Tips on building an enterprise website

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(Image credit: Unsplash)

Whether you're using one of the best website builders, the best ecommerce website builders, or the best small business website builders - or if you're coding from scratch with the support of the best web hosting providers - with the ever-increasing online marketplace continuing to grow, the importance of enterprise websites has increased in tandem. 

Those in the enterprise space face a number of intricate and varied challenges, and no two companies will face the same obstacles. In the competitive marketplace for online ecommerce, modern businesses must recognize the importance of a series of factors, including governance, velocity, agility, uptime, and multi-channel approaches. 

Anyone building an enterprise website who understands how these factors will affect online businesses can not only innovate faster, but beat their competitors to market, and minimize risks to their business. Our tips aim to provide you with the advice you need to build an enterprise website, and avoid any potential pitfalls.

Abide by governance

an office full of workers at computers

Building enterprise websites around the concept of governance will provide the best results (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Enterprise website builders who build their work around the concept of governance will see the best results. Governance involves inserting checks and balances into every aspect of an online business, to ensure all changes made are positive and further the company’s prime objectives. 

An important governance step is consulting a legal team over crucial decisions that could have legal repercussions. When storing customer data, you must abide by General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), for example, and these rules vary by territory. 

Enterprises can have hundreds of small websites, each with different focuses, and an enterprise website must have processes in place that ensure all sites meet the required legal standards. Content governance doesn’t stop at checking for legal compliance. A business must aim to maintain a high standard in its published content, avoiding embarrassing mistakes that harm the company’s prestige. 

Fact-checking, proofreading, and editing should be at the core of a business’s content creation strategy. Publishing incorrect information on products can be a costly blunder with legal repercussions, and even the smallest errors can suggest sloppiness or incompetence.

Enterprises must also perform brand governance, ensuring that every digital asset follows the company branding guidelines, and builds brand recognition, brand awareness, and customer loyalty. Brand governance is especially important for companies operating with local delivery partners. 

These partners often have constrained budgets or don’t have a deep understanding of the brand. In such cases, having extra governance checks in place help to maintain the consistent quality for which the brand is known.

Implementing governance becomes increasingly difficult as an enterprise grows. Content creation for larger businesses involves more people across a larger number of websites, and the content being created is more complex and varied. Brand governance is more challenging for a larger business because the company may sell products to multiple demographics, requiring distinct styles. 

Selling products globally can also require separate approaches to each local market, and each territory has its own laws and procedures. Those building enterprise websites who recognize the difficulty of implementing governance across multiple sites build a separate back-office system used solely for governance. 

Instead of trying to enforce compliance upon content creation, content is checked through this central channel before it goes live. If all content goes through rigorous governance testing, a company can confidently embrace a multi-authored content approach.

Velocity and agility

While governance protects an enterprise from making costly mistakes, if a business moves too slowly, then competitors will corner the market. Enterprises must use technology wisely to improve the speed at which they can get to market and adapt as required.

When building a website, teams should be able to work independently on their tasks without having to wait for others. Database and back-end developers shouldn’t have to wait for input from front-end designers, and vice versa. A system that enables collaborative working, but allows everyone to work on their specific task, maximizes efficiency and reduces the impact of any delay in a single department. 

Even meticulously planned enterprise websites suffer challenges when they hit the real world. The tendency of business requirements, messaging, and products to change quickly means websites need to be agile enough to adapt. In most enterprises today, anything more than a simple content change requires a great number of people to become involved. 

Building websites with a low-code development approach (where much of the hand-coding of websites is eliminated) can reduce the time and money it costs to make website changes.

A multi-channel approach

a laptop open on a desk showing a website

CMSs can prove a useful tool for improving enterprise agility (Image credit: Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash)

Another useful tool for improving business agility is a headless content system, a content management system (CMS) solely tasked with storing content. A headless content system doesn’t handle the front-end delivery of the content or describe how the content must look. Multiple delivery channels can then re-use the same content in unique ways. 

With the content stored in a headless CMS, developers can pull out product details, customer reviews, or blog posts and repurpose them in various forms. Enterprises can even offer a content-as-a-service model, where third parties lease the content for their own purposes.

Downtime is not an option

When an enterprise website goes offline for any reason, the company loses business and prestige. Potential new customers will head to a competitor’s site, existing customers will view the company as unreliable, and the search engine rankings the business has worked hard to achieve may take a hit. 

It’s important to have precautionary measures in place to minimize the detrimental effects of an unexpected outage. Using a reliable website hosting provider that guarantees minimal downtime is therefore important for enterprise websites. The hosting provider must be able to handle the tremendous levels of website traffic an enterprise can get. 

Another concern is how well the hosting provider can handle a fast spike in traffic. 

An open future

laptop open on a desk with financial results onscreen

Fewer than one in ten brands meet customer experience expectations online (Image credit: Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash)

According to a report by Acquia Cohesion, though enterprises recognize the digital experience is important, fewer than one in ten brands meet customer experience expectations online. Companies that buck this trend have a powerful advantage over their competitors. 

Creating the perfect digital experience for customers begins by choosing the right tools, and setting up a framework that enables everyone involved to work efficiently. The right management framework minimizes mistakes, and enables an enterprise to adapt to changing market conditions.

Using open-source software solutions can help enterprises succeed online by enforcing a development environment with governance, velocity, agility, and multi-channel content delivery approaches built-in. Open-source software scales well and enables development teams to leverage other useful tools as they see fit.

Further reading on website builders

If you're looking for more information on websites for smaller businesses, make sure to find out how what you should consider when registering a domain name, and learn whether you should invest in a small business website builder or not depending on your size.

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.