Thanks to open source CMSs like WordPress, Drupal and Plone, spawning new websites has never been so easy. Each organization's department, unit, center and group of people has been empowered to create their own web presence, sometimes out of frustration in the face of a slow corporate response.
This extraordinary and organic proliferation of website has helped organizations reach out to and engage their audiences better. But it has also come with ever growing tech headaches as IT departments are now faced with litters of unmaintained, out-of-date and disorganized standalone websites.
Fortunately, most enterprise CMSs already offer some level of multi-site management features thus there is no need to reinvent the wheel. So, is a web consolidation in order for your organization? Here are 7 key factors to review before making a decision:
1 - How many websites should you really be maintaining?
Is there still a valid need behind keeping all those websites, or is a major spring cleaning necessary? A detailed strategic inventory will need to be completed to assess the situation as you may not have as many sites to maintain as you think.
2 - How many different CMSs are you running?
And more importantly: is there a good reason why you should be running that many CMSs? Would it be possible to reduce the number of systems you maintain and standardize on a few, if not just one?
3 - How large are the websites you manage?
Most organizations have a plethora of tiny sites with a few large outliers. How many objects do those big sites contain? Assuming consolidation is an option, the benefits of a streamlined infrastructure will need to be carefully balanced with the reality of your hosting limitations.
4 - Are there groups of websites that have the same feature set?
Do they all need an event calendar? Do they all want to feature specific staff members? Do they all need the ability to manage online forms? Identifying clusters of websites based on functionalities is a first essential step toward any consolidation effort.
5 - How old are the various add-ons installed?
Have sites been patched regularly or are you sitting on a ticking bomb? This investigation will provide valuable information as to where to start with any consolidation effort and how soon it should be addressed.
6 - Would some websites benefit from sharing content?
For instance do many sites already cross link with one another? Do they point to the same information? Or worse, do they duplicate information? This is often true for event calendars, people directories and legal policies. When content synergies are identified, a consolidation will not only simplify web content management activities, but it will also greatly improve the effectiveness of marketing efforts.
7 - Finally, what is the hosting situation?
Now is the time to have an honest look at your operations: are the servers running perfectly or are you plagued with performance issues? Get the facts: you'll need to audit your hosting infrastructure and review server load, disk space, memory usage, traffic pattern, number of restarts, uptime statistics, etc. This will help you design the new and improved consolidated system.
In our experience, web consolidation projects provide an incredible opportunity for cutting expenses, improving performance, and simplifying content management across websites. For more real life examples, review our case studies...