A getting started guide for choosing the right platform for your coworking space website.
The coworking world is complicated. Among the community, facilities, sales, and operations, you need to deal with software challenges too. Building your web presence (and mobile) should be and probably is your number one priority when it comes to software.
We talk to a lot of coworking spaces, and we observe a lot of great websites and some that are not so great. Here are our observations and recommendations for setting up your Website and how you can integrate it with your chosen management system.
The first and most important part of your web presence is building a beautiful marketing website. The purpose of the Marketing website is to convince new members that your space is great and it will solve their office problems. It has to increase the top of the sales funnel by bringing more leads and people knocking on your door.
You need great content and visuals that are laid out well in a logical way that conveys your message. Easier said than done.
Here are the key objectives you may consider when building your marketing website:
- It has to be modern, beautiful and sleek.
- It has to be easy to write and edit content.
- It has to be extensible with themes, plugins, and widgets.
- It has to be standard and well adopted so any web developer can support it.
- Google must love it. SEO is key.
Based on these, there are several important points which you may consider when you choose a web platform for your website:
- Popular Website builders are ok (such as Wix).
- Standard CMS (Content Management System) is always better (such as WordPress and Squarespace).
- Custom (not-standard) CMS has many flaws such as not easy to maintain, lack of extensibility and lack of general knowledge.
- Custom built websites ‘from scratch’ is not a good option as well. It costs a lot to built a website from scratch, it is hard to maintain, it’s not extensible, SEO is hard to achieve, and has so many other problems.
- Coworking Management platforms (or any other management platform) that offer built-in websites are the worst. The resulting website is not standard, not extensible, not easy to maintain, customize, the SEO won’t be good enough and also, it will always be outdated and not according to the latest UI/UX standards.
See the comparison table for more information:
Clearly, the best option for building a marketing website is to choose a standard CMS system, such as WordPress.
The second most important part of your web presence is the internal, members facing web application a.k.a. members web portal.
The key objectives of the members portal are:
- Great UI – It has to be modern, beautiful and sleek.
- Great UX – It has to be easy to use.
- White-labeled – It has highlight your brand and not the vendor brand.
- Useful/Feature-rich – It is your ‘product’ after all.
- Connected – It has to be connected to the management platform.
- Internal – SEO is not needed.
You can think of your members portal as an important part of your offering, your product.
If you take close look at most of the modern tech companies, you will notice a pattern of how their web presence is structured:
Home domain – yourbrand.com – Your Marketing Website
The main/marketing website is the home domain – officernd.com, stripe.com, intercom.com, gocardless.com, or any other tech company. The marketing website is always built using a standard CMS. It is owned and maintained by the marketing team and the main objectives are Design, Content, SEO and the ability to extend and change frequently.
Subdomain – members.yourbrand.com – Your Web Product
The members portal, being your web product is best to live under a subdomain. For the tech companies, that’s usually app.officernd.com, dashboard.stripe.com, app.intercom.com, manage.gocardless.com, etc. Some of the most important reasons why doing it this way is the so-called ‘Separation of concerns’, as known in the tech world. The product (it’s also called web application and not a website) has its own life. It has its own user interface and its own user experience. It serves a different purpose and it’s owned by a different team – the product team. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where your marketing website is down because the product team is deploying a new version. Or even worse, you need to deploy the product, because the marketing team needs to update a piece of content. There are a million reasons to keep these separate and the most important one is they serve different purposes.
Connecting the Website with the Portal
Of course, these two worlds need to be connected and speak to each other. Few points that usually connect them in the Coworking world are:
- Links on the Marketing website pointing to the Portal:
- Login – login for existing members.
- Signup – purchase a product and become a member.
- Calendar – book a conference room and become a drop-in user.
- Pages showing data from the Management platform:
- Events page – showing your great events.
- Members wall – showing your awesome community.
- Forms on your Website:
- Enquiry form – creates an opportunity in the management platform.
- Booking form – any other form that may create different entities in the management platform.
Building a web presence for your workspace business is a complicated job. Not for us. We’re a tech company. We love complicated stuff. We love building a great user interface and user experience.
Choose your Website and Coworking Management platforms wisely and keep these separate.
Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com if you need help or advise with any of these.