Every designer/web developer probably has had one of these bizarre experiences where an entire web project goes down the tubes due to circumstances entirely out of one’s own control. The particulars are of no relevance for this post, except that it was a custom-built online store for more than 3000 products.
After reading a recent posting on Tammie Lister’s Diary of a Website, I couldn’t resist the urge to compare his experiences with mine.
“Some people seem to be under various misunderstandings regarding online business. A lot of these things have been said time and time again. Many of them are like bad pennies to anyone that works in the web industry – you get a huge here we go feeling every time one of these comes up. (…)”
“I really think some people are under the misunderstanding that the web is a magical solution to their problems. You still need a good plan, a good business, something for people to come to. You still need ways to get the people through the door, just submitting to search engines doesn’t get your site noticed. Sites also can’t just be left without some maintenance. The internet is a great tool for business but it should never be mistaken as a license to print money – that is so pre-bubble bursting a concept it boggles that some may still think that way.
Just as you can’t just put something online and expect it to work well, you can’t expect your designer to create something that will draw people in without letting people know about the site. Good design, good interface and solid development foundations go towards creating a successful site. It’s a recipe that you have to add all of the ingredients along with this. Mix in design, mix in search engine optimisation, mix in business analysis of if it’s even worth doing, mix in marketing, mix in a solid development core and good hosting.
There has been a lot of thought about sticky websites. This means sites that are successful because you come back to them. These sites don’t just get successful, that success is worked at. Word of mouth, promotion, publicity, getting the word out there – these are all things that have to happen. The web is a big place and just by putting a site online it’s not going to get crowds – it could be the greatest thing since the last greatest thing, but it has to be known about. To ignore all the parts of the recipe just ends up with a meal nobody wants to eat.”
I can see most developers nod approvingly, yet what matters most is that the client itself gets the memo. In my case, the client put together an able-bodied team, only to wreck the whole process by refusing to plan, refusing to trust the expert’s advice, and ultimately going way over budget.
My question for the audience: What are you supposed to do? Stay on board and try to guide the client into the right direction, or walk away – fully convinced that the client is beyond help?