Don’t Force Your Website to Fail

failed business man stapled to wall
failed business man stapled to wall

Most companies today realize they need a presence on the web. In most industries now if you don’t have a web presence of some sort you won’t have a business for long. I know one company that stocks lots of rare items for their brick and motar store because on the web it sells across Canada and the US thus making it worth stocking. The problem I see with a number of business’s that get into the web is that they force their website to fail.

No the management doesn’t sit in the office and say “Let’s start a website and make sure it tanks and costs us needless money.” But they do sit there and decide to only go half way with solutions that rely on going all the way.

The Fail

The biggest example I have worked with is a great retail store that I did a bunch of SEO work for. We were ranked 1 or 2 on the search engines for some very generic search terms. When you searched for manufacturers of goods we carried we were ranked just below the manufacturer. We were the first place you could actually buy the product.

The problem is that the web store had a huge limiting factor that meant despite all of the good SEO work they only saw a maximum of 20 orders completed in the busy months. I happend to also know that competitors were seeing ten times those web purchases without the good SEO during the slow months.

The reality was that it didn’t matter how good the SEO was for the company. With no way to let customer purchase online it was a waste of their money. Eventually I told them that. We talked about the limiting factors of the web store and came up with a range of options to help fix or totally fix the problem (ranging from 2,000 to 20,000 in price on a monthly in store sales of 250,000 in busy months) and they just simply weren’t willing to let their website succeed.

The Conclusion

It’s all well and good to want a web presence but if you are going to jump into the web be willing to jump in with both feet. Don’t start a project only to do it half way and force the first half to fail. The conclusion to the above story is that they got me to stop working on SEO and now they’re on page 10 and still have a mostly non-functional online store.

Cool Web Developments

Surfing through my RSS feeds today I came upon a number of very cool web developments that I thought I would bring to your attention.

IE 8 InPrivate browsing. Pulled from ArsTechnica. Looks like IE 8 may mean that analytics programs we use to track our site traffice will no longer work. One of the features of InPrivate will be blocking of objects embedded in your sites (like google analytics). If a user has this turned onĀ  us web designer may never know for sure that IE 6 is dead or what screen resolutions best suited for a particular clients website. While there are benefits to this technology from a user’s privacy point of view it could be tough for people designing websites.

Our second chunk of news I first saw at Lifehacker but now also appears on ArsTechnica. Ubiquity is a prototype Firefox extension that adds a command line interface to your browser. To send a link to someone now you have to right click and then roll down to ‘send link.’ Ubitquity works something like Quicksilver or Launchy in that invoking it with a key command would allow you to start typing “email this to wife” and suggestions for the action would come up. A neat way to interact quickly with web pages but if your not already a Quicksilver or Launchy user it may be hard to get people on board. I don’t see my wife using this. If you’re interested head to the download and watch the tutorial video.

We’re almost done…. Many of us web professionals are devote followers of the Twitter (at least I am). I sometimes wonder how much information is gleaned about me from my posts. Not from the people that I follow or the ones I don’t block from following me but from the public timeline. I know that I can make my tweets private but that means I have to approve everyone and that is a waste of my time. Enter Status a project from Chris Coyier over at CSS-tricks. While not exactly like twitter there are some similarities. Many companies use twitter for tracking quickly where each other are. While twitter works for this it does expose people to the scrutiny of the wider public. Status is designed around private groups. You can start one or be invited into one. The purpose is to simply list where you are and what you are doing. This really has applications for distributed companies or companies dealing with some remote employees. I personally don’t have a great application for it right now but it has been bookmarked.

Finally how about some advice to budding web designers and developers. Basically it is a round up of advice for those that are starting out in the web industry. A good read for anyone who has been in for a long time or those just starting.

Enjoy the reading.