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A Do It Wrong Quickly web site

If you need to create a Web site, isn’t that a complex undertaking requiring lots of research and painstaking details? It doesn’t have to be. See how to apply an experimentation approach to your new site in this Biznology newsletter.

I’ve talked in the past about the philosophy “Do It Wrong Quickly”—that attitude of constant experimentation, instead of waiting forever to make sure that you are doing everything “right.” In today’s complicated world, you need to learn by doing, find out what your customers think, and try again.

Many people have told me they like the idea of applying “Do It Wrong Quickly” to their marketing campaigns and their Web sites, but one person recently questioned me on what to do if you have no Web site at all. Surely, in that situation, you need to be careful and do it right, don’t you?

Well, no.

As always, “Do It Wrong Quickly” doesn’t mean that you are trying to do it wrong. You are trying to do everything right, just like always, except you are allowing yourself to take a shot at it when you aren’t sure. You’re giving yourself permission to be wrong.

So, what if your business has no Web site at all? How should you start? Well, you could try to do it the “right” way:

  • You need to choose your domain name and buy it. Lots of discussion there about what the right name is, how the best three names are already owned and will cost a lot to buy, and which of the cheap names (that you really don’t love) is the best one.
  • You need to choose a Web hosting company. Big decision here with all sorts of information that you may not understand about which operating system you want. (What are FrontPage extensions, anyway? And what exactly is FTP?)
  • You need to choose software to make pages. You see big differences in pricing and you’re not sure you would know how to use any of them.
  • You need to actually build your pages. Gee, you don’t really know how to lay out or design a page, or how to do the pictures.

Small wonder that most people drop out along the way and decide, “Maybe we are not ready for a Web site yet.” Still others decide to hire someone to do it all for them, but even picking the consultant leads them into gobs of complexity and a hefty bill.

So, we listed the “right” things to do to build a professional Web site. But that’s not where someone with no Web site should start. Instead, do it wrong quickly. Maybe you should start small, by trying to write a blog. You can get a message out there for people to see, you don’t need to know very much, and Blogger and Typepad (and others) offer free hosting and easy startup.

Or maybe you just need a page that shows nothing more than what you sell and where you’re located (or how to contact you). You can buy a listing in Verizon Superpages or some other Internet Yellow Pages site for a few bucks a month.

If all this is too abstract for you, let’s look at a real-life example.

Nancy Fish was fishing around for a way to attract new clients. The Bergen County (New Jersey) licensed psychotherapist had a successful practice but felt unable to market herself to expand further. She did not, at first, think the Web was the way to do that.

“I felt totally out my league when thinking about creating a Web site. I am not very computer savvy and I also was very skeptical about this form of marketing helping build my practice. I also thought the price would be prohibitive.”

A computer-savvy friend came to the rescue, suggesting Nancy use a free Squidoo lens—a simple one page Web site that is easy to create and update. My friend told me to “provide a lot of biographical information” and to “write about some of my areas of specialty,” said Nancy, which were then used as the content for the Squidoo lens. The whole process took about a week.

Nancy found the update process so easy that she started making her own edits to her page and says that she feels “relatively confident” doing so. So, she had achieved her goal of creating a Web site. Now she waited for results.

Within a few weeks, Nancy’s lens was being found in Google and other search engines for “Bergen County psychotherapist” and she had already snagged two new clients, who simply called the phone number posted in her lens. Afterwards, Nancy professed shock that people really use the Web to choose a psychotherapist, but is extremely happy that they do.

“I would definitely recommend this approach and don’t think people need to spend an exorbitant amount of money marketing themselves on the web. At this point, I am very happy with the Web site and don’t feel I need to make any changes or additions.”

Nancy was not afraid of giving something a try, so she was already attracting clients at the point when the “do it right” people would still be picking a Web hosting company. Remember the old saying that “The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.”

At some point, Nancy may decide to buy her own domain name and do it “right.” Bt she can do that when she is ready and the time, money, and pain are worth it, rather than trying to do it “right” from the beginning.

If you have no Web site, don’t set out to create a professional Web site. An “unprofessional” one may work just fine. It’s simple. It’s cheap. And you can see how it works before you invest more time and money into it creating a professional Web site.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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