In today's increasingly digital landscape, having a robust and effective web presence is no longer optional for organisations of all sizes. But with the sizeable amount of web platforms available, choosing the right one can feel overwhelming.
In this article, we aim to use our 20 + years worth of experience in the digital industry to guide you through the key considerations and steps to take to ensure you select the platform that best serves your organisation's specific needs and goals.
Step 1: Defining Your Needs and Goals
Before diving into platform comparisons, take a step back and clearly define your website's purpose and objectives.
- What are your primary goals for the website? Is it to showcase your services, sell products, provide information, or build a community?
- Who is your target audience? Understanding their demographics and online behaviour will inform the platform's features and design.
- What functionalities are essential? Do you need blogging tools, eCommerce integration, membership features, or advanced analytics?
- What is your budget and technical expertise? Platform costs and ease of use vary significantly, so set realistic expectations.
Step 2: Evaluating Platform Options
Once you have a clear understanding of your needs, research different platforms, categorising them into three main types:
- Basic Website Builders: Ideal for start-ups or smaller organisations with drag-and-drop interfaces and limited customisation. Examples: Wix, Squarespace, Weebly.
- Content Management Systems (CMS): Offer more flexibility and control, but require some technical knowledge. Examples: Kentico, Umbraco, Sitecore, Optimizely.
- eCommerce Platforms: Designed specifically for online stores, with built-in shopping cart and payment processing features. Examples: Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce.
Step 3: Key Factors to Consider
Beyond the platform type, several crucial factors differentiate each option:
- Scalability: Can the platform grow with your organisation's needs? Consider future expansion plans.
- Security: Choose a platform with robust security features to protect user data and website integrity.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): Is the platform SEO-friendly, allowing your website to rank higher in search results?
- Integrations: Can the platform connect with other essential tools your organisation uses, like marketing automation or CRM software?
- Support: Does the platform offer adequate customer support, training resources, and a community forum?
Step 4: Evaluating Specific Platforms
Shortlist a few platforms that align with your requirements and conduct thorough evaluations. It is also worthwhile to arrange demos to gain hands-on experience with the interface and features. Read online reviews from other users in your industry for specific insights.
Step 5: Additional Considerations
- Hosting: Decide if you want to utilise a separate hosting service or use the platform's integrated options.
- Compliance: Ensure the platform complies with relevant industry regulations and data privacy laws.
- Accessibility: Prioritise platforms that offer accessibility features to cater to a diverse audience.
Throughout the process always keep in mind that there's no "one-size-fits-all" solution. Choosing the right platform is an investment, so be thorough in your research and consider seeking professional advice if needed. By following these steps and carefully evaluating your organisation's unique needs, you can build a web presence that empowers your success and delivers value to your stakeholders.
- Leverage online comparisons and review websites to compare features and pricing of different platforms.
- Consider attending industry events or webinars to learn more about specific platforms and best practices.
- Don't be afraid to contact platform representatives for clarification or specific queries.
In summary, building a successful web presence takes planning and informed decision-making. By following these guidelines and investing time in choosing the right platform, you can create a digital space that reflects your organisation's values, facilitates its goals, and thrives in the ever-evolving online landscape.
Interested in learning more? Then why not get in touch to have a one-to-one session with one of our experts?
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