Keith Nation
By Keith Nation on 21 Sep, 2023

As with any technology investment, when it comes to planning your approach to a multi-site strategy, it’s important that you fully understand your needs before taking the plunge and buying a shiny new content management system (CMS). 

Here’s our 5 steps to follow to avoid over-spend!

First. Carry out in-depth analysis.

To begin with, make sure you conduct a thorough assessment of your business needs and speak to all the relevant stakeholders – this should also include your suppliers and customers. 

Distil these business needs into high-level, functional epics, prioritise what’s most important to your business, and then use you needs to evaluate competing products from different vendors. 

Make sure you also cover off non-functionals too - numbers of users, traffic patterns, page views - as these can play a large part in the ongoing costs you’ll incur. 

Part of the value proposition of a multi-site platform is the centralised control it gives you. Look for a system with user-friendly dashboards that allows you to easily roll out new web properties with consistent branding, as well as all the standard CMS features such as versioning, SEO, workflow, and multi-language support. 

Remember -  it’s important to balance the CMS features against what your business actually needs. Too much complexity can quickly make multi-site deployments expensive, as the engineering overhead can increase with each deployment.

Second. Explore a cloud-based alternative.

As a general rule of thumb, always consider SaaS (Software as a Service) and- Cloud-based vendor solutions first, in order to help optimise costs. 

SaaS offerings are consumption-based, which means you only pay for what you use, whilst also having the ability to scale up (and down) quicker than traditional infrastructure.
SaaS service fees include the hidden costs of maintenance and security patching, helping streamline support team and ongoing operating costs. This insulates your business from sudden price rises, such as energy usage, that can be associated with physical data centres where this is sometimes charged in addition to ongoing fees.

Third. Consider open-source technology.

Another cost-saving strategy that works well is the use of open-source technology. This removes the need for an ongoing license commitment to proprietary technology.

The open-source community has created many different multi-site software solutions, including Drupal, WordPress, and Umbraco, and these can generally be used as managed services through providers such as AWS,, Umbraco Cloud, Acquia, Pantheon, or Azure.

A second benefit of an open source CMS to power your websites relates to the strength of community support. Passionate developers love to problem-solve and commit new feature ideas or extensions to the platform back to the community they’re part of. This means there’s a wealth of free or low-cost plugins, making it cheaper and easier to integrate your open source CMS with other systems you’re already using.

Fourth. Create a common, modular codebase.

From an architectural perspective, for multi-site deployments to really deliver against their expected benefits, it’s important to establish a common site architecture and design system. This is so that a common, modular codebase can be rolled out as each new site is developed.

This is often challenging to achieve, requiring significant stakeholder input from the wider business and a commitment to collaborating and working together towards a shared design goal.

But once achieved, codebase re-usability solves many maintenance challenges and means you can deliver quicker and with higher quality.

Fifth. Plan your future support and internal skills.

Finally, you need to consider your long-term support needs and the in-house skills needed to run and operate the solution once live. 

It’s important to realise that, for your organisation to get the best return on investment, the multi-site platform you select needs to be adopted in-house by your digital team. They need to invest the time to become an expert on the platform. 

Making this commitment will help you iterate your product development ideas quicker, and optimise spend and hand-off between your business and any third parties such as a consultants or agencies. 

It’s also worth reviewing the value you’ll get from vendor support or training packages. It’s an easy option to purchase premium support from a software vendor, but you should question the value it will deliver before committing.

How DCX can help

When investing in technology to achieve your multi-site goals, you need to consider business needs all across your organisation, and make sure everyone agrees on a common view of success.

Alone, the technology platform you choose cannot deliver a return on investment. It’s the use of this platform by the people it’s designed for that achieves this.

If your business is fully aligned at the start of your journey and jointly backs both the spend and the vision, then your multi-site rollout will stand a much higher chance of success and deliver on its promise, and you’ll avoid any unnecessary overspend.

For over 20 years, DCX has been helping organisations all around the world evaluate business goals, select the right technology for the job, and design, build, and roll-out multiple websites.

With a laser focus on driving better customer engagement, capturing insights for better decisions, streamlining business operations, and driving commercial growth, we’ll help you deliver more memorable customer experiences and achieve even greater business impact.

Let us help you. Get in touch with us today!

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