Why Your Site Architecture Should Be An Internal Decision
Most businesses go around looking for web design and development quotes hoping to get an idea of project costs and timelines. The problem with this is that most businesses have not determined how their site architecture will be constructed.
Unfortunately, most businesses have no idea how the site should be built from an architectural stand point because they simply do not have CTO or deep technical experience in house. Some may be assuming that all code is created equal in regards to how a site is being implemented or are simply guessing at which company is proposing the best architecture. In most cases a company will propose what they know best, not necessarily what is best for the business, which is a dangerous conundrum from most businesses looking for a solution.
Figuring out your site architecture internally will help you:
- Better prepare for immediate and future website costs
- Prepare internally for the resources needed to maintain the website
- Evaluate options without third party bias
- Identify necessary third party website costs and resources
- Estimate a long term website cost of ownership
- Allow for better on boarding of new developers
- Become less reliant on one third party
Its possible to build a site many different ways, and depending on the responsive framework (bootstrap, foundation, etc), CMS or framework (Magento, WordPress, Shopify, Laravel, Ruby on Rails), and many other factors, the time and cost to build the site could be very different. Most importantly, the architecture greatly determines the maintainability and scalability of the website, ultimately determining the total cost of ownership and potential future of the site. Therefore these details are critical to the cost and estimate of the project, and most businesses have trouble differentiating or even understanding which methodology is best for their situation.
For instance, we mainly build custom themes leveraging our starter themes so that the theme we build for a client is unique and scalable to their specific business requirements. This is a much better method but more expensive route to build a site on WordPress for instance, in comparison to leveraging a Themeforest theme, which is full of bloated code and things you do not need in almost all cases. However, it is more costly to do up front because you have to build out all the templates and functionality. Yet most businesses do not really understand the difference and will go with the lower quote which usually entails loosely customizing a Themeforest theme, often ending up in bugs and a site that has to be completely rebuilt in the near future, rather than simply improved.
In the long run they will probably spend more or simply hit major roadblocks trying to customize a bloated Themeforest theme beyond what it was meant to do. Unfortunately, without having ever scaled a site before, they will most likely not foresee this problem from happening. However in some cases, a small business that is very bootstrapped simply needs a cheap solution, and a Themeforest theme is a fine temporary solution as long as there is a plan to eventually build a more scalable site in the long run as the company hits new growth hurdles and revenue marks.
Some steps to take ownership of your technical architecture:
- Seek Consultants and Experts: Start by paying for a consulting session with an expert who knows the industry landscape well.
- Find out what larger or other successful companies are doing in your space online: If you are looking to get to the next level online see what kind of architecture and setup other companies are using that have scaled to larger heights online in your industry. Tools like Builtwith and other websites offer insight into what platforms sites are using. Often times Googling will provide insight into how a company built their new website.
- Look at market share of platforms and frameworks: Platforms like WordPress have huge market share and massive adoption, therefore there are many more developers and experts to choose from. A platform or framework with small market share will be much harder to maintain and find expertise to help you, whether you are hiring in house or using third parties.
- Research developer costs of platform: How hard or expensive will it be to hire a developer for the platform you choose?
- Try to estimate total cost of ownership for 3 years: How much will it cost to maintain and implement the website with all internal and third party costs included.
- Build an integration schematic: how are you going to integrate all the applications you need such as a CMS, ERP, CRM, ATS and more.
- Create a long term roadmap: How do you see your website evolving over time? Will your platform be able to support that as your needs change and grow.
Major things you need to determine:
- Hosting Setup: Are you going to go with a cheap option like Godaddy to get started or something highly scalable like Amazon Web Services. Hosting is critical to having a quality website as well as preparing to scale with traffic.
- CMS Platform or Framework: Are you going to use WordPress, Magento, Shopify, Laravel, Rails, Django or some combination of many technologies and platforms?
- Frontend Architecture & Theme: A unified responsive framework like Foundation or Bootstrap may help speed to market and on boarding new developers to your website project.
- Plugins, Extensions and Add ons: Most platforms and software wont do everything you need out of the box. What plugins and add ons do you need to get to market fast?
- Integrations: How and what are you going to integrate with?
For help on determining your site architecture don’t hesitate to contact the team at Trellis!