Choosing Enterprise Website Technology – 6 must ask questions

This post is essential reading for mid to enterprise-level businesses who are in the process of choosing a new enterprise website technology stack or reviewing their existing stack in an effort to improve reliability and performance.

If you are about to consult with a development or hosting supplier, you might want to take a minute to think about what exactly to ask them. 

Here’s our top 6 questions that every B2B marketer should be considering when choosing their enterprise website technology stack.

 

  1. How do I know my website technology can provide stability and longevity?
  2. Can my chosen web technology stack handle growth? 
  3. Will my enterprise website technology cope with international publishing?
  4. Will I be able to create new types of content, such as landing pages and CTAs without a developer?
  5. How effective is web technology API?
  6. Is my enterprise website technology stack going to be secure?

 

This article is not attempting to answer the questions. Instead, we are going to look at why it’s so important to ask them in the first place and what we are hoping to achieve with each question. Let’s go ahead and unpack.

How do I know my website technology can provide stability and longevity?

It’s likely that you’ll already know how important this one is. Many of us have inherited legacy CMSs from back when a custom CMS was all the rage. It wasn’t long ago when many website suppliers had invested huge amounts of money and effort in building their own bespoke CMS, and their proposition was based on complete customisation. Of course, we know now that this strategy didn’t exactly pay off. 

Customisation remains a top priority in any website development strategy, however, these days mature open-source solutions mean customising on top of a stable foundation is not only possible but makes so much more sense. 

Tip: Ask your website supplier for evidence of longevity in their recommended platform, this may be in the form of a stable developer community, evidence of investment or a product roadmap. It’s also worth looking around to see what respected organisations have chosen the same tech.

Can my chosen web technology stack handle growth?

Most web technologies have this one covered in their value proposition, does ‘Technology that grows with your business’ sound familiar? In our opinion, it’s worth digging a little deeper into this statement, and asking what does growth mean to you? Is it more traffic, more content, more features or a combination of all of these? 

The question of traffic growth can be easily answered by comparing your current traffic numbers to a prediction of years 1 to 5. Simply ask what happens if traffic doubles or there is a spike due to an event, make sure you get a satisfactory answer and examples of others who have been through a similar situation. 

Content growth should always be a consideration. Most CMSs will have no problem with pure volume. However, large volumes of content usually come with technical and logistical challenges, you may need to think about who is publishing the content, what will be the editorial workflow, will you need to introduce new proofreading and sign-off procedures. Will the technology be able to handle these custom workflows?

Finally, the question of features. How capable is the prospective platform when it comes to new custom functionality? Buying into a DXP with a full suite of features is tempting, but you’ll be surprised how quickly you hit the boundaries. Sometimes, like in the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, you will find having everything at once is not the best strategy. There is a strong argument to say starting steady and building up momentum (functionality) as and when you need it will provide the stability and longevity your organisation needs. The trick is finding a platform that enables this strategy.

Will my enterprise website technology cope with international publishing?

By international publishing, we mean multinational content teams in regional offices publishing in several languages that need stable enterprise website technology. 65% of Fortune 500 companies have international offices. You may not be there yet, but the rise of remote working is enabling content teams to expand into new markets at a faster rate than ever before. 

Currently the number of supported languages in Sitecore’s GUI is still in single figures, at the same time WordPress is running a live program to support more than 100 languages including Chinese, Japanese and Arabic. To be clear, we are talking about admin languages here, each platform has the capability to support unlimited front-end languages. 

We recommend a 2 way approach to language implementation. Firstly, establish the technical side, what is the setup? Will you use a multilingual plugin or perhaps a multisite setup? Will there be auto geo-redirection in place and the correct Hreflang Tags to give browsers and search engines the heads-up? Secondly, what will the editorial workflow be, who is publishing from where and to what audience? What is the proofreading and permissions strategy? All of this will help determine the right implementation for your organisation. 

Will I be able to create new types of content, such as landing pages and CTAs without a developer?

Of all the questions we’re asked when meeting a new client, this is usually top of the list. We still find it shocking that basic functionality needed to execute digital marketing campaigns, such as creating CTAs and Landing pages, is often unavailable to the user. 

Some platforms, such as HubSpot new CMS have this built in as a foundational principle. WordPress uses a block-based editing system that supports CTAs and a pattern system to deploy whole landing pages. Other platforms require a little more configuration, sadly some still don’t offer a fast and effective way to build out campaign landing pages or CTAs at all. 

Tip: Always ask for a demonstration of the CMS, and in doing so, look for how easy it is to create and deploy landing pages and CTAs.

How effective is my web technology API?

An Application Programming Interface is a way for two or more computer programs to communicate with each other. It is a type of software interface, offering a service to other pieces of software. 

Businesses usually raise the question of API capabilities when thinking about moving data from a web platform to another system or vice versa. The secondary system is often a CRM or CDP, but could be literally any software that helps power that organisation. So due diligence has to be given to how difficult this process is going to be. 

A monolithic platform, often called a DXP, might contain the secondary system within, eliminating the need for an API integration, but that comes with obvious limitations. Open-source web technology, on the other hand, has the opposite approach. Functionality is often kept to a minimum while attention is given to exposing the maximum amount of features via API. The net result is a system that plays nicely with almost anything. As long as you are prepared to download, buy or build the API bridge.

Is my enterprise website technology stack going to be secure?

Security is a major concern for every enterprise business and is often used as a blanket term to cover numerous risks. Therefore it’s a good idea to break those concerns down into more manageable chunks. That way you can systematically check with your supplier on how each will be covered. 

First up, every site administrator’s worse fear, a cyber attack. The most common type of cyber attack is Malware, which refers to malicious software viruses including worms, spyware, ransomware, adware, and trojans. You can ask your web developer and hosting company to provide evidence they are actively (not passively) fighting against Malware attacks. 

Password attacks. There are different types of password attacks like brute force attacks, dictionary attacks, and keylogger attacks. The route to preventing these is often a combination of a technology solution, such as changing the default website login URL or adding two-factor authentication, and compliant password management, such as strong alphanumeric passwords. 

A DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) is when hackers target web servers and attempt to flood them with vast amounts of traffic in order to exhaust their resources and bandwidth, resulting in a systems failure and the site stalling or going offline. Once again this gives you an opportunity to be specific about your questioning when auditing a web developer or hosting supplier. 

Tip: The majority of attacks can be prevented with regular software updates. So be sure to understand how the update process is managed and how often your technology is updated. If all else fails you will want a fast and reliable backup and restoration service, try to get details on this too. 

Summary

Consider these 6 questions as a jump off point to choosing, from which you can begin to understand what type of enterprise website technology is best suited to your organisational goals. They are essentially strategic questions, not tactical ones. It goes without saying there is so much more to crafting the optimum publishing platform, tactical issues which we haven’t touched upon might include accessibility, speed, reliability and other performance metrics. 

If you would like to know more about web strategy for mid to enterprise organisation, feel free to get in touch, we’ll be happy to help.

You can connect with our CEO Oliver Morrison or our CTO Paul Halfpenny on LinkedIn or follow our official company page here.
You can also find out more about our recent digital projects by visiting our client stories page.

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