“That’s website therapy.”
I was in a Zoom call with a small business owner in the UK and had just explained my desire to create a tool, a course, that would help website owners have websites that deliver for them and are an integral part of the business.
She was clearly excited.
Because far too many websites are not — not helping the business, not connecting with customers, not paying for themselves.
They are however causing confusion and overwhelm. Plus are sometimes also money pits. Because there’s always another plugin, theme or service that will make everything just right.
Surveying small business owners and nonprofits
A few years ago, I did a survey of small business and nonprofit websites. Some of the participants didn’t have a website.
One set of questions focused on revenue loss for the organization if they either didn’t have a website or had one that didn’t work properly or deliver results for them.
A few respondents didn’t think it was a big deal for their organization to not have a website at all.
I asked how much money they thought they were missing out on from no website, a broken website or a website that didn’t deliver. Respondents across the board thought there was no loss or just very low figures.
Clearly none of them actually counted on their websites as integral parts of how they connected with customers.
Research conversations from around the world
This summer I embarked on another research project. Inspired by Ryan Levesque and his book Ask.
I conducted 23 Zoom calls, most lasting 30-60 minutes, with small business owners and entrepreneurs in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe.
Many had built their own websites and were more or less struggling with keeping them up-to-date. Not just for technology and security, but for content, always having something fresh for people to find when they get to the website.
A few candidly stated that they look forward to when they can turn over most or all of that to somebody else. Not worry about it. Just know that their website is there, working for them.
Confusion and overwhelm
I’ve seen clients’ eyes take on the deer-in-the-headlights look as soon as we start to talk about creating website content.
It feels overwhelming to think of all the many pieces that must come together. Sort of like being asked to put together a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, without the picture from the box. So don’t know what it’s supposed to look like.
And there’s always the nagging feeling that maybe something got missed. Or somebody else has a cleverer design. Back to the drawing board.
I only ran into a few people who actually felt confident about all this. And they were content creators or designers of some kind.
Many small business owners, entrepreneurs, and solopreneurs build a website themselves primarily because they don’t think they can afford to hire it done.
Or they want to retain control. And are afraid that if they bring in a web designer/developer, the resulting website won’t be anything like what they need. Won’t do its job.
There’s a truth in that, because who knows the business as well as you, the owner, do?
Unfortunately, I’ve rescued my fair share of web projects where the client spent time and money on something that either never materialized at all or never turned into a website that actually helped the business grow.
Each time I feel the pain of the website owner. They did what seemed right at the time, but it turned out to be a rabbit trail. And now they’re disappointed, frustrated and have less time and money to get it done right.
Not a winning recipe.
What if there was a magic wand?
When I turned the research calls to what a magic wand solution might look like, several people asked for some tool or guide that would help them cut through the confusion and not feel overwhelmed by the process.
Some way where they could articulate what is important to them and their business and be sure the website would reflect that.
For some business owners, that magic solution actually does involve them doing all or a significant part of the work. They just want to know that they’re going to succeed.
For others, the magic answer is turning the entire website project (building and maintenance) over to someone else. As long as they have assurance that they’ll get a solution that works now and down the road.
And finally some want a website built turn-key and then be directly involved in content creation, keeping it going for the long haul. But they want a plan. A way to not forever feel behind, struggling to get relevant content up on the website.
Back to the beginning and beyond
From the interviews, I saw that my basic premise of empowering website owners to make better decisions about their websites was good, but I wasn’t thinking back far enough.
Because creating a truly aligned and effective website means going back to the actual business and its customers. It starts with an in-depth business review. Digging into goals, products and services, who the customers are and how they typically move from first discovering the business to becoming great customers.
Because no website lives in isolation. It must reflect the business or organization. So that whether I talk with the business owner or staff in person or interact with the website, my experience is consistent.
Where’s the content?
The next big challenge for many website owners is content creation.
Far from everyone is a writer. Or photographer. There are many websites that overall look appealing, but don’t connect with visitors, because the content is lackluster and rather all over the place.
Fortunately, that is figureoutable. There are even multiple ways a website owner can get help with the content, be that bringing in a professional copywriter, working with an editor or actually creating it all themselves.
Let’s not forget the tech
Finally that brings us to the place where so many website projects start: The technology.
There are many parts that go into building an effective website. That all must work together flawlessly. Or there will be problems down the road.
This is where people I interviewed felt overwhelmed. Some told me how they’d happened to pick a platform for their website years ago, more or less randomly, and now are just not going to change. Because that would be painful. Even as they see limitations pop up and technology change.
The magic bullet interviewees want here is guidance on making future-proof decisions and checklists so they know nothing gets missed.
Putting it all together
At the end of 23 interviews, I felt a bit overwhelmed. By how generous everyone was with their time in sharing pain points, as well as successes when it comes to websites. By how many insights I’d gained.
The end result is a new course. Built around this premise:
In 5 weeks you will create a tailored roadmap, empowering you to build, or have built, your next website with confidence: Knowing that it is aligned with your business goals and effectively connects with your ideal customers.
This course is for every website owner and it works for every website platform.
It’s about investing a bit of time up front to create a roadmap that will greatly ease the process of creating that next website — whether you build it yourself (with or without coaching), or someone builds it for you.
Either way, roadmap in hand, you’ll end up with a website that can truly deliver for you, now and for a long time to come.
The new course will be live, online, starting in October. Registration is open now and all the details are here: https://roadmap.claesjonasson.design