Great Enthusiasms

Kath Chalmers’ musings on business, marketing, and other fun things in life

Take Control of Your Website

Web Development

Take Control of Your Website

When I taught marketing classes for Fairfax County Public Schools’ Adult and Community Education Program, I was surprised how many business owners and marketers were completely overwhelmed with website issues and unprofessional web developers.

They tell a hundred versions of the same frustrating story.  It usually goes something like this:

I hired a web developer who was:
a) some guy from India
b) a friend’s kid home from college for the summer
c) a part-time programmer who I heard from someone might be cheap and pretty good

For a 10 page website, he charged me:
a) $50
b) $250
c) $1000
d) $2500

Now there are problems with the site:
a) I can’t update anything
b) Something on the page is broken
c) It doesn’t work right on mobile browsers
d) It doesn’t appear in search engines
e) It’s hideously ugly and looks outdated
f) I got a cease and desist notice that all the photos were stolen

The developer can’t/won’t help me because:
a) He wants a lot more money to make changes
b) He won’t take my calls
c) He’s flaked/disappeared and no one knows where to find him
d) He says he’ll fix it but never gets around to it
e) He’s a jerk and I don’t like him

Putting up with this level of foolishness from a developer might be fine for your personal cat photo blog, but it’s utterly untenable for a professional trying to run a business. As a marketing professional it makes me angry to see so many people taken advantage of by incompetent and unscrupulous web developers.

It really doesn’t have to be this way.

Sure, the easy fix is to hire a top-quality marketing agency to develop a web strategy and build an awesome site for you.  But if you’ve been burned before; how can you be sure they’ll do a great job?  If you’re in website hell, your sales and marketing programs may be so profoundly damaged by having a non-functional website that you probably couldn’t afford a full service agency. If you didn’t have the budget to hire a good firm to build your site initially, how will you find the budget to hire a better vendor to fix it?

The solution: you can do it yourself.

When I suggest that small business owners dive in and create their own version 1.0 website, sometimes they freak out. “This website stuff is really complicated! I don’t have time to spend weeks or months figuring all this out!”

When I started programming websites in 1995, it was pretty complicated. Figuring out servers and HTML code was confusing. There were no what you see is what you get editors or content management systems – every page had to be coded individually.

But today setting up a great basic website is a breeze! New services and new software make it easier than ever to build and deploy a professional website. With a couple of hundred dollars and a couple of weekends, any business owner can build out a pretty good website using tools like WordPress and SquareSpace and easy to use commercial themes. Plus, there are thousands of videos on YouTube to help walk you through the entire process.