When you own or are deeply involved in a business, putting your company website ‘out there’ can feel similar to putting yourself out there – finishing up a site launch has some emotional vulnerability similar to selecting your own photo for Match.com. The decisions are important and you may find yourself echoing a couple of thoughts:
“The Better is the enemy of the Good” Voltaire, French writer and philosopher.
“Good is the enemy of Great” Jim Collins, American author and business teacher
Two great quotes, two centuries and two continents apart, that appear to say the same thing. They only become different when a call to action is added:
“Don’t let good be the enemy of great!”
sounds so much more inspiring than
“Don’t let great be the enemy of good!”
We all want to be great, right? Overall – yes. But is ‘great’ always right in every situation? And can great ever be achieved on the first iteration?
A great wedding is not so great if it causes the marriage to start in debt.
A great education is not so great if is in the wrong field for the individual or if the time and cost are greater than the benefits.
A great blog post is not so great if 10 good ones could have been published in the same time.
Let us not forget that art and design – including websites – are subjective. One person’s ‘Great!’ is another’s ‘Are you kidding me?!?”
A great website and/or a great blog site are obviously desirable, but the pursuit of perfection risks becoming the pursuit of a bright shiny object. Better to respect your own budget, build and launch already, then improve the site and your whole web presence as you find out what your clients and followers really respond to.
Your web presence will thrive if it has life through blogging and other interactions. As you listen to the responses, you will learn where to edit, prune and improve your web strategy. But until you ‘put your business out there’, and start to get feedback, part of the plan is missing.
Get it done within your own budget (good!), get it launched in a timely manner(good!) and then review the opportunity for enhancements on an ongoing basis. This gives you the opportunity for Good to Grow into GREAT
So when it comes to your web strategy, especially your initial launch, our advice is firmly in the camp of:
“Don’t let great be the enemy of good!”
As a website developer I find myself answering similar questions on my first meeting with nearly every client: What are the components? How will we tackle this project? What else is involved? What do these words mean?
Site design, architecture, content, platform, hosting, SEO strategy, social media strategy and development are all critical. If they could talk, each of them would be as determined and as demanding as a vociferous 3 year-old “But I am the most important factor! Nothing else would work or be worthwhile without me! Spend your time and money on me, Me, ME!” Just like dealing with 3 year-olds, we need to consider and pay attention to each of them, but we also need to take our own decisions based on the overall priorities and goals of the project.
The look and the feel: color palette, fonts and layout. the width of the site, colors of the background, the height of the header, the width of the sidebar, the borders of the pictures, the layout of the menu,. Hopefully you will LOVE the design of your site, and feel that it is a strong visual representation of your brand and message.
If you were building a house, the design would be the cohesion of the external appearance – the style of the building and the choice of finishes, interior and exterior, the flooring, cabinetry, drapes etc
Site Architecture – shown through the Site Map
The list of pages that you plan to put into the site, and how they fit under the menu tabs.
For a building, the list of rooms and the function of each room.
The text and pictures that you intend to put into each page. Hopefully, your content will be planned to blend in well with your design.
Like furniture and personal possessions – the content of a room can change as often as you want.
Choosing a platform is like choosing one building method over another – there is no universal right or wrong, but there is a right choice for your needs: wood frame, steel frame, high rise, bungalow, office building, below ground, above ground… As a website owner, ask enough questions of your web developer to feel confident of the platform they are advising you to build on.
Where you are going to place your site after it is built – the code alone is just a pile of code. It needs a server that will be up 24/7.
The plot of land where your building sits.
Search Engine Optimization. Work done to and about your site to push it towards the holy grail of a Page One Google Ranking.
Onsite SEO – work done on your site to make sure that the words people search on are well represented on your site.
Offsite SEO – Links from other sites to your site.
Here are some of the most important points about SEO
1. Google uses about 200 factors in ranking a page.
2. There is no silver bullet – there is no ‘one thing’ anyone can do to improve your sites SEO but many steps, all working together.
3. SEO includes everything you can control on your site, some things you can impact off your site and a lot that you cannot control off your site.
For a commercial building: the signage in the building explaining every room, the signage outside explaining the purpose and the links in directories and maps to help you get there. Print, Radio and TV Ads that you pay for to bring people in.
Social Media Strategy
How you plan to promote your site through Blogging, Facebook, Twitter et al.
For a company in a building – getting your company promoted through business networks, chamber of commerce, conferences, print articles, radio and TV coverage.
Once you and your web developer have decided on the Design, Site Map, Platform, Content, Hosting and SEO strategy, they can go off into their own tech world and build your site, already.
In building construction, this is the time that the contractors move in with their team.
Waking up to find your site covered in malware feels mighty similar to finding nits on your kid. Major ‘Euuuuch!’. Both situations bring an immediate need to ”Drop everything, already and DEAL with it.” Even procrastinators need to move fast on nits or malware.
Both events can bring out the desire to wallow around in various stages of grief, but both blights call for immediate action in the middle of emotion
|Denial||No, it’s not really!… Maybe there is just one?… Maybe it’s a boy?… Maybe it’s a gay boy nit, all on his own!||That sure is an ugly graphic telling people to stay away from my site…Maybe if I hit refresh it will go away? Heck, it’s not showing up in IE! What does Firefox know anyway?|
|Anger||It’s that stinkin’ **** kid she caught it from! Why do they have to be in our school anyway?||Who DID this to me?!? What did I do to them? I bet I can track them down if I try!|
|Guilt||I should have braided their hair every day. I should have kept it cut shorter. I should have sprayed them with tea tree oil/||I should have read those emails. I should have applied those upgrades. I never should have sent that stuff in email…|
|Bargaining||If I just give the kid a really good bath, maybe that will get rid of them? If I throw out all that clutter maybe that will do it? If I clean under the bed every week they’ll never come back||I know, I’ll call the hosting company. It’s on THEIR servers! I think they should clean it up for me!|
|Depression||Oh this is going to cost so much money and be so much work and it is such a loss of face…||Oh this is going to cost so much money and be so much work and it is such a loss of face…|
|Resignation||OMG! 24 hours to wash & fold every item of clothing in the house, pick up and quarantine every soft toy and vacuum every floor multiple times. 24 miserable, unavoidable, lonely, consecutive hours. OMG!||Aargh! Send the site off to the professional site-scrubbers or rebuild it from scratch on a new server. Rebuild.it.from.scratch… Figure.out.how.to.remove.malware… Figure.out.point.of.entry… Block.it.forever…|
|Expense||I love the Nit Pixies of San Rafael, they call themselves a Mom’s best friend and they may be ‘cheap at twice the price’ but they are still seriously COSTLY!||You mean, I need to pay someone to clean this up or replace it? And I need to do it right now?|
Seriously though, I have had 2 new clients come to me with malware in the last couple of months. Just like nits, malware can be quarantined, removed and blocked. And just like your house will be truly deep cleaned and de-cluttered after a nit attack, so will your site and your files be cleansed with all the old trash moved out. Gleaming, perfect and locked down against all intruders. Unfortunately, the similarity ends there. Nits are WAY more likely to come back, and nits are way more likely to come from your friends than from some random hacker.
“If the websites that you build were really cars, what type of cars would they be?”
This question came to me from a member of my local co-opetition. The lady beamed at me. “My company builds Cadillacs” she announced proudly. Like that was meant to be the end of it. I mean, how could I compete with that? Well, let’s not get into what Europeans like me think when they first see a real Caddy. Let alone a pink Mary Kay Caddy!
I was flailing for an answer… “Hybrids?” Because we are efficient and cost effective? VW Beetles or Mini Coopers because we are kind of friendly, funky, fast and a tiny bit alternative? Morgans because we have style, Baby, style? Maybe I’d better dig deep and come up with an American car.
My final answer is that the question itself is wrong: Cars – at least those on the road – are an incredibly narrow subsection of the overall world of ‘Vehicles’. Vehicles range from broken down $5 skateboards up through kid bikes, performance bikes, motorbikes, family cars, sports cars, SUV’s, luxury cars, commercial trucks, HGV’s, earth movers, tunnel diggers, light aircraft, commercial jets, space rockets.
Cars tend to have a new / resale value somewhere between $2,000 for a used beater to $75,000 for new luxury. I know that there are a few up in the $200,000’s but they are a real rarity. Any running car has a certain real or donation value, if only for its parts.
Websites on the other hand? Not only is the sky the limit at the upper end with the big retail stores investing tens to hundreds of millions annually, but there is a lower end to the web world that not even wheel-less shells of old cars sitting on bricks in the front yard can lower themselves down to. You’ve seen some of these sites… yellow, purple and striped survivors from 1997 who are somehow out there still at the lower end and LandsEnd.com at the high end.
So back to the original question – what kind of vehicle do we build? Let’s just say we are more like the manufacturer than the vehicle. Volvo builds cars, trucks, buses, boat engines and aeronautical components. And that is what we will do for our customers: give them the vehicle they need for the journeys they plan to take.