Your Brand's Website - to Consolidate or Proliferate?

White Paper

Conventional wisdom dictates that less or smaller is easier, tidier, cheaper and better. Ergo, website consolidation should be synonymous with reducing website costs and improving website control, efficiency and effectiveness. However, opposing website consolidation strategies are the multiple websites often seen by large multinational companies as a clever means of localising content, structure and presentation for different target audiences. Download this paper now and decide whether to consolidate or proliferate your site to suit your brand's online presence.

Get the download

Below is an excerpt of "Your Brand's Website - to Consolidate or Proliferate?". To get your free download, and unlimited access to the whole of, simply log in or join free.


Consolidation or proliferation — confused?

There are good business reasons for consolidating or proliferating websites. While both business approaches are sound, the belief is that multiple sites are the root cause of website and content mismanagement, and therefore consolidation is the only answer. This is not entirely true, and this paper helps clear up this misconception.

Content explosion

One thing is for certain, the number and size of websites has grown with the popularity of the internet. It is not unusual today to find businesses operating very large or multiple websites consisting of thousands of web pages. These are accessed by millions of visitors through the public internet as well as private intranets and extranets.

The business community has also started to take a keen interest in the rapidly expanding market for blogs and other online means of social interaction. As their popularity continues to grow, the volume of unstructured content — free-format text — becomes ever more vast. It is not uncommon for companies to monitor key websites for customer or user feedback. Some are even setting up special blogging sites (or enabling their general-purpose websites for free-format input) to stimulate interaction about their company, products and services.

A case in point is online retailer, which invites customers to evaluate recently purchased products and write an online review. Not only is this information vital to the retailer’s marketing, the ‘impartiality of the feedback can make it particularly valuable to other customers, influencing their purchasing decisions.

Quantity AND quality?

Not surprisingly, the majority of companies are taking website management very seriously. After all, websites should be seen as a strategic means of communicating with company stakeholders: customers, partners, staff and investors. What’s more, websites are a company’s showcase and should appeal to visitors and hold their attention, much like consumers in a shop.

A good web content management (VVCM) system can deliver all of this. After all, a website’s most valuable component is its content — the information and documents displayed on the pages. Consequently, Web content needs to be up to date, free of errors and consistent — whether that’s within a single website or across multiple websites. These are typical characteristics of well managed content.

Website consolidation

Conventional wisdom dictates that less or smaller is easier, tidier, cheaper and better. Ergo, website consolidation is apparently synonymous with reducing website costs and improving website control, efficiency and effectiveness. But is this really true?

Website consolidation is often part of a bigger picture involving business process rationalization. If there is no good reason to re-engineer the business, perhaps website consolidation may not be a good idea either. Trying to consolidate different websites and processes to a single platform can often produce a complex solution, difficult and costly to implement and operate.

Some public sector agencies and other not-for-profit institutions are also reviewing their web strategies too. These traditionally less commercially-minded organizations have adopted an entrepreneurial attitude and now operate as businesses. Image is also important to them, and they too strive to offer their ‘customers’ the best service at the lowest cost.

…Or website proliferation?

Flying in the face of website consolidation strategies is the number of companies operating multiple websites (internet sites, mini-sites and subsites), extranets and one or more intranets). That said, the business reasons behind a proliferation policy are also usually part of a wider business and organizational strategy (as we saw with consolidation approaches).

Multiple websites are often seen by large (multinational) companies as a clever means of localizing content, structure and presentation for different target audiences and cultures. Distinct and dedicated websites can be easily used, for instance, to present well-defined branding and marketing messages. Separate websites can also improve site accessibility and navigation, and facilitate access to specific and relevant information.

However, proliferation also creates some confusion by directly contradicting the “conventional wisdom” of consolidation, so it is easy to be baffled as to which will be the most suitable strategy for your own circumstances.

Heart of the matter

Fortunately, content management has less to do with the number of websites and amount of content, and more to do with the right platform for your needs. This now means the issue of website consolidation or proliferation is actually more of a secondary concern - just as well because one approach does not need to preclude the other. In fact, consolidation and proliferation can be pursued simultaneously depending on the business case.

The importance of the Web to business and its unique requirements and characteristics has given web content management a special focus and enable it to stand alone from other business systems.

Open standards

WCM technology has become open, with web services based applications emerging and best practices and standards – such as XHTML, CSS2 and AJAX – now readily available. Content contributors now have direct and easy access to content creation, editing and publishing functions, and without requiring technical skills. There is no excuse for clunky and unresponsive WCM technology and the market will take care of the laggards in its own way.

In short, implementing the right WCM platform will support either business strategy, regardless of the number of sites or the amount of web content.

Although it is important to remember that the process of doing so comes with its own set of challenges, and a poor content management system can cause significant issues such as:

Content duplication and publication delays.

Many WCM systems cannot adequately manage and maintain massive amounts of content. This applies equally to navigation and structural data.

In addition, multiple websites can involve different technical WCM platforms and suppliers. If these platforms cannot exchange content with each other, data duplication will increase, aggravating an already-existing maintenance situation.

Historically, the user interface was the last component to be built, with the majority of WCM systems employing a technical and unfriendly forms-based editor. With the advent of ‘soft’ technologies, there is no need for any vendor to be maintaining this type of contribution mechanism and anyone who does runs the risk of excluding a significant proportion of casual or non-technical users. This will mean that content will still need to be input and maintained by (or with the help of) a company’s IT department or webmaster, or a very small group of ‘super users’. Consequently, the very same issue of bottlenecks and delays will resurface and costs increase as companies pay highly skilled IT staff to correct typos and add simple content items to sites.

Want more like this?

Want more like this?

Insight delivered to your inbox

Keep up to date with our free email. Hand picked whitepapers and posts from our blog, as well as exclusive videos and webinar invitations keep our Users one step ahead.

By clicking 'SIGN UP', you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

side image splash

By clicking 'SIGN UP', you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

All this will lead to out-of-date, error-prone and inconsistent content, as well as considerable publishing delays (some users complain of simple text changes taking two to three days to go live). In addition, multiple websites often equals multiple agencies and individuals, incurring additional related costs.

Inconsistent site presentation and navigation.

Running multiple sites with disparate WCM systems could also result in a company’s websites all having a different look and feel, and navigating differently (something visitors find tedious and disconcerting).

Bad for business

Critically, if not addressed and resolved, these issues could impact the whole organization. This could in turn lead to far-reaching financial and other business consequences:

  • Lost business: Badly managed content could frustrate visitors and tempt them to look elsewhere for ‘satisfaction’, resulting in business being lost or customer satisfaction jeopardized.
  • No ‘cross pollination’: Unwieldy or nonuniform navigation could even discourage visitors from accessing a company’s other related sites, resulting in the loss of ‘cross pollination’ benefits.
  • Tarnished image: Your brand or company image could be damaged by delivering a different and inconsistent message at each company website.
  • More costs, less control: Finally, maintaining multiple, disparate WCM platforms with complex user interfaces could mean increased IT and marketing costs and related resources. Running such a range of platforms inevitably leads to reduced control over the content held on them.

The challenge lies in selecting the right WCM platform and putting the right processes in place in order to avert these pitfalls. Company websites should offer a powerful brand message providing a great user experience. At the same time, Web content needs to be well managed, simple and user-friendly to access and navigate. That is the end-goal, but how can this be achieved? The obvious answer is to consolidate Web control under a single, uniform and dedicated WCM platform.

Balancing act

Opting for website consolidation, proliferation or a joint strategy involving both is a decision that should be based on business cases involving benefits, costs and risks.

Likewise, implementing a (new) WCM platform, like any IT project, involves hardware, software and implementation costs. This outlay should be evaluated against such benefits as significantly reduced annual costs of software licences, hardware maintenance and IT support, as well as the expected ROI of the project.

And finally, there are intangibles to consider. How will you, for instance, calculate the financial value of vastly improved business and editorial processes or satisfied stakeholders? Conversely, what are the business costs and risks of not giving these intangibles their due attention?

The internet is a critical business tool, for all industry, public sector and not-for-profit organizations. Not surprisingly, organizations are seeking ways to ensure that their websites are efficient and effective.

As we saw earlier, the received wisdom is that consolidation improves websites and Web content management, and proliferation complicates things. There is some truth in it, just as there is truth in the benefits of well-run multiple websites for businesses, but neither are the only way forward.

Whatever strategy your organization chooses to adopt, it should be based on solid business reasons and considerations, with the aim of well-managed, content-driven sites and other digital channels run on a well-managed, resilient and scalable platform at the forefront of the debate.

Content is the critical component of a website and the best way to exploit this resource is to enable wide usage by many authors under a controlled, single, user-friendly platform. However, the challenge lies in selecting the right one.

The right platform will help ensure your users maintain a consistent brand, and empower them to share and re-use content across the business lines. IT can take a step back from day to day website amendments, and the marketing and operations teams can truly manage their websites without compromising IT standards or system integrity.

SDL Tridion provides a best-in-class platform with a familiar Windows-style interface. Business-based users can add, remove, modify or publish Web content securely and quickly.

Deployment of the technical infrastructure, site performance and security remain with IT. This not only reduces marketing, operational and IT costs, but it also decreases ‘time to Web’, increases employees’ engagement with their company’s websites and improves the overall quality of its online communications.

Enter SDL Tridion

SDL Tridion enables organizations to successfully manage huge amounts of web content on multiple websites, across multiple channels in multiple languages.

It has been successfully implemented in many large companies and government institutions, all of which previously had problems supporting large or multiple websites effectively and efficiently.

Uniformity and consistency

By separating content from site structure, the user is able to work with the same item in a number of ways across several channels. This totally eradicates the need for content duplication and helps reinforce standard branding and style across sites. This remove the main complexities and risks associated with website maintenance, and firmly separates the roles of business-focused content contributor and IT.

The intuitive WYSIWYG interface provides nontechnical, business-based users with accessible content management functionality and the content repository stores all the content used across all the sites, and each item is simply manipulated (via templates) to suit each use – no duplication, no out of date items, no hassle.

In context editing is exceptionally useful to non-technical users. This allows users to see immediately what their work will look like once online, even before it has been published. Furthermore, users can do all their editing in the ‘context’ of a particular template This is most useful because templates usually come with their own (formatting and presentation) peculiarities and restrictions.

At the click of the mouse – and in real-time – the latest version of content goes online. Workflow capabilities allowing varying levels of content authorizations and approval privileges. Any changes to the website structure or presentation also happen in realtime. Thanks to its content repository, SDL Tridion can re-use and re-purpose any type of content. This means that a single item of data placed in the repository can be referred to and accessed repeatedly:

  • From different websites
  • Under different categories
  • Through different networks and channels

This eliminates unnecessary duplication, as well as the risk of content inconsistencies and out-of-date material being published. Increased efficiency, effectiveness and productivity.

Web content ‘belongs’ with the people directly involved in its creation, editing and publication. That’s why many companies place their internet under the responsibility of the marketing, communications or operations departments and not IT (even though the ability to publish and manage it still rests with the “techies”). This dichotomy means content creation is still a piecemeal process.

Enabling content creators to publish and manage the content themselves could generate further savings in IT and marketing resources, as well as improve publishing turnaround times.

This efficiency can improve productivity by drastically reducing the time to go live by placing the day-to-day management of the websites in the hands of the marketing people.

SDL Tridion also keeps costs and resources to a minimum, with ROI occurring in just a few years or even months after implementation.

Secure maintenance environment.

Of course, the deployment environment will also need to be secured against unauthorized access, and content protected against tampering. All operations and data are properly secured through customizable access and authorisation-level assignment and authentication procedures.

A secure workflow ensures that relevant content is approved by, the appropriate departments before it can be published. What this means is that, regardless of content source, security will ensure that no content is changed or published without the proper authorization and approval.

Want more like this?

Want more like this?

Insight delivered to your inbox

Keep up to date with our free email. Hand picked whitepapers and posts from our blog, as well as exclusive videos and webinar invitations keep our Users one step ahead.

By clicking 'SIGN UP', you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

side image splash

By clicking 'SIGN UP', you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy