What is a website, anyway?

Maybe you know that there is a front-end and a back-end but aren’t sure how those relate to a database, NodeJS or WordPress (or maybe they are the database in some cases?). The web is so diverse and huge that the word website has as much meaning as the words vehicle or food.

Sure, there are some common elements to all vehicles, foods or websites, but just saying those nouns conveys almost nothing about them. Just as cake, sausages and sauerkraut are all food items (and cooking each of them would be an entirely different project), a website can be Amazon, a research database or a simple landing page.

There are lots of components, techniques, programming languages and kinds of websites. It’s no wonder that sometimes organizations feel confused.

Here’s why: the technical aspects are not the most important aspect of a web project, and should not be your burden. It’s easy to come up with a technical solution that suits your needs in the most efficient way possible if the goals are clear.

A table with three dishes on top, drawn in dashed lines. What do I want to cook?

So, instead of focusing on whether a website is a Wordpress, a Drupal or a headless NodeJS-based CMS with a VueJS front-end, when you start planning your website I suggest you focus on:

  • What is the problem / need that we will solve?
  • What are we trying to communicate, what information flows do we want to promote?
  • With whom?
  • In what timeframe?

… that sort of stuff is what really matters.

If you have that clear, the technical components can help fulfill the goals. Lacking clarity on the goals, we can end up making stuff that is expensive and irrelevant. Nobody wants that! Just like nobody wants baked broccoli for dessert if they were expecting a chocolate cake.

Of course, there will be a moment in the project in which you have to evaluate proposals and decide on a technical solution, but that’s not the best way to start the project; it puts the attention in the wrong place.

At Matrushka, we focus on certain niches (Human Rights, Nature and Culture) because we care about the goals of the organizations we work with. By focusing on those subjects we can understand more about the needs of our clients, and in that way we can help guide projects to have an impact in their work and the achievement of their goals, instead of merely building stuff for the web.

Do you have something in mind, some problem that needs solving? We’d love to hear about it!

Want some tips on getting your goals and audiences clear? Then keep reading :)