"Helping people who help people"

A website as a house

I often think of websites in ways people “get” who aren’t techie. The house metaphor works on so many levels.

You may have to hire a plumber, electrician, carpenter, interior designer, architect. We all get there are specialities with homes.

You can also appreciate selling a home. You can spend ALL your effort on getting people TO your home (ads, word of mouth, direct mail, open house advertising.) But you can neglect the actual home… it’s cleanliness, “staging” it right with furniture, etc.

On the other end, you could naively think throwing a lot of money into your home is going to guarentee better marketing. Afterall, a nicer house is worth more. Only you may end up forgetting WHO your audience is, who else is in your neighborhood, and generally assume a good house will “sell itself.”

Websites are similar. The BIG companies have a huge team who work on the website. You’ve got the super techie network folks who work with cables and connectivity (you slide your card into the ATM and it sends a signal to your bank). You could have hard core programmers building all sorts of cool things behind the scenes. You can then have analysts who cull out that programming information into meaningful business data (say, all the activities of customers on a site, what they buy, etc.) There are also the designers – making the website really attractive. You also need testers. Think of all the ways you get online: internet explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc, etc. Each browser is going to show the website slightly differently. And each browser gets its own updates, and those updates may BREAK your website. And of course you need the writers, the editors, the sales copy experts to “scrub up” the writing to make it more sales pitch’y. And you’ve got the markters – how do we get this powerhouse website out there doing what it is meant to do!

For you and me? We’re it! We don’t know it all. Most people hire a webmaster and assume it’s all taken care of. We assume they must be the plumber, electrician, carpenter, interior designer,architect, and general contractor all miraculously rolled into one person. They aren’t. We’re vulnerable to what we don’t know, or what some techie person (like me!) tells you to do or not do. It’s tough. This is one of many reasons why I’m finally able to come to peace with the website template services out there. They DO all that testing. They DO all the crunchy stuff. They (hopefully!) make pretty websites.

Another day I’ll try to share the nuance to those template services and why I like some more than others. For now, I hope you now have a slightly better sense of a website as quite a miraculous thing. Even if you aren’t doing much to your website, a LOT of people came before you to get that website up and running! Unfortunately there may be a lot of gaps to what you’ve got running. It may be a “shack”, or it may be a shack that LOOKS really pretty because someone knew how to build a great facade, and hopes nobody actually wants to walk into the house.


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