We interviewed Anji Taylor, a well known digital strategist who has been implementing websites for large businesses since 1994. Anji has stayed on top of the digital world since, and continues to execute broad range digital implementation and consulting services for large scale business needs. Since Anji has had lots of experience working with open source CMS solutions, we asked her about the pitfalls for using them on a large multi-site operation where the business would need to manage and distribute access to 600 websites. Her answers help business-minded folks understand that just because a software is well recognized, does not mean it fits for every solution.
Anji explains the pitfalls in four points:
1. For any hosted solution, there is the need to install, configure, and build out such a site. If the 600 pages could all potentially have an administrator who is allowed to make updates there's the need for user accounts for all; this is not ideally hosted in a single-instance of WordPress and therefore WP Multi-site would need to be installed and managed by folks that are familiar with it. The number of pages and stakeholders heightens the need for increased security and potential for hacks, etc., so additional efforts would be required to ensure the site is truly secure.
2. If there is a need to drive traffic to the site, the size and way that it is setup and deployed are important and potentially costly decisions. This includes the WP build-out and choice of plug-ins as well as likely having some sort of dedicated or premium hosting. If they are self-hosting the costs of that hosting along with maintaining security can be significant. Overall site performance and load time should also be a consideration with regard to hosting.
3. If there is any kind of e-commerce component (i.e., if there is a membership cost that is paid for through the site for each of the 600 pages) then an aspect of a membership/subscription component is required. Plug-ins are available but they require expertise to customize and again add to the size and demand of the site. This would require SSL as part of the hosting.
4. Knowledge silos always occur; just because WP is a recognized CMS doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of implementation considerations for launching a large, potentially complex website and there are different methodologies that can influence the ultimate success of a site built in WP - again two of the biggest are hosting performance and security. Since these are relative non-issues with Zesty they become much more controllable costs.
These four points together summarize some of the main reasons we created Zesty.io, to keep businesses away from IT management, and to provide a great website management solution that can scale without issue. This strengthens the point made in "The Emergence of Software Services is Changing Traditional Business Operations", which encourages businesses to "not attempt to manufacture internal services that are out of the bounds of your primary business focus." The second you start installing custom software on top of custom software to create a solution, you invite loads of IT management and technical headaches. Do not let inexperienced consultants let you fall into this trap.