I’ve officially moved The First Dance website to the new design. I lost two months of work, a lot of my sanity, and even testing things out, I have pages that aren’t working. I decided however, to just have a semi-broken new site rather than keep on my old design.
So in honor of the hell I’ve been through and seen others unwittingly go through, here is a list of things that can go bad and why I am NOW HONESTLY, OPENLY, easily able to sell a particular website company (contact me for more) because it offers all the positive sides of the best the webmaster and you are able to make your own, easy web edits.
Webmasters as I’ve discussed before are usually broken into two camps. Programmers and designers. They won’t tell you this. Programmers usually make pretty ugly websites, or really “canned” looking sites, but are capable (though for therapists rarely need to) of having very sophisticated stuff behind the scenes. Marriage Friendly Therapists website required a programmer, databases, all sorts of stuff to collection applications, store profiles (that therapists can edit.) That takes lots of MONEY because it takes a lot of TIME to build all that. Even then they don’t necessarily think through the business side. So for example, when we launched the site almost five years ago, we had no way of knowing when a new application came in! Doh! We had no way to change the status from ‘pending’ to ‘approved.’ On and on. A good programmer runs $125-$250/hour.
OK, designers. They usually have awesome looking websites because they are artists themselves. They focus on the look, though sadly I’ve seen too many designers have “A LOOK” they like and make most websites look the same, save for a color change here, or changing the text box on the site over a little. Designers are not, however, programmers. They can be good at hacking code, but because their skills, expertise, and cash is spent on design work, they’re more likely to design websites along side create brochures, business cards, logos, etc.
Think of the scientist (programmer) and artist (designer.) Few people love both and even fewer are GOOD at both.
The third group I’ll mention are people like me. I’m neither a programmer, nor designer. But I am capable of tweaking someone else’s work and making a website fit what I need. This is what I did for The First Dance website. The work I put into the site to get it where I needed took me two months and I’ll guess it would have cost $6,000 or more (that’s with the canned website template.) If I had a designer make one from scratch AND move alll my content over it would have easily been 6+ months of work and a lot more money. … so I deal with the limitations I have, and launch the site knowing I still have some tweaks to make. 🙂
Let’s now get really grounded. You don’t care that much what expertise someone has. You just want a website. Here is a list of actual problems I’ve run into with therapists websites, all of which combined in shock, awe, and horror to lead me to put my integrity on the line for the website solution I’ve found and can sell to you.
- Different “browsers” show a website differently. This means in Internet explorer the website could look just fine but in Firefox, the site could look awful, text could be buried under a logo, etc,etc. If the person doing your website is NOT TESTING in all browsers, you may be given a website that doesn’t work for all your web visitors. Then don’t forget browswers CHANGE over time. I have never heard of a therapist getting an invoice from a webmaster saying “there have been new updates to browsers, so I’ve done all the testing necessary on your website and here is your bill for the work.”
- If you had a website and got a new design, webmasters aren’t search engine folks and may have no idea half your website pages are actually found by web surfers. A full 50% of a therapists website traffic BOMBED because the new webmaster made all new page names. This means if they ranked high for a certain phrase, and got 200 people a month finding them because they typed in that phrase, with the new web design, 200 people a month continue to type in that phrase in Google, find this website, click on the link, and it’s GONE. They get an error because that page no longer exists. Part of my awful work was to ensure I did not change a single page name when I moved 400 pages over to the new design. That means about-us stayed about-us and didn’t become about, without the dash and “us.” I have way too many links from therapists, bridal message boards, marriage educator websites, all linking to various pages on my website. If Idid not keep the names the same, I’d be creating a lot of unnecessary errors.
- I had one customer with a cool website name that included a common object (I’m avoiding saying who these people are to protect privacy.) I did a web review and told the person they should find an image of that object so the website isn’t just text. This person replied, shocked I didn’t see the image! With some testing, the only people, literally, who could see the image on the website were people using Mac’s. (Designers usually use Mac’s.) This person had an entirely different looking website to MOST web surfers than what they saw!
- There are few standards in website coding. Thinking of this same missing-image therapist, the way the designer had coded the website made it OPPRESSIVELY time consuming and expensive to make even the tiniest change. I was shocked, and still am. The only thing I can think of is this company truly are DESIGNERS who aren’t as “analytical” as a programmer. There are core elements to a website that a good programmer (even ME!) will do to ensure necessary small changes are really fast. On my websites I have something called an “includes” file that if I change, literally change 400 pages all at once. A bad designer will tell you if you want to change the phone number on all your website pages it’s going to cost $50 because of the time to go into each page and make the adjustment. Not cool. If their design is that tricky that you can’t even ask for small changes, they should not be selling you the design.
- Another therapist’s website turned out to be underneath the programmers own website. The way to see this in action (and I still see it!) is if you put your mouse over someone’s pages, anything like “Contact”, you will see on your browser the “address.” Almost always the address is going to be the website your own. So for example, thefirstdance.com/about is what you’d see. In this case, I noticed the address actually said (using a sample example), MrWebmastersWebsite/therapistBob/about. This means instead of “Bob” having his own website, he was UNDERNEATH the webmaster’s website. That’s like having your book inside someone elses! You are INVISIBLE to search engines. It’s also a dirty way to make a lot of money because you can charge “Bob” regular hosting fees even though a small website like his doesn’t take up any room or cost any money.
I was on a therapists contact page the other day and I kid you not, it FROZE my entire computer. Talk about not wanting to back and contact that therapist! Run, run, run away! I can’t even tell the person because I don’t want to waste another 15 minutes to see if I can even GET to the contact page to tell him his website is destroying productivity and computers. I could go on and on.
It’s just shocking to get inside people’s websites and frankly it’s dreary to offer a ton of suggested changes, knowing a webmaster costs a lot of money and the changes may or may not ultimately give you more profit. It’s a common complaint among small business owners. It’s just ironic that to get a cool “Sale” button made by a designer may cost $85, and even with an increase in profits from a sale, you may not actually make up that $85 loss.
The website templates I sell are a solution to the above problems and so much more. On my long to-do list is to actually put my educator hat on and walk you through the various website options, from Godaddy, Intuit, Homestead, to Therapysites, and the solution I offer (they are direct marketing so no commercials, ads, and rely on person to person education so I never share the name because nobody would have heard of them.) A general rule of thumb with websites is the less you pay, the less you get. Some people don’t care and never need to (their website is plain, brochure-like web presence) but most people want website traffic, they want to market and they don’t want to learn how restricted they actually are on their website.)