There are lots of choices about how and where websites are built and hosted. Normally, that's less a management decision and more something for marketing and IT to work out.
But a number of big factors are moving decisions about whether to use WordPress or HubSpot, or Apple or Microsoft onto the manager's list of concerns. One is security, and the other is the central role that websites now play in sustainable growth.
More than just a prettier brand image
In years past, the primary driver for a new website was a better image. The refresh of a new website was primarily viewed as a branding activity. When we talk about a new website, we call it a "website redesign," which may actually be the wrong term entirely.
The rise of customer engagement online, both before and after the sale, has changed the demand on the website from something that just needs to be "prettier," to a critical operational part of the business that drives cost and efficiency for customer acquisition, retention, and support.
If you have a RevOps function in your organization, the website has become a central nexus of cooperation between multiple departments.
Here are three reasons website choices have become a management concern.
1. Website choices now rise to the level of management concern because they are a critical element for a thriving business.
At the growth and acquisition level, the website experience has become central for every class of customers.
Whether management is responding to:
- a technology disruption by competitors
- the spill-over effect that the customer's other online experiences have on their expectations
- the simple need to sell and service efficiently
the website has moved to center stage.
It has become the primary method for messaging, educating, and moving customers along the buyer's journey, and has to do a lot more than just look nice. It is an operational requirement.
Old choices that were based upon fast and cheap (i.e., open-source like WordPress), now have to include a large array of functionality. And the wrong choice can mean loading up lots of plugins and spaghetti code that create a level of customization that open-sourced solutions were never meant to sustain.
Smart managers know that their business and their customers need to be able to accomplish a large percentage of the practical enterprise on the website. Jury-rigging that activity just isn't an option that managers can live with. Asking what a platform is natively good at delivering is a key step in this decision. A platform that is primarily designed for blogging won't cut the demands for complex operations, and often can't even make the cut for effective messaging.
The new demand is for an all-in-one, customer-centric solution that can solve for multiple departments is what websites no must deliver.
That deserves management attention.
2. Website decisions get management scrutiny when they are risky.
The damaging PR and legal liability that follow a security breach is a concern for every kind of manager. With this reality becoming all too common, online operations that carry unnecessary risk should always draw managers' attention.
Why would a serious business or nonprofit use a website platform that they know is full of security risks? Their reputation and sustainability are not something to put at risk.
The security profile of WordPress for any serious enterprise is something that every business or nonprofit must understand. The massive number of breaches (the latest being a 1.2 million user incursion at Godaddy) are simply too great and too frequent to make WordPress a responsible choice.
Any question about this reality can be answered with a simple search of WordPress security risks. They are too numerous to count and affect a large percentage of those who use this website solution.
3. Managers pay attention when website choices are inefficient
Refreshing, hosting, and maintaining a website, especially one that is able to actually support customer experiences, has the potential for cost implications that reach far beyond the initial rebuild.
If websites have to be managed by marketing, used by sales, interface with customer service, and serve as 80% of the support for the buyer's journey, then the cost of supporting that activity has to be taken into account.
Three areas of inefficiency rise to the top of management concern:
1. Can marketing quickly and effectively launch campaigns and messaging that can be improved in frequent data-based iteration cycles? Or, is marketing tied to waiting on developer queues with long change cycles?
2. Can sales obtain quality leads that have been self-educated and are well qualified from the website? The alternative is relying solely on legacy sales approaches or purchasing leads.
3. Can customer service needs be addressed by self-service information that is easy to access, and are customer service requests handled quickly and effectively.
All of these concerns make the decision about how to build and host a website, something a manager should consider.
Management is always concerned about opportunity cost
The choice to stay with or build with an outdated website approach, like WordPress, means that your competition has an opening. Their online progress will not be matched by yours. The risk is the erosion of your customer base or loss of potential market share.
For many managers (and not just those in the marketing department), the foundation upon which you build your website will impact acquisition, efficiency, sales outcomes, and customer service quality.