From the moment businesses could see websites being more than hobbyist curiosities and started their own, there developed a need for administrating the massive amounts of information that these sites could possess. Not everyone was a web developer either so the simpler this could be made the better.
Early on these administrative tools were custom designed for the sites they ran on, performing very specific tasks. But soon enough companies could see a market in providing “websites in a box” with built in management tools and dozens of products sprung up.
Some take that simpler route by providing frameworks from which to build on while others require you to work within defined constraints. ie. their way (or the highway).
Now, both solutions are more than fine for massive sites managing gigabytes of data run by a team of developers. Time and resources can be spent to produce defined structures, helping ensure work follows consistent design principles. But not everyone needs the kitchen sink approach to building sites.
Sometimes I suspect managers may go all the way with an expensive option just so they can say they “did one of those sharepointey, sitecorey things” on their LinkedIn profile.
For the pragmatic developers amongst us, choosing the right tool for the job can make a big difference in time and money. In some cases, would using a common blog platform be good enough for what the user needs?
Over the years I dabbled with LiveJournal, which was one of the earlier blogging platforms of the time. It was perfectly adequate for online diaries but I couldn’t see it being anything more than that. But after closing that blog, I decided to try out WordPress.
Admittedly I am a little biased towards WordPress since my blog is now hosted here but it is also one of the few where my experience is completely from a users point of view. And as a user I am impressed with the ease in which a person can get their own little blog up and running quickly. I could spend four times as much time and effort doing the same with the more commercial offerings.
But what is the game changer is that it can be quite easily used to build websites with enough features and individuality to be comparable to packaged offerings. And even more can be accomplished if you decide to host the site yourself.
So I’m left to think now that perhaps when a customer comes requesting a website, we should sometimes temper our developer egos and give them the simplest of solutions quickly, even if that means we are down to only updating CSS on a blog site. Because some people have already figured out what a lot of people want and it boils down to writing a few web pages and posting some pictures.
Earning trust on the simplest of work could help encourage clients to invest in the more challenging tasks and thus letting us stretch our developer legs when and where they are truly needed.