030: [Deep Dive] Choosing Software

030: [Deep Dive] Choosing Software

This is a deep dive episode all about choosing a tech platform for your next project.

First a caveat: it is my belief is that most business owners do not need to focus on choosing the tech platform by themselves.

It’s far better for you as the business owner to get completely clear on the project vision and goals.

Then after that’s in place, the right tech platform will reveal itself… most likely by working with your tech team!

To give this episode context, I'm speaking about the platform decisions that I used with two of my recent clients, Greg and Claire.

Greg and Claire are at completely different stages of their businesses, but both came to me to build out a membership site for them. In fact, both of them came to me to build out membership sites using Thinkific. But only one of them ended up on Thinkific.

To understand why I steered Greg away from Thinkific and welcomes Claire’s Thinkific membership site with open arms, let’s discuss what goes into making a tech decision.

I alluded to this earlier – clarity on the project vision and goals.

Claire: She has built an online following and has a proven track record with her audience. She was looking for a new way to organize her content so that her members could pick and choose the content that they wanted to consume. And she was putting the content into courses with one or more lessons. The sheer fact that the content was going to be organized in courses with lessons lends itself ideally to a learning management platform.

But, was Thinkific the *right* learning management platform for Claire and her members?

For that, Claire told me that she has experience on Thinkific and wanted to use the platform. She had seen other membership sites on the platform and believed that it would suit her and her members well.

I didn’t have to figure out the platform with her because the evidence was clear that this would work.

Greg: He is brand new to his online business and started his YouTube channel shortly before our first call. He explained to me the vision for the membership site – almost entirely video content that would be released on a periodic schedule. Some of the videos would be available for public consumption while others were to be restricted to members.

I took pause – there was no mention of courses or lessons in his description. One checkmark in the column of “something other than Thinkific” and then we went on further into how his audience was going to purchase and consume the content.

His content is designed to be consumed on a regular basis, coming back week after week to grow and learn from him. There is no completion. It’s constant improvement. Another check in the column of “something other than Thinkific.”

And then he mentioned a website that he liked the flow of and when we took a look at that membership site, it was clear that Thinkific was not the direction that would be suit his goals.

The answer for him was most likely a WordPress website with a membership plugin. Before suggesting WordPress, I feel it is my due diligence to make sure that my client is ready to take on the administration of the website.

With WordPress, there needs to be structures in place to keep the site safe, secure and updated. That’s for another episode!

Greg was open to learning whatever was needed to start growing his business – and just this past week, we launched his WordPress based membership site!

Knowing your audience and their objectives with becoming a member has everything to do with finding the right tech tool.

If Claire’s audience wasn’t comfortable with picking and choosing courses from her array of content, then the structure inside the membership site may look vastly different. Claire and I built out a “START HERE” page which explains to her members how to navigate and best use the site.

In Greg’s case, we are using WordPress’s categories and tags to help with the organization and structure. We are giving his members many ways of searching the site for specifically what they are hoping to learn.

The platform itself isn’t the only thing to think about when choosing the platform, because as I’m sure you’ve realized we don’t operate each section of our businesses in isolation.

Your chosen platform needs to integrate with other tools that you use within your business.

It’s best to check for compatibility and interoperability.

Imagine this – you’ve chosen a tech solution for a given project and only come to find out that there is no way to get information out of that piece of tech into your primary communication system.

Do we move forward with the new tech or is this a breaking point that causes us to look at a new solution?

Claire uses Infusionsoft. There is a direct push of information from Thinkific to Infusionsoft available and we implemented that. This allows Claire to have a clear way to contact her members using the system that she’s already used to contacting them with.

On the other hand, Greg chose MailChimp for his email marketing. Both the Membership plugin we’re using on his WordPress site is able to do the necessary push. This is important.

I recommend using a platform decision matrix.

On the matrix, you'll insert the name of each tech platform in the first column and then based on your research, give a value for each of the columns, multiply it out and whichever scores the highest is likely the best platform for this project.

Each element in the matrix will get a value from 1 – 5.

VALUE SCALE Functionality (5) Integrations (4) Internal Ease of Use (3) External Ease of Use (3) Quality of Support and Documentation (2) Price (2)
1 Does not meet requirements No integrations Not sure how to get started and if I’ll be able to maintain it Very complicated No available support or documentation Too expensive
2 Almost meets requirements Integrates with a few pieces of software that I use Initially looks complicated but I’ll get the hang of it A little complicated Some support or documentation Stretches me a tad and may need additional software.
3 Far exceeds requirements Integrates with most software that I use Can get started on it right away but might have a couple stumbling blocks Straightforward Extensive support or documentation Stretches me a tad.
4 Meets requirements Integrates with everything I use Anticipate minimal issues Totally doable Extensive support and documentation Perfect. May need additional software.
5 Exceeds requirements Integrates with everything I use and a ton more that I may consider Straightforward for me and my team to use now and into the future Very easy Onboarding support Perfect

Here is the completed matrix for Greg's project:

greg-2

If you’ve got a project on deck and are looking for a tech platform, click here to do a one time tech strategy call with me.

Tech strategy sessions are unique to the time and place you’re in… and the best way to work with me to get you through a specific tech struggle. I’ve also had clients come to me for tech strategy sessions with a laundry list of current struggles, we work through that list and so much more.

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