Your website platform doesn’t matter.
Wow… talk about coming out swingin’, eh?
Let me ask you this: when was the last time you went to a website that you had never been to before. The homepage loaded up, you quickly scanned the site looking for super-simple ways to find exactly the thing that you were searching for… and then… you STOPPED.
“Is this a Drupal site?!” You exclaimed. “Oh no way homeboy, get me the hell out of here!!”
[Smash that Back button]
It’s never happened. Do you know why it’s never happened? Because you use the internet like everyone else. You are simply looking to scratch an itch as quickly as possible.
This begs the question – what itches need a good scratching?
Well... the list is endless…
- Website users want to find entertainment
- Website users want to find experiences
- Website users want to find great deals
- Website users want to find funny stuff
- Website users want to find sharable content that makes them look good
- Website users want to find directions
- Website users want to find menus
- Website users want to find contact information
- Website users want to find more about some person they’re creeping on
- Website users want to find answers to questions
- Website users want to find quality content.
I mean really take a pause for the cause here and think about this concept. We have become so used to the internet that many of us fall into this mindset that people are on there “just because”. Well, “just because” the internet has infiltrated every new device in your home, does not mean that people are just randomly floating about in the void that is The Land of the Dub Dub Dub (www).
"Just because" you set up a slick new drop-shipping store or a pimped out blog does not mean the money is about to start rolling in.
With tools like Google and Bing that are incredibly sophisticated and incredibly powerful, people know what they want, and they want it now. So… give it to them… but first, clearly define what it is that you’re giving.
Your platform is not what matters – what matters is what you are giving people.
What matters is your positioning, your messaging – your perceived value. Define this, then refine it. Again, and again, and again.
Now let me clarify something here: while I am making the claim that your platform does not matter, I am NOT making the claim that there are no differences between platforms – ecommerce or otherwise. Take for example the following setups:
- Enterprise level website solutions
- Enterprise level hosted ecommerce solutions
- Hosted WordPress sites
- Custom WordPress sites
- Stand-alone HTML sites (no database)
- Custom builds (with database)
- Some other new “builder” that doesn’t exist yet
- Website Tonight
Now – are there major differences between these platforms / services / setups? You bet Jurassic Park there are. Is that the most important thing to consider when building (or improving) a website?
Content is king.
Will a great platform save a crappy idea?
Will a great platform sell a crappy product?
Will a great platform make skeptical buyers trust you?
Can an inferior platform be used to market a great idea?
Can an inferior platform allow people to purchase a great product?
Can an inferior platform put your work on display for the world to consume?
The question you must ask is this:
What do I need right now to be successful?
How much horsepower do you really need? Storage space? Flexibility? Speed? Customization? Etc.
To be honest, I use multiple setups myself. As many of you know I am a founding partner at The Hauser Design Group. We specialize in premium website development, and (at the time of writing) we have a completely custom WordPress build that we host ourselves. I have lots of custom fields that allow me to make unique pages quickly, and these pages are designed to present my content in a very specific way that we test, then adjust, then test again – we’re constantly improving. Since the code and content are so custom, we do extremely well in terms of SEO. Our site loads quickly, it’s mobile friendly and it even utilizes a CDN so that people can get access to our site even faster (this is so important we pay extra for this service).
For my private author website where I list my articles and my products… I use Squarespace.
Well… not really… I suffer no misguided platform allegiance. “Platform X is the best and it always is no matter what in every single situation!” No, that’s just silly.
I had to ask myself the same question that I suggest you ask yourself: What do I need right now to be successful?
When I am pitching a $50,000 website overhaul to a large corporation or a successful online retailer, you better believe that a speedy site is absolutely critical when I am running a screen-sharing session. The custom build and all the extra goodies make complete sense for The Hauser Design Group – and they are worth the added cost and time investment required to make this all happen.
For my personal site… I can deal with a little slower load time. I can deal with a little less flexibility. I can accept the fact that the site is what I need at this time at a rate I consider affordable. I don’t need to spend hundreds of hours on a custom layout because my focus on this site is to simply present articles and small products for purchase in a way that is functional and frictionless.
I don’t need a $10,000 custom build – sure I’d like one – but spending my money there at this time would be irresponsible. However, every situation is different. You need to evaluate the differences (at least the major ones) between any platforms that you are interested in and select the tool you will need to get from point A to point B.
But again – do not get analysis paralysis. The quality of your content is now and forever shall be the absolute most important part of your website. Your platform is not what matters – what matters is what you are giving people. What matters is your positioning, your messaging – your perceived value. Define this, then refine it. Again, and again, and again.
You can always upgrade if you need additional features.
I'll upgrade at some point, and I suggest you do the same, but simply buying a Ferrari won’t make you an amazing driver. You have to put in the work, learn the basics, create a solid foundation for growth – then, THEN buy the Ferrari.
At The HDG our custom-built website, living on lightning fast servers, utilizing a CDN and additional security features, completely loaded with unique code and unique content and a custom design focusing on multiple strong calls to action absolutely outperforms my simple Squarespace site.
However, both give me exactly what I need at this time, and both are successful.
The platform doesn’t matter.
So, let's do some homework:
Before you take another step or read another article or even think about hiring someone for SEO or social media ads, define what it is that you are doing. Briefly, clearly, describe the value that you plan to bring to your audience, maybe even a few financial goals you may have for your business, then ask yourself what you need right now to be successful.
If you don’t have the answers to these questions at a basic level, then that is what you need to figure out first if you plan to build a quality website. Invest your time here to start strong - don't spend it platform shopping!
🍻 Cheers, - AJ
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