In today’s digital frontier, all brands are publishers. Brands are the curators of content and information that engage, entice and excite their target audience.
Finding the correct method of sharing and publishing content, and overall engage with your audience, is crucial. Making the right choice about web platforms and web publishing technology is important. Make sure you get it right and your web presence will be creative and meet the needs of your users. If you get it wrong then the site will be un-engaging, un-enticing and a poor advocate for your brand.
With the correct tools and technology partners, enterprise organisation can publish content that is up-to-the-minute and responsive to their users’ requirements as well as presented on-brand and on-trend. There are three main web obstacles that must be overcome. These are very important points that marketers need to take on board in order to make decisive choices which will impact the future direction and the impact of their web presence and brand.
Custom web build vs. Out of the box
The first choice that must be made in any web project is whether or not to choose a custom build, or an out of the box solution (like Magento, Drupal or Joomla). It’s understandable to see why businesses would choose to build their website on a custom platform, designed to their bespoke requirements. Each individual business is unique, therefore it’s logical that their website should match their unique requirements – however, this may not always be the case.
Having a custom built website is great in the short term. It can match the business needs perfectly at that specific moment in time, products and services can be located and purchased with ease, and the site can visually look stunning. What can be challenging however is when things start to change. For instance, when the business proposition changes, new products and services are required, web functionality and technology also change and user needs and consumption habits evolve. Having to update a custom built website to reflect all of these variable factors can often be time consuming and costly. Brands find themselves dependant on specialist developers (often the same developers that created the website initially) who understand the unique intricacies and complexities of the website build.
An out of the box content management solution (CMS) provides a pre-built website solution which can be rolled out quickly and easily and is able to be tailored and amended using a vast array of themes and plugins. An important aspect is that an out of the box CMS can be updated easily by anyone who is familiar with the CMS used – there is no need to rely on the developer.
Hosting vs. Platform
Previously, marketers have been guilty of taking a back seat when it comes to technical decisions like selecting a hosting provider. They’d rather focus on the creative vision and strategic direction; therefore decisions regarding the technology in the back office are left to IT or the web dev team. However, if your role, and the purpose of your marketing campaigns, is to increase traffic to the website and drive conversion rates, then why wouldn’t you take a proactive interest in where and how your website is hosted? Web hosting is a commoditised market where vendors compete over price and capacity, but rarely over customer service or reputation.
Failing to understand this means you could be penalised by your own success. It does not matter how successful a campaign is, it will count for nothing if visitors to the website or campaign website cannot be converted because the site is down and the hosting provider can’t fix the issue, or the website is unable to cope with the volume of users and the hosting provider can’t scale quickly enough.
When you invest in a marketing budget in exciting campaigns, do not waste it by settling for a hosting provider that does not understand your business or have the technical expertise to integrate with your CMS.
Mobile first vs. Responsive design
It is predicted that by 2017 there will be 5.13 billion mobile phone users, of which 2.5 billion will be smartphone users, and it’s estimated that 80 percent of adults own a smartphone. Therefore it makes sense that we should think ‘mobile first’ on all web development to make sure that your website is optimised for mobile use. However, with the proliferation of mobile devices, manufacturers, operating systems and screen sizes and resolutions – what does mobile first really mean, and is it still relevant?
Purely thinking about smartphones in isolation leaves brands vulnerable to slipping behind the innovation curve. The same GlobalWebIndex research discovered that 47% of adults own a tablet, 37% own a games console and 34% own a smart TV. Presently only 9% own a smart watch, but we can definitely expect this to rise with the release of the Apple Watch. And who knows where consumer wearable will go in the future?
People are accessing the internet and websites in a range of different ways and customers expect a consistent user experience, irrespective of the device. Therefore, a better way of thinking about web design for end point devices is to consider ‘responsive design.’
This rests on the concept of developing websites and content that are flexible which is built around the user, not the device. Do not be limited by the most popular device at the moment. Just because the iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch screen, this doesn’t mean that it is the best possible device that all developers need to benchmark themselves. No one knows what the next form factor will be. Brands must embrace responsive design so that they have the freedom to react to the future requirements of users quicker than their competitors.
Staying ahead of the digital curve
Marketers tend to be conflicted. Pulled in many different directions and fighting to stay on top of a constantly changing job role and ever-shifting expectations from the business. Technology that has been developed for marketers is a great opportunity. Marketers are able to leverage data and customer analytics to enable fantastic levels of insight and business transformation.
Establishing the right kind of web technology and cutting edge functionality helps to ensure that the best brands stay ahead of the digital curve and puts marketing at the forefront of innovation. As consumer habits and user demands continue to evolve, brands must ensure that precise decisions are made about how they develop and maintain their web assets.