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Thread: Business Managers vs Website Designers/Developers

  1. #1
    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    Business Managers vs Website Designers/Developers

    Back in 19oatcake I did some research which identified a gap of skill sets between managers and web developers. It was often the case that the business manager got on with running the business and hired a web guy to do the website stuff. There was often no meeting of minds and no understanding between the two.

    At that time, I argued that team work was necessary for a successful e-commerce site and both sides should make some effort to bridge the skill set gap and at least have some understanding of what the "other side" was trying to achieve. I think things have probably changed a lot since then with more business people also doing their own websites.

    I'm curious to find out how many people here consider themselves to be business people or web guys or both. Of course I expect the results on EP to be atypical because we have a higher proportion of webmastery types who run their own businesses. Care to share your views on the subject? Is there still a lack of understanding between the two groups?

    Which group do you fall into? Either, neither, both?

    Do you think that everything is so much easier now to set up websites and that's changed the whole playing field? Any observations at all on the subject?
    British Expat - helping people to live and work abroad since the year 2000.

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  2. #2
    Marketing Mentor Mikl is a Premium Member
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    Interesting thoughts, Kay. But can I pick up one point. You say:

    I think things have probably changed a lot since then with more business people also doing their own websites.
    When you say "business people", I take it you mean people who are in some business other than web design (or related fields). So, you're saying that an architect, a retail pharmacist, a barber, whatever, is more likely to create their own site (that is, actually do the coding, design, etc. themselves) than was the case when you did your research some years ago?

    If that's right, what leads you to believe that? I'm not saying you're wrong. I just wonder what evidence there is. Intuitively, I would have thought the opposite was the case. As websites get more sophisticated, and as the requirements get more demanding, I would have thought it more likely that businesses would hire specialists to do the job. But that's just a guess on my part.

    Apologies if I've misunderstood your point.

    Mike

  3. #3
    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    No worries, Mike. This subject was my passion at the time and I spent considerable time studying it so it's kinda hard for me to explain in a nutshell what I'm getting at - I'll try again. At the time, I knew a lot of small businessmen - insurance, retail, etc - who were keen to have an online presence. Excluding the ones for whom web design was their core business (obviously they did the web dev for their own sites), the others fell into two distinct camps - those who hired a web guy and those who battled with the learning curve of building their own sites. It was quite tough back then because they didn't have the "easy" options which exist now, such as WP and even sharecropping on places like Facebook.

    The group who were building their own sites were very receptive to learning new things and discussing their problems. They were a very interesting group to talk to. However, I identified that many of those who just hired a web guy were a nightmare for the poor web guy. Much of the problem centred around "a little knowledge can be dangerous". Some of these guys would hear a buzz word and think they had an understanding of the subject, when it was clear that they hadn't a clue what they were talking about. Thus there was a big gap between business managers and web dev people. I tried to identify ways to bridge that gap. (I even had an article published in the FSB print magazine about it.) So, that was then.

    The subject happened to come up again elsewhere and it got me wondering how things were today. In many ways it's so much easier for small business people to create their own online presence. I expect a professional, such as an architect, would most likely pay for a professional site, but others such as a barber, restaurant owner, and other small businesses will probably crack on with it themselves, using WP and a template or making a FB page. They don't need to know coding or anything very technical for that. I don't have any evidence for thinking that, which is one reason why I raised the issue. I wondered if my impression was right and if things really had changed a lot since the time when I really did know about the subject.

    If you look at several EP members (and admittedly EP is probably atypical), we get quite a few who understand business, and now they want to learn about online business. These are the types who will most likely roll their sleeves up and get stuck into the web dev process as well - CMS, shopping carts etc.

    I wasn't intending to give any opinion about how things are now - for me it's just a few observations and guess work. I suppose I was just saying, that's how it was then (which I do know something about) and wondering how it is now. It's definitely true to say that some websites have become more complex, but equally I'd say that some have become more simple. Plus there's a lower barrier to entry.
    British Expat - helping people to live and work abroad since the year 2000.

    The joy of Internet delivery - the cartoon illustrating this will make you laugh!



  4. #4
    Top Contributor Dave McM is a Premium Member
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    Mike, the same thought crossed my mind as crossed yours - it didn't (and doesn't) seem a foregone conclusion to me that small businesses will necessarily be more likely to build their own websites now than they were when Kay was doing her research.

    But Kay's mentioned the big game-changer in her second post: Facebook. We have first-hand experience of this. About four years ago we knocked together a WP site in a couple of hours to promote a pub run by some friends of ours. But it was too hard for them to manage. When they discovered FB, there was no stopping them - they post there several times a day, including pictures.

    So I'd agree that small businesses are more likely now to manage their own web presence (not necessarily website) in-house. The problem is that it's not really theirs - and I'm sure many of us have heard the horror stories of how businesses have spent time and money building up their FB presence, only to be stung for more money when FB decided to start charging them to post to their subscribers.

  5. #5
    Marketing Mentor Mikl is a Premium Member
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    Dave and Kay,

    I take your point about Facebook. In fact, it's got to the stage where some smaller businesses seem to give a higher priority to their Facebook presence than to their "real" websites. I can think of a couple of cases where business owners put a lot of effort into posting to FB, but have neglected the sites that they presumably have paid a professional to design for them.

    Mike

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    Top Contributor crabfoot is a Premium Member
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    There are large numbers of my small-time professional musician friends who have abandoned their websites and are using Facebook alone for promotion. I think a huge factor in this is that their fans are on FB, so it is a direct interaction process. They don't have to drive traffic to their sites, they just post on the wall and all their followers get the info direct, or take the hint and go to the website link for the people hosting their gigs.

    In another direction - a friend's son has a degree in media / web design and does some site design work, although he is making much of his money from wedding videos and photos (he's getting a good reputation for it). When I asked him abut the skills he had learned in university, he told me about a whole heap of advanced software he had learned to "drive" - but nowhere along the line had he learned to do anything from basics. So while he could put a nice site together for you using Dreamweaver, he knows less than I do about HTML and Java, or starting from nothing!

    I have to say it irritates me that often I can see how something works on the web, but I can't find someone to make some small modifications to the base code, so that it does what I want it to. I learned to program 25 years ago because people couldn't tell me how to easily get the programs I want. Now I'm faced with having to learn more/other programming type skills, because people just tell me "I use a package for that" if I ask them.

    Bah humbug ...

  7. #7
    Marketing Mentor Mikl is a Premium Member
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    A point about using Facebook to promote your business:

    Many of the FB pages I see carry advertising. Not adverts posted by the person whose page you are viewing, but third-party adverts, often for things like weight-loss products, financial services and dating agencies. This is presumably how FB make their money; nothing wrong with that.

    But do the owners of the pages have any control over this advertising? Can they switch it off in some way?

    The reason I ask is that, if you are using your FB page to promote a business, there is surely a risk that these ads will be in competition with you. I don't necessarily mean they will be ads for your competitors' products (although that's possible), but rather that they will be competing for your visitors' attention. And each time that someone clicks the ads, they will be taken away from your page and on to the advertiser's site.

    Have I got that right?

    Mike

  8. #8
    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    I don't know all that much about FB - it's about time I learned! - because I dislike the place intensely. The reasons for that may not be logical, but that's just how I feel about the place.

    Too many people build their businesses on this outpost rather than concentrating on their home base and using FB as an outpost. I think a lot of them don't realise that it's an outpost and as such is beyond their control, whereas they do have at least some degree of control over their home base (website). FB can, and does, change their T&Cs at will, and there's bugger all any of its punters can do about it. FB's users are nothing more than a product for FB - a means of monetising. That in itself IMO is OK for a company, but the users don't seem to realise this. They give their all to building traffic/revenue for FB and then seem to become bewildered or upset when FB changes the rules again. What did they expect? No change, apparently. It just annoys me that so many non-web savvy people think they're being clever because they've got a FB page. Hey! Look at me, I promote my business via FB because I'm too stupid to update a website.

    Then there's the other issues such as privacy and leaks of personal information.
    British Expat - helping people to live and work abroad since the year 2000.

    The joy of Internet delivery - the cartoon illustrating this will make you laugh!



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