I’ve Got This Cost Cutter, and I’m Not Afraid To Use It!
I am frequently asked to make someone their first website. In this case people are often brand new to web concepts, even if they have some understanding of technology. This can lead to some weird requests and questions, along these lines:
How Cheap Can You Make It? That’s my number 1 priority!
That’s almost word-for-word how one request went. I wonder if this person would want to fly in the cheapest airplane? Whether sadly necessary due to finances or just someone being cheap, this is a recipe for a dirt sandwich. It tells me that not only will the project be highly annoying, but I won’t make much money, if I can collect at all, and as a bonus, I’ll receive no professional respect. Yay? So I turn them down, but if they’re polite and truly needy, I may suggest some freebie ways to make sites. Way more limited than what I can do, but it meets the budget.
Do You Know Who I Am? OK, How About I Give You 12 Guesses?
Can You Make Me a Site Just Like Blah-Blah Famous Person?
Often, no. Sometimes, yes (to an extent). Nearly always, very expensive. That cool person you idolize, even if they’re not a rock star, spent real money getting their site made, and likely had a full team working on it. Yes, that means more than 50 dollars.
Imitation – The Sincerest Form of Flatlining
I have observed that most people, even though they say they want something original, really want to mimic someone else. Imitation of celebrities is a common manifestation of this – tempting though it may be, avoid it – it’s a real time and money waster. That said, there’s nothing wrong with taking a couple of more general ideas from a site for inspiration, which can be fun and worthwhile. Just don’t be too literal about it, if for no reason other than avoiding litigation.
I remember one project where the client wanted to cop the design of her in-town competitor. Her biggest and most money-wasting complaint: her site didn’t look just like her competitor’s site when printed.
A Wrinkle In Ironing Time, Competition Heats Up
I’ve got this great idea. I want a site where people can meet and interact, make friends, spend a lot of time talking about what they’re up to, and put their home photos up there. I won’t pay ya, but I’ll give you 10% of the company.
Um, did you know that there is already something like that called Facebook? And that it probably took 100,000+ hours of work to build, and cost millions, especially those anti-privacy features? [that causes an uncomfortable pause, and then after gathering himself…]
Well, kinda, but this one is going to be for Extreme Ironing contestants.
Oh. Well, I happen to be offering a special on that this week. Just for you – 1.9 billion dollars.
I’ll Pay Top Dollar To Avoid Paying Your Salary
On a different note, I’ve heard several variations of this (OK, I’ve exaggerated just slightly):
I want you to make me a site that takes care of all my sales, inventory, and customer service so I can fire all my staff and hit the golf course all day.
Well, that’s certainly… interesting. It is possible to automate certain business processes with a website, such as generating an email receipt when someone buys something, collecting the payment automatically, etc. But did you know that entering products, managing inventory, writing sales copy, and handling customer service will still require some workers, so you may need to re-hire most (or all) of them after firing them?
Oh. That’s not what my drinking buddy told me. Forget it, then.
Baby Formula One Racing Team Hard To Swallow
I decided to be a writer, so I started a blog by using the Godaddy Autonomic Free Site Extruder. But my site doesn’t look anything like A Spoonful of Spit Up. Can you make my site look just like that? I could pay you $40, I think.
Let’s see. If I suffered from extremely low self-worth, sure, I could do all that custom design for 40 bucks. Sign here with this invisible ink!
Guilty, With An Exclamation
You know, these people aren’t so bad (except maybe the skinflint cheap guy). They’re mostly just naive about the process. Shameless plug: WordPress, the system that I prefer, can be made into just about any type of site – it’s not just for blogging anymore, although that myth persists, possibly with the help of envious CMS rivals. In fact, it’s so versatile, it can be made into things from the divine to the truly yucky!
If you find that I’ve hit close to home with any of these, sorry! The good news is that some of the ideas above can be revamped, resulting in a quality site. Before making a move, think carefully and make a plan. Then talk to people who have expertise.
Have you seen any sites that are mistaken from the get-go? If so, please let us know in the comments – we can all learn from it and have some fun!