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7 Must-Dos Before You Build Your Website
As a new business owner, an entrepreneur or even the owner of an established business looking to launch or change its website, it is imperative to choose the right web platform, or content management system (CMS).
Here are seven important considerations to keep in mind when doing so:
- Avoiding creating Flash-only websites: While many of our tech-savvy readers may already know this, this point cannot be stressed enough, that must be made so long as there are businesses in the Middle-East creating their websites purely using Flash. The trouble with Flash-only websites is that iPhones and iPads cannot render them. Therefore, people surfing your site on these two devices cannot see your site. The other problem is that Google does not “read” Flash and therefore will find it hard to understand what your website is about and therefore to rank your website in search results.
- Understand the risks of using a proprietary CMS. A proprietary content management system is a system that your agency has built and developed and therefore is the only one able to upgrade it or manage it. This makes working with someone else for your website quite difficult. It therefore may be a risk you want to be aware of ahead of time and acknowledge. However, you should know that some proprietary systems are excellent and very well polished, therefore may suit your requirements perfectly. Unless you are comfortable with the agency you are doing business with, and are not worried you may have a fallout with them in the future, it would be safer to use an off-the-shelf Content Management System for your website. It future-proofs your investment; for example, if you have a fallout with your agency, you can easily find talent in other agencies to take over the management of the website. Solid, tested Content Management Systems abound- Joomla, DotNetNuke, Wordpress, Drupal are a few.
- Manage the superadmin account. Some CMS platforms have a user role called a “superadmin” that has higher privileges than the regular “admin” user. Make sure you can have access to the superadmin account if required (although I highly discourage a non-expert from having superadmin privileges for various security reasons).
- Plan for maintenance and security patches. This means that you should provision for updates or upgrade cycles sometimes quite frequently to ensure your website is as secure as possible. This will add to your website’s Total Cost of Ownership. According to Secunia, the leading authority on the internet for tracking security vulnerabilities, Joomla had 69 security advisories in 2011 (granted, some of these are for plugins rather than the Joomla core engine), and patching up security holes requires manpower; therefore it incurs costs.
- Strategize to set up analytics. I am not referring to server analytics which can sometimes rely on inaccurate data such as “hits”, I am talking about having your website pages tracked by web analytics platforms like Google Analytics or others. The extra cost you will bear to do so is normally minimal (in the case of Google Analytics at least), and the amount of insight this gives you is just too big to ignore. You will come to know where your visitors are coming from, what page they are visiting the most, what page is driving them away, how much time they are spending on your website, and plenty of more actionable information.
- Optimize for multiple languages. While most businesses will start with a one-language website (English in particular), remember that localization, and especially Arabic Content, is going to grow in the region. To quote Google at the g|uae event (20th of October 2011), 1.5% of online content is in Arabic, yet the population of the Arab world amounts to 5%. It would be savvy to enure your platform supports multiple languages.
- Consider cost-effective options. If you have a very limited budget, consider getting your business online using what is known as a “Website-as-a-Service” platform, like Squarespace, Weebly or others. These platforms are hosted and provide you with an intuitive interface to build your website pages by yourself, for a monthly service fee or sometimes even for free. This option is excellently suited for entrepreneurs wishing to reduce their capital expenditure.
In my next article I’ll draw a comparison between three content management systems and will provide some insight into which is the right one for you.
Gaby is a digital marketing consultant with WSI Internet & Consulting Education, with a passion for all things web. He specializes in online lead generation, conversion, and email marketing. You can read Gaby’s blog, follow him on twitter or connect with him on Linkedin.
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