Monday, May 9, 2011

Locked In and Locked Down

When you finally make the decision to start a web site, there is so much to consider, choices to make, paths to take. Usually people rely on experts and companies that specialize in web development hoping to limit their frustrations, gain better insights and save time. Options exist for making a site yourself and for some that's a task they're willing to take on and tackle, but most business owners are busy. Not only busy, but skilled in something other than programming, even marketing, and probably something other than graphic design. That's where the experts come in.

Now I'm a big fan of working with experts, gaining insight, utilizing skill sets of others that I may not have, but I have a big problem with companies, and people that claim to be experts and are not.

So many people know and understand the value of a website, however they have no idea how to build one.

My car just had to be serviced, which is fine, but something struck me. I made the decision to buy this car understanding a few basic facts: it is not North American, it has a good reputation for reliability, many dealerships can service it, it's economical on gas, and it was in good shape when I bought it.

So based on my knowledge, I can make a few assumptions:
  • Fuel - won't cost me as much as a big tank to run since I commute
  • Service - most repair shops will be able to service my vehicle, so I can shop around if needed
  • Parts - although not North American, it's not a terribly unique brand or model, so parts may be a little more, but no extreme difference
In other words it's not a DeLorean...

A website is not much different. You need to know how you are going to use it, who can service it, and what any parts and repairs might cost.

I can't count on my fingers and toes how many business owners and companies have to come to me in a bad situation. They unknowingly bought a DeLorean. A customized full-featured high end expensive website, that only certain people (those who built it) can work on.

So a few tips, as you embark on a new website:
  • If you decide not continue the relationship with your current developer, can someone come in and work on the site?
  • Is it a platform you've heard about?
  • Can you call your hosting company and speak to a person, or get a response within an hour?
  • Is your hosting costing more than a few starbucks coffees a month?
  • Are you able to update and add content to your site (without purchasing a new computer)?
Have a good look at the solutions being presented to you and ensure that you ask around, not just to friends who only surf on Facebook, but other business owners who may have been in the same situation. Go to sites you think are great, see who did them (usually in the bottom lines) and contact them directly - chances are if they can do it really well for someone, they should be able to do it well for you too.

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