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Is Website A Platform? | Everything You Need To Know

March 06, 2024
Written and researched by experts at AvadaLearn more about our methodology

By Sam Nguyen

CEO Avada Commerce

Mixing up websites and digital platforms is common due to their similar features. However, they offer distinct user experiences, essential for your business needs.In this post, we’ll delve into the pivotal question, ‘Is a website a platform?’ unraveling everything you need to know about the relationship between websites and platforms.

Characteristics of A Website and A Platform

What Is A Website

What Is A Website

A website is a collection of interconnected web pages under a single domain name, accessible via the Internet. Primarily, websites serve to provide information, ranging from personal blogs and corporate web pages to news portals and e-commerce sites. Characteristics of websites include a static or semi-static nature, a focus on content delivery, and a user experience centered around browsing and consuming information.

Websites gather audience data indirectly, categorizing users into general segments. For example, if an article receives many clicks, the website infers a high interest in that topic among its visitors and highlights it. Essentially, websites cater to the interests of the majority rather than focusing on individual preferences.

For example, Apple.com is a typical e-commerce website where users browse and purchase products. Its primary role is to display Apple products, services, and company information, and facilitate transactions. Users interact mainly with the content provided by Apple, such as product listings and reviews, and they generally can’t personalize anything on Apple.com.

What Is A Platform

What Is A Platform

In contrast, a platform is a digital framework that enables the interaction and exchange between businesses and their audience, often supporting the creation, modification, and sharing of content or services. 

Platforms are designed for user engagement and collaboration, and involve activities like filling out forms, engaging in discussions, posting comments, taking quizzes or surveys, or bookmarking content. When users provide platforms with actual data, they receive experiences uniquely customized for them.

Types of platforms include social media platforms like Facebook, service-oriented platforms like Airbnb, and content streaming platforms like Netflix. Each type serves different purposes but commonly provides tools or infrastructure for user interaction.

TikTok connects content creators with their audience, fostering real-time interactions. It’s a platform that encourages active user participation. The more you engage with videos, such as watching, commenting, or bookmarking, TikTok captures your preferences and tailors your feed to show more content similar to what you enjoy.

Core Differences Between a Website and a Web Platform

Websites and platforms share commonalities, but they also exhibit core differences in terms of functionality, interactivity, and purpose. Here are some key distinctions:

Purpose and Content:

  • Websites primarily serve to provide information. They can be viewed as digital brochures or portfolios that display content in a static or semi-static manner, often without requiring user interaction beyond basic navigation.
  • Platforms, on the other hand, are designed for interaction and engagement. They facilitate the creation, sharing, and exchange of content or services among users. Platforms serve as a foundation for building communities, marketplaces, or networks.

User Interaction:

  • Websites offer limited interaction, mainly for information consumption. User engagement might include reading articles, viewing photos, or filling out contact forms.
  • Platforms encourage active user participation, including content creation, social interaction, and service utilization. Users can contribute to and alter the platform ecosystem through their actions.

Functionality and Dynamics:

  • Websites are generally more static, with content that updates only when the site owner publishes new information or changes the site’s design.
  • Platforms are dynamic, with content and services that evolve based on user behavior and preferences. They often employ algorithms to personalize user experiences and foster a sense of community or marketplace.

Business Model:

  • Websites may support a business by providing information, generating leads, or facilitating contact. Their role is often to support marketing, sales, or customer service.
  • Platforms create value by connecting users, facilitating transactions, or enabling content sharing. Their business models often rely on network effects, where the platform becomes more valuable as more users participate.

Is Website Considered A Platform?

A website is considered a platform when it serves as a content distribution platform. Content Management Systems (CMS) play a crucial role in transforming a website into an effective platform for disseminating information. 

CMS enables easy creation, modification, and organization of digital content, making it a cornerstone for websites to function as platforms. For a deeper understanding of CMS, you can explore our article on “What is CMS?”

E-commerce websites can be considered platforms. They enable online transactions, recommend products based on user activity, and provide a smooth process for users to explore, choose, and buy products or services. These sites incorporate payment gateways and secure checkout procedures, demonstrating how websites have grown from static pages to interactive, transaction-based platforms.

Furthermore, a website can be considered a platform when it offers an interactive and engaging experience. This involves features like user-generated content, comment sections, forums, and social media integration. 

Such interactive elements transform a website into a two-way communication channel, fostering community engagement and enhancing the overall user experience. In this way, websites evolve from being static information sources to dynamic and engaging platforms that facilitate meaningful interactions.

Websites vs Platforms: Pros and Cons

Pros & ConsWebsitesPlatforms
Control & FlexibilityPros – More control over design and functionality. – Flexibility to customize as needed.– User-friendly templates and predefined features.- Quick setup with less technical knowledge.
Cons– Requires technical expertise for full control.– Limited customization compared to websites.
Ease of UsePros – Tailored development for specific needs.– Intuitive, easy-to-use interfaces.
Cons– The steeper learning curve for non-tech users.– Limited control may not suit unique needs.
CostPros – Potentially lower cost for self-hosted sites.– Initial setup costs may be higher, but ongoing fees can vary.
Cons– Hosting fees and domain costs may apply.– Subscription fees for advanced features.
MaintenancePros – Full control over updates and maintenance.– Platform handles updates and security.
Cons– Requires manual updates and maintenance.– Limited control may mean reliance on platform updates.
ScalabilityPros – Easily scalable based on hosting resources.– Scalable, but may encounter limitations with certain platforms.
Cons– May require more manual adjustments for scaling.– Limited scalability with some platform constraints.
Speed of SetupPros– Depends on technical proficiency, potentially faster.– Quick setup with pre-built templates and features.
Cons– Initial setup may take longer for beginners.– Customization may extend setup time.

Websites vs Platforms: Considerations for Businesses and Individuals

Websites vs Platforms: Considerations for Businesses and Individuals

Websites are ideal for businesses and individuals looking to establish an online presence and disseminate information about their products, services, or personal portfolios. They serve as a controlled environment to convey your brand message and values.

Platforms are better suited for those aiming to create an interactive environment, foster a community, or facilitate transactions. If the goal is to engage users actively, encourage content creation, or support e-commerce activities, a platform offers the necessary tools and infrastructure.

Websites and platforms can complement each other. For instance, a business might use a website for its corporate presence and a platform (say social media) for engaging with its customer base. This dual approach can maximize online visibility and interaction.

Bottom Line

This comprehensive guide has demystified the question, ‘Is a website a platform?’. We hope that after reading this, you are equipped with the knowledge to navigate the evolving digital presence and functionality landscape.


Popular website creation platforms include WordPress, known for its versatility; Wix, offering user-friendly drag-and-drop functionality; and Shopify, specializing in e-commerce. Other options like Squarespace, BigDaddy, and Webflow also provide diverse features to suit different needs, making them suitable choices for creating websites with varying complexities.

Online platforms can be categorized into three main types: 1. E-commerce Platforms: Such as Shopify and WooCommerce, are designed for buying and selling goods online. 2. Content Management Systems (CMS): Like WordPress and Drupal, focusing on creating and managing digital content. 3. Social Media Platforms: Such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, enable social interactions and content sharing among users.

When choosing between a website and a platform, consider factors like your technical expertise and desired level of control - platforms like WordPress offer more customization but may require technical knowledge. Evaluate the specific features each option provides, aligning them with your website goals and functionality requirements. Additionally, factor in your budget, as platforms may involve subscription fees, while self-hosted websites incur hosting costs.

Yes, a hybrid approach is feasible, allowing you to leverage the strengths of both websites and platforms. You can use a platform for specific functionalities, such as e-commerce with Shopify while maintaining a custom website for unique content and control. This approach offers flexibility to meet diverse goals and optimize your online presence.

Businesses and individuals navigating online presence should consider their target audience, tailoring content and platforms to meet their preferences. Prioritize user experience, ensuring that websites or platforms are easy to navigate and mobile-friendly. Regularly update content, engage in social media, and monitor analytics to adapt strategies based on performance and changing trends.

Sam Nguyen is the CEO and founder of Avada Commerce, an e-commerce solution provider headquartered in Singapore. He is an expert on the Shopify e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Sam loves talking about e-commerce and he aims to help over a million online businesses grow and thrive.