A Multisite Drastically Reduces the Technological Debt in an Organisation

The need for many websites

  • Where once companies could have one global website they now have to be able to address each market separately.
  • Where they could list all brands on one website, they now have to create a separate website per each brand to be able to communicate with each niche better.
  • Sometimes, even on the level of a single brand, a few websites may be required:
  • one for the global audience,
  • and another for example for a particular section of customers who are a small fraction in terms of numbers but large in terms of turnover,
  • and then another for an event or a conference that the brand holds every year.

A “free to build” approach to web development

Each website is completely different

  • some will be open-source, some will be proprietary,
  • some will be hosted in house, some will be hosted by the agency and some will be hosted in a completely different setup with a 3rd party hosting provider.

Maintaining each website separately is very expensive

How do companies manage this? They typically don’t…

A “guidance” approach to web development

Guidance is better but only goes halfway

  1. Even though it is difficult, the company can arbitrage a little by comparing costs between teams and agencies. It can also compare the quality of the output.
  2. Some re-use of code might be possible when one team builds something and shares it with others. This will not always be possible though, because despite using the same technology, the websites might still differ substantially in their architecture.
  3. All agencies the company works with have experience in the same technology, so at least in theory, one agency could take over another agency’s work. In practice, though this is fairly difficult because separate teams mostly do not communicate, even though they do the same thing.

Multisite (one codebase) approach

  1. If we have one boilerplate, we can launch multiple websites quickly. No more need for multiple teams, planning processes etc. and a separate agency for each website. Money saved repeating this process multiple times, can be spent on maintenance, improvements or other activities to make the multisite better overall.
  2. There is just one codebase that has to be taken care of. Thanks to this, keeping it up to date and secure is much easier and cheaper. One small team can maintain code for hundreds of websites. Because it uses a budget that would otherwise have to be shared between many separate websites, it can do a much more focused and better job at delivering high-quality solutions.
  3. Feature reuse is the standard. If something is improved or fixed for one website — all websites can get the benefit.
  4. If for some reason, the codebase became outdated and would have to be migrated to something new, the project will be bigger but we can migrate one website after another using one team and delivering an improved version to websites.

Summary

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