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
- 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
- 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.