How complex should my website really be?

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There are many different types of webpages, and their size, scope, and complexity depend on many different factors, which would need to be taken into consideration at the planning stage of the Web Development life cycle.

That is: not every website has the same needs and uses, and the sooner you determine what kind of tools and resources your company really needs, the more streamlined the Development process will be.

What kind of website would be the best one for you, then? Well, let’s look a little further into the features, needs, and limits of the most common types, so you can decide which type would be best suited to your particular needs.

  1. Landing Page

    The simplest, most basic type of static page is the Landing Page, which consists of a single-page design that includes the basic information you need to convey (either about your brand in general, or related to a specific campaign, event, product, or service).

    They should be eye-catching and contain a clear call-to-action. (They usually include a contact form that would allow the potential leads to subscribe to your newsletter/website/service.)

    Pros: Its small size allows for a fast development and a flashy-yet-stylish design; it rarely requires further updating; it’s mostly very light resources-wise; it’s perfect for measuring the lead generation for a specific campaign or product.

    Cons: Its SEO presence is usually very low, so it mostly depends on Paid Search and/or Social Media campaigns.

  2. Static Informative Page

    This kind of page usually has up to 5 different sections, typically separated into different sections or sub-pages. The content is static, meaning that it won’t change much as time passes.

    It’s usually enough for a small company’s Online Presence since it allows you to present to your visitors (and customers) a centralized entry point to your Brand (and Social Media).

    You may have specific sections depending on your company’s needs, but the most common (and standardized) ones are: Homepage – An introductory description of your company and the website’s purpose; you could consider this the virtual showcase where most new visitors will get their first impressions of you. Contact Us section – A working contact form and information about other alternative communication channels you offer. About Us section – This includes, but doesn’t need to be limited to, your Company’s Mission, Vision, and Corporate Values.  Services (or Products) section – A basic description of your main services and sub-services, or your general Products Catalogue.

    Pros: If you already have most of the content ready, its development time won’t usually take too long; since the content won’t need to change much. It’s somewhat easy to change or update its visual style without needing to start from scratch each time you want to refresh your site’s looks. There are many pre-built templates out there that are easy to adapt to your existing Branding guidelines and image.

    Cons: Its static nature means that updating or expanding your content would require more time and effort from your Dev team. Some of your most demanding visitors may find it lacking in information. Also, the more time that passes since its inception, the more outdated it may appear to Search Engines and returning visitors alike.

  3. Dynamic Website

    These websites are usually built around a much wider range of different sections and changing content, tied to a database where you want to save the different records of the changes, updates, and even different types of content that comprise your site. They’re commonly developed through a CMS (Content Management System), which is a pre-build solution that packages out-of-the-box resources that are easy to adapt to your specific needs and limitations. Some of the most common CMS platforms are: WordPress, Wix, Joomla, Magento, Shopify, and Drupal.

    These systems regularly offer the possibility to implement basic templates, different themes, and plenty of plugins and add-ons to further customize the functionality and types of content that you need. They usually come with many free customization options that require little coding knowledge, but if you require something even more advanced, it’s easy to find really good pro (paid) resources that will certainly fit your bill.

    Whether you need a blog, online catalog, specialized wiki, or even an eCommerce, these kinds of solutions offer you a true and tested way to deliver your content in a way that is easy to manage and optimize.

    Pros: Most of these pre-built systems come with a free version that is usually powerful enough to develop a robust website, capable of more growth as the need arises. The further your coding skills go, the more you are able to expand beyond what the pre-packaged options offer you. This kind of website’s architecture was specifically designed to be scalable, while still being compliant with today’s internet standards and expectations.

    Cons: With how options, visual looks, and resources are available, it’s easy to overdo it and end up with an overly complex website. They’re so common that it’s very important to keep them up to date, or else you risk falling prey to known vulnerabilities and cyber-attacks. The less you know about coding, the easier it is for you to accidentally “break” your website when trying to update or adjust something that should be “simple enough”. It’s also important to consider a much larger development time if your coding knowledge is limited.

  4. Custom Web Application

    In some cases, you may need or want your website to provide more specialized and specific tools, resources, or functionalities. And while they can usually be built with a CMS as a basis, there is a point where you’d be swimming against the tide in order to bend the platform enough to keep things simple and manageable enough. In those scenarios, you may instead consider working with a Development Framework that allows you to build a customized application specifically focused on providing the online functions that your users (and yourself) will actually use. Some of the most common Frameworks for this kind of development are: React, Angular, Django, Vue.Js, and Ruby on Rails.

    Whether you want to integrate your website with a database, Cloud service, API, or incorporate a third-party application, these frameworks provide you with a stable and scalable foundation to build upon, although (depending on your specific needs) you may need to implement different tools, libraries, languages, and even complementary frameworks.

    Pros: On the public user’s side of things, it usually provides a resource-light event; the User Experience and interactions with the system are usually optimized with full control for the development team. It uses cutting-edge technologies and practices that make use of what very big and focused communities are learning and improving.

    Cons: There are few to no options to develop one of these with little or no advanced coding knowledge. You need to know the scope and kind of resources and functions that you’ll be working with from the start, or else you’ll spend a large portion of your development time on correcting or re-doing things you already worked into it. These frameworks are regularly evolving and improving, and that means maintaining them becomes a priority after the initial development phase is over.

  5. Self-administered Platform

    The most complex kind of website is a Web Platform. This is a site that allows for multiple users with various levels of authority, differentiated accesses, available functionalities, and tools. It connects its different modules, functionalities, databases, and resources in a way that the feedback you get allows for a highly controllable and scalable environment.

    The aim of this kind of online software is to integrate and centralize different processes executed by many members of your organization in an orderly way, with the means to record, manage and integrate different types of data, events, and even online and offline interactions. You would usually have access to a sort of intranet, with a personalized dashboard with easy access to the different modules and functionalities that you’ll commonly use.

    The most complex and extensive platforms may require you to develop proprietary software specially engineered to your Company’s requirements and resources, but for more basic and straightforward platform development you may make use of a flexible enough framework (many of which are open source and thus mostly free of charge which gives the added bonus of a large community for support and documentation). Some of the most popular Developer Frameworks for platform design are: Laravel, Codeigniter, Symfony, CakePHP, and Zend.

    Pros: A powerful platform allows you to streamline your internal processes, thus cutting extra costs and time integrating it with other platforms, online services, or resources you may already be using. These kinds of platforms work in a modular way, so it’s possible to develop parallel functionalities without having to stop your website from working. As long as the basic structure was adequately planned and implemented, the system should be scalable and keep evolving according to your Company’s growth and the technological or logistical challenges encountered along the way.

    Cons: The larger and more complex your platform becomes, the longer the initial development time can take, and even then, you’ll ideally keep revisiting and improving the basic software. So in a sense, your website’s development never truly ends. You’ll also need to take into consideration all matters related to user experience, online security, server resources, and user compliance. It should always be a team effort, and someone from your Company should always be involved and up to date with the latest developments.

As you can see, not all websites are created the same, nor should they aim for the same kind of usage, and thus all of them should be developed accordingly. And even while a competent agency with a seasoned Development Team will certainly contribute to reducing the burden for you, that still means that you should try to think ahead on what kind of content, tools, and usage it will most likely encompass.

Don’t forget that we are the experts on making your website work as intended, but you are the expert on your Company and the kind of services or products that it offers to its public. A website should be the means, not an end by itself.

Now that you have a wider understanding of the general types of web pages that are out there, you may want to start talking with our experts to further define the kind of Website Development that may be most appropriate for your Brand’s particular needs and budget. We’ll be happy to oblige! We love what we do!

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