Launching a new website is exciting for everyone. There are cheers and congratulations, plans of posting news and blog entries, and promises of updating galleries and portfolios
And yet, in all the years I’ll been building websites (14 years!), I’ve seen relatively few companies and organizations work actively with their sites and keep them fresh and up-to-date after they’re launched. So many do nothing with the sites at all after launch — not adding even a single new photo.
This is no good. A website is only as interesting as it is current, and if we created it 6 years ago and updated only a few things since then, now it’s nowhere near current.
A website has the potential to be more than just a brochure that prospects read online. It’s the face you show the world, the way you can see what interests your customers and passersby, the place for you to experiment and get feedback and ideas and answers. If you don’t know how your website can do that for you, then you’re missing out.
Getting your hands onto your site, understanding what you can do with it and what it can give you: I believe that’s what most helps anyone get the most from their site.
The websites we’ve built in the past were worthwhile, and they can still deliver on their promise now. But I believe there’s more that each of my clients could be doing with their websites, and more that other small businesses could do if they had a more personal connection to their websites too.
So: Going forward, Big Big Design won’t build new websites for clients. Instead, we’ll help people build their websites themselves.
My thinking is that, if you’ve worked with your website, hands-on, you’ll have a greater chance of keeping it updated over time, and of going beyond your website to other networks and online spaces.
I’ll help people take over their websites in two ways. First, I’m offering online, multi-week workshops to guide people through the process of building a site, and then to doing more with it — expand it, make it unique, bring in more traffic through SEO and advertising, meld in social media to connect and build community, and so on.
Second, I’ll continue offering consulting on web strategy, social media, online ads, and so on.
This doesn’t mean teaching all the world to code. The web is different now, and building websites has changed so much. Only a few years ago, we designed and built our clients’ sites from scratch because that was the only way to build a site. Now, there are polished and professional site templates and tools that make it possible for anyone — even someone who feels very non-tech — to create and manage a website. The technology is no longer the biggest hurdle.
What remains hard — what requires the most attention — is choosing what to say and do online, offering value, and creating clear ways for site visitors to react and connect, to act or make a purchase. That’s what my workshops will focus on.
Am I saying there’s never a need for a web design agency to build a site for a business or organization? No, that’s not what I mean. Do I think that a premade site template is all anyone would ever need? I’m not saying that either.
I’m saying that for for many — maybe most — small businesses stepping out into the web, or replacing sites so long-abandoned that they pretty much don’t count as a web presence, it’s essential to focus on goals and audience, and to get online fast, to experiment, to find and show your value. And the simplest way to do that is to use a well-made, premade template to you devote the energy and resources to content and process.
And then later, you can work with accomplished pros to customize the look and feel, knowing from your own experience what you need and how it will fit with the rest of your business.
And there you have it: Every business person needs to be web-savvy. Big Big Design is here to help people make sense the web, through hands-on courses and coaching.
I want to make clear that I’m excited to keep working with my current clients. I’ll continue to support them and their current sites, provide hosting, and help them however they need. And I hope that among the new workshops and services I’m offering, they’ll discover new ways to get more directly involved with their sites and their online presence.
So, what do you think? Is this a good move? Am I on target, or completely off base? Let me know what you think of Big Big Design’s new direction — new design, if you will — and what you hope to see us do going forward.
Photo credit: Nicholas_T on flickr.