Building an enterprise website

Building an enterprise website
(Image credit: Geralt / Pixabay)

Since the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, we’ve all witnessed the acceleration of the commoditisation of the website builder. The enterprise space, in particular, is one where the challenges and intricacies of development vary greatly. It’s important for companies to know the key issues, both from a governance standpoint and business perspective, to ensure they don’t fall behind the competition in terms of process and operation for innovation.

About the author

Drew Griffiths, CEO of Cohesion, Acquia.

Abide by governance

It’s vitally important for enterprise website building to revolve around the concept of governance. Companies will need to have a series of checks and balances in place to make sure their content is fully compliant with their legal teams, and abides by the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and other localised restrictions that might be in place.

Enterprises may have several hundred microsites or product lines that run into the thousands or higher and must be categorised, so having processes in place to ensure they can maintain and govern in a way that adheres to the legal standard, is paramount.

Governance tasks like inputting and proofing standard information or formatting across multiple sites are tedious, time-consuming and greatly raise the risk of failure to comply through human error. What enterprises need is a back-office function that will replicate the elements needed for regulatory compliance, not only for their main website but for all points at which their content is consumed. Once this is implemented, they can then embrace a multi-authored content approach. 

Just as important as content governance, there is also the need for brand governance. This is especially true for companies managing large global digital estates where there may be local delivery partners, often operating with smaller budgets that need to have guard rails in place to make sure there is a consistent delivery in every market. It’s key that these capabilities are in place when looking at enterprise website builders.

Velocity and agility

Once governance is addressed and guardrails are in place, enterprises must ensure that their choices in technology enable their organisation to move at the speed it needs to. For example, web design should focus on delivering ideas without waiting for developer resource, while developers should focus on high value site building, rather than the front end look and feel. A solution that offers inclusivity, encourages collaborative working, and enables teams to build at speed to meet market demand, is key to this.

Another area where most enterprise website building solutions fall down is when they hit the real world. We all know that business requirements, products or messaging can change at any time and that those changes need to be reflected on their website, ideally as close to real time as possible. Yet today, in most enterprises when there is a change, and where the scope is more than just simple content changes, it involves a whole team of people to get the job done. By adopting a low-code approach to enterprise site building this overhead is significantly reduced, creating significant savings in resource, time and money.

A multi-channel approach

Being able to create content in one location empowers specialist teams to use it for a variety of different channels and outputs. To achieve this gold standard, enterprises need to adopt a headless content system. In a nutshell, that means a Content Management System (CMS) that stores, manages and delivers content without a front-end delivery layer.

With a headless platform, the front end is decoupled and removed, leaving only the backend. Developers can then use APIs to deliver things like products, blog posts or customer reviews to any screen or device, while front-end developers can get to work on how to present that content using any framework they desire. This system empowers enterprises to adopt and offer a content-as-a-service model – a trend that is really taking off. We’re seeing an influx of requests coming from the enterprise to create content, and design how that content looks for distribution across a variety of channels beyond just the website. Enterprises need a solution that can manage, design and distribute.

Downtime is not an option 

Another key consideration for enterprises in website building is downtime. It’s clearly not an option so enterprises need to have all precautionary measures in place should it occur. Given the huge levels of traffic, and the size and scale of an enterprise, the stability of the system can be compromised, and within the space of seconds, the customer will turn to a competitor if they can’t access what they need. The ability to handle large increases in volume in a short time frame becomes incredibly important at the enterprise level, so it's essential to have the best web hosting with minimal downtime guarrantees.

An open future

It’s refreshing to see enterprises and businesses from all shapes and sizes recognising the extreme value of the digital experience. However, it’s alarming that 90 percent of brands are failing to meet CX expectations, according to our recent CX Report. To address this and create the best digital experiences, enterprises need to embrace open source technology. An open-first marketing innovation platform is a home or hub for designing more than just a website, but is also an experience that can be controlled in a centralised way at scale. An open platform enables teams to connect with an infinite number of other tools, to create a digital experience for every unique customer and offer true personalisation – something we know customers crave.

Drew Griffiths

Drew Griffiths is the CEO of Cohesion at Acquia. He has worked within the digital industry for over 20 years and has a very deep level of understanding of how people use the web and the technologies available.