“Is your technology the best? Is it the highest rated software? Is it the most popular? Does it have the most plugins?” These were questions I received recently as I was building a personal website. The questions came from a friend and follow technologist. They stemmed from my choice of web platform, as it did not match his choice. He thought his choice was the best according to popularity and amount of plugins.
His questions were valid in evaluating on which platform to build a website. I definitely want to build on a platform that is well tested by a large community. It must be well supported in case I have issues with it I cannot solve alone. And it must be expandable for future growth. The problem I had with his inquiry was he did not take into account any use case.
It brought to mind a car commercial I had seen. The gist of the commercial was that, though it presented the car with the best fuel efficiency, the best safety rating in its class, and the trendiest look; if Shaquille O’Neal can’t fit into the driver’s seat he most likely would not buy the car.
Consideration of the use case is often overlooked in small website design projects, and, if it is considered, the use case is usually focused on the end-user: the site visitor. Often the maintenance, administration, and management of the site are overlooked. Another case overlooked is the planned and unplanned expansion and growth of the site.
Some of the questions that should be asked before considering a design are simple. “Who will be maintaining the platform of the site?” When a platform is difficult to update when security and maintenance updates are available, the site can easily become susceptible to breaking or worse to hacking. “Who will be administrating and managing the site?” When administers and managers cannot easily add users and content, the site can become stale; causing visitors to not return. “What are the plans for the site in 2 years? How about in 5 years? 10 years?” Planning for expansion before it happens is critical in choosing a platform. Growth should be an objective of a site. Selecting a platform that does not have the growth potential that your site will need could add cost and also cause a site to become stale during a rebuild process. These are just some of the questions that need to be considered before discussing the look and feel of a site.
In my discussion with my friend I brought forward some points to my use case and some of the customizations I wanted to see. He reluctantly sided that my choice was not as bad as he had thought, and that his choice may not fulfill my use case.
I would like to present this as advice to anyone starting the process of building a new website. When starting a site build make sure that internal use cases are understood. Make sure that those that will be editing and maintaining the site can do so without a high level of difficulty. And make sure that it is understood that even though the site may be built to attract outside visitors, they are not the always the most important users of the site. The maintainers and content editors that make a site work may also be the one to make a site NOT work.