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How do I choose the right platform for my website?

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This is the second in a four-part blog series on how to get started with redesigning your website. In this series, we’ll help you identify and navigate some of the key questions to answer before you push any pixels, write a line of code, or brainstorm new copy.

In last week’s post we discussed the various website platform options that exist, what distinguishes them from one another, and gave you examples of platform vendors to consider. But we didn’t answer the question “Which one is right for me?” In this post, we will begin to help you answer that question with a few guides that walk you through the process of selecting the right website platform.

Click on the links in each section below to open the appropriate guide for your website’s goal(s)

Answering THE key question

Depending on which poll or research your source, most companies end up redesigning or updating their website at least every 2-3 years. But deciding whether and when to redesign or update your site shouldn’t be based on some relatively arbitrary number, rather, it should depend on your business goals and objectives.

Which leads us to the key question that needs to be answered at the outset of any website design project – What is the main purpose/goal of your website? You can’t design and build a great experience for your target audience unless and until you’ve established exactly what it is you are trying to influence them to do. Among some of the most common goals for building or redesigning a website are to:

  • Establish or refine a web presence
  • Create marketing leads
  • Distribute content
  • Support a sales funnel
  • Sell goods and services online

Great, so all you have to do is answer that one question, and the single best platform for your website will magically reveal itself, right? Well, not exactly. The answer to this key question will lead to additional questions that will influence the platform type you select to build your website. Unfortunately, there is no formula or decision tree that will help you select a single right answer. You will still have some decisions and tradeoffs to make that are specific to your needs and your organization.

But fear not! We stand ready to help you through this process. We’ve created several guides for each of the above goals to help you get a better understanding of the capabilities of each platform type, the tradeoffs, and to give you a sense of which ones are most appropriate for your goal(s) or purpose. Just click on the link to each guide to review the goal-specific platforms the criteria you will likely need to consider. Contact us for a more in-depth conversation to help you get to the right decision for your organization and website.

Establish or refine a web presence

There are many reasons to create or refine your website, including visibility, establishing credibility, and expanding your reach. Your website IS your brand, so making sure it describes your products and services to the right audience is critical to your business. I myself have chosen a company/brand (or walked away from one) based on my experience with their website. After all, if my digital experience with them in this day and age is poor, can I rely on them to provide a positive experience in other areas of their business? Too harsh? I’m not alone. According to one study, 75% of people judge a company’s credibility based on the design of its website alone! For many prospects, a negative first impression with a company’s website can sink a deal before the first conversation.

If establishing or refining your web presence is your main goal, you are most likely to consider the following platforms in this guide.

Create marketing leads

For many businesses, generating inbound web leads is a primary source of revenue. This makes your website the most important tool for turning visitors into prospects and eventually into customers. Creating content and making sure that content is discoverable by your most likely customers will be an important consideration. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the ability to publish content to your website on a frequent basis will be key. And you will likely need to consider who will be most responsible for publishing that content and how easy that is for each platform type. Will it be people with some coding knowledge (unlikely) or left to Marketing to coordinate and update (more likely).

If generating leads is your main goal, you are most likely to consider the following platforms in this guide.

Distribute content

Content marketing and content distribution are often thought of as being the same thing, but they are not. Content marketing focuses on publicly distributing and sharing information without targeting any particular group. Content distribution typically refers to the means by which brands publish or disseminate their digital content (articles, videos, etc.) to more targeted audiences. As it relates to the three broad categories of content distribution platforms – paid, owned, and earned media – your website falls under the owned category.

If distributing content is your main goal, there are three platform types that you will want to consider.

Support a sales funnel

A website that is focused on supporting a sales funnel will provide a series of steps (using landing pages, forms, emails, etc.) that guide visitors toward purchasing your products or services. Functionality that supports conversions, often using gated content, is important for this type of website. The ability to personalize conversion steps using plug-ins so that they are specific to the visitor might be desirable to increase conversions. Finally, your budget and the degree to which funnel steps can be altered, tested, and customized may be an important consideration.

If the goal of your website is to get people as far along in the sales funnel as possible, there are only two platform types we recommend taking a close look at.

Sell goods and services online

By 2016, for the first time ever, consumers were going to the web for most of their purchases according to an annual survey by analytics firm comScore and UPS. Shoppers made 51% of their purchases online, compared to 48% in 2015 and 47% in 2014. Other studies put that number as high as 79% of U.S. consumers, up from just 22% back in 2000. Regardless of the study or the statistic, all trends point in the same direction with eCommerce sales growing.

This website goal/purpose is the most specific and unique compared to the others. First and foremost, your chosen platform must fundamentally provide a way for your visitors to purchase your goods and services from your website. There are many eCommerce platforms available that do exactly that, but there are other platforms to consider as well. Inventory management, maintenance, and speed will be important considerations

When your website’s main purpose is to act as a digital storefront, there are several options for platform providers for you to consider.

Disclaimer

We hope these guides provide you with a better understanding of the capabilities of each platform type. As you look at the qualities and attributes described in each of them, it’s important to remember the platform landscape and the functionality they offer are constantly changing, so the information contained in these guides and the decisions you make with them will change over time. For the most relevant information, reach out to us to schedule a conversation about your website needs.

Author Heath Umbach

Heath is an avid cyclist and runner who brings athletic rigor to everything he touches. With over 15 years of experience building and marketing digital products, he has a deep passion for solving our clients’ greatest challenges.

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