Here’s a question I get all the time: what’s the right platform to use for the microsites you create for your marketing purposes?
The most popular answer today is WebFlow. (If you’re reading this ~5 years from now, this may sound dated but, oh well: I don’t have advance access to the knowledge of what platforms will be popular 5 years into the future. If you do, please let me know.) It’s cloud-only, easy to use, cool-looking, a new beloved Bay Area company. It’s a big win in all directions.
It has one main downside: a non-trivial cost per site, so if you want to put up lots and lots of sites, it quickly becomes expensive.
But I think there’s another way to look at the question and answer it a different way:
What matters for success is team, team, team; so you want to find the right team, and use the platform that they know the best.
Think about it like this. Let’s say there are snipers out there and you need to hire a sniper to hit your target. Pretend you’re the guys behind Lee Harvey Oswald (although of course, he was a lone actor, so there were no guys; which is good, since you’re a good guy anyway and would never want to do anything bad!). And let’s say the best gun to use out there is an RifleABC, and the second best gun out there is the RifleXYZ. Whom do you hire: the less-perfect actor with the more-perfect weapon? Or the more-perfect actor, with the less-perfect weapon?
The metaphors are endless: Do you hire the better guitarist with the worse guitar, or the worse guitarist with the better guitar? To make a portrait of your dog, do you hire the better artist with the worse paintbrush, or the worse artist but with the better paintbrush?
How do you balance the tool and the person?
Here’s my take on it: team, team, team. Oh, in case that wasn’t clear: what matters above all is the team, team, team, team, and team!
The best shooter can compensate for not having the best weapon–but the not-as-great shooter, no matter how great his weapon is, is more likely to miss his target.
Jimi Hendrix will sound amazing on the crappiest guitar out there, but I will sound terrible playing even the best Fender guitar out there.
The most amazing startup founder & partner will figure out how to solve the problems your business faces; but the not-quite-as-good founder will more likely be stumped, even if he has the best dashboards and panels and computers in front of him.
And the same for Google Ads/Adwords, and all Pay Per Click advertising: who is doing the work, how they think, how they operate, whom else they work with, how they communicate, and so forth–the Human Component–is far, far more important than their weapons of choice.
Why? For four reasons:
- The strategy, execution, and communication are much more important than the particular tool used. And all three of those are human-first issues.
- On the downside: an idiot with a powerful gun can do much more damage than a smart person with a weaker gun.
- You can change the tools much, much more easily than you can change the people.
- The right team will know a tool inside out–and that’s more important than knowing the best tool.
The last point is not that obvious and thus worth calling out: compare the man who has lived in a house for 10 years vs the man who just moved in yesterday. Even if yesterday’s move was to a slightly bigger, slightly better house–the man who has lived in the slightly smaller, slightly worse house for 10 years knows that the hot water doesn’t get hot enough so you need to run it for longer, that when there’s a lot of rain, the back porch tends to flood, that the neighbor’s gardener turns on the leaf blowers every Tuesday at 11am so you can’t take calls at that time (hypothetical example, of course!), that the wifi works really well from this nook and not from that cranny, and so forth–and the minor little details that allow him to use the house optimally.
The parallel is important in using your tools. Even if, say, WordPress isn’t the best landing page tool out there: if you’ve done dozens of landing pages in it during the last month, have solved every problem, know every way to track every detail and so forth–it’s much better for you to use that, than a slightly better tool that you’re just learning.
There’s a big qualification here: “slightly” better is different than “much better.” Compare this great machine gun to that almost-as-great machine gun, not to a sword that is 700 years old. (Cue the classic Indiana Jones scene.) In web page terms, WP is still a strong contender–I just read yesterday that it’s share of all web pages it powers has gone up from 35% to 40% over the last few years!–in a way that, say, Drupal just isn’t. (Of course, Drupal’s defends will say that they are the right team, and they know Drupal well… so use your judgment!)
Of course, all of this may really just be me justifying and defending my love of the ever-uncool WordPress. What can I say? WordPress has had my heart ever since I made the Great Shift over from Moveable Type (remember them?) a decade ago. And maybe a decade from now, I’ll be using Webflow and singing its praises. I still can’t predict the future. Unfortunately.