From experience with clients who made websites only to leave them untouched, unloved and neglected, here is a short list of reasons why you should NOT have a website made.
#1. You Think ‘Taking Care Of A Website’ is A Job For A Techie
During a group meeting with a client CEO and various department heads present, the CEO declared his excitement about the project and his plans for putting up a Facebook and Twitter account to go along with it. He then said he was already hiring programmers aka ‘techies’ to take care of it.
Since I was the consultant in the group I went ahead and explained this was not the way to do it (the rest of his staff who were FB and Twitter users and hopefully aware this was also the wrong way to do it were too shy I suppose, to open their mouths). I did so by saying that Twitter, FB and the website will basically act as the ‘mouthpiece’ of the company and therefore this job is best served by someone with communication skills. Even more so, they may occasionally deal with client complaints and out in the open at that, so communication skills plus some managerial level experience is more appropriate.
Neither of which are skills junior techies are best known for. In fact, I would venture to say techies are the last people you would want manning the company Twitter account especially if an irate customer starts posting their issues on it.
At the very least, you would want someone in Communications or Sales to make regular, scheduled content. And at the far end of the scale, someone with a Customer Service or Managerial background to handle customer issues. Without either to make regular content your website and any other social networking activity will likely fail.
#2. You Think Someone Will ‘Take Care Of It In His Spare Time’
Another common situation is to hand over the handling of the website to someone for him to ‘take care of when he has time’. Let’s analyze for a moment what is worng in that phrase.
‘Take care of’ is answered suitably by the previous item #1. Taking care of a site needs to be defined, and once a site is up and running the most common and often most overlooked activity is to make content for it.
‘When he has time’ is another key issue, because in any organization no one actually has time to do anything outside of what work they are already doing (or at least, will admit they have).
The key here is to establish that the site needs to be updated, and therefore someone needs to update it. This task needs to fall on the shoulders of someone who is capable of doing so and then for that person to then establish a schedule for it. Frequency, type of content and quality of content can then be discussed later on, but the point is someone is on top of the matter and it is being addressed. Without these clear guidelines, again, your website and any other social networking activity will likely fail.
#3. You Have Grand Plans For A Website Without Accounting For Staff
On Item #2 I was talking about updating a regular corporate or organization website. But what if the Company had a more involved project created such as an e-Commerce site, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) site, or otherwise something that involved taking care of a database containing either customers, suppliers, staff, inventory, etc?
I have had a client where such a system was ordered, and during development up until delivery everyone had their hopes up that this would finally solve long standing issues with their organization.
Unfortunately only one person was left to man the project and she was at an entry level position at that, with neither the skills or due to inexperience, the confidence to deal with both the level of technology and the communication skills needed to address issues as they came up.
Needless to say the project sputtered, stopped and eventually halted, and now the only copy of the site is in my archives after being online for only a year.
While the businessman in me would say that is not my issue any more since I had fulfilled all my obligations and consequently been paid in full, thinking about the utter waste of time, money and man hours makes me wish they had instead focused efforts on other activities that may have borne fruit as opposed to invest in an expensive website without knowing what that entails past the project and without preparing themselves and their people beforehand.
On top of all this I have worked with and seen other groups who have embraced the technology, spent quality time understanding related issues and eventually produced results – some beyond expectations – at a minimum cost of what those I mentioned above did. I will talk about these at a later post.