As a leading digital marketing agency in cannabis, we know all too well the importance your website has on a potential lead or consumer. It’s the first impression to a new visitor, a digital handshake to potential shoppers, and a friendly introduction to all that your brand and business offers.
Especially in today’s technology-driven world, there’s a plethora of options when it comes to choosing a website platform to launch your cannabis website – not to mention all the additional add-ons, plug-ins, and technical details that follow suit.
How is it possible to know which is right for your cannabis company?
The simple answer is, choosing the right platform is dependent on what exactly you need the website to do.
From simple landing page layouts to intricately detailed e-commerce menus for your online dispensary – our agency’s web development services are constantly learning about the latest and greatest for website platforms, offering efficient website buildouts for each of our unique clients.
Whether you’re looking to start from scratch or refresh your existing cannabis business website, consider this your ultimate guide to comparing and choosing the best website platform for your cannabis business.
Breaking Down the Best CMS Platforms
With a wide assortment of website platforms and software available at all entry levels, the options for building a webpage can seem endless. For cannabis brands specifically, websites can be utilized for a variety of functions and purposes, but must still adhere to any federal and private platform guidelines.
Content management systems, also commonly referred to as CMS, are used to manage the creation and modification of digital content. There are plenty of simple plug-in-and-play options when it comes to CMS platforms.
Wix & Squarespace
Both similar in style and setup, these CMS platforms are often recommended for anyone looking to start up their website. The variety of customization options and templates allows users to build out their own website layout with ease. Both Wix and Squarespace are free to start and have options for very low-rate monthly plans.
Pro: These CMS platforms are extremely user-friendly for all levels, and free plans offer affordability to business startups.
Con: When choosing the free plan option for either platform, users will not have the right to their own domain name, (for instance the domain will read as, www.cannabisbusiness.wix.com ). This means all of your search traffic goes directly to the website platform itself and doesn’t do you any favors in building out domain authority.
Shopify & Hubspot
As two other major forms of CMS platforms, many businesses will often utilize platforms like Shopify and Hubspot for their built-in marketing tools and resources. For e-commerce websites, Shopify is an excellent CMS platform that allows anyone to easily promote and sell their products both online and at a retail location.
Hubspot is another favored CMS platform for being a scalable, all-in-one option with inbound marketing, content marketing, email automation, social media analytics, and more. These marketing tools are handy to help businesses of all sizes grow traffic, increase visibility, and convert leads – all in one place.
Pros: Especially for an all-in-one marketing platform like Hubspot, this CMS platform can be fully integrated to provide real-time analytics and marketing strategy tools in one place.
Cons: Considering the strict and varying guidelines of cannabis retail and e-commerce on a federal level, many CMS platforms like this may have regulations or guidelines that advise against the selling of cannabis products online. This could potentially lead to the platform terminating your site.
These CMS platforms like Shopify, Hubspot, Wix, and Squarespace are considered software-as-a-service (SAAS) platforms because of the useful office marketing tools that are available integrated within the website. Overall, the platform hosting your cannabis website has its content, marketing resources, and analytics all in a one-stop shop.
Open-Source Website Platforms for Your Cannabis Website
For website development, open-source software means any program with source code available for use or modification as users or developers see fit. Unlike built-in CMS platforms, open source software is developed as a public, open collaboration and made to be freely available and edited to the public.
A wide range of templates and plug-ins are also available for open-source software, allowing your cannabis business to even further customize and optimize your website. Here are a few open-source software that are popular for cannabis businesses:
As a free and open-source website platform, Drupal is a common option for building websites cost-effectively and efficiently. Its robust platform offers users the experience of building out a website with ease, while still having the freedom to modify and adjust accordingly.
Pro: Drupal’s proper website accessibility allows it to be possible for every website viewer and user to have a solid web design experience, regardless of the computer device used or technical capabilities.
Con: Of all open-source software, Drupal can be difficult to navigate as a non-technical web developer or user. For instance, if you’re building a cannabis website that requires a Druapl feature that isn’t already existing or updating in your module, a web developer will be needed to build out the website to its maximum potential.
Joomla & Magento
As an all-in-one e-commerce solution, Joomla is open-source software with customizable features and analytical tools to help you gain the best insight for your cannabis website. With advanced marketing and tracking tools, you can reach more customers and evaluate your website’s performance.
Magento is another open-source option with easy installation and arguably the widest range of free, customizable features – with more than 10 native themes and 3,800 extensions. Between the two, Magento has a simple configuration and setup than Joomla, yet Joomla still takes the rank for better user-friendliness for newcomers.
Pro: Both Joomla and Magento offer great online visibility and search engine optimization tools to help you optimize pages throughout your cannabis website.
Con: Both platforms are not as user-friendly, and will require some computer coding or technical support for optimal website development.
No matter if you’re a web developing wizard or a newbie to the tech world, WordPress is one of the best and most commonly used website platforms with numerous free and paid themes and plug-ins.
Even as open-source software, WordPress gives ease of use to non-technical users and has a track record for being cannabis-business friendly. This is often the best option for business owners looking for a low-cost and low barrier to entry opportunity to build out and create a cannabis website fully.
Pro: Being both user-friendly and functional for technical coding and development, WordPress is ideal for both web developers and business owners alike. The platform’s accessibility makes it easy for anyone to go in and modify their site, upload new content, or view analytics at any point.
Con: With multiple plug-ins to expand the functionality of your website, WordPress can be resource intensive.
Choosing a Website Platform: What’s the Difference?
Now that the major website platforms have been broken down, it can still feel overwhelming to decipher which software is right for your cannabis business!
Just like the many different cannabis products available to fit a variety of needs for consumers, the same can be said about the cannabis website platform you choose.
Remind yourself of the whys for building out your cannabis website:
- Will you be selling a product or service?
- What type of content will you have on the site?
- What kind of marketing or SEO resources will you need for your website to benefit?
- Will you require a more simple and user-friendly interface, or something more complex and customizable?
This information can guide you in choosing the best website platform for your cannabis business and help you find a cost-effective solution to create a website and content your company is proud to represent!
Caution for Online Cannabis Companies
However, like the many other facets of the industry, cannabis companies should be cautious of specific platforms with guidelines and terms of conditions that may go against cannabis sales or legalization.
For instance, a dispensary business on a company platform like Shopify may be going against the private company’s guidelines for online cannabis sales. On the other hand, if your site is built on an open source like WordPress, your cannabis business will have full control of the files and own everything outright.
Additionally, since no one directly owns open-source software, there isn’t any company support center or help resource behind it to help you when you’re stuck. If you need development or aid work, your business must find ways to handle it – that’s where Cannabis Creative comes in to help!
Cannabis Creative: Curating Your Website Dreams into Reality
As a digital marketing agency for cannabis brands, what sets us apart in our web development services is how we use WordPress and all other resources available to us in combination. The result? An efficient and brand-stylized website that matches your cannabis business goals.
When you work with us to strategize and develop the ultimate website for your cannabis business, you can trust our agency to put the best web development practices in place:
- With each client, our web team produces a unique, custom-coded website theme in order to make the site pixel-perfect and match all the approved branding designs.
- Additionally, each plug-in is hand selected by our expert team from a list of standard plug-ins we’ve sourced to be useful for each cannabis business we work with. If a site requires something more unique, our web development team reviews all options available to find the best solution for our clients.
- After an initial website build-out has been completed and launched, our SEO team optimizes the website with local cannabis SEO to increase visibility from search engine results.
- We work to make the back end of the website to be as simple as possible for the client to be able to access and update at any point.
- All of our websites are hosted on dedicated servers through wpengine, which ensures fast page speed and reliable website uptime.
- After the launch of each new site built by our team, there’s a checklist to go through and confirm that every single detail is integrated and included in the result of your business website.
With the handful of tasks and responsibilities that come with launching a new business website, the website platform you choose is a particular piece of the puzzle. Don’t feel too overwhelmed with the number of SaaS and CMS website software to choose from – consider the pros and cons of each and how each option could better your cannabis brand and business as a whole.
After a solid website platform is put in place, your cannabis business is then ready to further explore the vast elements of marketing to help enhance your brand and promote products or services.
Launch an SMS marketing campaign, update your online dispensary menu, or continue creating content around your brand identity. No matter where you start, Cannabis Creative is here to help.
With decades of experience, the Cannabis Creative team has worked with hundreds of clients nationwide. Contact us to see how we can help design and develop your cannabis business website vision into a reality.