More than Just a Website
While there are myriad options available for a business owner to turn to in getting a website developed, there are several aspects of an effective website most options – especially the Do-It-Yourself options – fall short in delivering. Because of this, said business owners might find themselves frustrated that their easily built and good looking website fails to perform, leading to a misguided belief that their business can’t succeed online. Unfortunately, this is a common conclusion business owners or their managers will make when tackling something they lack experience in.
Several years ago, I was looking for a home. Debating whether or not to build or buy, I went through dozens of homes. One home, in particular, stands out as an example of professional vs. Do-It-Yourself options being explored. Having grown up in a family business in construction, I know a thing or two about differences in quality of craftsmanship – which made me quickly take this home off the list of potentials. The home was at a great price, in a great neighborhood, and had the right amount of rooms and bathrooms my little family needed. Unfortunately, the quality was beyond sub-standard. Where the carpet met up with tile, there were gaps. Calking around the tubs was quite thick in some areas, but separating in others. The grout in tile floors and in the master shower was also imperfect. The builder forgot to have cable lines run before sheet rock was installed, so lines were running across the ceilings in the basements and up walls on the main floor. Around most outlets, there were gaps where holes were cut too wide and could be seen despite the outlet and light switch covers. Finish trim on the baseboards, doorways and cabinetry had significant stepping at joints as well as visible nail holes… The list goes on. Showing us the home was the builder himself, who happened to be there when we stopped by to get the number off the sign. I asked casually how long he’d been building homes. He admitted this was his first. Then I asked about his background in building, wondering if he had any construction background at all. He told me he had just had back surgery a year prior and read up on and watched videos on how to build homes. He said with almost 8 months of lost work, he wanted to build a home to supplement income as he re-entered his main profession. I have to hand it to him for completely building a home, but so much was wrong with it I couldn’t have bought it, nor could I have recommended anyone buy it. A brand new home shouldn’t require more maintenance work than an older home.
In 2006, though, it was the hay days of home building. New contractors were coming in left and right. People saw the money to be made in home building and decided to pick up a hammer. Fast forward to 2015, though, and only the contractors who could build quality homes and manage their business well have continued building. Similarly, as yellow pages and other print diminish in marketing value to businesses, alternatives like websites and online marketing are booming. With the low cost involved in building a website, coupled with the demand, there’s a wave of options available for a business to choose from. Yellowpages are now building websites and doing marketing: Hibu, Dex, YB, ZipLocal, etc. And quick solutions like Squarespace and Wix, or hosting solution provided templates are getting a fair amount of traction. Unfortunately, the businesses using those services don’t always see their online presence gaining traction.
More than Meets the Eye
While great options for getting an often attractive website up and running, there are many missed elements in websites provided by most of these easy, low upfront cost solutions. Like a poor grout job on tile, most of these sites don’t provide quite the foundation needed for real online success. But, your website looks good, right? So, it should be successful, right? While important in helping a visitor convert/buy on your website, design isn’t what gets people to your website. Like an ice berg, most of what keeps your website afloat online is the mass under the surface.
Why not do it yourself or use one of these simple options, right? It wasn’t practical for a business owner to start up a new phone book, buy a billboard, start a new radio station, or kick of a TV station to avoid paying the full cost of advertising through those mediums. With opensource options like WordPress and Drupal, coupled with hundreds of themes relatively easy to figure out, why not just build your own website to avoid the cost of hiring a website designer? In the same way it takes far more than the curb appeal of your business to make it run smoothly and effectively, a website won’t bring visitors if the only thing you accomplish in building it is having it look good. Search Engine Optimization, Pay-Per-Click. Social Media, the content management system your use for your website design, being actively engaged in marketing your site and tracking success are all pieces that one doesn’t simply learn from a few blogs to do on their own at the level needed to achieve success online.