But first… what is a framework (especially in regards to a website)? Think of it like building a house and having somebody come pour the foundation and setup the electric and plumbing with just the click of a button. Wikipedia refers to a software framework as “a reusable set of libraries or classes for a software system”. Basically what this means is that you don’t have waste time setting up the infrastructure that makes up a modern B2B website. Instead you can focus on your content strategy and design elements.
If you're still not convinced that using a framework to build your B2B website is the way to go, we've got 5 reasons to convince you:
- Budget – A site that might have cost $100,000 to develop 10 years ago, could be done for closer to $20,000 these days. This is largely due to the advances made in web technologies and specifically frameworks. For example in 2003 if you wanted an eCommerce website you’d either need to pay a seasoned developer top dollar to build a custom one for you or you could settle for a VERY basic implementation with something like a hosted Yahoo Store. In this day in age, there are many good eCommerce frameworks which can save 100s of hours of development time, therefore saving you lots of cash.
- Custom Design – This one surprises many people… “How is my site going to have a MORE customized look by starting with standardized code?!?”. Because by starting with a framework you have more budget hours left for the design phase and once the development phase starts you’ll be able to start with the core styles already established and move right into the custom ones. We remember back in the “the day” when clients would tell us, “I don’t want this to look like WordPress”. We always found this funny, since site aesthetics have next to nothing to do with a given platform, and almost everything to do with your styles, page templates, and of course content. Given the time, we can turn any B2B website into a customized web experience, and by starting with a framework, you will have those extra hours to get more creative.
- Functionality – This a huge one… After the planning phase for a website is complete you will have your list of needed functionality (and if you’re really savvy you’ve even already considered phase 2 functionality). Once you know that you’ll need functionalities “X, Y & Z” for your new b2b website, you can research what frameworks natively support this and go off to the races. For example something as simple as wanting multiple user accounts on your website could cost a fortune to develop from the ground up. But we can guarantee, there's a framework out there that does just this.
- Community – By having your site running on the same base framework as 1000s of other websites (both B2B websites and B2C websites), you have joined a community of sorts. This way when something goes awry on your site, you have an entire community of people who are familiar with code and can hopefully help get you back on your feet quickly. Alternately if you’d like to add a new feature to your site, you’d be able to poll the community using your framework and research the most efficient way to do so.
- Security/Bugs – The other inherent benefit is increased security and reduced bugs. Again, when a framework has been used for 1000s of websites, it’s had a lot more time “in the wild” and therefore becomes more proven. When an issue does come up, there is a dedicated team of programmers who are very familiar with the codebase and can arrive at a solution faster. You don't have to do everything on your own, and from scratch.
Of course we are oversimplifying this concept a bit, and even WITH an excellent framework at your disposal you will still want the help of a proven web developer and/or designer. Using a framework won’t magically get you the best website around, but using one in conjunction with a talented web firm (like New Breed!) can propel you past the competition without blowing your budget.
Though the concept of a framework applies to ANY type of software here are 2 of our favorite ones for WordPress.