7 Tips For Choosing The Right Software For Your Website
This post continues our series of best practices on the technical setup of your website. This time we’ll zoom in on software considerations.
As with hosting, the software behind your website is critical to the site’s success and it’s always a priority of mine to spend time helping clients make the best software decisions, based on their specific needs.
1. What does software look like in 2017?
These days, we’re mostly talking about content management systems (CMS) – programs like Wordpress, Joomla, ExpressionEngine and Drupal. Content management systems provide tools that allow you to build your website, and organize and maintain its content.
There are many popular programs that don’t require you to have much, if any, technical knowledge. Pretty much all of the websites I build these days use the ExpressionEngine CMS, which I love for a number of reasons: first and foremost because it’s really easy to use, even for non-techy types.
2. Questions to ask: will this software be around for a while?
The software world is changing quickly these days and in my work with clients, I like to help them find a program that is well supported and that has a roadmap for future releases. The last thing you want is to invest in software that dies off and leaves you struggling with what to do next with your website.
3. Avoid software that’s being beta tested
One other thing I caution my clients against is using software that’s in the beta testing phase. Even if you find what seems like the perfect program for your needs, if it’s still being testing, you’ll want to steer clear until all of the bugs have been worked out.
4. More questions: does my host provider support this software?
Whatever software you choose should be supported by your host provider and ideally optimized for it, which can give you noticeable performance gains. For example, if your host servers are optimized for the software you're using, your website will load faster which is good not only for your users, but for SEO in general. Having a host that knows the ins and outs of your software will also serve you well when support issues crop up, since a knowledgeable support team will be better equipped to help you troubleshoot problems.
5. Know who is taking care of ongoing maintenance
One thing I’ve found that can make or break the success of a website is being clear on who is responsible for the website's ongoing maintenance. Though it would be nice if once they’re built, websites would run happily on their own, alas, they do require ongoing maintenance. I frequently manage this aspect for my clients or in some cases, I help them identify the person or department in the company who will be responsible for this. Being clear on who is doing this will save you a lot of headache in the long term.
6. Make sure things stay up to date
Being proactive and staying current with your software just makes smart business sense. Whether I'm managing this piece for clients or helping to guide the staff person responsible for it, it's vital to stay on top of the latest software releases and make updates regularly. Software manufacturers are very good about keeping their clients up to date with recommendations and it's important to review them regularly, stay current and update security patches as they’re released. (This is particularly important for Wordpress, given its widespread use.)
7. Want to know more? This series will continue in a few weeks!
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/medithit/10363851703/