When your website has become a monolithic 'frankensite' that marketers are frustrated with and IT is afraid to touch, it’s time to face the facts: your website has been turned into business critical software. It’s very common, and it happens to almost all companies regardless of size. How do you know for sure? Let's identify the symptoms:
- Marketing cannot change aspects of the site without consulting IT
- IT is too busy with other initiatives or afraid to touch the beast
- Marketing cannot add new sections or experiment with existing content
- No one knows who is responsible for making updates
- The website connects everything, and if it breaks, so does everything else
Don’t worry, there are ways to recover!
Leverage SaaS Offerings
SaaS stands for Software as a Service. That means exactly what is sounds like- you pay a company monthly to use their software and let them manage infrastructure, product updates, and security. It’s a beautiful thing. Leverage SaaS, and give your marketing team agility and your IT department time to focus on business logic.
Move Business Logic Outside of Your Website
Remember that plugin you installed that solves all the problems (events, form handling, data transfer, database integrations, etc.)? Except now that plugin is preventing you from updating your site, even though its primary function is business critical. This is a sign that you are using your website as your product. Instead, abstract whatever it is that plug does for you into a piece of middleware that IT can manage. From there, integrate middleware with your website using a simple AJAX request that a frontend developer can make.
Do NOT Put Everything on your www dot com!
Employ a subdomain strategy. Subdomains are not scary; they exist for a reason. Google will not penalize you like they have in the past. By using subdomains you can effectively distribute tasks for each website, preventing the 'frankensite' from emerging and opening up new opportunities for marketing agility and IT-driven middleware.
Use Digital Asset Management
Another way to pull dependencies away from a frankensite is to set up your digital assets in a shareable environment. If you are using a CMS that locks your content into an upload folder, then change your CMS or integrate with a DAM (digital assessment management) solution. In this new world, you would upload images to a central system that ties into all your other software. This also means one of your servers or SaaS offerings can be replaced without losing your media.
Ok, where to start?
Start by identifying areas of your current site that use complex plugins or business logic that your business relies on. Make a list of those items and think about how they can be abstracted into middleware (logic and code behind the websites). Make a list of initiatives that marketing wants to complete, then think about how those items can be split into subdomains. Now start looking at SaaS offerings and put together your marketing “Stack”. Here is our example:
Zesty.io's Marketing Stack
- CRM: Salesforce
- Email: Gmail
- Documents: Google Apps
- Marketing Automation: Custom
- Mass Emailing: Mailchimp
- Website: Zesty.io
- Commenting: Disqus
- Landing Pages: Zesty.io
- Blog: Zesty.io
- Shared Media Management: Zesty.io
- Social Automation: Buffer
- Product Signup: Custom
- Internal Middleware: Node.js with GCP
Our own Marketing Stack features Zesty.io at its core, and for good reason. By design, the Zesty platform is integrated with each component of our stack, and the stacks of our customers. We treat our CMS as the glue between all our marketing stack components. Every time we fire up new web properties, all integrations are in place and our marketing team doesn’t need to bug our IT team in order to respond to marketing opportunities. IT is free to focus on our extending and supporting our product - not our website.