Jan 11, 2012

How to Wreck Your Website Project in Four Easy Steps

You’ve decided that this year, finally, your business deserves a new website. Maybe you want to get rid of the current website, which was built on that free hosting service by your nephew. Or maybe your business has never had a website before at all. Either way, creating a website can be a daunting project. You want to read something scary? Hit the search engines and look for “website project management.” You can lose your mind trying to sort through all of that stuff.

If you’ve decided to work with a professional web development company, they’re probably going to work very hard to keep your project on track and build a site that will benefit your business. Don’t let that deter you. By simply following my Four Easy Steps, you can guarantee that your website will be the online equivalent of a smoking hole in the ground before it’s even launched.

Don’t set a goal. Every business should have a website. This one will be yours. It doesn’t need to do anything besides just be a website. Don’t try to figure out ahead of time what you want it to do for your business — just get it online, then reflect with joy on the money you’ve spent that’s not doing anything to improve your company’s bottom line. While you’re at it, don’t involve anybody else from your company in the process. Their crazy ideas about generating more leads, boosting sales and providing useful information to customers will only make it harder to finish the project.

Design for yourself, instead of for your customers. This isn’t necessarily just about the layout of the website or the color scheme — you do like neon green, don’t you, by the way? Messing up the site’s navigation is equally important. Site navigation that mirrors your company’s organizational chart is typically great for confusing customers, plus department heads and supervisors always like to see “their” sections on the website. It also helps if your home page content is entirely composed¬† of nebulous management-speak; you know, something that looks really good, but doesn’t actually tell anybody what you do. Make sure the “Contact” links on the site are as hard to find as humanly possible and, for heaven’s sake, don’t use any kind of obvious call to action.

Re-use old content from other media. You spent a lot of money on that brochure back in 2008 so, by gosh, you should just cut-and-paste all of the content into your new website. Or maybe you’ve got some canned text sitting around that you spammed all of your customers with in last year’s Christmas email; that’s even better. Website designers often pester businesses for photos to go on the website. Placate them by telling them to just grab a photo from Google’s image search. If they mutter something about copyright infringement, then they can probably make do with a staff photo scanned in from your last phone book ad.

Don’t plan (budget, that is) for changes. The guys who built the pyramids haven’t gone back to change things every week, and they’re doing just fine. Well, OK, they’re dead. But that’s beside the point. Big piles of rock that haven’t changed for 4,000 years are, if nothing else, predictable and easy to manage. Just because a website is one of the most dynamic bits of communications media on the planet doesn’t mean you actually have to figure on changing it any time soon. Old, outdated information on your website is handy for turning away site visitors — which helps keep the office phones all nice and quiet. Sort of like the pyramids.

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