Last week web designer and author Paul Boag wrote a blog post called ‘What is the secret to a successful website?’, and offered to give away 10 free copies of his ‘Website Owner’s Manual’ to some lucky Econsultancy members (winners will receive emails soon).
To enter the competition we asked members to tell us their biggest challenges in website management, and many dozens did exactly that. It makes for interesting reading.
I thought I’d aggregate a few of these challenges for your viewing pleasure, and your empathy. I’m sure you’ll be familiar with a few of these issues.
Names have been removed to protect the frustrated!
1. THE SKY IS BLUE
Having to re-build / re-imagine it, so that it acts as a shop window the sales team are proud of, while generating quality business leads. And that and keeps the directors happy (look and feel, and sales)!
2. INHERITED HEADACHES
Taking the content from a text heavy website and translating it into a design, which relies more on visual aesthetics... something that had already been approved before my arrival. This could seriously affect our SEO on a few key phrases!
3. TIME IS TIGHT
Finding the time to keep the website regularly updated. We have things listed that are constantly changing and it is not always easy to find the time to update them. We don’t want to have just a static website: we want something that offers something interesting to people so they might check back every so often.
4. DEFINING ROI
Narrowing down where to spend the most amount of time based on where the most effective ROI is.
5. THE COBBLER'S CHILDREN HAVE NO SHOES
Getting myself to actually work on my own website! It may sound trite, but I suspect I'm not unique. I'm an independent consultant, and I spend all my time working on other people's sites and problems, while completely neglecting my site. Well, other than dreaming of all sorts of cool, proper and necessary things I'm going to do 'tomorrow'.
Too many “stakeholders” with an “opinion” about how it should look and work, what should go on it and when, and more often than not the customer is an afterthought.
8. NOSEY PARKERS
The web is the most visible part of the business and it is something that everyone has an opinion on.
9. BUDGET CONSTRAINTS
The question I get most often asked is “Why can’t we just….?” Which is fine if you have a large budget, but as an SME that has under invested in the web for years it is a question that makes my heart sink. More often than not I have to quash enthusiasm with a resounding 'no'.
10. ENCOURAGING DISCUSSION
Getting the internal stakeholders to integrate the Web into their communication strategies. And to understand the value of strategic planning and working collaboratively.
11. SILOS ARE FOR LOSERS
Trying to influence these various stakeholders in our multiple marketing and public affairs groups was difficult as the environment was decentralized and highly independent (silo mentality).
12. LACK OF A CHEERLEADER
We needed a strong sponsor and web champion.
Unfortunately, when it came to the web, the vision was often short-sighted in terms of sustainability and value.
14. SPEED KILLS
The content value and usability considerations were often sacrificed in the rush to go online.
15. A SHOTGUN APPROACH
We had multiple marketing one-off campaigns in the form of flash sites and important initiatives were reduced to PDFs, all which detracted rather than added to the organization's overall brand.
16. LOUSY HIPPOS
Managing web change requests that are a result of the ‘HIPPO’ in the organisation (the highest paid person’s opinion!), which will work against long established web best practise techniques and site objectives.
17. PERSUADING THE BOSS
Acting as an influencer with business stakeholders, convincing them of that there are more effective ways of developing the site to support the marketing function and to deliver relevant information to the site visitors. Design is great, but not at the expense of functionality and content.
18. SELF HARM
The biggest challenge for me is managing internal conflict, without a doubt. Our parent company has exclusivity on certain products from our suppliers however when these products get distributed by the trade side of our business, the etailers who purchase the items drop the suggested RRP to gain sales in volume, this is where the conflict happens simply because I have to sell at the RRP due to us representing the brand and supplier. How can I expect sales growth when the etailers are selling it cheaper than us and we are the ones who supply them?
19. LACK OF QUALITY CONTENT
Producing, locating, begging, borrowing (but certainly not stealing) compelling, fresh, and relevant content.
Getting really high quality content from our clients or even commissioning it from external writers. Our client would be capable of writing inspiring content but they won't write at all or pay any attention to their sites most of the time.
Content is always the secret to success on the web. Everything else is superfluous to good, solid, engaging and attention-grabbing content.
20. COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN
Coordinating between the web designer and myself (the administrator).
Getting the stakeholders (both internally and externally) to start at the “right” place, which is founded in strategy. More often than not, we are pressed for doing this particular thing or that particular thing, all tactics, without even a thought of what we’re trying to accomplish. Operating like that, everything is always a one-off and could become part of a fragmented solution instead of a cohesive whole. It sounds easy to get everyone to start at the “right” starting point, but it is not always practical/realistic in every day business life.
Balancing all stakeholder expectations.
23. DEVELOPMENT CYCLES
We have a rather long cycle to get development approved, but management is already thinking about the next wave when we have not even started implementing the last one.
24. ORGANISATIONAL CHANGES
Last year, marketing got involved in design features and it became very difficult to manage. We suddenly had the design agency drive components that impacted usability and our hands were tied. We had to learn some big lessons during that project.
25. CHOOSING THE RIGHT PARTNER
Understanding what web developers are selling. I have met with several and they all have a differing opinion.
26. EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION
27. TRAINING THE BOSS
The challenge always seems to be my colleagues' knowledge of the web and its use by users out there. The lack of understanding is now becoming a political issue with those who get it against those who don't. Unfortunately, the 'don'ts' are made up of senior managers and directors, blocking the proper direction the site content should take.
28. WEIRD SCOPE CREEP
I am full time developer but they want me to do the copywriting too!
So what's missing from this list? There must be a few other things that drive you crazy when trying to implement or manage a website? Please leave your own suggestions below...