Why Technology Matters to Your Website
While most people don’t think too much about how their website actually works, the wrong technology decision could have catastrophic consequences.
Recently, a woman called in whose company was in a bit of a jam. The business she worked for had launched a website three years earlier, but had needed a specific solution that wasn’t on the market. So the developers they’d hired customized an off-the-shelf platform, and things looked promising. They used a variety of different plugins in order to deliver the desired outcome (one being a recently monetized add-to-cart system from a one-man band in Saskatchewan). Two months after launch, the platform was out of date – it could not be updated because of the customization. The plugins themselves were not supported, and some of their authors were no longer even contactable. For the next three years, the business had to pay on-staff tech resources to be able to make the most basic of changes to the site.
Historically, custom-built solutions like the one above were commonly adapted to each client; the developers would start with a baseline platform, and add user-defined functionality. This ultimately led to thousands of variations of the one platform, none of which could be kept updated at the required standard, and so security and development had, at best, stagnated from the day they were integrated.
Digital companies then discovered open source, and free platforms popped up all over the internet. Developers (and non-developers) modified files and uploaded and crowd-sourced solutions and it seemed like *the answer*. Companies removed their old home-grown systems and adopted a Jenga approach of various technologies, plugins and hosting solutions. However, businesses continued to be ultimately responsible for the maintenance and security of their sites. Further, the tech companies themselves no longer had complete control or understanding of their platforms – they were supporting a group of third party systems that were all interconnected in order to deliver the client’s outcome. To complicate the situation further, the cash-strapped developers of the open source communities needed ways to continue to develop the platforms, while managing backwards for previous versions and installations. All in all, not an ideal situation for the many companies whose websites formed part of the fabric of their businesses.
Today, the market is far more complicated. There are so many requirements for a website to function successfully – it must be adept at multi-channel deployment; be robust enough to handle hosting complications; be security-conscious; and be multi-browser compatible. SMEs are no longer capable of managing their digital assets without strong technical leadership. As websites become ever-integral to a business’s performance, a platform’s security, development, and accountability are essential.
What if there was a better way? A new paradigm – a way where clients could benefit from advances in development, and leave the technical heavy lifting like security to specialist companies? In the world of CRM, they’re already there – very few companies would custom-build their own user management platforms. Businesses can elect from a growing number of cloud-based systems, of which Salesforce is the largest. The platform is provided ready to go – you use, and pay, for what you need and someone else takes care of all the technicalities needed to deliver your outcomes. The platform also launches new developments and features in real time, and there is no need to rebuild, recreate, or destroy anything that you have already set up.
This is the direction in which website systems and services is shifting. Products like Core dna replace the need for management of current platforms with a simple model wherein the client pays for what they use; the software gets better over time; and the community makes feature suggestions that full-time developers integrate, test and deploy. It’s the principle that open source aspires to, but can never fully achieve.
In years to come, we will look at the results of the coming transformation and wonder why we ever did things the old way.