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Any muppet can build a website
The FP - Weekend Hack - How do they affect your business?

 1:01 pm on Sep 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi all,

We've all encounterd the Weekend FP Hack right? - Typically someone that makes a few sites for friends or family using FP, Pagemill or some other such editor in their spare time and then does nothing much more...

How does this affect your business? Do you run into these guys often where you are?

A good few pro's use FP, I'm not knocking that in particular. What I find is that many a small business here in Denmark have there website built by 'someone who knows about computers' and it's invariably rubbish.

Getting past the 'well my son can make websites' is for me, a waste of time.





 1:16 pm on Sep 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

Are you calling my father a Weekend Hack? How dare you! You don't even know my father......... 8)

This is a legitimate concern, especially given the economy right now in the US. IT has been scaled back, and the web, which senior management never understood to begin with, is even less important to them now. If they get it in their heads that they should have a web site, unless they have the sense to hire it out it winds up looking like my father's sites.

When they say, "my son could do it" I always answer that "we could also do our own plumbing, wiring, carpentry and dentistry, but there's a reason we don't.


 1:23 pm on Sep 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

You have to find those customers that have had the sons web site for a couple of years. They know what a pile it is and also know they need a proffessional.


 1:26 pm on Sep 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

Definately! I've had some success with that group. Also if they built it themselves and have had it for a while..



 1:34 pm on Sep 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

But isn´t even a professional somebody´s son? ;)

Andreas in black and white again, since colors were not intended as name enhancements


 1:35 pm on Sep 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

This is a situation that I've run into quite often - particularly with small businesses that have a tight budget. I usually just offer a quick one sentence description of our capabilities and let them know that they can contact me if they have any questions. When I run into these people later on (or contact them via the phone) I ask how the site business is doing and if they are happy with it. Interestingly enough....I have received call backs from most of these people within a year after their relative has put up the site requesting a quote or asking me to fix their site. The longest turn around took two years (I think the son finally went off to college).

So, yes I do miss out on the short term opportunity to build and position the site, however, by keeping in touch with these folks, I do get a lot of business later.

Good Luck


 1:36 pm on Sep 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hehe, slapped wrist for the pretty colors?



 1:52 pm on Sep 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

I find the bigger problem to be ad-agency types who build a website that looks good on the surface, but is unspiderable and unindexable. (Kind of like one of those plastic food displays you used to see in restaurants!) A weekend hack job can be seen for what it is, while one of those good-looking disasters is harder for the layman to identify as a problem.


 2:29 pm on Sep 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

Yes, I'm currently getting work from an ad agency. They give me a whole bunch of 1996 chunky graphics and poorly designed site structure and naff all content and say.

So when will it be number one in ggogle?

Still, the guys a nice chap and I'm slowly educating him ;)



 7:00 pm on Sep 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

I had woman want her (self-made) website re-built about three years ago. But on the cheap... ended up being one of those jobs I don't put in my portfolio. ;)

Then she contacted me recently, wanting to do a proper job of it this time... she'd written a whole bunch of new content to try to prevent the stupid questions she kept getting via email from her old site, and some nice photos, etc. Then, a couple weeks later, she emailed to tell me about all the compliments she was getting on it... and how glad she was to finally get it done right.

If you treat them nicely, let them live with a bad/amateur site first, and make sure they know how to get ahold of you later, the customers worth working with will come around eventually. (I flubbed up on the "know how to get ahold of you later" part on this one. Luckily, she's one of those people who saves 'important' email forever... so she still had an email from me from two years ago sitting on her HD.)


 4:03 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

"...I find the bigger problem to be ad-agency types who build a website that looks good on the surface, but is unspiderable and unindexable. (Kind of like one of those plastic food displays you used to see in restaurants!) A weekend hack job can be seen for what it is, while one of those good-looking disasters is harder for the layman to identify as a problem..."

Couldn't agree more. Have a very big client who had its web site developed by an ad-agency. No titles, no descriptions, frames with a NOFRAMES tag that reads 'get a new browser'. Horrible to navigate. But this client was inclined to listen to my arguments--2 months ago, that is. Since then, they've passed on my remarks to the ad-agency who is doing nothing with it because they simply don't understand that part of building web sites...



 7:04 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

The problem I have ran into with the follow up on the "weekend FP hack" web site is the customer is reluctant to put more money and effort into something that has not given them back much return on their investment.

They seem to have the attitude of "this whole internet thing hasn't payed off for us, why spend more money on it?" I guess that's were good sales skills come in. Convincing this once burned, twice shy customer.


 7:12 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

Welcome to WebmasterWorld! ShyGuy,

Yes, big issue. I come from a sales background and still find this to be an objection that's difficult to overcome.

From a non-internet savvy point of view it's a fair point.



 7:50 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

A good starting point with such prospects is to ask them 'why have you got/do you want a web site'? Everything follows from this. Once they can identify their goal/s - with or without your help - you can then start dealing with why their current site may or may not be able to meet those goals, and what you would do differently to make sure your design does.
Usually just this first step of forcing them to think about a strategy or focus for their site comes as a bit of a revelation to the 'I-want-a-website-because-everyone-else-has' types, and they will already start to trust that you know what you're talking about.
If you can then support your own suggestions with industry stats ('you need fast loading pages because research shows that 30% of visitors will abandon a site that does not load within 8 secs') and your own case studies ('my client X now has traffic of 2000 visitors a month') then you're on your way to a conversion. Professional website 'design' is about so much more than technical and/or aesthetic ability, and this is what you have to convey to these prospects.

Robert Charlton

 4:58 am on Sep 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>'you need fast loading pages because research shows that 30% of visitors will abandon a site that does not load within 8 secs'<<

quiet-man - Is this just a hypothetical example or the actual figure? If it's the actual, do you have a source for it? I've been looking for some ammunition.

In general, bad sites don't help anyone. Whether they're cheap and thrown together, beautiful and expensive but non-spiderable, all graphics and slow loading, or entirely in Flash, clients don't like to hear it... and I lose prospects because they don't want to spend the money to do their sites over again and pay for SEO too.

I've been talking to an ad agency about optimizing a client site that is in redesign. The new site hasn't yet been built, but the copy's been approved, and just asking them to change that is a major, major request.

There's an odd disconnect too... they keep thinking they can hand me any site, and somehow I can optimize it without touching the content... and they're not talking about cloaking. I think I've even gotten them to understand that meta tags won't get them rankings, and they still think that somehow I can optimize the site without touching it.

What I see happening is that all the things they've ever heard about all the different forms of search engine optimizing and marketing get blurred into a bunch of fuzzy notions, and the process of education is tremendously difficult because of the huge amount of misinformation out there, and the large political mass within the agency and all the departments in the client company that have got to be brought on board. I've almost put more effort into education thus far than I would have to simpy optimize the site.


 10:43 am on Sep 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

>quiet-man - Is this just a hypothetical example or the actual figure?
It comes from a 1999 study by Zona Research called 'The Need for Speed'. Don't want to upset the mods by posting a URL, but you can find it on the Keynote web site. Apparently a more recent repeat of this study found that one third now leave within THREE seconds, but I can't find an authoritative source for this.


 11:07 am on Sep 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

The biggest problem I've had with this type of site is when they finally do come to you for a re-write/working/viable web site. It's invariably, "What would it cost to go in and clean up this, fix that, nudge this?" Unfortunately, when a web site is done in FP, you really need to continue using FP or you might as well start from scratch (in fact, from scratch is often easier). If you thought M$ was sneaky about taking over things on your system when you do an update, just see how sneaky it is when it builds a web site. Once change on an unrelated page can sometimes render the entire site non-functional.

And so, I've turned down more than one job because of the fact that it would open a gigantic and costly can of worms and the client was only willing to pay for a tweak. (And I refuse to use FP myself as it causes more problems than its worth. If you are a hand coder, don't even fire up FP and look at your site's files with it, trust me on that one).



 11:14 am on Sep 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

Yes, I had to refuse point blank to 'tweak' and FP site. Fortunately the client was an intelligent chap and, once explained, payed for a complete re-do ;)



 2:00 am on Sep 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

I've been asked, "So what is your problem? Can't you just make a page of links in 10 minutes and be done with it?"


 2:10 am on Sep 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

If, as a professional, a "weekend hack" outranks you long term, (not just in one or two updates as they may have got "lucky"), then either the whole industry is immature and rewards unprofessional sites, or you need to improve!


 4:26 am on Sep 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

Heheh... I'm a softie. If someone wants an FP site tweaked (it's happened to me twice now), I quote 'em a "tweak" price, and do a super-quick basic-tables rebuild. Usually, these folks only have a 3-4 page site anyhow...

And then they leave happy, all marvelling at how much faster their little site is all of a sudden, and give me good word of mouth... and I've done a little part to make the web a cleaner, faster place. ;)


 4:49 am on Sep 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

I personally don't discriminate against muppets. Hacks, yes. One of my first sites was designed by a hack for $500. Never got online. I still have it saved on a cd somewhere.
My current programmer is good, a pro. But programmers all have the same problem, in my experience.

They do it when they feel like it.

And my 9 year old daughter can probably do better, and she doesn't have a degree in computer science. It's amazing what some kids can do. Their flash is killer.


 7:13 pm on Sep 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

.: A Short Story :.

The little lady and I have a condo in Florida, and last time we went down, I brought the laptop to work on some designs while on vacation (yes, I am aware that I am a nerd). I visited the website for the management company which runs our condo and thought it may be fun to design a new website for them. I noticed that their current site was rather... *cough* ..."dated".

So, on a nice sunny day, I clicked a bunch of photos with the digital camera, worked out some easy-to-read content and mocked the whole thing together. I lumbered over to the manager to pitch the "new" website to him, and low and behold......his GRANDSON designed the website for them (because "he's taking a computer course in school")


Oh well, you live and learn.

Since then, I have actually had positive results with businesses who have had the FP'ers design their sites. Usually, these people are very interested in creating a more "professional" look for their company and understand that it will cost more than what they paid their neighbours-friends-cousins-brother-in-law, who does web design out of his basement apartment.

No offence to anyone who works out of their basement apartment.


- Chad

<added> Hey, there's a ShyGuy here now, too! Welcome. Now all we need is a SighGuy ;)</added>


 6:59 pm on Oct 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

Interesting thread even though I have come to it a bit late! The biggest problem I have found is the cowboys who have done an ok job and then have just taken the money and run. It is very difficult to convince these types of business that you won't do the same. There are plenty of out of date sites out there!

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