Last week, I had been invited by a client to drive a dream car on Spa-Francorchamps, the world’s most beautiful circuit, amongst 100 other businessmen. You can imagine the blast I had on the race track, but no one could have conceived what happened after I was introduced as my client’s web ùarketer.
I spend the rest of the day answering questions about how to evaluate a website performances, about lead generation and return on investment but the most awful topic I had to cover was the tool picking.
I thought that, with so much knowledge available online, this was an easy decision to take, but people kept complaining about their struggles to modify their existing website and their tool's lack of productive outcomes… so let’s clear that up once and for all.
Often underrated, choosing the right platform for your business’ website is probably one of the biggest decision you’ll have to take. Indeed, all your future marketing efforts will rely on it and most of them would be in vain if you are to choose the wrong one.
Let me help you understand the key pillars to consider before taking this decision and explore with you the pros and cons of the 3 main options.
The key aspects to consider when choosing your website platform
1. First and foremost, does your business model rely on your website ?
Indeed, if your are to open an ecommerce store, you’d better go for a powerful and modular solution. At the opposite, if you sell B2B services, you could be better off with a simpler solution that fulfill all your needs without requiring extensive development and maintenance efforts.
2. At what stage is your company at ?
It goes without saying that a startup aiming at going live as soon as possible might not need the same tool than a 25-year-old manufacturing company wishing to develop international sales.
3. What are you trying to achieve with your website ?
Even though I firmly believe that, regardless of your company's development stage, your website should always aim at attracting, converting and closing, I know some companies might not need such a comprehensive tool. However, every company needs a clear goal for their website. Do you want your web page to be visible only to people knowing the URL? Do you need to get found when people search for solutions like yours? Or do you want to create a predictable flow of new leads and customers?
Pros and cons of the 3 main options for your website
1. DIY Website builders
Solutions like Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace or SiteBuilder.com have bloomed in the past years and you can easily understand why. They empower anyone to create their own website. No coding or specific knowledge is required. All you need is a bit of time and the site builder we help you create your website, mainly through a drag-and-drop editor.
- Time to market is unbeatable
- Plenty of templates to pick from
- Your site will never be as pretty as the demo one
- You don’t own anything on the platform
- You can’t control anything and you’ll quickly be stuck
- Be careful with hidden costs
If what you need is to have a website live as soon as possible, then stop wondering, a DIY Website builder is what you need. However, keep in mind that you won’t control much and you will, at one point, reach the limits of it. Therefore, don’t forget that you’ll need to plan the switch to another tool when the time is right.
2. Content Management System
A content management system (or CMS) is a software application that is used to create and manage digital content. Basically, it offers you a user interface between the front-end (what happens on your users’ screens) and the back-end (what happens on the server).
The most famous CMS, WordPress, is now used to set up more than 28% of all websites. From small brick and mortar shops to the Financial Time and Mercedes-Benz, WordPress has a proven track of being the most powerful and flexible CMS out there.
- You own everything
- You can use advanced functionalities for the tenth of the custom development price
- You can decide whether using an existing theme or developing your own
- Better performances and longevity than DIY Builders
- Great integrations with your other tools (CRM, Analytics, Email marketing, etc.)
- Most of the maintenance is done for you (core and plugins updates)
- Plenty of resources available online to help you
- Might not be suitable for all applications
- Requires some technical knowledge (or at least understanding)
- Longer learning curve
- Hard to avoid bad developers when you aren’t, yourself, a pro (read my article about it here - in French https://adoraweb.lu/les-3-elements-verifier-avant-dengager-une-agence-web/)
If you need a website for marketing purposes and are looking to start with a good foundation to build upon as your business grow, this is clearly the best solution for you. Moreover, you’ll probably never need another tool : from a one page showcase site to a lead generation machine, a CMS such as WordPress has you covered.
3. Full Custom
Even though a CMS could serve as a web application framework, if your business model relies heavily on your website, you might need to go for a full custom solution.
- You. Control. Everything.
- No one will have the same tool.
- If done correctly, it’s unbeatable regarding the performance level.
- The cost will get pretty high, pretty quickly.
- Requires an extensive understanding of the technical side.
- Requires regular maintenance.
If you are creating something that has never been done before, full custom is the way to go. However, don’t forget that pairing it with a CMS could help you save time and ressources for your marketing efforts.
As a conclusion, there’s no perfect solution and choosing the right tool will mostly depend on your business goals and needs. However, I can safely tell you that you absolutely need to own your business website and that you really want to avoid the hassle of a full custom solution. If in doubt, I invite you to join us at the free monthly meetup of the Luxembourg WordPress Community. We’ll gladly help you pick the right tool and if WordPress is a fit, we’ll help you navigate the different steps of building a website.