Which Technology Is Right For The Business Model? Part 1 of 4
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Evaluating Website Technologies
Which Technology Is Right For The Business Model? Part 1 of 4

by Jason Runyan, Advertising Solutions
Revised August 15, 2019
Originally Published October 28, 2008

When it comes to developing a website or website application, there are many aspects to consider:

  1. What type of website needs to be built? A CMS (Content Management System - like WordPress, Wix, etc), a Shopping Cart (online e-commerce), or does the business model require something completely custom developed?

  2. How will the new website be implemented? Will the site require the use of Flash, javascript, Ajax, PHP, or some other technology best suited to the business's needs?

  3. Where will the new website be hosted (stored online so that it can be accessed by users and customers)? Should the site be hosted on a Windows server, Linux server, or can it possibly be hosted in-house on the company premises or office?

  4. Once the new website is live, what kind of on-going maintenance, evaluation and overall analyzation should be expected?

This 4-part series will discuss each of the above factors in dealing with today's available web technologies, and what might work best given a company's industry, business model, budget, and so on.

This discussion should help the average business owner or management responsible for website development and marketing gain a better understanding of each type of website technology, and what decision might be right for the business.

Part One - What type of website needs to be built? A CMS (Content Management System), a Shopping Cart (online e-commerce), or does the company require something completely custom developed?

In order to understand a company's website needs, one must first define what a website is. From earlier articles on Website vs. Web Application, one should note that a website in general is defined as any destination on the internet.

Whether a company needs a very basic, one-page information-only website, or requires a database intensive online banking website that performs complex transactions; both are technically considered websites.

This article will address the most general types of websites (often referred to as web applications), that businesses employ when requiring a website presence:

  • CMS (Content Management System)
  • e-Commerce (Online Shopping Cart System)
  • Custom Applications
  • Basic HTML (Often Used for Informational Websites)

CMS (Content Management System)

CMS's (Content Management Systems) are websites that allow for updates to the site to be made on a regular basis without having to know any HTML or programming (some more popular CMS's are Wordpress, Drupal, Wix, Squarespace).

If a business owner or manager needs to make a change to the general content of the website (perhaps update the Home page, update a calendar of events, etc) all this individual has to do is login to a secure Admin Area and click "Edit".

Everything with a CMS is point-n-click, copy-n-paste, or drag-n-drop:

  • If there is editing to be done, it is done with a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor similar to a Word document interface.
  • If you want a word bolded, you highlight it and click the bold "B" icon. Instantly, the word is bolded.

CMS's are designed to be simple and straight forward and allow a company to keep a website updated without having to hire a development firm every time a change needs to be completed.

As discussed in other articles, continuous updates on a website are important for good search engine optimization, better ranking in search results, and return customer visits.

There are many CMS systems out there ranging from small inexpensive systems, to large, completely custom, and complex systems.

  • Some of the smaller, entry-level systems may simply allow for website updates;
  • while some of the more complex systems may do as much as perform:
    • records management of client records,
    • invoicing,
    • correspondence,
    • orders,
    • etc.

Depending on the intentions for future development, one can find CMS's for cheap or free. Those looking for maximum SEO, or wishing to completely customize and upgrade as their web business grows, should budget a few hundred to start; depending upon the required modifications, potentially a few thousand (dependent upon their particular end-goals).

e-Commerce (Online Shopping Cart System)

e-Commerce is simply online sales. Often online sales are completed utilizing shopping carts that allow a customer to browse a catalog of products, choose, and pay online.

e-Commerce can also be the online sale of subscriptions, memberships to websites, or literally any sort of online sale of a product, service, or transfer of funds.

Shopping Carts are normally used to sell products or packaged services to online customers. Often, shopping carts will come with a built-in CMS that allows the owner of the site to manage the entire website content, pages and products for sale.

As well, many shopping carts will give customers the interactive ability to check on the order status, whether it's been shipped, request service or return, and more.

  • Subscription sites are often used to sell membership to a section of a website to customers for a specific period of time.
  • Once the subscription is close to expiring, the customer is notified of required renewal.
  • Subscriptions can be for practically anything ranging from:
    • viewing "member-only" pages,
    • to utilizing an online training tool for a set period of time.

As with CMS's mentioned above, there are many different varieties of e-commerce websites available from free, to a few thousand. It just depends on a company's long-term goals and how the website is to interact with the business.

Businesses interested in utilizing an e-commerce website should expect to spend about around a thousand on the low end, and upwards of several thousand or more as customization, intricacies, and aesthetics grow.

Custom Applications

Literally, if it can be imagined, it can most likely be programmed and developed into a website application. Most every business realizes that it must have an online presence; some sort of website presence.

The question is, how can a website be customized to fit an individual company's needs AND assist with business functions?

This is where custom applications and programming comes in. When a company submits a specification (spec) sheet of "what" needs to be in the website, a development firm can respond with a solution and estimate as to how best to develop that particular custom website project.

Sometimes this solution may be a combination of many different technologies.

However, web development is fluid, and as such is one of the most flexible mediums to work with in business.

Whether marketing, sales, operations, or customer service; a custom website can help develop and manage that portion of the business and related functions.

Custom website applications can range from:


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Designing Websites for the Way People Live

In today's world, most every successful business has a website presence. Due to the growth of internet usage on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, it is even more imperative than ever to minimize the utilization of non-compatible medias and technologies.

Some of the following are the most important factors to consider when attempting to make sure your website is compatible with any platform whether it be multiple browsers, a cell phone, tablet, or other mobile device:

  • Mobile-Friendly & Responsive
    Google states that over 80% of all searches are on mobile devices. Make sure the website is completely mobile-friendly and responds to any screen size.

  • Flash (Avoid)
    Flash can be a useful tool in the right situation but is not supported by many cell phones and mobile devices (especially the over 1 Billion iPhones and other mobile Apple devices). Today, HTML 5 is the better choice for cross-platform programming.

  • Javascripts (Be Weary)
    Javascripts often break down into plain text and loose many dynamic functions (such as hiding text until such time as a visitor hovers over) on cell phones and many mobile devices.

  • Large Images
    Large images with huge download times are a major reason many visitors leave or abandon a page. Keep images responsive and optimized for the web for quick download times.

  • Simple Navigation
    Quick and easy to decipher navigation. A visitor normally should not have to search through more about three links to find what they want on a website.

  • Simple Design
    Using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) can make a great looking website that is quick and easily to download; while allowing for responsive site-wide design changes from one style location.

The above guides should be followed on a general basis as there will always be certain exceptions to the rule.

Designing Websites for the Way People Live
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