Choosing the right platform to build a website.
Regardless of whether you are building your own website, or getting a website professionally built for you, the choice of platform on which it runs is important.
Choosing the wrong platform could lock you into a proprietary system, or one that lacks features you may need in the future.
You may also choose a proprietary system that is not widely supported, fails to keep up to date, or even becomes obsolete. This can result in you throwing away your investment and starting again.
In the long run making the wrong choices will cost you more time and money.
Particularly true of those looking for a budget entry site, and especially of DIY website owners, you may think your website needs only basic functionality – for example to display a page with some information.
But many DIY or budget website owners soon become disappointed with the lack performance. When your site fails to get enough customers, you start to find out what it really takes to build a well designed website.
But what could you possibly need other than to display a few pages of information?
What can your website do for you?
Several years ago, search engines were easily fooled into thinking a website was important. “Stuffing” keywords into a page, and setting up a large number of external links to it would bring impressive results in terms of search engine rankings.
More recently search engines have become more adept at deciding what a website is about, if it’s relevant to the search query, and if it’s one people will find usable.
Internet users are also much more savvy, and can quickly assess the relavance of a site, often just from its listing in the search results.
The point is, how websites work is a changing game that you will need to keep up with. Techniques such as opt-in email marketing, mobile friendly pages and behind the scenes SEO, to name only a few, are now commonplace.
It is important that your platform can keep up with those changes.
But surely all platforms keep up with the changes?
So you’re looking for something that keeps up to date, has a continuous stream of functionality updates, is easy to get changes or customisations for, and is unlikely to become obsolete.
Let’s see how well WordPress might fit the above:
- It’s Open Source – you (or a any developer) can get at the code and do whatever you like.
- The code is mostly free, or low cost.
- Many people write code to add new features.
- Many people write code to simplify tasks so you no longer need to be a developer to make significant customisations.
- The chances are somebody else has already coded what you need as a free or low cost plug-in. There’s a wide choice of add-on code.
- Regular updates keep up with security and evolving technology and/or standards.
- WordPress is particularly renowned for its SEO capabilities. That’s because the developer community recognise the importance of having effective SEO.
- Most importantly, it’s by far the most popular website platform.
There are other competing platforms to which some of the above apply, such as Dupral and Joomla.
While you could also choose one of those other platforms, why would you not choose the most popular, and hence best supported one?
In the same way that VHS ultimately dominated BetaMax, popularity counts for a lot.
What about Weebly, Squarespace and the other website builders?
Firstly remember that any website builder (such as Weebly or Squarespace) fails most of the bullets in the previous section.
While this doesn’t make it a bad system, it does mean you should very carefully consider what you may want from your website in the future.
If you are cutting out all of the flexibility, support, low cost and future-proofing offered by WordPress (and Joomla etc), you need to ask yourself why.
Is it to save money?
Is it because a drag and drop website builder is easier to use?
Is it because the website builders seem like a quick way to get a website?
Whatever the reason, be sure it justifies turning away from what a good open source content management system offers.
If your web designer is using a propriety system , you really should be questioning why they are making that choice. In the long term it is quite possibly not in your best interests.
It’s possible the choice is just because it gives your designer an easier time knocking up a few web pages for you at lower initial cost.
Why use WordPress?
WordPress is undoubtedly not as easy to use for simple websites as a drag and drop interface (although that is changing).
There are instances when WordPress may not be the best platform to support complex requirements.
The point is, you should start with what I contend is the obvious answer and only move to another solution if you can prove to yourself otherwise.