Why do bad websites exist? Reason 1
Reason number one:
See if this makes sense to you...
One day Bob walked into a car dealership and went up to Tom, the salesman.
“Good morning. I'd like a vehicle, please,” Bob said.
“Good morning, Sir. What do you have in mind?” said Tom.
“I don't really know. Just a vehicle,” said Bob a bit impatiently.
“Well, Sir,” said Tom patiently, “what will you be using the vehicle for?”
“Um, probably deliveries,” shrugged Bob.
“What kind of deliveries, Sir? Would you need a small van, a truck, a bakkie....?”
“I don't know!” frowned Bob. “I just need a vehicle for my business, ok? That's it.”
Tom tried several more questions to try and find out what Bob needed. Each time he was met with a refusal to seriously consider the question and the stubborn insistence that he “just get to the point and give me a vehicle.”
Thinking that Bob would perhaps be more comfortable considering his options in his own time and without feeling pressured, Tom offered Bob a free guide on how to buy a vehicle wisely.
“We have many different types of vehicles, Sir. Each one is particularly suited to a certain kind of job. I have some info here that explains which vehicle is better depending on what you want it to do. It's not long and it will help you decide on what is going to work best for you,” Tom explained in an effort to help Bob buy an appropriate vehicle.
“I'm not reading that! There's no need to get all technical with me! Do you want to do business or not?” Bob was getting annoyed.
Tom, however, still didn't know how to advise Bob and couldn't make any kind of recommendation without any real information. He was about to ask another question when Bob said impatiently, “Look, I'm in a hurry for a car. Just give me the smallest one you've got and if I need something bigger, I'll upgrade later.”
Overriding Tom's advice and suggestions, Bob insisted on taking a vehicle he knew nothing about. To make matters worse, he then drove it home, parked it in his garage and just left it there!
Two years later, one very angry Bob stormed into Tom's dealership, slammed the keys on Tom's table and snapped, “Your vehicle's rubbish! It doesn't work!”
Tom stood amazed. Despite numerous calls to find out how Bob was enjoying his car, Tom hasn't heard a word from Bob in over two years. “What seems to be the problem?” Tom asked.
“It just doesn't work for me. It's stood in my garage for two years and I haven't used it for a single delivery. I should never have bought it! I wasted money and it's your fault!” flamed Bob...
Sounds completely ridiculous, doesn't it? And yet that's pretty close to what I've found happening more than once when someone comes to us for a website. More and more people are realising that a website is essential for business. Exactly why they need one they're not sure, they just know they need one.
People seem to be used to the idea that anything to do with “advertising” involves a smooth talker coming in, saying stuff that doesn't really make sense but that the agent assures you will somehow be good for you and then he wanders off to “handle your advertising.”
It costs a small fortune but other than signing the check, there's not too much input or responsibility for the success of the project demanded from the business owner himself. In all probability, the less he knows about what what all is involved with his advertising, the happier the agent is as there can be no uncomfortable questions.
Running a website that makes your business money is a little different. In the same way that you don't need to know how to build a car from scratch to drive one, you don't need to know how to build a website from the first line of code to run one successfully.
But, if you want to drive your car from Pretoria to Cape Town, you need to know where you're going and what route you need to follow. Likewise, you need to take a little bit of time to decide what you actually want your website to do for you (where do you want to go with it?) and get a bit of background on the basics of what it's going to involve to get to your destination. (Much like checking what kind and size of tyres your car needs, the oil it takes and making sure you know which fuel it can use.)
It's at the idea of actually taking the time to consider their various options that I find a lot of people bucking. “I just want a website, why must I answer these questions?”
To make it as easy as humanly possibly for folks to get a website that can actually benefit their business, we spent considerable amounts of our time to put together a free guide called “Will My Website Work?”. The first two parts of this guide take you through the essential decisions you, as the owner of the site, need to take to so that the web developer can build you something useful. He can drive your car and even suggest better routes, but first he needs your instruction on where you want to go! (Get it in the right column.)
It really puzzles me then, when people come to me and say no, they don't have time to think of things like that now and they don't like reading anyway. We must “get together” for coffee – or I must phone them when they can chat – and I can just go through it all with them and then get on with building their website.
As part of our service to our clients, I spend a fair amount of time discussing people's questions about their websites and what they want them to do. I enjoy it and it's great when I can “switch on the light” for someone and share in their excitement.
But I must admit I find it annoying when someone refuses to at least attempt to get an idea of what they need to know before starting on such an important part of their marketing journey. And then, ignoring the free info already provided, they are incredulous when I offer them a personal, individual consultation to lead them through the background they need at our hourly rate. “Don't you need the business?!”
Actually, I love to do business. But business to me means a certain attitude and commitment from both sides. Otherwise it's not business, it's a test in character building and patience and I prefer to learn those lessons in my own time. I'm more than happy to help a person who needs it and who's put in the effort from their side. But when someone wants to start off our relationship by blatantly disrespecting their and my time, the signs point to a situation best avoided from the beginning.
Sadly, I know that the person who leaves me in a huff is going to go to someone else who's going to happily work with no clear directions and the client is going to end up wasting money instead of making it. There's not much I can do about that though. Horses and water...
Taking the car example a step further, let's say that once you've bought your car, with the intention of driving from Pretoria to Cape Town, you then just park it in your garage. How far do you think you're going to travel? And if you do take it out and start driving and the tank runs empty and you don't fill it, how much further will you go then? Silly questions, right?
Now think of your website as your vehicle on the internet highway. By getting a website, you've got yourself a vehicle but you haven't gone anywhere yet. If you just “put it on the net” you've done the equivalent of parking it in a giant garage.
If you want to drive it to the destination of more sales, you're going to actually have to drive it and “fill her up”. How far and how fast you drive is up to you, as are the routes you choose to take. (E-mail campaigns, Google Ads, pay-per-click advertising, affiliate programs and a host of others are all highways and byways you can include on your trip.) But the bottom line is just buying a website, like just buying a car, is not going to get you very far.
This isn't a conspiracy by web designers and developers; it's the simple fact of the way the internet works. Blaming the guy who built your site (presuming of course that he built you a solid, use-able site to start off with) because you've seen no results in the two years you've “had it” and done nothing with it, is a bit like blaming the car dealership because you've left your car in the garage and you still haven't been to Table Mountain...
So reason number one bad websites exist on the net is: because their owners insisted that they be so!
Take responsibility and get a bit of background on what you want and need before you order your website. (Our free website planning guide, Will My Website Work? is a good place to start. Get it in the left column now.)
See Why do bad websites exist? Reason 2 for more.