Who exactly was your website platform chosen for?

website platform

…Chances are, the website platform hasn’t been designed for your business.

It’s the email we always dread receiving.

It’s the one that says the business in question has a new staff member who is used to doing things with a different website platform (eg, WordPress) than the one they relatively recently invested in implementing (eg – a proprietary ‘Software as a Service’ platform).

So they want to switch, and are prepared to pay it so their staff member can get on with their job.

From a technology perspective, this is a clear case of the tail wagging the dog.

Switching costs

In this company’s case, my business spent considerable time researching both the current and likely future requirements of the business, the skill of its then staff and its budget for both website creation and maintenance.

The result was a website platform that not only meet all of these criteria but also gave them a wonderful new online showpiece for their business. What’s more, it would be low in maintenance issues and in turn cost and potential loss of business.

So to get the email just months after all this time and effort was something of a shock.

Is switching justified?

The question is, should the business really go to all that trouble and expense of switching platforms so quickly or should they insist the staff member become familiar with the system and learn how to work with it?

My answer to that is ‘it depends’.

It depends on whether the new staff member’s skill set and preference is a one-off or whether it is going to keep continuing.

If it’s a one off then the business definitely should not scrap what they have and start over because there’s a good chance that that employee may only be around a short time and that opens up a real new and expensive risk – switching platforms back again.

Who really knows?

The problem is, few smaller business operators understand website platforms well enough to be able to confidently make this call and often rely on their web professional to advise them on this.

But as pointed out in this blog repeatedly, few web professionals have the impartiality to be able to correctly identify the right platform for that business.

In fact the vast majority don’t even go to the trouble of exploring the alternatives, instead implementing the one that they are familiar with and in many cases will make the most ongoing maintenance revenue out of.

The decline of the website ‘build’

The truth is that as time goes on, more and more ‘off the shelf’ systems become available, all with features so plentiful that few businesses will come close to using them all.

This means that the notion of ‘building’ or assembling a website platform becomes comparatively more expensive over time, to the point where the purveyors of this approach price themselves out of the market.

There is of course the possibility that we got our platform recommendation wrong.  But the distinct lack of platform switching on the part of our customers over our 13 years of business suggests this is unlikely to be the case.

Two lessons for business

So there are really two morals to this story.

First, ensure that the website platform you establish for your business is aligned around the real needs of your business and not those of a single staff member.

Second, ensure that your web professional is a ‘multi-platform’ provider who is going to help you choose the technology that’s right for your business and not just their pocket.

The alternative is an expensive lesson in incorrect platform choice.

In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.  www.theeteam.com.au


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