Your website is not a special snowflake

The previous two blog posts were discussing if you still need a website at all in 2019. This one assumes that you have that need – that you need a website.

I’ve helped many, many people with their websites. Some from beginning to end, others in more of an advisory role, some with troubleshooting an existing site. Lots of working on websites.

One thing that is very, very clear to me: 99%+ of all websites should not be unique. Your website should not be unique.

What do I mean by that? Of course, your website will have your logo and your information on it, and that will make it unique. But, it should be built using common, widely-used tools or platforms, without ‘unique’ factors due to some special requirement or need you think you have. Let’s talk about your choice of platform/system for your new website.

Choice of platform/system

Most websites should be on WordPress. Or a major website building platform. Look at the w3techs survey and choose something in the top 5. As you can see in that survey, WordPress is the dominant choice.

Choosing a major website CMS or platform has many advantages. There are great resources for developing your site (if you’re doing it yourself). There are many people who can support your site if you run into problems. There is also a lower chance that the platform will be shutdown or change dramatically over time.

If you hire someone to build your website, they may want to use something else – something they’ve learned and invested a lot into. I recently observed a website redesign where they moved away from WordPress to a little flat file CMS system. It’s been a large hassle – higher maintenance, more complex to modify, more expensive. But, they trusted the developer they had hired, as they wanted the best website, and he suggested this other system. Now it’s going to be very difficult to hire anyone else to work on the website – they’ll need to find someone familiar with this small little system, which probably means they’re stuck with the original developer. Choosing WordPress means that you’re not stuck, and can transition developers if you need. (WordPress also lets you export your data and import into other sites, which this little system isn’t going to offer either.)

You may talk with a developer or web designer who says ‘Use this new fancy thing’ or ‘Let me custom-build something for you’. In most cases, that means that you’re stuck, and can’t go elsewhere easily. It also means your next redesign (in a few years) will likely mean switching platforms/products again. Choose wisely.