Why Your Self Made Website Fails

Welcome back everyone. This is yet another of a weekly series I post here and on LinkedIn in regards to media trends.

The Super Bowl came and went with a thud. Believe me, when the most-talked about thing is a dancing shark, you know you have problems. However, there were several ads relating to owning a personal website, and technology has made it very easy to do such a thing.

“Just a couple of clicks and you are done.” OK, it is ALWAYS more than that, but it isn’t too far off the mark. Seems simple enough…until you come to the realization that it isn’t giving you any real value.

Having a website for your small business is a must have in 2015, no doubt about it. Because websites are so ubiquitous now, they practically have become the business cards of yesteryear. And just like those business cards, try and remember one that truly stood out from the rest.

Yes, it is amazing that something that is supposed to be bright, colorful, dynamic and interactive is often none of those things. Some contributing factors:

1. Companies that offer these self created sites are using templates.  WIX and GoDaddy, two companies that advertised during the Super Bowl, are great examples of this type of website self-service. Some templates are more creative than others. Some templates are locked into special features and some are not. Take the time to try them out, as many offer a type of preview.

2. You still have to do your homework. Even though the back end coding has been already done for you, you still need to make time to learn all of the functionality of the programming on top of the code. Imagine what it was like the first time you used a program like Microsoft Word, for example. (For those of us who remember it when Word was just characters and not a graphic user interface, this should really hit home.)

3. “I want my website to look exactly like that.” If you truly want to blend in like wallpaper, you will succeed with this type of thinking. The flip side of this is being so gaudy that it turns off potential clients.

4. Use the forums, read the technical specs and ask for help. Many of these sites offer support as either an included fee or sometimes at a per-issue basis. I can almost guarantee that whatever issue you are having is not unique. Why? All websites are built on structures of one kind or another. They can only do so many things, and understanding what those limitations are will allow you to work within them.

5. It’s easy to be seduced by bright and shiny. WordPress is a great example of this. There are thousands of free WordPress widgets available to perform almost any task you can think of on the web. However, some are not free, some will not work with all themes and sometimes a company will discontinue a product. This means updates and support will no longer be available, which could leave you in a lurch. Keep it simple: trust me, your clients will thank you for it.

6. The success of your website ultimately depends on you. This means mapping all of the features and menus on paper first, writing your body copy, checking it for errors, keeping your blog current, having great photographs, choosing a color scheme, etc. Your lack of involvement is typically the #1 reason websites fail. A website is like a marriage: you get out of it what you put into it.

This list could go on for many more pages. I chose these items as they come up as topics often when I instruct or build sites for clients. Of course we all know you need a website. Making it work for means you means putting in the extra effort, plain and simple.

Karl Marx once wrote: “Moments are the elements of profit.” Choose your moment wisely and arm yourself with detailed self-knowledge.

Love to you all.

Ben “Bear” Brown Jr.

P.S. Why yes, I honestly do believe in the power of technology to improve people’s lives. Call me crazy. Everyone already does.

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