I am passionate about this topic because I think any company that really wants to scale and become a large or even mid-size brand needs to realize that their website is really a software, and should be treated as such. Many companies treat their website like some basic thing that requires some easily outsourced skill. This is not the case. Even using a platform like Wix or Squarespace takes skill and time to optimize the software that is powering your website.
In most cases, software needs software engineers to be successful. Most Websites built via WordPress, Shopify, Magento, etc need great software engineers to scale and grow.
By treating your website like a software you will better understand the costs and skills required to grow your website and web presence.
Here are some things I would try and better understand.
Website Platforms Are Software
Almost every website is built on a platform such as WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, etc in today’s age. Long gone are the days of writing basic HTML, CSS websites. Once you accept the idea you are using a software for your website you can start to think more about how that software works and how you can best use that software to your advantage.
Software Requires Software Engineers
Software requires software engineers in all cases. With that being said platforms like Shopify, Wix etc are designed so that you can build a solid website without being a software engineer and you are essentially paying them for the software engineer level work. However, you will most likely reach some scaling issue or inability to customize these boxed in solutions without some level of software engineering at some point.
It’s important to understand how far you can go within the boxed SaaS solutions that don’t require software engineers to get up and running. Eventually to grow to a certain size you will likely need some technical help.
Software Requires Dev Ops
Developer Operations is something the average person knows basically zero about. It’s critical for any application to thrive. At a high level, you have basically 2 major options. One is to go with a SaaS solution like Shopify that more or less does DevOps for you or a non-hosted solution like WordPress where you would need to perform some level of Dev Ops.
It’s easy to think platforms like WordPress are cheap but in reality, using the platform correctly via Dev Ops and other things you should be doing takes a lot of skill and usually costs more than just running a basic Wix site etc.
You will eventually need some form of Dev Ops with SaaS solutions if you scale your site so its important to understand this.
Software Requires Updates
A SaaS platform will auto-update for you but this could cause issues or bugs with third-party apps and many other issues. On the flip side, a non-hosted software will require you to update it which can require a lot of software engineering manpower depending on the software and how custom your implementation is.
Either way, software updates are required to be competitive and have major implications whether you are running a SaaS or non-SaaS.
Software Often Requires Integrations
Most likely you will need to integrate other solutions into your software to grow and be successful. This is not easy and unless there is a very robust app for this you may have to custom build or find some sort of third party solution. Managing integrations becomes increasingly difficult as they scale and become more complex.
It’s likely you will run into some integrations failing or not working properly as APIs can often get bogged down and you are relying on many third parties for data and uptime that is out of your control. APIs often change too so there is potential for changes to break down your integrations.
Software Requires Quality Assurance
Software requires quality assurance and ample double-checking to ensure it works well. It takes considerable time to ensure software works well across all devices, browsers, and functionality. Its easy to overlook this and think this is just inherent in the work but you really need to dedicate additional time and budget to this.
Quality Software Engineers Are Expensive
The reality is good software engineers are expensive. Therefore building and scaling a good website can get expensive. Although platforms like Shopify and Wix etc make it seem easy and cheap, to actually grow and build a larger business you will almost always have to invest in software engineering at some point.
Once you understand more about running a software you can better run your website. You can decide what you can handle well internally versus outsourcing to a third party.