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Setting Realistic Website Expectations Up Front

Cliff climbing. When we watch an amazing rock climbing athlete scale the side of a giant cliff face, most of us don't just assume we can follow the same path.  We realize the mental and physical training required to achieve that level of ability takes years to develop and the penalty for failure is probably death.  So why do so many of us set out to build an amazing website with little regard for how difficult the journey will be and how much skill and preparation goes into it?

Just like the best of the best in climbing cliff faces the rest of us can only look at, top designers and developers produce sites most of us can only admire.  Does that mean we give up? Not at all, it just means we need to set our expectations accordingly.  There are many paths to a website. We can learn to build the website, hire someone to build the site for us, or leverage tools created by others to build it. Each avenue has its own risks and rewards, misunderstanding them could be fatal for a website.

Learning To Build a WebsiteThis choose your own website building adventure path of learning to do it ourselves is the most time intensive.  Learning to build a site requires the mastery of several skills, including development, design, photography, copywriting, user experience, online marketing, and several dozen minor skills like photo editing and server administration.  Each of these is a 4 year degree offered at major universities, and at the current rate of innovation, each field changes about every 6 months.  There are probably thousands of books on each subject, even if we only read the best three on each topic, that's at least a few thousand pages of late night reading.  With a few shortcuts we can probably learn and perfect each skill over a few years.

When choosing to learn everything, we must not confuse the act of learning with the act of building a business.  Along the way we will make mistakes, fall, and get back up, our business may not have that luxury.  Trying to learn to build websites while executing on a business idea is dangerous, our odds of reaching the goal are low.  Learning should be done on throw away ideas and mostly in class.

Hire Someone To Build The SiteThe most costly path is to hire other people with the skills we need already perfected.  Hiring people to build a website requires money, and lots of it up front.  Unless we are the beneficiaries of a nice trust fund, most of us will pursue investment from other people.  This requires lawyers, contracts, obligations, schedules, and more time and money to get it all in place before the website is ever built.  This completely changes the original goal of just building a website into running a board of investors and dealing with accumulating interest.  With some sweat equity we can reduce the outside obligations but not eliminate them.

When paying for all the expertise that goes into a website we must be comfortable with giving up some control, not just to the people building the site, but the investors funding it.  We may be able to get employees on board by simply giving them money, but investors will need a solid business plan.  Ironically our day to day will be less about the site and more about managing money within the business.

Leverage Tools Created By OthersThis approach is the future of website building because it balances the skill, time, and money equation in our favor.  Skilled craftsmen have already created a website platform and invested their education, time and money into it, reducing our cost to starting a website.  They've already read all the books and built into the website platform all the valuable lessons learned that will make our website more successful, we only need to master a few high level project management skills.  Just like hiring people, we do give up some control of the final product but we don't have to risk almost any up front cash.  By reducing up front money obligations we can take little to no investment when building the site, giving us more control over the business and the final product. 

The additional, time, money, and control we gain by using a website platform we can apply to sales and marketing.  Which means our website and product will go to market sooner, bringing us closer to revenue sooner.  The whole process suddenly becomes less risky, now instead of climbing up the cliff, we can hop in the helicopter and meet the career mountain climber at the top.

Take The Next StepIf you've been thinking about starting a website for your business, consider using AwareLabs.  We provide well designed, tested, and optimized applications that assemble into an unlimited number of unique websites.  With us you'll be closer to sales, marketing, and revenue sooner.

Written By: Paul Kenjora

Paul Kenjora is the Product Manager and founder at AwareLabs, a company that provides the next generation website builder for small businesses. He has 10+ years product development experience, has launched sites netting millions of visits a day, and has consulted for fortune 500 companies.