Best website building services and best platforms to be on

  • Hi. I'm starting to plan making my website to showcase my portfolio but i'm also wanting to keep a blog and have a shop with prints.

    What would the best service/platform be for this?

    Is it better to have it all in one place? I was looking at squarespace for this or should i keep things separate? Also which platform would you recommend? Squarespace, Worpress, Blogspot..? Squarespace looks really nice and can incorporate a blog and a shop (as well as purchase a domain from them) but as far as i've seen people blog on blogspot more so maybe they are there more?

    Also cargo collective or bigcartel etc.. Bit lost here tbh

    Or maybe tumblr? because then images circulate (potentially) better?

    But which platforms are mostly visible to clients/agents?

  • I've used squarespace in the past and they're great, have some lovely templates for you to follow, i use Wix for my site (still designing it) and I find that really, really nice and easy to navigate - you can have a blog page and a link to your shop if you pay a little bit more (you could link it to your etsy page if you have one?)
    I personally prefer it when the artists blog is all in one with the website rather than being directed to another platform to read the blog, but that's just me! Plus it might be easier having it all in one place when you come to adding to it?
    I'm personally not a fan of Tumblr, i've never understood it and don't find it easy to navigate.
    I was always told in Uni that clients/agents prefer to see a professional looking website (rather than Tumblr) that's not too complicated and shows off your work on the main page , but things may have changed since then.
    Send us a link when you've done it so we can have a look 🙂

  • I am probably going to be shot down for this, but I am a web developer breaking into the illustration realm. In the last 10 years of being in this industry, i think i have seen enough pitfuls to give some decent advice. I would use the following 3 Tools:

    1. WordPress - Self-hosted, shouldn't cost you more than 9 dollars a month with Goddady you can also pick up your own custom .com domain for like 3 dollars. this will also allow you to get a professional email address like or whatever domain you choose. They do have a special right now.

    2. BeaverBuilder - Super easy page builder that comes with GoDaddy account as well. they have a few templates you can choose from

    3. Woocomerce - Free e-commerce plugin for WordPress easy to install and add products.

    I don't advocate places like wix and square space because there are limitations that you will run in pretty quickly, also very hard to move from a cheap startup service to a more professional setup when things get more serious. Trust me your potential hiring customers also these are the places you go when you cannot afford a decent website. You might as well put a label on your head that says " I am trying to save on costs because I am a small startup on your forehead" Destroys your credibility instantly.

    If you need help navigating the waters, I would be glad to help you get things set up and empower you to run your own show.

  • Ooooh also check out Portfolio Box, i'm not sure if they've added the blog and shop option yet but it's free and really simple if you JUST want a site to show off your portfolio, i think they're a little limited on fancy templates, you can link it to your own domain too for an extra cost for hosting i think 🙂

  • Pro

    All-in-one website platforms like Squarespace are soooo expensive.. It can be worth it because it's so simple, IF you have the money to spare for it. Personally I didn't, so I googled and built my own website with Wordpress, and let me tell you it ended up being much more simple than I anticipated. It's one of those things that seem difficult when you don't know what you're doing, but it's actually so easy.

    Here's the lay down of what I did basically:

    • Bought a domain (I used GoDaddy but I DON'T recommend it! They make you pay for a security/privacy insurance, and if you don't buy it they sell your personal info to companies and you start being phone harassed by telemarketers. I recommend Google Domains)

    • Bought my website hosting on SiteGround (3.95$ per month)

    • Installed Wordpress

    • Picked a template out of thousands of FREE wordpress site templates (there's also gorgeous paid ones for 20-60$)

    • Customized my site with my info, pages and pictures

    Whenever there was something I wanted to do that wasn't included in my template, I'd just google how to do it. There's so much help available that show you exactly how to do everything. It mostly works by plugins. I wanted a mosaic grid gallery that zooms into a picture when you click on it, so I just searched in the plugin catalog, installed the plugin and uplaoded my photos. NO coding required. Same for installing a shop on your site, you can use plugins like WooCommerce to set-up those systems.

    It takes a bit more time but is easy to figure it out and saves you a ton of money in the long run. However if money is not an issue and you don't want to spend a lot of time on this, services like SquareSpace definitely work great and I've never heard anyone complain about them.

  • SVS OG

    We use Wix where I work. Super easy, just drag & drop elements Nobody here wants to work on code, so we are fine with whatever limitations there are, which we haven't really run into anyway. We've been able to do pretty much what we wanted with our website.

    Personally, I don't want to work on code either, so whenever I get up to having a website, I plan to use Wix. I've tried the Wordpress route in the past, but it was just too time consuming for me, too much fiddling around trying to customize the templates.

  • SVS OG

    There are limitations with Squarespace and Wix and any type of service like this if you want anything fancy, but overall it's a good starter pick, and easy to use. (Squarespace has a really nice checkout experience too I think). Not everyone wants to mess with code and customizing. You can always upgrade later.

    I don't think your credibility is destroyed by using these services. I mean, Jake Parker uses Squarespace and he seems to be doing just fine. If you go for a clean, minimal design, it will look professional.

    If you want to save money by trading your time to learn Wordpress, it is not too hard to set up like @NessIllustration did! I also recommend Siteground for hosting - their basic option will probably meet your needs, comes with a free SSL (a must-have, this gives you the little green lock in the browser bar), and lots of optimization options for a fast website.

  • I bought a domain on "Iwantmyname" and hosted a "bootstrap" template I bought on creative market for a while on GIT's site. Do not reccommend. It set up fine but I would try wordpress if I start again. I pay the bills with tech work but who wants to spend hours customizing other people's meh code?

  • Moderator

    I'm a big fan of Portfoliobox. They're a Swedish company. Their free version is 50 images and 10 different pages, but no e-commerce option.

    I have two websites with them--one is my art site and the other is my theatrical costuming portfolio, and pay their pro level of $7 a month for each. They have an e-commerce option that comes built-in at that stage, and you can post up to 1000 images regardless of size and get unlimited pages. I take advantage of an option to have 2000 images on the costume site, but that's because it's kind of an archive of sorts.

    They have different templates, but most of them are centered not on the whole package but what you need from specific pages. For example, what do you want your blog to look like, or what type of gallery appearance do you want? Does this page feature images or writing?

    I find they're super easy to use and update, allow for a VAST number of images, automatically format for mobile devices, use HTTPS, and at the pro level you get your domain name included. They also have a marketing "guide" of sorts that you can use as well. They tout their website as being specifically about "creatives", and visually you can't deny they put all their emphasis on showing off a person's images. I'm personally very happy with them and highly highly recommend them.

  • @irina I've been using squarespace. They have a really good and simple interface. Great for a portfolio site. But I'm in the process of moving everything over to Shopify. Shopify has really good apps and templates built in. So now I can connect instagram and my printers website The Printspace directly with my shop and they handle all the digital printing, limited edition certificates and shipping with £6 shipping worldwide (not something I could offer). So that makes my life simpler. I thought about keeping two websites, I just don't know how to find the time to maintain both.

    Has anyone tried adobe portfolio? I haven't had a look at it yet. But it's free with Adobe CC.

  • SVS OG

    I also use great and easy website builder, I am currently updating my website now and its been bliss, just creating content is all that is really need. the one thing they don't currently have is a newsletter function

  • @sigross I was just about to mention Adobe Portfolio, I haven't had a proper look at it all yet but it seems pretty simple, plus if you've already got an Adobe CC account @irina then it's free, you just need to buy your domain 🙂

  • SVS OG

    I’m planning to revamp my website latter this year. This has given me a lot to think about price-wise. Perhaps, i’ll give the cheaper alternatives a go. I’m currently using the free version of wix. Though it’s very easy to use, the price is really high compared to other options.

  • Thank you to everyone that contributed. Loads to think about. I've used Squarespace in the past and now i'm looking at portfoliobox. The reality is i want something that looks nice and is quick and easy. Even tough i don't have money. I used to code simple websited back in 2003 in notepad and dreamweaver. At the ey basic i understand html and css but i just want to get things started and be able to pull things out or put things into and update easily when i want to. Somehow this whole thread made things more complicated with all the options hahahah.

    Shopify also looks good, but at the moment i have no prints and i think maybe society6 is better in that regard? Because i can't print my stuff and handle all that.

    @sigross How is printspace working for you? Have you used society6 before?

    Also, not really strictly website related but in the case of selling prints online, how can i receive money legally? Do i have to sign up as a sole trader (i like in London) or do i have to otherwise declare this income? (Have never done this before)

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  • @geoffrey-gordon We are brothers in arms! Developers to Artists! lol

  • @irina with regards to society6 I was using it for a bit but I didn't like the quality of the paper (print all over T-shirts are boss though) and its in America, so I couldn't go and check out their facilities. So test printing is a bit expensive. I love The Printspace because they have lots of lush paper and I can go down and pickup test prints (only 30 mins away) in Shoreditch. Plus, I only have to upload to their site and then they handle all the boring stuff of paper stock, packaging and delivering. For printing on objects I use Contrado, as they are only down the road too. All the manufacturing is done in London.

    Personally, I don't want my designs on loads of objects as I like to keep things simple (Simple Simon). Not to say I wouldn't license a design to another company. I tried T-shirts a few years ago and it was grim. People want different sizes, want to return stuff that doesn't fit and storing tees is not viable living in a tiny London flat. Never again! I think sites like Society6 and Contrado help this by being print on demand. I still prefer a screen print to a digital print. I like the limitations and tactile nature of that thick gooey paint.

    To sell online you do need to register as a sole trader, only if you earn over £1000 though. It's not hard, just register on self assessment by October if you hit that £1000. Link to SELF ASSESSMENT on GOV.UK

  • @sigross Awesome! Thank you 😃 I actually drove past theprintspace last night in bus 67 hehehe. I.m thinking of ordering their paper sample pack

  • I used Wordpress to build my site, I won't lie, I struggled along for ages, never happy with that I have created.
    Eventually settling with it being 80% what I am looking for.

    I would use Squarespace, but I am not really wanting to pay $18 a month for the site. At the moment I pay $50ish for the entire year and that is for my hosting and domain renewal. But it looks so much easier to put together one here than in WordPress.

  • Pro

    @reddprime I don't understand, did you use a premade theme?

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