Why Your Web Site Sucks

Ship Wreck, Fraser Island by NeilsPhotography

Ship Wreck, Fraser Island by NeilsPhotography

A web site without a goal is like a rudderless ship. You have no idea how to improve the site, you have no clear vision of the site’s purpose and you wind up throwing money into a hole that adds no value to your business. Your small business website needs a goal – preferably one in line with your company’s goal. And, what is your company’s goal? I’ll go out on a limb and guess “to make money.”

Most small business websites don’t achieve this goal. In the rush to get a site live, make it attractive and fit the needs and desires of the business owner, the whole purpose of the site can get lost. When planning your small business website – whether you’re launching it for the first time or working through a redesign – you need to start with this goal, figure out how to measure it and plan all improvements and tweaks to your site with the purpose of achieving this goal. Being able to measure how well your site is achieving its goal is the most important indicator of the success of your site.

This measurement is called the “conversion rate”. You can calculate the conversion rate by dividing the number of people who have converted into customers because of your site by it’s total unique visitors.

But how can you tell if someone has converted?

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Why Web Developers Flake

"Flaking Paint" by Bart Everson

Whenever I speak to small business people, I always hear the same story – they found a web developer or web designer, contracted with them to develop their business site, then quickly became disenchanted with the results. Either the site took too long to build and wound up nothing like they had imagined, or the web developer simply up and flaked on them, never to be found again. This tale is almost always followed up by a request to take on whatever work the previous developer left behind. Never one to turn down money, I almost always used to accept.

I soon understood that I could take on this work full time and start my own business. In the Fall of 2006, I quit my full time job to start TechKnowMe: designing, developing, marketing and maintaining web sites for small businesses. Getting work was easy – I simply hit all of the local Chamber of Commerce mixers, introduced myself as a web developer and waited for the inevitable stories to be told. I marketed TechKnowMe as the company that would stick around. I was dedicated to building web sites for small businesses – nothing else. It wasn’t something I did in my free time; it was my job.

I soon found myself with far more work than I could handle on my own, so I sought the help of other local developers and designers to ease the load. For a while, things looked fantastic, and business was booming. But soon, due to a number of personal and economic factors – along with a rash of first timer mistakes I made – things began to fall apart. Before I knew it, the freelancers I worked with were no longer available, and I found myself stuck with half a dozen unfinished projects and practically zero cash-flow. With a new baby in our house, I had to improve our financial situation fast. I finally had to face the fact that I would need to take a full time job outside of TechKnowMe in order for my small family to survive. I explained this to my remaining clients and, though extremely frustrated, most understood and agreed to allow me to finish the outstanding work in whatever free time I had.

It’s been a year since all this happened and I’ve either completed most of that outstanding work or simply had to let it go. For some of my clients, I became just another guy who flaked on them.

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Your Website is Your Hub

Your business website is your hub – the center of your online marketing universe.

When you’re spreading the word about your business online, all roads must lead back to your website. Tweeting all day, building a heavy Facebook following, even handing out business cards at a trade show – if they don’t lead […]

My HTC Hero for Sprint Phone Sucks Less

I am impressed with the new Market. But the phone makes my hand look HUGE.

You may recall an angry diatribe from a few weeks ago when I had just about had it with my HTC Hero from Sprint. It seemed both HTC and Sprint were coming out with great new Android phones […]

My HTC Hero for Sprint Phone Sucks

My wife and I switched cellphone plans and bought HTC Heroes back in November with the explicit promise straight from Sprint that, yes, Android would be upgraded from 1.5 to 1.6 or better within just a couple of months. Eventually, news came out that HTC would be skipping 1.6 and jump all the way […]