Should We Leave It to the Professionals?

Should We Leave it to the Professionals?

I was listening to my favorite jazz station last week when I heard an advertisement for a web design company. I always like to check out the competition so I went to their website and did my “snooping” around.

Peter Beare, BeareWareI did however notice one statement on their site that rang a bell with me based my education theme for this week’s blog. The statement said “Leave it to the Professionals”.

Well isn’t that good advice?

Yes it is but in this particular case the basic premise was that the client should sit back (basically removed from the project) and let the professionals develop their website and then provide the appropriate management services (Couldn’t you imagine the client on a beach sipping a Pina Colada watching sales just rolling in off their website). This statement really clarified a distinction between our company and theirs. In actual fact it is the exact opposite philosophy we have with our services and products. We need the client involved and the greater the client’s knowledge (and involvement) the greater their website results.

But wouldn’t that be money well spent?

Well in Web 1.0 (the early days) there is no doubt we had similar type relationships with some clients. The client would generally want a website, want you to manage it, and want great results. It was definitely more in the mode of “You are the professionals – so make it happen – BABY! (for $75.00 a month)”. But to actually make this happen you have to have a great understanding of the client’s business. This is not only relevant during the web design phase but also when you are managing a client’s website. You have to be very involved in the day to day operations to manage effectively.

So that may explain the missing “Webmaster” to some extent?

Actually I am sure everyone has heard the “Webmaster was supposed to be doing this” story. I can just hear the client now – “That lazy good for nothing webmaster was supposed to update the website and help us generate new sales. The website hasn’t been updated once since we went live – I thought we were getting 1000’s of hits and yet I didn’t see many new sales coming off our website and I cannot even get the guy on the phone….”

So to restate this scenario (or game plan) – you had a webmaster you are not communicating to consistently (if at all) responsible for updating your website. They are not in the flow of your marketing and advertising plans and have a limited knowledge of your organization (and what it does). This seems to make sense to me that the webmaster probably didn’t do a lot of updates. Most likely the webmaster did not know what to update. Of course being proactive with the client would really have helped this situation but as the slogan goes “Leave it to the professionals”…

A successful website is ALWAYS going to be a TEAM EFFORT!

There is absolutely no doubt that collaboration (an ongoing team effort) between the web design and web hosting company and the client is going to produce the best results. With the web design process the project is usually a more likely place for good team work to take place. But the web design process is usually over within 30-60 days on small business websites. And that is when the management of the website and content comes into play.

With content management systems becoming the norm in the market place the client has become equipped and is now in a position to manage their own content. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need guidance, direction, coaching and support. In web 1.0 the big hole in the web model was usually between the webmasters capability and client’s assumptions (or hopes) of the webmasters services.

In Web 2.0 we are really seeing the bigger hole is going to be the client having a great website with a tremendous set of tools that they simply don’t know how to use (or understand that well).  Thus companies like BeareWare are now providing training and classes (ongoing education) for Web Content Manager which includes instruction, documentation, support and an emphasis on ongoing skill development

BECAUSE – When it comes to the internet knowledge is power!

I imagine at this stage that our blog’s heading “Sit back and leave it to professionals” has most likely been erased from your mind. It just ain’t the environment or the medium to sit back in and let someone else make it happen for you (and of course charge you a much higher service fee than is really necessary for you to spend). The internet will continue to have significant impact on company’s sales, marketing and operations. Companies that want to really maximize their website results must invest in ongoing education and frankly they have to be involved!

In supporting and working with BeareWare client’s over the last seven years it has always been rewarding to see client’s develop in terms of their knowledge of their own website and the internet. This first started with the building of their website and their initial feed back and results from their website. Then semi-annually or annual visits with clients to review their web statistics really helped us develop an understanding of the client’s understanding of their website.

Our clients have grown with us!

Now with most of our existing clients upgrading to Content Management System (and all new clients immediately using Content Management Systems) we have now been involved in client training and support for over two years. I gotta say we have learned a lot – not only our clients! Again the reward of seeing our clients taking charge of their websites and updating their content has been great to see.

So let the Web Content Management Classes Begin!

And in keeping inline with our client’s ongoing development and also our own experience we are now preparing for our first Web Content Management Class coming up in August. This is our first formal commitment to ongoing education and we believe this will be a great growth area as we empower our clients. With hot topics such as SEO being part of the agenda it’s going to be great having different website owners together in the same room sharing experiences and I am sure – many questions.

And the end result will speak for itself…
To finish off today’ blog I thought I would share a success story:

Just recently we launched a new client website and I went to the client’s office to introduce the client to Web Content Management. In this case it included two actual websites, an online shop and an events calendar. We always provide a training manual with our training session and we went thru a normal 1 1/2-2 hour training session. Quite often the client is quite during this process as they are taking in a lot of information and I will always be monitoring their level of comfort to make sure we understand their potential support needs. At the end of this training I asked the client if they had any questions and the answer was a very positive “NO”. They seemed to have a good grasp of updating the content and evidently they were ready to take the reins.

Around a month or so later this same client requested assistance with some minor design changes and in reviewing their websites I was very pleased to see the entire sites content (which may have constituted 15-20 pages) had been updated very professionally by the client (without ONE SUPPORT CALL). This included updating the online shop and events calendar.

The client stated he was very happy with the website to date which was very pleasing to hear. But the fact the client had taken charge of his website – it just doesn’t get any better than that! This client had already become the Web Content Manager and there is no doubt the companies website will play a major role in their future success.

Cheers Mate,

Peter Beare – Webmaster
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Peter Beare, BeareWarePeter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the last 10 years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still a webmaster and this is “Interview with a Webmaster“.

Peter Beare

Peter founded Bear Web Design in Nashville, Tennessee in May of 2000 and has been actively involved in web design & development, web content management & education, web hosting & management as well as internet marketing. His experience gained by working with clients from the sales cycle to launching a new website to overseeing a client’ s second generation redevelopment has given him a unique understanding and perspective of the internet. This allows him to serve our client base with expert leadership & service with a completely hands on approach.


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