September 19, 2017

Tips for Choosing a Website Platform

When choosing between a HTML and Content Management System (CMS) website platform, there are options to consider for the business or organization to have a positive short-term and long-term experience.

Do I want to update content and images on my own?  
Do you want to be able to update content and images yourself, in an effort to save time and/or money? There are specific website platforms which allow for the content and images on website pages to be updated without having to know how to code, on platforms like WordPress or Drupal.  A word of caution- consider the likelihood of these changes being made from within your business. Our experience is that best intentions do not necessarily come to fruition.  Also, infrequency of updates has the staff always on the steep part of the learning curve, to complete the content and image changes.  Plus, many websites which allow for ease of update are not flexible to accommodate all types of changes into the future. HTML websites do allow for almost limitless changes. So, be sure you will use the ease-of-update feature, before you give away other website attributes, especially in the long-term.

How much future flexibility do I want my website to have?
Some website platforms are more flexible than others; therefore, a decision needs to be made about planning for future changes.  What business needs are foreseen, effecting the website into the future? Again, HTML websites offer the most flexibility.

Do I want to budget monthly for required updates to themes and plug-ins?
Content Management System (CMS – do-it-yourself editing) website platforms require regular and security updates which help the website to continue to perform, even perform better, and provide increased security from present-day hacking. These updates involve the platform, theme, and plug-ins and require some more advanced technical knowledge of the platform to manage the update process.  Backups of the site should also be performed before and after each update to minimize the risk of losing content and images.  Some updates need to be performed as frequently as weekly. Who is going to take care of these updates and at what cost?  Ignoring the updates can yield a crashed website, when trying to bring the site up-to-date by taking a large developmental step.  Also, the security updates keep the various website components functional and working together; updates provide protection from hacking as well.  On the other hand, if you choose to have an HTML site, these constant updates are not needed and site security is more risk-free.  Both CMS and HTML websites require similar costs to develop; the financial difference is in the ongoing updates.

Do I want to own or delegate ownership of my website?
With some website platforms, you pay to have them developed to your specifications; other websites you have built to your specifications, within parameters limited by the website template.  These limited website templates may also require forfeiture of the right to own the site.

With websites which are not owned by the business which they represent, owned by third parties, the website only operates as long as you keep paying the vendor.  As soon as you stop, you cannot move the website to another server of your choice. This type of website is in a proprietary format, which only works as long as you keep it on the developer’s server.

Another consideration point with websites you do not own is the fact that these types of websites are generally less flexible to accommodate future customization.  And remember, customization also means differentiation—more ways for you to look different than your competition.

Start by asking these questions, then proceed to investigate your website development options – – content and image updates; future flexibility; budget; ownership.

blog
About Alexandra Griffin