Guest Blog: How to choose a
Choosing the best platform to host your website can feel like a bit of a minefield.
Logic says you want to invest in the easiest platform possible, one that you can easily build and design your website in to look like whatever you want.
It should also allow you to adapt for future technologies without encountering too many issues. Unfortunately, the reality isn’t quite as simple as this.
There are many CMS (Content Management System) platforms that you can use, depending on your knowledge of web design, your website needs and your budget.
Fortunately, my award-winning digital agency Cyber-Duck knows a thing or two about choosing the best CMS platforms for our clients’ needs. To help you narrow down your choices, here’s our list of deciding factors that SMEs should consider when choosing a CMS:
Web design is a growing industry, which means the CMS market is only going to keep expanding in the foreseeable future. As a SME, there is a smaller margin for budgeting error.
Your business is more sensitive to your spending than it would be if it were bigger, so you need to invest wisely.
Choose a CMS with proven longevity and stability. Popular platforms such as WordPress, Magento, Drupal and SilverStripe have seen out their early stages of development and are able to offer the basics in a quick, straightforward manner. Because of their longevity, they also offer better integration and advanced web development options than a younger company might.
While going with an ‘up and coming’ platform might seem tempting – it is usually cheaper – there are less protections in place.
Data policies, particularly if the CMS closes down, could cause you problems and leave you in danger of security breaches and fraud. In addition, the reliability of the platform regarding updates, bugs and responsiveness may be more haphazard than an established platform, which has had the time to iron out the kinks and create a smooth operation for their clients.
Pick a platform that you know you can rely on and that you can get satisfactory support from. When it comes to the web, taking risks is not recommended.
With your list whittled down, you need to start looking at the main goals of each CMS. To use our examples, WordPress is a common choice for bloggers and creators who want to network and build custom websites for client-led services.
Magento’s system is built for e-commerce and makes it simple for businesses to trade. Drupal and SilverStripe are multi-purpose content managers, who put emphasis on ease of web design and creating the best user experience possible.
Look at what your business does and how you convert customers. If you’re a recruitment agency, WordPress might be the one for you.
If you’re a retailer, Magento will help you set up shop quickly. If you’re a photographer, Drupal would then cater for more complex logic on your site with advanced customisation available.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, and you should research a handful of CMS to see if their systems have the tools that you will find most useful and practical for running and updating a website. But your site’s primary purpose should always take precedent.
For the sake of this blog, we are going to assume that your understanding of web development is average at best (only because you’re busy running an amazing business, of course!). With that in mind, you want your platform of choice to be intuitive to use.
By ‘intuitive’, we mean that once you’ve logged in a couple of times and worked your way through the features, you won’t require much more assistance to edit and change your site afterwards.
Your platform needs to make sense to your method of working. For example, if you like to post regular blogs and share them to social media, you want tools on your platform that make this as simple as possible for you to do. Platforms that can validate your content for you - check your headers, spelling, grammar and keyword density - are much better choices for you than platforms that are more open source and assume you already have this knowledge.
Not all platforms are built the same. There are some that will have the features that will benefit you, but there are many that don’t for valid reasons. You don’t want to invest your money in a platform that doesn’t fit your method of working. Be realistic about how you will use your
website and find the platform that fits you, rather than try to make yourself fit the platform.
The takeaway from these three key points is that you need to balance functionality with cost. Web design and development can be complex and long-winded. Respected, user-friendly CMS platforms should effectively cut away some of that complexity and long-windedness, but not at
Trying to cut corners or make a saving can lead to many an issue for an SME that just wants to put a website live. You are much better off going for a CMS of a standard price than attempting to go for a cheaper option that could lead to you needing to spend more in the future.
Prioritise the site purpose and your working knowledge of web design and development to help you choose your platform, then do your research into which platform you can trust most.
It’s the safest way to make the best investment.
Gareth is Technical Director at Cyber-Duck. He defines and oversees all development activities in the full service digital agency, delivering high-quality solutions for clients. Cyber-Duck has enjoyed working with exciting startups, SMEs and global brands, including the Bank of England, Mitsubishi Electric and Arsenal FC. Feel free to contact Cyber-Duck if you have a branding, marketing or website development project on the horizon.