Things to consider before you implement your company’s website
Design. Content. Platform. Structure. Functionality.
There are so many choices you have to make when you build your company’s website. Each decision has its pros and cons and the ultimate solution should be one that supports the specific needs, both short-term and long-term, of your business.
Consider following a structured methodology to help you define your solution, identify the business objectives of your website, and document required functionality. This includes spending time:
- Identify the expected users, both internal and external to your company
- Design the overall website framework – Look & Feel
- Outline the functionality the website needs to support
- Consider SEO best practices for marketing and lead generation
- Determine the integration requirements with other systems and data
- Organize the type and volume of content for the site
- Plan your Scalability and Security needs
Once you understand the objectives and requirements for your website, you can begin to evaluate different approaches that fit your needs and budget. The areas to consider include the following, which are described in more detail below.
- Will you do the work internally or hire a web design firm? The decision to hire a consulting company to design and implement your website will be based on a couple of key factors: Do you have the resources internally with the skillsets required? Does your team have the time available to complete the work in the timeframe needed? Do you have a budget available to hire an outside firm to assist?
- Evaluate and select your platform. There are three general options that range from basic and cost effective, to very customized and expensive. They include:
- Do-It-Yourself platform using a website service such as Wix or SquareSpace. This can be a good option if you have very limited needs for your website. A non-technical person can create and deploy a website by using this type of platform. A drawback to these platforms is their limited ability to customize, integrate, and scale.
- Content Management Systems (CMS) packages such as Drupal or WordPress. CMS platforms allow increased flexibility, customization, available plug-ins, increased security and scalability. If you take this approach, you should consider working with a consulting partner to do the work unless you have experienced resources internally. This comes with an added cost which will depend on the scope and complexity of your website.
- Create a completely custom-built website using a tool like Ruby on Rails. The main benefit is that you get a completely customized website to meet specific requirements, security, etc.… However, it comes at a significant cost and in the end you have a custom application that will need a team of resources to maintain and enhance.
- Determine your hosting or service provider There are a number of important decisions you need to consider when selecting your hosting solution. If you work with a consulting firm, they should be able to guide you through this process. The key areas that should be evaluated include:
- Bandwidth: Determining your expected needs for bandwidth are necessary if you want to provide a positive experience for the people that visit your site. If you expect a large amount of traffic to your site with a lot of content and graphics you will need a reasonable amount of bandwidth and storage.
- Reliability: Reliability and availability are critical components. The worst result for your new website is a slow or unavailable site that people quickly get frustrated with and move on to another option. The best web hosting companies offer availability rates of above 99 percent, referred to as “Uptime.” You should take the time to consider the options and pick a service that will provide the level of service required.
- Security: Security is an important factor in selecting a service provider. You need to think about how people will access the site, user authentication, issue alerts, protection from Cross Site Scripting (XSS), as well as backing up your data. If you do not consider the security of your website you could be vulnerable and set yourself up for problems down the line.
- Hosting Packages: We already talked about how to evaluate a platform above, but a related hosting topic relates to whether you will share your environment with others or have a completely dedicated environment for your own. You should look into the benefits and drawback of hosting in a Shared, Virtual Private Server (VPS), or Dedicated environment.
- Cloud Computing: Will leverage the advantages of the Cloud? There are numerous reasons to host your website in the Cloud including lower costs and capital expenses, increased speed and agility in responding to business needs, and a focus on more important things than IT Infrastructure.
- Additional Features: Several other areas that you need to consider will depend on your needs, complexity, and geography. These will include features such as Uptime, Load time, and location of the web servers.
- Planning and Implementing
The final step is moving forward with your new website. With the information you captured and evaluated to this point, you are in a great position to successfully implement a solution that meets the needs of your business!