Submitted by Don Dill on Fri, 02/03/2017 - 15:41
Rock climber hanging by fingers

One of the first questions we frequently ask our clients is, how would you gauge your website's effectiveness? We ask this because your website should not only reflect your brand, but in many cases, drive part of your revenue. A WordPress site can be a great start for companies that are strictly brand-centric, and will give you a strong web presence. However, if your goal is a website that not only represents your brand, but also comprises a mixture of e-commerce, registration systems, reporting tools, etc., then a WordPress site will not make the grade. Though, Freelock is now offering maintainance and development services for WordPress clients!

The clients who come to us are typically looking for more than a brochure site. They are looking for a strong Content Management System (CMS). They are looking for a website that they will own and will allow them the flexibility to expand on their business or organizational goals. Some of Drupal's capabilities are boundless!

A huge advantage of Drupal is that it's really strong in terms of flexibility, scalability, reliability, security, manageability, its ability to operate across multiple systems, and availability of resources. Drupal definitely is an enterprise-class CMS. Developers can readily integrate it with other applications and Drupal has abundant API support. And, with Drupal 8 released, it's only getting better! Also, one of Drupal 8's goals is to realize that many users are accessing websites through mobile devices, and in response to this demand, they are focusing on mobile-first design.

There are some drawbacks to developing in Drupal though, and a big one is the learning curve. But, with new and better development tools being introduced, we're hoping to close the gap and reinforce that there is a reason this CMS is at the forefront of open-source software. So, back to our first question, what IS your website's effectiveness? Here are 10 ways to gauge your website's effectiveness.

First you should ask yourself, what is the main purpose of my website? If the main purpose of your website is strictly to have an online brochure, we'd love to help you with that, but there are many other options, such as WordPress, or software-as-a-service providers like Squarespace.

But, if you need a marketing tool to reach potential customers, or an information portal for your current customers, Drupal has some great options to get your customers straight to what they're looking for. If you're intent is to sell products, events, subscriptions online, or e-commerce, you'll want to pay attention to security, reliability, and maintainability, which is where Drupal shines. Are you looking for a platform for streamlining your internal operations? This is what Drupal does best! It provides a dynamic platform that can keep up with the changes. But, if you don't have a website up yet, but want one, one of our template sites can help you get up and running. Let us get you started on the right foot!

Second, you'll want to ask yourself what your biggest obstacle to growth/success is? If your target market is unaware of your existence, you'll need a strong marketing program, and a site that will let you experiment and capture leads. We can offer recommendations to achieve this strategy. Or, have you found that your current market is saturated, or you need to enter a new market? Well, it sounds like it's time for a strategic retreat! Possibly a new brand presence – and with Drupal you can easily maintain content to show up on multiple versions of the same site.

If you've found that your capacity is limited or you are facing high overhead costs, and there may be ways to automate some internal processes so you can handle more work. We have a platform for streamlining your internal operations. This is what we like to call DevOps. This is a function of our development team and your operational goals. It could also be that you’re facing some stiff competition. So you may want to ask yourself, what can you offer your customers that makes them want to buy from you?! If this is an online component and an obstacle, these are areas where we love to partner with our clients to problem solve and overcome those obstacles.

Thirdly, how can the website help overcome these obstacles you’ve identified? In some cases, simply attracting more traffic through reliable and fresh content can help boost your site traffic. We know how to give you the tools and support to make this easy. Just because a business is running on a WordPress platform, doesn’t mean traffic is magically generated. You still have to create that content to get users to come to your site!

In some cases, overcoming obstacles to growth is an issue of usability. There are ways to improve website usability to increase conversion. An important conversation to have is to discuss what decisions your prospect needs to make to become your customer. In addition, how can your website support those decisions and make it as easy as possible. We are quite opinionated about what works for users and websites and what doesn’t. We are quite focused on user experience, trends and keeping ahead of the curve.

As previously mentioned, automating/streamlining management of the jobs your staff spend a lot of time doing could actually be a way to save you money and free your staff up to do higher value activities. Also, it may be a matter of increasing consistency and quality of your services, in which case potentially building web systems may help make your results repeatable and deliver more value at a lower cost. At the same time, improving communications with your customers and vendors may really hurdle some website obstacles.  Feel free to contact us here, emailing us directly at computing@freelock.com or call us at (206) 577-0540.

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