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Archive for the 'web development' Category

Small Business, You Probably Don’t Need a Website

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

As a web professional I was brainwashed into the idea that every business needed a website. For a while that stuck, until I began to realise that most businesses get no return on investment. And, at the same time, most web developers were adamant that their products and services didn’t require a return on investment. Which is madness. In business you pay for something that makes you money and you employ people to make you richer… you don’t buy and employ on the basis of brotherly-fucking-love.

The key phrase when you’re looking to get something done for your business on the World Wide Web is web solution. That means a web solution to your current business problem – marketing, e-commerce, data collection, something that only the web can achieve. If your prospective web developer can’t give you measurable indications of what success and failure look like in that investment then walk away.

Seriously, most small businesses can put a compass onto a map and define their universe. Why, for example, would a tradesman in this small Tasmanian town care if somebody in California accidentally opened his/her web page? Bah. And that’s the trouble, web developers are too busy selling web sites to even consider solving a real and pressing business problem using web technologies. Most developers wouldn’t know a business problem with a web solution if it hit them between the eyes – they sell something else. Internet beach towels.

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Common Name Web Domains can be a Problem

Friday, November 29th, 2013

I’ve had this web domain for years and invested tens of thousands of hours in content generation, site maintenance and relationship building. Throughout my university years up until now this has been the main marketing channel that brought in business and income. It endorses my expertise. It provides a form of legitimacy that I need to sell myself as a professional. And it makes me look good when people hunt me out as a web professional.

However, over the last two years there has been a growing (and slightly annoying) problem with emails that I receive through my main email account. The one attached to this domain.

A South Australian lawyer shares the same name and has a very similar domain name. His URL is different by one letter because he includes a middle initial. And I get approximately three emails per week from clients or people related to his law firm.

At first I used to forward these private and confidential emails along to the other Steven Clark. Then I began replying instantly to the sender that they have the wrong email address. But my issue with both of those solutions was the lawyer perceives that the problem doesn’t exist simply because I’m the sap using up cognitive load dealing with these errant emails.

Add that up… three emails times fifty two weeks in a year. That’s how many times I receive notifications or meeting requests, attached PDF and Excel documents clogging up my limited account space… over 150 free services that I have provided in the last twelve months. I’m not an employee.

My other concern is that I am receiving private and confidential legal documentation. This is really not a good situation. But it comes about because they chose their domain name or named their business very badly.

So at the moment I’m ignoring this spam. Because that’s what it’s become from my perspective. I have a huge sympathy for the lawyer and can see how this has occurred but I really don’t like having to deal with my clogged up inbox or the uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach that private information isn’t being appropriately secured.

The moral of this story is probably that a near enough domain name is always going to be an issue. One letter wrong in the sender’s email address and the communication channel has a high likelihood of chaotic error. If you only receive 99 per cent of your mail then you really have no idea what should or shouldn’t have arrived in the first place.

I really don’t know what to do about the issue though. I know it would bother me if I was their client.

Web Designers / Builders & Return on Investment

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

I don’t know why it upsets the web design industry to hear this, but clients walk in the door for other reasons than to gift thousands of dollars to have a meaningless web presence. It’s not 1998, give the client credit. They are walking in the door to make a business investment in a marketing or sales channel. And that means they deserve to be treated as a business client – the focus should be on ROI (Return on Investment). The focus should be on making money (or equivalent value) for the client’s business.

ROI comes with some difficult accomplices – success and failure need to be measurable and measured, objectives set and steps taken to adjust strategies when goals aren’t achieved.

In other words, if clients aren’t there to gift money then they expect their investment to achieve something of that value for their business. Designing how to achieve that is the web designer’s job. And a smart web designer would think about learning more about business and marketing OR working closely with somebody who can provide that expertise.

Unfortunately, this is why a lot of web designers are only worth $5 per hour in the market. Just building stuff like a five page website with a contact form isn’t enough anymore. Even if those so called web designers think they can keep seducing naive mom and pop business owners out of the odd paycheck year-in-year-out.

It’s something that makes me a little mad about the web design industry as a whole. This idea that mom and pop businesses can afford to throw away thousands on the website that achieves nothing. Without questions about who is the customer, why would they be on the site, where would they come from, what the business needs to communicate, the objectives and goals of both parties in that equation, and how these all intersect at a solution? Mom and pop businesses can go broke pretty fast throwing away money to bad investment.

And that’s what websites I refer to as Internet Beach Towels are – wasted investment.

You would never find a larger business throwing cash out the door with the idea it won’t have ROI. And you’d find few of those so-called web designers willing to give half their pay to an SEO witch for the same reason.

So here’s my 2013 call to the web design industry. Clean up your act. At a certain point on the web design scale this may be a moot point, but somewhere down the mid-scale and lower it has stagnated into a long-con industry. One where lazy developers and technicians and graphic artists pretend to offer something they are unwilling, unable and unprepared to provide to customers.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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