In 1998, I made my first investment in developing mad web site design skillz with FrontPage 97. What a headache.
Interestingly, the basic pains of building and managing a web site do still exist – people and organizations drag their feet in determining who should generate content, then generating that content, then realizing it was a bad idea to have her develop the content . . . you get the picture. The pains are mainly people problems.
Managing a Web Site Really Hasn’t Gotten Any Easier
Even with people problems aside, building and managing a web presence isn’t that much easier than it was fifteen years ago. There are several reasons:
- More web sites. More competition. Think about it – over 50 million new web sites went online just in 2012.
- More sophisticated demands for content. Used to, if you knew a guy who could build a Flash web site, you were golden. Shock and awe was the differentiator in the early days of web marketing. Now, users don’t want flash (or Flash). They are drawn to usable, up-to-date information.
- More (and evolving) vehicles for content delivery. The days of worrying about two browsers and a couple of different screen sizes are long gone. The variables involved in users and their methods of information consumption are now mind boggling and change quickly. It seems obvious, but it’s surprising how many organizations still fail to realize this fact.
Out of these challenges, the more sophisticated demands for content pose the greatest threat to web marketing plans. Tools are out there that can help navigate the competition and information delivery issues. It’s usually just a matter of some research or engaging someone who knows the space.
A WordPress web site, for example, may not provide what you need out of the box. But, between available themes and plugins, there is a surprising number of tools waiting to be discovered.
Tools of the Trade and Tools of the Office
There is something very satisfying about building your own web site from scratch, designed and coded in-house. And, there’s just so much more to geek out about.
However, content demands – along with the compatibility variables mentioned above – make this approach unwieldy for most small and mid-size organizations. As a result, a content management system is required.
There are a number of content management systems (CMS) out there – some good, some very bad. Many people adopt one, keep the blinders on, then mistake their comfort with the tool as “ease of use.” This is a mistake.
Often, an easy website construction tool or custom content management system may suit the needs of the moment. However, there is a continuity crisis when the tribe member that did not pass down his or her tribal knowledge on web site management gets hit by a bus or leaves in a huff. It is much more costly to get someone to work on a custom system (as it often requires more time and coding) or learn to use some arcane “EZ Web Site Builder” program.
Perhaps more importantly, this approach causes trouble when the organization grows out of the web site and needs to expand its online presence. Ouch. Talk about painful.
In Part 2 of “How I Learned to Love WordPress and Stop Worrying,” we take a closer look at why WordPress helps a lot of organizations get their hands around their web presence and off each others’ throats.