Wordpress site is robust with regard to all of these.

Turning to Shopify, the SEO is generally strong. Using SSL is straightforward; editing alt tags and meta descriptions is a simple process; XML sitemaps are created for you; 301 redirects are automatically created / suggested every time you change a page name…all really good stuff.

Although you can’t use Yoast on Shopify sites, there are quite a lot of SEO plugins available which perform a similar function.

My main reservation regarding Shopify SEO is that you can’t get the URLs quite as clean as you might like. This is because the platform adds prefixes to them, i.e.,

  • /pages/ before pages
  • /posts/ before posts
  • /products/ before products

It’s not ideal, but it’s not a showstopper either, and Shopify stores are perfectly capable of ranking well despite this.

Note: for more in-depth information on SEO, I recommend reading our Shopify SEO tips for Shopify-specific advice, or downloading our guide to SEO to gain a full understanding of the topic.

Blogging in Wordpress and Shopify

Blogging is an oft-overlooked, but vitally important aspect of running an online store. This is because blogging is absolutely vital to inbound marketing – a sales strategy where you use quality content (blog posts) to drive traffic to your site, and by extension purchases. 

Both Wordpress and Shopify provide blogging functionality, with Wordpress’ being significantly better.

This is because Wordpress:

  • allows you to keep an archive of changes to existing posts
  • allows you to use categories and tags in blog posts (Shopify just permits use of tags)
  • permits the creation of posts with clean URLs (as discussed above, Shopify prefixes blog posts with ‘/posts/’ which isn’t as clean as we might like and thus not 100% ideal from an SEO point of view).

Wordpress’ edge in this area isn’t surprising really, as the platform has a long history as a professional blogging solution.

Site maintenance and security


Other than keeping content and products up to date, Shopify users don’t have to worry too much about site maintenance. All the technical aspects of running a website (software updates, hosting, server configuration etc.) are taken care of by the company. 

With Wordpress, it’s a different story: you are in charge of ensuring that

  • you’re using the most up-to-date version of Wordpress
  • your server has been configured correctly
  • your plugins and themes are all up to date.

Although some of this can be handled automatically, it’s still something you need to keep an eye on - if you end up with an out of date version of the Wordpress software or a plugin, your site is much more vulnerable to being hacked into.


With hosted solutions like Shopify, the bulk of the responsibility for security lies with the company who provide them.

In other words, if you’re a Shopify user, it’s basically Shopify’s responsibility to ensure that their system doesn’t get compromised, your site doesn’t get hacked and backups of your data are made. You obviously have a responsibility to create strong passwords and not share them with others, but the technical side of security is essentially Shopify’s problem.

With Wordpress, if you’re not paying a developer or agency to maintain your site, then the ultimate responsibility for security belongs to the end user: you! This means it’s your responsibility to ensure that your version of Wordpress is up to date, along with any plugins or themes you are using. Failure to keep on top of this aspect of site maintenance can make a Wordpress site extremely vulnerable to being hacked (which can have very serious implications if you are operating in the e-commerce sphere).

You’ve also got to be aware that some Wordpress themes and plugins can contain malicious code which can compromise the security of your site, so you need to be very careful about which ones you install. And finally, you've got to ensure that you're regularly backing up your site (various plugins are available to help automate this process for you).

In short, I think it’s fair to say that Shopify sites are ultimately less vulnerable than Wordpress ones, simply because there’s less scope for users to neglect security on their site or add dodgy code to it. And if something does go wrong, then Shopify’s team have a responsibility to help resolve the problem.

Finally, a quick note about SSL: a free SSL certificate is provided with all Shopify sites - meaning that your visitors are browsing your site on a secure connection. You can of course install SSL certificates on Wordpress sites too - but again, it's your responsibility to sort that out.

Control over your content

If you use Wordpress, what you put on your site is, generally speaking, entirely up to you. If you use Shopify, you’ll need to be aware that Shopify can remove content (or even your whole site) if it conflicts with their acceptable use policies.

Admittedly, a company that you've paid to host your Wordpress site could also take your site down if it didn’t like what you were publishing - but in that scenario, you would have more options: you could move to a more liberal hosting provider, for example.

On a related note, it’s easier to get content out of Wordpress than it is with Shopify. There are a lot of tools available to Wordpress users to help them export and back up every single piece of content. In Shopify, although you can export your product data easily enough, you can’t migrate static pages and blog posts to another platform using an export tool – you have to manually copy and paste these somewhere…which feels rather antiquated.

Wordpress ultimately gives users more control over their content than Shopify, and depending on the nature and size of your site, this issue should not be overlooked.

GDPR compliance in Shopify and Wordpress

I'm not a legal professional, so please note that the below comments on the topic of GDPR do not constitute legal advice — they just reflect my take on the situation regarding GDPR for website owners.

As a result of the GDPR laws introduced in May 2018, building a website now involves meeting a lot of new legal requirements regarding data protection and privacy for EU visitors to it.

There are quite a lot of these requirements to be met — so it's a good idea to speak to a lawyer regarding what to do — however, for me there are probably four particularly important boxes for website owners to tick off:

  • Always process and store data securely
  • Provide appropriate website terms and conditions, privacy policies and cookie notices
  • Get explicit consent from people signing up to mailing lists via your website that it is okay to send them e-newsletters
  • Provide a means to opt in or revoke consent to use of non-essential cookies on a website (with that consent being logged).

Shopify lets you the meet the first three requirements easily enough. Because it is a hosted, paid-for solution, the secure data processing and capture aspect seems to be Shopify's responsibility (although as a business owner, you still have an obligation to ensure that any data captured via Shopify is done so legally).

Adding privacy and cookie policies to a Shopify site is straightforward enough, but bear in mind that you will need to invest some time and money writing GDPR-kosher notices. Similarly, you'll have to spend a bit of time ensuring that you build data capture forms that are GDPR compliant.

For the fourth requirement, Shopify isn't so great. It doesn't come with a GDPR compliant cookie notice generator, so you will invariably need to invest in a suitable app from Shopify's app store or use a third-party tool like Cookie Pro to create a cookie banner. Depending on the size of your site, this can add to your monthly bill quite a bit.

With Wordpress, although there are lots of plugins for capturing and storing data in a GDPR compliant way available, it's entirely your job to choose the right ones and make sure your Wordpress site is not doing anything naughty.

Ultimately,  although Shopify is at pains to say that GDPR compliance is fundamentally the customer's responsibility, it's probably fair to say that Shopify takes on some responsibility for ensuring GDPR compliance, at least in the data capture and processing area. With Wordpress, you are a bit more on your own — but that said, there are lots of resources available online to help you build a Wordpress site that is compliant.

Multilingual / multiple sites

Many businesses require multiple versions of their website - in different languages, or for different territories (or both).

Wordpress is currently a better solution than Shopify for this sort of thing - you can use either the Wordpress Multilingual plugin or the Wordpress Multisite version of Wordpress to create multiple versions of a website in multiple languages. And some of the e-commerce plugins for Wordpress (notably Ecwid and Woocommerce) can be configured to support multiple languages too.

Shopify have recently launched multilingual functionality however, which may help users with a need to present their store in several languages. This is currently available as a beta version that in addition to English facilitates French, German, Japanese, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish.

Mobile apps

If you’re somebody who likes to edit your website on the move, then you will pleased to learn that this is possible with both Shopify and Wordpress (and on both iOS and Android).

 The mobile app for Wordpress

The mobile app for Wordpress

The Shopify app is more focussed on e-commerce than the Wordpress one, allowing you to manage your products and follow up with customers; by contrast the Wordpress app is more focussed on content management, allowing you to create and edit pages and posts.

Whether or not you can manage the e-commerce side of things on your phone for your Wordpress-based store will depend on whether the e-commerce plugin you’ve used to build it provides an app for this purpose (for the record though Ecwid and Woocommerce both do).


Support is an area where I think it’s fair to say that Shopify beats Wordpress, particularly if you are building your site yourself.

When you buy a Shopify plan, you get support included with it. Live chat, email and phone support are included on all plans with the exception of the ‘Lite’ one (which limits support to live chat and email). This means if something goes badly wrong with your store, there is somebody you can turn to.

(This is a particularly important thing to bear in mind if you're building a site for somebody else. When you hand a Shopify site over to a client, so long as you've set things up correctly, you shouldn't have to worry about providing ongoing support to your client – that's Shopify’s job).

It’s a different story with Wordpress: if you’re building your website yourself with the platform and run into difficulties, it's not obvious where to turn to. You may find yourself sourcing help from a variety of locations: for example, the Wordpress forums, a hosting company, a plugin provider, a friend who knows a thing or two about Wordpress etc.

In my view, to end up with adequate support for a Wordpress site, you ideally need to work with a developer or agency specialising in Wordpress development and take out a support contract with them. This can be pricey, but on the plus side, it can give you a level of support that you are unlikely to ever receive from Shopify (face-to-face meetings, Skype calls, a more personal connection etc.).

Shopify vs Wordpress: the conclusions

Wordpress is unquestionably a better-established and more flexible platform than Shopify. It’s got a significantly bigger userbase and a much greater selection of themes and apps to choose from; and given the right skills and resources, you can basically build any sort of website you like with Wordpress.

If content production and management is a key concern for you – for example, if you wanted to run a sophisticated magazine site with a store on the side – then there is a lot to be said for going the Wordpress route. Its blogging functionality, content archiving and content management system are all significantly more flexible and sophisticated than Shopify’s offerings in these areas.

In quite a few ways, it’s probably fair to say that Wordpress has an edge in the SEO department too: the fact that you can use Yoast, choose your own server and create cleaner URLs for your content gives it a bit of an edge over Shopify.

But in many contexts, Shopify will simply meet the needs of e-commerce users better. That’s because it’s a tool that has been designed specifically to make building an online store straightforward, and it does an admirably good job of this.

Additionally, if you use Shopify, you’ll get support; relative peace of mind around security; and you won’t have to worry about the technical aspects of maintaining your website.

Finally, if you are new to the world of website building and determined to build your own online store, then I’d argue that Shopify is the easier, safer and quicker bet. There is a steeper learning curve involved with Wordpress, and more configuration to do (especially on an e-commerce site).

If you have a good budget and a good developer though, you’ll probably find that you get something better with Wordpress; a site more ‘bespoke’ in nature that is more precisely tuned to your needs. Ultimately though, if you are going the DIY route, my hunch is that you’d probably get better results with Shopify.

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And don't forget that we build Shopify and Wordpress sites - do feel free to contact us today to discuss your requirements.

Reasons to use Shopify over Wordpress

  • Shopify is easier to set up and use than Wordpress - you shouldn’t face much of a learning curve.
  • A lot of features which you have to source separately in Wordpress are available ‘out of the box’ if you’re using Shopify – notably themes, e-commerce features and payment gateway integration.
  • Hosting is included with the product (with Wordpress, you have to sort this out separately).
  • With Shopify you don’t have to worry about the technical aspects of maintaining your site; if you use Wordpress, you need to keep on top of this or your site will become vulnerable to being hacked.
  • Shopify is largely responsible for the security of your website - if you use Wordpress, security depends on how diligent you are in updating your software and theme.
  • 24/7 support is available for Shopify (email, phone and live chat). By contrast, whether or not you can avail of support for a Wordpress site depends largely on whether you have commissioned somebody to provide it.
  • Shopify is arguably a better option than Wordpress for users who require an elegant but simple website delivered quickly.
  • GDPR compliance is arguably a bit easier with Shopify, as the company take on some responsibility for it.
  • You can easily try out the product for 14 days for free - with Wordpress, you'll need to arrange hosting and download/install software if you want to try it out.

Reasons to use Wordpress over Shopify

  • The software is open source and can be downloaded for free.
  • You can build any type of site with Wordpress; it’s a more flexible platform than Shopify. 
  • A much wider range of templates is available in Wordpress than in Shopify.
  • Wordpress comes with a more sophisticated content management system which, unlike Shopify, facilitates content versioning.
  • A vast range of plugins - paid-for and free - is available to help you add functionality to your Wordpress website. Although you can also add functionality to Shopify sites via apps, there is a more limited range to choose from.
  • You have a greater range of options when it comes to e-commerce in Wordpress than in Shopify.
  • The number of variants and product options you can use (without an app) in Shopify is a bit limited – many of the Wordpress options give you more flexibility on that front.
  • SEO in Wordpress is a bit better than in Shopify.
  • On a Wordpress site, you have more control over your content - with Shopify, you’ll have to adhere to an ‘acceptable use’ policy and you may have trouble exporting some of your site content (especially where pages and posts are concerned).
  • You can export pages and posts more easily in Wordpress.
  • Wordpress is a much better option than Shopify for creating multilingual or ‘multisite’ projects.
  • The product has a longer history and bigger userbase than Shopify.

Alternatives to Shopify and Wordpress

Shopify and Wordpress are by no means the only options at your disposal when it comes to building a website or online store: there are a large number of alternative solutions available. 

On the self-hosted front, the best-known alternatives are probably Joomla and Drupal: very flexible platforms that host millions of sites worldwide.

With regard to hosted solutions, you might want to check out WixJimdo, Squarespace or Weebly (or indeed the hosted version of Wordpress). These are probably more geared towards ‘general use' websites rather than e-commerce sites; a more dedicated self-hosted e-commerce solution worth investigating if you’re not happy with Shopify is Bigcommerce.

Got any thoughts on Shopify vs Wordpress?

Have you any thoughts or queries on Shopify vs Wordpress? Please let us know in the comments below (note: if you're reading this on a mobile device, you may be viewing a faster-loading 'AMP' version which doesn't include the comments section - if so, you can view the full version of this post here).

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