Business owners looking to launch or overhaul their websites are often overwhelmed to learn about all the different platforms available on the market. You’ve got HTML, Content Management Systems (CMS), WordPress, and more. So we asked five web professionals:
What factors should businesses take into consideration when deciding on a website software solution?
Principal Designer, Zipnet Design
“A company website is a valuable marketing tool, so it’s important for it to always have the most current information. For this reason, a Content Management System is a good choice because it provides a way for users to add or change content easily without the need to understand the underlying code. Theoretically, anyone who knows how to type a text document can use a CMS, but not all CMSs are built the same, so it’s important to ask for a demo and try it out personally.”
Hurley suggests things to consider:
- How easy is it to change the text, the font type, color, and size? Can styles be pre-defined so formatting text is easy?
- How easy is it to add, change, or re-size images?
- Are additional modules available in case you need them later? For example, can a gallery be installed? A blog? A forum?
- Is it compatible with ecommerce software? Is it supported by PayPal or other payment gateways?
- Is it search engine friendly? Can keywords and descriptions be added?
President, e-cubed media
“The development community doesn’t always have a wide breadth of knowledge, so clients get shoehorned into what they are familiar with. Open source is great with CMSs like Drupal and Joomla, but people need to be aware there are set-up costs, and ongoing maintenance and security issues that need to be dealt with.
“Many developers promote open source as fully scalable enterprise solutions, noting that the Whitehouse uses Drupal. It’s true. But they fail to tell people the Whitehouse has 27 in-house developers and a $4 million to $5 million budget. So it’s important to know you need tech-savvy people in-house or on a third-party basis.
“For simple solutions, WordPress is the cat’s ass. It’s a quick and easy solution, as long as you don’t have any advanced multiple user or workflow requirements.”
Principal, J Taylor Design
“Quality HTML and CSS development is key when thinking about the initial stages for an SEO standpoint of a website. Business should make sure they are using a Content Management System that functions off of proper development and code. Tools like WordPress and ExpressionEngine are fantastic solutions for a CMS.
“The difference comes when looking at projects individually. One project may be better suited for WordPress, and another for ExpressionEngine. Business owners should choose a quality development team who can look at their project and choose the right CMS platform for their project.”
Creative Director, BrandOne Media
“Firstly, I ask the client how much control they want over the website in terms of turnaround time for revisions and updates to their website.
“If a client updates their website with copy or images once, twice, three, or four times a year, there’s really no point migrating their site into a CMS solution. If they are a public company or require constant web copy updates or price and product changes then it is much more feasible to put the website into a managed CMS solution.
“Of course, the upfront costs are higher, along with monthly maintenance fees when using a CMS, but the freedom of control and client management is usually worth it.”
Project Manager, Elvio Web Design
“One of the biggest elements is cost. With so many applications offering similar things, it’s wise to invest in what you actually need. Ease of use is important too. Most website owners aren’t technical savvy, so it’s best to go for simplicity. I like companies like 37 Signals, which understand simple is better. Scaled down web applications are practical and easy to use. Feature-rich applications have major learning curves and can cause frustration.
“If you’re looking to blog, WordPress is probably the number one choice. But if you potentially need a photo gallery or forum, then you might want to consider something like Business Catalyst. Ask yourself: “Is there anything I might need in the future in terms of functionality?” If you plan for it now, you’ll save a lot of money and time in the future.”