I’ve talked quite a bit in past articles regarding the importance of powerful, information-filled websites to satiate consumer needs for any business in the 21st century. So considering we all agree such a statement, I want to address a subject that many small business owners (and professional sales persons) are doing their best to ignore and sidestep:
Web Site Design…Done by YOU
Before we talk about the reasons why 21st century business owners must take control of their websites, I want to give you a brief feel for my previous knowledge of computers and what helped me come to my current opinions on this critically important subject matter.
I’m no computer nerd
I did not grow up in a ‘tech’ environment. We didn’t use computers. And electronics in general were not a major component of our home. Even in high school, I did not take computer classes. And believe it or not, I didn’t even learn to type until I was in college.
Simply stated, computers have never been my ‘thing’. I’ve never been savvy with Information Technology and I thought I’d never get my arms around it….that was, until, the following took place:
Small Businesses and Web Design
About 9 years ago I went into business for myself with two other partners. To make a long story short, it was our goal to become the premier inground swimming pool country in the United States. For the first two years of our business, in 2001 and 2002, we didn’t even have a website. At this time, internet marketing for businesses was just starting to take off and neither I nor my business partners had a clue as to anything to do with computers other than how to type a Word document. Our marketing efforts at this time were very old school: radio, print, cable TV, etc. Needless to say, it was one sad marketing campaign at River Pools and Spas.
Around 2004, I started dabbling with a company web site. Obviously, I had to outsource everything and the results of our company webpage during this time were less than stellar. Essentially, the few pages of the site looked like a glorified business card and we appeared to receive few leads from this new medium. Notwithstanding, we did notice 2 major trends:
- Normal advertising, especially print and radio, was starting to get outrageously expensive.
- More and more people were starting to see the internet as their go-to source for information, especially when shopping for a product.
Embracing Information Technology
Feeling the need to eventually be the best, I started getting online and trying to learn basic web design. I also studied general Search Engine Optimization(SEO) concepts. Because everything I was learning was self-taught, the progress was appalling.
Around 2006, we started working with a really good web designer. Because I was now starting to see just how information was a critical component of a great website, I was constantly emailing/calling our web guy for him to make updates, changes, additions, etc. As this went on for a little over 2 years, I realized 2 more important trends:
- Outsourcing all of your business’ web design, including simple changes, can get pretty expensive.
- Outsourcing also causes delays and limits in a business owner’s (or marketer’s) ability to be creative with whatever new ideas come to mind.
Time to Learn
With these realizations, I went to my web designer and had him teach me basic web design principles using Dreamweaver. Frankly, I was sick and tired of being a web dummy and was committed to make a change. Although much of it was over my head, I could at least now go into my website and make simple text changes, announcements, etc on the fly. With this new found ability, my creative juices really started flowing and I wanted to learn more. In fact, my ultimate goal was to have the complete ability to design my own website, inside and out.
It was also during this time that the Internet’s value to businesses across the world really started to catch fire. Ours was no different and with the help of Adwords, we soon were getting more and more traffic on our website. Although Adwords usage was expensive, it was bringing us much needed marketing results. We were also getting a lot of comments regarding the amount of information found on the site from customers. By the end of 2008, it was easy to see that consumers were serious about their research, and it was my job as a business owner to give it to them. But I knew I had to do more.
Hubspot and CMS…WOW!
Weighing heavily on my mind the need to reach another level of web design and consumer education, I was blessed to find the company Hubspot at the beginning of 2009. Hubspot (and no, I’m not an affiliate) is an SEO company that helps businesses understand proper web marketing. They have a mountain of free information on their website, including their famous Webgrader page(it will grade your website, very cool), video seminars, forums, articles, etc. After devouring much of the information on their site and learning about their CMS (CMS stands for Content Management System, which is a web design tool that allows even the biggest Tech-Dummies like me to produce awesome websites after just a small amount of time and practice.) Realizing that I could actually design my own site front to back without knowing ANY CODE/HTML(for those unsure of this phrase, I compare Code and HTML, which is a computer’s programming language, to the crazy letters and digits Neo saw in the Matrix, but that’s a little off subject;) . So to make a long story short, despite the fact that I’m light years from being a computer programmer, I’ve been able to accomplish this in the last 11 months of working with a CMS from Hubspot:
- I have the most well known blog in the swimming pool industry(on my website)
- My website gets views from an average of 10 countries a day
- We spend very little with Google Adwords now because we have such tremendous organic(free) search success
- Our site is chock-full of photos, videos, articles, lead capture forms, etc. Frankly, customers RAVE about it.
Simply put, Hubspot has transformed my business completely and it has helped me realize that even a computer dufus like me now has the tools available to be a web designer. Hubspot is one of many CMS systems that are popping up all over the internet and if you are a business owner considering taking this leap of faith in yourself and your own abilities, and I can assure you such a leap will change your life in an incredibly positive way.
No longer can small business owners shy away from Information Technology. No longer can they leave the heartbeat of their business in the hands of some guy/gal behind a desk that really knows very little about the essence of their business. In my opinion, it starts with this simple belief:
“No one knows more about my business than I do. No one can teach and talk about my service and products as I can. I know I can design my own website and the days of me having the self-identity of not being tech-savvy are over. I am now embracing the future.”
Question about Hubspot, Webdesign, or CMS? Comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts below regarding this important subject and if you enjoyed this article please don’t forget to subscribe for more updates via email at the top of this page.
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