How To Waste Money On Your Website: Stupid Idea 13

How To Waste Money On Your Website: Stupid Idea 13

Whether you’re blatantly throwing money away on bad ideas or losing potential revenue by failing to capitalize on good ones, here are some surefire ways to make the least out of your investment.

This next stupid idea is a classic case of cart-before-the-horse. It’s a little like deciding on the color you want to paint your living room before you’ve built the house.

It’s always more fun to imagine how awesome your site is going to look and how many tricks it will perform and less fun to trudge through the banal details of functionality, but if you want to capitalize on your investment, don’t get dazzled by the bright lights at the expense of the substance of your site.

Stupid Idea 13: Fall In Love With Flash/Ajax/JavaScript/[Insert CoolTechnology Here]

Many people make the mistake of putting technology before business, usually because they’ve heard a buzzword or seen something totally cool and now they want it.

We’ve engaged many a client who has started the web conversation with, “I want Flash on the home page” or “Can we do JavaScript menus?” Then we find out the person who wants a Flash site needs iPhone compatibility and that’s when the fun starts.

Technology is only useful if it offers a benefit to your business. Any technology can be great if it serves a purpose (typically the purpose should be more than just “looks cool”) but some can cost more to develop, require more maintenance, or fail to meet your business objectives and customer needs.

When it comes to technology it’s best to save that conversation for last, otherwise you could be setting yourself up for unnecessary expenses and even failure.

First make sure that you understand and document the business requirements. What’s the purpose of your web site? To provide information, showcase photography, sell products? An experience-driven web site with a photo gallery will take a much different approach than one with the goal of selling coffee beans.

Who is the audience for your web site? Corporate, consumer, young adult, middle management? Younger audiences may want that “wow” factor that comes with flashy animations and interactivity but corporate audiences may expect something more subdued and content-rich.

How will people be accessing your site? Desktops, mobile devices, PCs, Macs? Some technologies function differently (or not at all) on different platforms. If you’re not aware of where your site will be used you could be losing part of your customer base.

What actions do you want visitors to take once they reach your site, what path do you want them to follow? If your choice of technology obscures this, makes it difficult or doesn’t work as a means to that end, there goes your customer.

It’s more important to convert visitors than to wow them. Some of the simplest, ugliest sites out there still generate revenue for their owners because those owners took the business into account first.

So once you’ve answered all of the business questions and you know what the site needs to do to function as a revenue-generating component of your marketing strategy, then you can start the conversation about which technologies will suit those needs.

And once you’ve established business needs you can even work in something that just looks cool.

Are you using a specific technology to advance your business on the web? How is it helping you?

Read More In The “How To Waste Your Money” Series