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We regularly receive calls from company leaders that are searching for a new web technology partner – usually because they are unhappy with their existing web development, web marketing or web hosting firm(s) – or their current vendor has vanished. We hear stories about lack of ongoing support. We hear about low-ball initial quotes to get in the door, only to give way to further charges, or “nickel-and-diming” once they are already deeply invested. We hear stories about the web development company pointing fingers at the web hosting company (and vice versa). We hear how the web marketing company cannot make progress due to slow implementation by the development team. And we hear complaints about web applications not working properly and the inability of the web development team to address deeper technical issues. In some cases, the code is so poorly written (by amateurs) that it’s too hard and costly to maintain or even decipher. I’m just sharing some of things we’ve heard over the years. There are certainly many good web technology firms out there to choose from. But like every industry, there are good ones and bad ones.
We all know that the web world seems to grow in complexity daily. There are so many different platforms, development languages, content management systems, ecommerce solutions, database management systems, browsers, web marketing channels, hosting infrastructure components and third party software options. New plug-ins, apps, tools and devices are popping up every day – and it is nearly impossible to keep up. There’s no question that these complexities and options will only increase as we move forward. Consequently, technical experience, business-mindedness and effective development methodology will become even more intertwined in order to produce seamless integration. Businesses that are serious about their online presence should think twice before engaging a rookie, their friend’s high school student or the one-person-stay-at-home-web-designer to create and manage the face of their business to the world.
My point is this: Your web technology vendor must function as a “business technologist”. The companies that we work with are not coming to us saying, “Here, build this.” They are asking for guidance about how to more effectively use the web to match their business processes. They ask, “What do you see other companies doing to solve this specific problem?” They want to brainstorm about business solutions and tap into Beacon’s extensive experience in solving “business technology” issues around the web. Our small business clients want to know what they should do first to grow their business on the web. They are very rarely asking us to “build a website”. They are asking us to partner with them to “build an effective web presence”. Big difference, very big! It’s similar to getting “take out” from a fast food place versus “dining in” at your favorite restaurant. They want to hear about recommended items on the menu. They want the food prepared to their special needs. They want someone checking on them regularly to make sure everything is okay and refill their beverage glasses. They want to take a look at the dessert menu even though they may pass. They want, and expect, to be taken care of.
Internet business is my passion – and has been for the last 15 years. I can assure you that no project is “cookie cutter”. Every project is different with unique requirements. I want you to be successful with your web initiatives – good design, solid code (ecommerce or CMS), dependable technical support, effective web marketing, and most importantly, real business results that can be tracked through accurate web analytics. There’s no question that your budget will drive the level at which you utilize the web. That’s part of the game. But you can certainly focus on getting the most for your investment, regardless of whom your web technology partner is.
And remember, fast food take out is typically not healthy. Dine in. Sit down. Relax. Look over the menu. Let the experienced staff take care of you.