Choose the right technology for your enterprise

What to ask to make sure an agency understands your requirements

|David Steeb

Whether you’re launching a brand new project or upgrading your decades-old multisite website, you need to make sure your agency fully understands your project goals and your current suite of technology. In our recent post, “How we kick off TYPO3 projects for enterprises,” we explained why you should expect a Concept Document before your agency begins writing a single line of code. But say your agency has come to you with a set of suggestions for your CMS, integrations, and extensions—at that point, an obvious question comes up: how do I know that this is the right technology?

Agencies that put their clients first will focus on building for scalability and reusability while doing as much as possible with a CMS’s out-of-the-box capabilities. That’s why we at b13 have put together a set of questions to ask when your agency recommends a CMS, extensions, and integrations.

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1. Is the recommended setup highly dependent on extensions?

There’s no strict formula for assessing how many extensions are the right amount. Still, as a general rule of thumb, your agency should try to limit dependencies on extensions that aren’t absolutely necessary. 

Why? For one thing, third-party extensions slow down upgrades. You can’t upgrade to the latest version of your CMS until your extensions are compatible, and some third-party extensions may take a while to upgrade. Delayed extension updates can delay your CMS version upgrade for years. Second, third-party extensions are built by developers external to the CMS—so the more extensions you use, the more teams, styles, and development approaches you’ll have to depend on. Unless your agency is also responsible for those third-party extensions, more extensions generally mean more complications. 

When we choose TYPO3 for clients at b13, we install only the Core extensions essential to your project. Afterward, we add Core and third-party extensions sparingly and only to the extent that they’re needed. We feel confident recommending TYPO3 extensions built by b13 because we’re committed to upgrading them soon after every new TYPO3 version gets released.

2. Should my enterprise use a single installation or multiple installations—and why?

Agencies should be able to justify why they’re recommending a multisite setup on a single installation or multiple sites on multiple servers. Make sure that whichever setup they choose directly corresponds to your stated project goals. 

Generally, we recommend single instances of TYPO3 for enterprises that share a lot of code, content elements, and data across websites. But we’ll occasionally recommend multiple installations when:

  • User data should not be shared across websites for privacy reasons.
  • There is little shared code across websites.
  • Security is a huge concern.
  • Our clients need a strict separation of concerns between the backend and the frontend.

If you opt for a multisite setup on a single installation, make sure to ask your agency how they plan to handle code-sharing. Try to avoid copy and pasting code within a single installation—it’s better to use reusable templates that can be updated across websites in one fell swoop. 

3. How will this solution enable my enterprise to scale?

When enterprises come to us, we always ask about their expansion plans. Are they planning to offer new services within a single geographical market, or do they need a plan for localization (either today or in the future)? Will they need to duplicate a lot of the content on one website into another language on a separate website?

These questions help us design a solution that meets clients’ immediate needs and paves the way for long-term goals. We include sections on reusable content elements, localization, and scalability in our Concept Document. 

For example, we recently had a client who wanted to roll out their website in several languages across Europe and allow their content editors to access the basic template across different locales. They wanted to reuse the same visuals but needed to include different content based on each country’s industry regulations. We could have designed a solution for just a few locales, but they clarified that they might scale further in the future. We created a system able to host almost 500 websites with shared content templates, adjustable by locale. 

There’s no such thing as “too many” questions

When you ask the right questions, you can feel more confident that you’re choosing the right agency for the job.

Create a successful, long-term vision for your enterprise web project!

Feel free to get in touch with us to discuss your project further.

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