What Makes An Enterprise Website

In this article we will explain what defines an enterprise-level website, showing some of the typical characteristics and things to consider when embarking on a new build.

The definition of ‘enterprise’ is largely open to interpretation, there are many metrics used to define enterprise in business. Depending on the industry, many people believe businesses fall into particular categories based on their size, ie number of employees or revenue. In the UK, these categories include:

  • Micro Business (1 – 9 employees)
  • Small Business (10 – 49 employees)
  • Mid-Market Business aka SME (50 – 249 employees)
  • Large Business aka Enterprise (250 employees or more)


  • Micro Business (up to £2 million)
  • Small Business (up to £10 million)
  • Mid-Market Business aka SME (up to £50 million)
  • Large Business aka Enterprise (£50 million and over)

With this in mind, we could choose to classify business websites, and apply the term ‘enterprise website’, based purely on size.

However, not all enterprise businesses carry the same level of requirements for their website. Some, in fact, demand a much lower degree of complexity than websites that would normally fall into a Small or Even Micro business, particularly in the startup space, where businesses are conceived right from the beginning to generate revenue online. These types of business can be very complex and demand a high level of development expertise.

So what is the right way to classify a website build?

The New Definition of an Enterprise Website

Maybe it’s time to focus on the business requirements rather than the business size, and agree on a new definition of enterprise level website development.

The question then becomes, what type of requirements separate enterprise websites from non-enterprise. Notice the deliberate avoidance of the terms Micro, SME, Mid-market. Because in the new definition, size doesn’t matter.

Let’s take a look at some typical requirements that may indicate a website project is truly enterprise.


On average, the typical lifespan of a website is 2 years & 7 months (Forbes, 2021) but with the right tech stack and regular maintenance, this can be increased up to 5 years, or more in some cases.

Enterprise websites in particular should be regularly audited and frequently maintained. Not only is this essential to make sure the website does not become outdated or vulnerable from a security perspective, it also has a positive impact on operational logistics and serves to eradicate the impact of a complete rebuild. The principle is akin to investing in transportation, you wouldn’t buy a delivery van and leave it to rust without a proper maintenance plan.

Therefore a contributing factor to the definition of an enterprise website is one that is built to last longer than the average (3 – 5 years or more) without major re-platforming.

In order to achieve a longer lifespan, the manager of an enterprise website should carefully consider the following elements:


Generally speaking enterprise websites need to be able to handle a large amount of traffic and data, moreover they to cope with the increase. It’s no good having a set-up that works today but falls down tomorrow. For this reason most enterprise web projects are planned out in advance, taking into account expansion, which often comes with an added degree of load testing.

On the other hand, scale can mean something else, such as added products or services, or new types of content and added languages. All of which often leads to more complex publishing requirements.

In the case of ecommerce, scale can be the sheer number of products or SKUs. It’s not unusual to start with a few hundred and end up with a few hundred thousand. No to mention the increase in currencies and shipping zones.

Growth is inevitable for some businesses, those with their eye on the future will plan in the knowledge that their website will be required to do something new in the near future. The trick is not trying to solve the individual challenges on day one, rather seek out a platform that is designed to handles scale.


Security can be a different ball game at enterprise level. Why, because the stakes are higher. Larger firms face more stringent compliance laws, which, if ignored can result in significant fines.

An article by Tessian highlights some of the worst eye-watering fines faced by organisations in the last 3 years for breaking privacy laws, often related to their website, GDPR and customer data.

As the risk of data loss or website service continuity can be a critical factor, security if often placed at the top of the requirements list. To mitigate the risk, web firms implement extra security measures in both development and live environments. Likewise, hosting companies like WPengine have premium packages or customised solutions where security and disaster recovery protocol is applied in several layers.


Enterprise websites need to be highly customisable in order to adapt to the specific requirements of the organisation. This could include the integration of a range of systems and applications. In our experience most enterprise projects require integration with between 3 and 6 Saas products or custom built platforms, sometimes considerably more.

Customisation is also a big part of the design process. We all know WordPress themes can be bought off the shelf, however your average enterprise client wants no such thing. They expect original design and complete customisation, what’s more the CMS must look and feel like a custom built platform. This means no excess admin features and minimum plugins, only what they need, when they need it.

Business Terms

Although you might not expect it, business terms are one of the clearest indications you are dealing with an enterprise project.

At SME level the procurement process is usually swift and involves the agency sharing it’s terms and conditions and the client making a few amendments in the form of a ‘special term’ or ‘schedule’. Generally speaking, the closer a client adheres to the original terms and conditions the more standardised the project rollout, although this is not always the case.

When dealing with an enterprise project, the agency may need to navigate a more complex procurement path, including due diligence checks around data protection, business continuity, disaster recover and ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance).

SLA (Service Level Agreements) can also be subject to customisation, including heightened response times or extended service hours, or even dedicated teams.


Preparing for an enterprise website project takes a slightly different mindset, one that focusses on big questions first and detail later. We suggest spending some time, far in advance of your project to think about;

  • Sustainability
  • Scalability
  • Security
  • Customisation
  • Business Terms

We recommend doing this before moving onto features, UX and design, as discussing these issues will help lay the foundation for a solid build strategy that will stand the test of time.

One final point. Interestingly in the open source space, the amount of agencies capable of helping you on this journey is tiny in comparison to all the web builders out there. It’s a paradox created by a platform designed to enable any web enthusiast to build a site, growing to a point where it can legitimately offer enterprise level functionality. Fortunately we are one of that tiny group 😉

If you would like to know more about web strategy for mid to enterprise organisations, feel free to get in touch, our dedicated team are always happy to help.

Find out how we’ve helped various other businesses by visiting our client stories page.

You can also read through our previous news and resource articles for a deeper insight into the digital space.

Before you go, why not connect with our CEO Oliver Morrison and our CTO Paul Halfpenny via LinkedIn, or follow our company page for weekly updates.


Interested in working with us? We’d love to hear from you.

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