Prospective clients looking for a website vendor fall into two groups: those who have already decided upon a CMS platform and those who have not. It’s worth exploring the platform decision a bit, and not for the reasons you may think.
The platform choice is only a small factor in determining the business value your web project will ultimately deliver. In fact, the vendor you choose to work with will have a much bigger impact on the overall success of your web project than the technical platform it sits on.
If you’re in the market for a website marketing and development vendor, which of these three groups do you fall into?
1. Staying on your Current Platform
Clients who have already decided upon a web CMS platform may already use it for their current site and are happy with it. While it is reasonable to stick with a platform if you like it, don’t let it limit your possibilities until you’ve explored all of your options. If you’re redesigning your site, chances are the cost of changing platforms vs. staying where you are is a very small portion of the overall cost of the project. Don’t assume that a platform change is impossible or will be cost-prohibitive.
What if a platform change resulted in your ability to work with a vendor that increased the ROI of the project by 30%? Would you potentially give up that ROI to stay on your current platform?
2. Letting IT Choose the Platform
Other clients may have initiated the website project through their IT department, who began their research with technical implementation in mind. That decision is typically based on the technical skillset of your IT department, which should only be a consideration if your IT department will be actively developing and maintaining the website going forward.
A website project should be planned and budgeted through the business unit ultimately responsible for the project’s ROI, and in the case of a marketing website, that shouldn’t be IT.
3. Flexible, or No Platform in Mind
Clients who approach Wakefly without a preselected platform are usually more interested in our ability to deliver business results than in our ability to work with a specific platform. At the end of the day, your company is engaging a company like Wakefly to deliver a business result, not to configure a content management system. If you fall into groups 1 or 2, you are severely limiting your field of vendor choices and, as a result, the possible ROI of your project.
But Platform Isn’t My Choice
If a CMS platform has been thrust upon you, ignore it – at least for now. Find the vendor that will deliver the greatest value first. If that vendor recommends a different platform, ask them to make their case for it and show that the value they will provide far exceeds the cost of the platform they build upon. What do you have to lose?
Why Web Vendors Focus on a CMS Platform
While it may seem like a good idea to choose your vendor based on their business and design acumen and then impose your CMS platform decision upon them, this is a risky proposition. Many vendors hungry for work will accept a project on a platform they have little or no experience with. CMS platforms vary considerably and have steep learning curves for development and customization. If your vendor builds your site on a platform they are unfamiliar with, you are likely to end up with a site that breaks easily and is difficult to manage. Wakefly has been asked to fix dozens of sites horribly built by vendors with no experience in the target CMS. It’s an expensive and time consuming distraction you don’t need.
Vendors focus on a specific platform or two so that they can go deep on expertise. It allows the vendor to deliver websites of higher quality in less time and with lower total cost of ownership over the long haul.
Choose Competence, Not Platform
All of this is not to say that you shouldn’t consider technical capability when selecting a marketing and build partner for your site. Good vendors have a platform they recommend (and maybe even insist upon). Ask them why, and ask how many satisfied customers they have on that platform. If the number is substantial and their references check out, it’s safe to assume they know their stuff on that platform.
In summary, choose your vendor on their ability to deliver business value, not their ability to work with a specific technology that will ultimately have little impact on the success of the project.