t the early stage of business, the product/market fit is typically theoretical. This means that the brand strategy – from branding through to messaging and price-point – will require adaption as the business matures and finds its unique identity. For many, a website is both the first and last point of contact for many prospective customers. It is, therefore, a critical sales channel and requires continuous improvement. The first website for many businesses, therefore, is typically its worst.
At the time of writing this, we are nearing our second birthday and as we’ve matured as a business, we felt recently that it was the right time for our virtual store-front to get a make-over.
Our first website was – like many others – developed in Wordpress. And while the platform itself offers a plethora of functionality, we found that it wasn’t the right platform for us – at least at this stage of our lifecycle - for a few critical reasons. Let’s dig in.
Wordpress is a bit like a mobile phone device. On its own, it doesn’t do anything special but with the library of apps in the AppStore/Google Play, it becomes a powerful piece of technology. Similarly, Wordpress allows users to add plugins (like the apps on your phone) which can make your website do pretty much anything you want. But like your mobile phone apps, plugins need to be updated regularly and when they aren’t updated, they affect performance and in the case of Wordpress, security.
We charge our developers out which means that if they’re not working on client websites then we aren’t making money. In fact, we'd be losing money. Now, I’m not saying this will always be the case, but at our current stage in business, revenue and cash flow are important, so the less day-to-day maintenance required the better.
We had to spend at least an hour each week updating plugins which included backing up the site, updating the plugins, and checking every page to make sure that nothing had been affected. In some instances, it’s better to wait a while after an update is available because it might not be compatible with other plugins or the themes. Waiting however means that the site can become sluggish and less secure. If the site had been affected by the updates, then we’d have to restore the site and troubleshoot which plugin or theme was the problem-child and discard that update from the others.
You might be wondering why we didn’t just update plugins as new versions became available and our answer to that is because there were so many. On that note, the more plugins you have, the slower your site will become.
Having an overabundance of functionality and flexibility can be a burden sometimes because it comes with excessive complexity.
Since Wordpress as a vendor only offers an open-source platform on which contributors can build functionality in the form of plugins and users power the site from external hosting providers, when these users have an issue, they have to wade through multiple points of support.
Similarly, because there are so many options with Wordpress, there is a lot more room for error in the development, operation and maintenance of a website. Without a dedicated developer, Wordpress can be a minefield to navigate.
Wordpress is free as are many – but not all – of the compatible plugins. But there are still several costs involved with a Wordpress website that makes it a more expensive option than many others.
As mentioned above, without an experienced developer, Wordpress is difficult to use and a lot can go wrong. This means that the development costs are normally a bit higher than average. Wordpress also doesn’t include hosting, backup and security which means that you need to buy these from a third-party (there are free plugins you can use for backup and security, but the paid options are more reliable and safer).
While we experienced frustration with Wordpress, we certainly don’t believe it’s a bad option, we simply felt that it wasn’t the right option for us at the time - for other businesses, it’s a wonderfully powerful tool. So, we went on a journey to researching new systems more suitable for our needs.
We wanted a no-code website platform that had advanced design capabilities and that included hosting but that could also flexibly integrate with the other applications we use and could adapt and scale as we changed and grew. We also wanted something low maintenance so we could focus our efforts on creating and publishing lots of new content rather than spending time ensuring the website was up to date and working.
Based on our functionality requirements, we decided to rebuild our website using Webflow, integrate our other applications using Zapier and manage all of our tracking codes using Google Tag Manager (which we already used btw).
For us, Webflow is perfect. We’ve even built two more websites using it in just the past few weeks. Like Wordpress though, even Webflow isn’t suitable for every business. We’ve recently completed a website build in Wix for example which was perfect for one of our clients as it’s an all-in-one platform with website, hosting, email automation, bookings, e-commerce, and a marketplace of integrations. Wix has even recently launched its Editor X which has advanced design and device optimisation capabilities, similar to that of Webflow. For smaller businesses without much technical or design experience, Wix is an excellent solution.
The key take-away from this article isn’t about which platform is better but rather that businesses need to select a system that suits their present and future functionality requirements. It also shows that systems can be changed as the business changes.
We have experience using these and other platforms including HubSpot, marketplace specific platforms, Shopify, Magento, Zoho Sites, Drupal, and many others so if you’re planning your next website project then reach out to us for help with system selection, visual and experiential design, and development.