Businesses and their respective websites…desired or required?
This could be a dangerous topic to write on in some ways, but I think it’s an interesting one to discuss.
When one starts a business now, the first thing most people will say is “you need professional website design”. Rarely do many people ask why, but let’s just say hypothetically, that you do. The answer you’ll receive is almost certainly “because everyone else has it”. Now, call me an idiot if you wish, but I don’t really believe that to be a very good reason. It’s throwing money at something that is entirely undefinable and not strictly a problem. If you turn round and say “well, my biggest competitor takes 80% of their sales through their website and all their users think it’s a great experience”, now that’s a problem worth tackling. (I don’t necessarily think trying to build a better online alternative would be the solution here, but that’s more business theory. Another discussion for another time!)
It’s amusing because this thought pattern seems to escalate even higher into some people’s minds. So many come to me and say “we need a content management system”. I look them in the eye and say “…why?”. Nine times out of ten, they don’t have a good reason. It’s just a trend they heard about over a coffee with some friends and that a CMS makes everything so easy. In fact, it really doesn’t. It often adds resource overhead and unnecessary development overhead to, yet again, a problem that isn’t really there. In my experience, for the standard brochureware site like Dudley-Jones Fine Wine, it is not only enormously cheaper, but much quicker to do some bespoke web design to make a really outstanding visual product, that delivers exactly what the client wants their customers to see. If we put that through an off the shelf CMS development run, we’re looking at page loading times that are over 30+% slower, an increased training run for the client to use the system, reduced mobile and tablet consumption, and then a continued maintenance situation where the backend must be updated regularly to prevent hacks.
Even when we get to very specialist areas such as Recruitment web design – I don’t consider off the shelf systems. Solving one problem with it always creates another, resulting in the same amount of time spent on a bespoke system that does everything properly. Yes, future flexibility can be reduced (although the right methodologies will avoid it), but assuming you define the problems you are facing properly to start with, the end product will be valid for a much longer period of time and serve the purpose far more effectively.