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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Don’t worry; we’ll have you up and running in a couple of days

Having a website is critical to most small businesses in this modern age. It allows for a wealth of advertising and the various links to social media where you continue to advertise your products or services. Other links include those to map locators, so everyone can find you, and on line phone books as well. All of these then in turn link to your website so it may serve its original purpose of product/service description, something about the company and some personal information about the owners (provide this only if it serves a purpose for the company services or products, not just to be there…remember, you’re selling, not socializing).
There are many services offering small businesses free websites…what this truly means is you can start it for free, but if you want it maintained you will have to pay or do the maintenance yourself. The maintenance I refer to is changing advertising, offering discounts, updating product or service descriptions or additions, changing layouts of pages with new or updated contact information etc. You will, also, pay for the service of having your website “SEO’d”…Search Engine Optimized, which means it will show up more often in online searches based on certain key words related to your services or products, your name, your address etc.
The company I paid to do the set up of my website acted so happy when it was, finally, completed they included this little acronym in their e-mail to me with the announcement the website was up and running and had been SEO’d! I was really happy they were happy and I was happy it was finally done, but I had no idea what “SEO’d” was, I had to look it up. This is another lesson for those of you who have small businesses and use electronic communication to be aware not everyone may understand your abbreviations…always spell it out first, then if you use it again, later, in the same correspondence you can abbreviate.
After going on line and reviewing what had been posted as my new website I did communicate back urging them to complete it and to provide all of the details they had promised…I was, also, tempted to just tell them “T.S.U.S.I” just to see if they could figure it out.
As you may have noticed, I used the word “finally” a couple of times. Obviously, there was some history here concerning how long it took, based on their promises, to get the site up and running. From the time I first contacted them to the time I told them to get started some 4 months transpired. I wanted to wait until I had passed certain required testing and obtained my license before I “launched” the company. I contacted them early to find out how long it would take to create the site. There first response was “a couple of days.” Later, when I contacted them and said I was ready, it was “a couple of weeks.” Shortly thereafter, as we were communicating back and forth on design issues and content, I was told I should be glad as they were putting me first as usually it takes two months to complete a site. The long story short was it ended up taking two months.  
Again, this was something I did to myself…we could have been working on the site and when I was ready I could have told them to launch it. Not that I waited until we started to provide all the information they would need and all the pictures as well. I downloaded a document template from Microsoft Publisher and, essentially, created all of the pages for the website, including photos during the 4 month interim between my initial contact and when I said “go.” They expressed how much of a help this was, and how it would shorten the time to create the site. They used the layout of my pages; they used the graphics, the photos and most of the text. They basically copied and pasted most of the site content from the document I had provided. The majority of the time delays were due to long periods, days, whereas I could get no response from the design team.
I, also, did not anticipate the repeated threats I would have to make to get the site up to my expectations, which were based on their promises. I had been given examples of sites to view and promises of how good the site would look, how easy it would be for potential customers to use and for goodness sake I really thought they would be professional enough to use spell check! But, no, I get the e-mail the site was up and running (without having me review it) and it had been SEO’d! Well, now you understand why I wanted to just tell them “This Sucks, Un-Suck It” (aren’t you glad I, finally, told you what that meant).
 Next time: “It’s just a small business, how difficult can it be to do the taxes yourself”

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