In my last post, I looked at where your microsite should live. There was no right answer, with marketing and SEO advantages to be had with both subdomains and standalone domains. Once you’ve decided where to host your microsite, the next question you face is how to create it.
If you’re not an HTML and CSS pro, you probably don’t make websites from scratch, but could instead enlist the help of your developers to quickly launch a one to few page microsite. You might not want to depend on a developer for making updates, and instead could also turn to one of the many content management systems (CMSs) available. Then there’s other solutions still. What’s best for you?
Option 1: Use a popular Content Management System (like WordPress)
WordPress is one increasingly popular choice for a slew of purposes, thanks to a versatile and plentiful plugin library. Small businesses use WordPress for eCommerce. The U.S. Department of State uses it for a social network for diplomats. Can a CMS like WordPress also be used for a microsite? Absolutely, but it might be overkill.
Microsites don’t need blog posts, multiple pages, menus, authors, or even a comments section (as you probably want to keep the conversation on Twitter or Facebook). All of these features are core functions of WordPress and other popular CMSs. You can turn such features off or hide them (and single-page CMS themes do exist), but you’d probably be better off finding a more simple medium for your microsite. Drupal, Joomla, and other CMSs are also built for robust, multipage sites, and likewise their features and options (that don’t really apply for microsites) might be a bit overwhelming.
- Easy to expand microsite into a multi-page/blog enabled site
- Able to edit and add content without knowing HTML using a WYSIWYG editor
- Most are free to download and use
- Readily available documentation and plugin libraries
- Overkill for a smaller, content-driven microsite (cracking a nut with a sledgehammer)
- Requires additional plugins or HTML/CSS knowledge for advanced customization
- Frequent maintenance (plugin and platform updates)
Option 2: Build your own standalone site (or have someone build it for you)
- Full control over look and feel
- More lightweight/easier to duplicate and migrate than a fully-featured CMS
- Simple microsites can be up in a day or two if you have the right developer(s)!
- Dependency on someone (likely outside your marketing team) for site creation and most edits.
- Not as easy to expand into a multi-page/blog-enabled site
- Can be expensive if you don’t have a web designer and/or developer on staff.
Option 3: Use a content marketing platform that simplifies microsite creation
You can also make your microsite quickly and easily using a content marketing platform (shameless plug, like Triblio). Many of these platforms allow for the creation of content hubs (here’s 10 great examples), which make great landing pages or microsites due to their many benefits.
These platforms allow users to quickly make social, content-centric hubs, with full featured analytics, form capture, and personalization that changes the microsite layout or CTAs depending on the visitor’s profile or browsing history. Options 1 and 2 allow personalization through the use of third party tools like Optimizely, but if you’re bundling multiple platforms together for a single microsite, you are probably working too hard.
Option 3, like others, does have its downsides. These platforms are not free, they are all relatively young products, and “card” or hub style layouts have their critics, even as most media sites move in this direction (ESPN switched over to cards this week).
- Can be built by marketers without needing a web development resource
- Allow for metrics, form capture, and personalization without needing plugins or third party tools
- Most platforms use the increasingly adopted “card” or “content hub” style
- SaaS software usually has a monthly cost
- These platforms are cutting edge, but also still emerging and being developed
- As Microsoft learned with Windows 8, not everyone likes cards!
Full disclosure, as a potential Option 3, we obviously think the pros outweigh the cons, and we’ll show you if you want a demo. Here’s a Triblio-powered content hub microsite one of our customers used at this year’s Adobe Summit!