Category Archives: Website Development

Your Website – To Rent or To Own

Today’s marketplace has undergone so many changes in the last ten years that the pace of that change can at times seem breathtaking. Strategies for marketing your company and its products and services, while having similarities to the past, require a different approach, an online approach. You still must identify and quantify your target market. You still need to build trust. And the concept of a Unique Selling Proposition (or USP) still applies as it is imperative that you are able to convince people of the “why you.”

What has changed is the how.

Websites have been around for a long time. I remember talking with business owners who said the only reason they built a website was because everyone was doing it and you just had to have one to be legit.

While having to have a website is still the case, its function as a key weapon in your marketing arsenal has grown dramatically, so much so that it is the most important marketing investment that you can make.

Almost every purchase decision, whether an individual consumer, or the purchasing manager of a major corporation, begins with a search online. Whether that search is using the name of a business that you learned of through a referral, or whether you are simply trying to find companies that provide what you’re looking for, it begins by doing a search. Google, having become one of the largest U.S. companies in capitalization, dominates this area of marketing, and it is estimated that there are as many as 4 million searches per second around the globe!

So, when you’re building a website, to forget to take into account its ability to be found by people searching online, is basically throwing your money away.

You have two choices when building a website, you can rent your website or you can own it. Just as any other business asset you invest in, it is important to determine which is best for the future of your company.

Examples of website platforms that you rent are SquareSpace, WIX, Weebly, GoDaddy and others. These offer you the ability to create your own website and have the following features: (this is based on conversations with many entrepreneurs who went this route)

  • Up-front investment is little or nothing
  • There are many templates to choose from
  • Can customize within the template’s framework
  • Monthly hosting fees are generally much higher
  • Must continue to host with them or the site is taken down
  • Shopping cart and e-commerce is available
  • Can make changes, add pages and upload images yourself, through the dashboard
  • The focus is on making it fast and easy to build a website, not on whether the website can be found in an online search
  • Lead generation is also not the most important aspect of these alternatives

Examples of website platforms that you own are WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento and others. These typically require the expertise of a professional developer as there are many options, and hence flexibility, in the design and functionality of the website. The following are the features of these options:

  • The up-front investment can be sizeable
  • Just about anything can be done with respect to design
  • There are hundreds of applications that have been developed to work with these platforms, making website customization easier and with a higher level of functionality
  • Monthly hosting fees are much lower
  • You have the option to host your website wherever you wish because you own your site
  • You can make changes, add pages and upload images yourself without being a programmer. This is done through the dashboard
  • If the template is built correctly, the website should be able to be found in online searches
  • The website should be able to pay for itself through the leads that are generated from it
  • You can actually build “equity” in your website, by adding original and valuable content, and since you own the website, that content remains yours, not your hosting company’s.
  • Social media can be seamlessly integrated into the site
  • You are in charge of your own destiny

The bottom line is, what do you want your website to do? If it is just to be an online brochure, then certainly renting a website can work. If however, you want it to be an asset that provides a return on the investment, to be a key component in your overall marketing, then owning your website is really the only way to go.

Remember this: You can build a beautiful website, but if no one can find it, it’s like having the most impressive billboard in the middle of a desert, it sure looks nice but nobody sees it.

How Mobile Is Your Website?

Our mobile society always on the goYou’ve been there. You’re searching on your mobile phone for a store that has a particular brand of caulk that works well on concrete. You find a website on Google and you click on the link. What comes up is a very tiny version of the store’s regular website, which is impossible to read, let alone click on the Contact Us page to inquire whether they have the caulk you need in stock. So, what do you do? You expand the page to blow it up to where it is legible and then you find yourself scrolling left, right, up, down only to realize that you’re lost on the page. What’s left is to shrink it back down to locate that darned Contact Us link. And, hopefully you haven’t been doing all this while driving.

This is a plain lousy experience and one that makes you want to find somewhere else to shop.

So, does this happen when prospective customers come to your website on their smartphones? Do they have this same kind of bad experience? Are you losing sales because your website is not mobile ready? Did you realize that Google will now start ranking your website lower than your competitors’ sites if it is not mobile ready?

Let’s look at some research from Media Post:

What does this mean today, and what could it mean in six to twelve months?

  • “mobile commerce has surged ahead of desktop in terms of time spent shopping, with mobile accounting for 59% of online shopping time in the first quarter of 2015…”
  • “In the first quarter of this year, mobile’s share of retail spending growth increased 53% year over year, compared with increases of 9% for desktop retail e-commerce…”
  • And according to James Printing of Kansas City (, 42% of brand research is conducted on phones and tablets

The use of smartphones and tablets for shopping and research is expected to grow dramatically in the next year. Although purchases on smartphones and tablets still lags behind desktops, with the primary reasons being security concerns and the ability to see the products in detail, those issues will be resolved quickly with larger phone screens and enhanced mobile security.

Any website development company worth their stripes is creating new sites that are what’s called “mobile responsive.” This means that your site will render differently on mobile devices than it does on desktops, making the experience much better for visitors coming to see what you are all about.

What’s more, you will not be penalized by the major search engines for having a non-responsive website, and all the hard work you’ve done to maintain that search visibility will still be in place.

I would love to know your thoughts, or if you just have questions, let me know.



I Got a Fever for a Testimonial



“Can I have a witness….Can I have a witness?”


Ah, the beloved testimonial, proof positive that you are as good as you think you are, that your product does in fact please people and everyone should trust what you say.


So why don’t more people ask for testimonials?


I think there is inherent doubt in all of us. In some, it’s hardly noticeable, while in others, it stands there and demands to be out front and noticed. There is a hesitancy to ask if someone likes your work or your product because they might just say, “no.”


But the testimonial, the witness to your company and what you work so hard to achieve, is like a gold mine. Testimonials foster trust in you by those you want to sell to. Testimonials are what can bring great satisfaction to your work. I’m not sure anyone out there starts a company just to make lots of money, although there is nothing wrong with making lots of money. It’s just that money alone is somewhat empty. But when someone makes a point of telling the world how great you are, why it’s almost a religious experience, a sure fired boost to the ego.


Here’s a big no no I’ve seen. To have a “Testimonials” page on your website and there’s no testimonials. Whoa, that is like a huge red flag saying, “can somebody please like me and what I do?” It’s better to un-publish that page so it can’t be seen rather than have a website visitor try to see what people are saying about you and find a big fat Zero!


Social properties like LinkedIn, make it easy to ask for testimonials but better yet, give someone you know a recommendation and they’ll likely give you back a recommendation. Or at least you hope they will.


So go ahead, ask for the testimonial. Can I have a witness?


What are your thoughts?




5 Common Website Mistakes

Having evaluated and been a part of the creation of at least fifty websites, I have learned some fundamental rules that should be a part of every website, regardless of the business or industry.  Many, many business owners that I talk with, who built their websites some years back have fallen into making some of the same mistakes and I thought it might be helpful to bring some of these up now.  Website development has changed pretty dramatically in the last few years with a strong move toward websites that invite the visitor to participate and become engaged.  Gone are the gaudy, Flash-driven websites that were more show than substance.  Here’s my list of common mistakes:

  1. Not building your website on a Content Management System. You’ve heard the story before, “My webmaster, who built my site, decided to move to Tahiti and now I can’t get anything done.”  Or, “Every time I request a change, it takes three weeks before it happens.”  Unless you are a programmer and understand HTML or XHTML coding, always have your website developed on a Content Management System or CMS.  This will make it as easy as typing in Microsoft Word to add content, upload images or add additional pages.  There are a number of CMS platforms, some free and some that cost.  There are advantages and disadvantages to all CMS platforms so be sure you understand what you’re getting and that who you hire knows the platform well.  The main thing here is that you are in control.
  2. Not owning your website domain. I can’t tell you how many times I find that an owner’s website address (or domain name or URL) is registered in the name of their webmaster.  If this is the case, even though it’s your business, you have absolutely zero control of that domain name and for all intents and purposes, you are not the owner.  If you have spent years building equity and recognition of that domain name, yet it is in someone else’s name, you could be held hostage.  Always have your name and address as the “administrative contact” and your website developer as the “technical contact.”  That way they can talk to the domain registrar on your behalf, but you are still the owner.  If it’s not that way now, stop reading and call your webmaster and request the change, now!
  3. Keeping your website content static. If you don’t keep the information you have on your website fresh and new, there is no reason for someone to come back to your site and be exposed to any new offers or specials you may have.  They’ve seen all they need to.  Your site is just an electronic brochure.  Plus, if your site stays static then the search engines will also have no reason to come back and index the content of your website so you will not be rewarded with inclusion in the “first page” search results.  Search engines crave new, original content.  Blogs, news releases, white papers and announcements are all good ways to keep your content updated and changing.
  4. Not having a number of methods for collecting information about your visitors. Some experts claim that there should be up to four ways to capture critical information about the people that come to your site.  This can be in the form of having them register to receive a newsletter, request a contact, download a free whitepaper, receive a coupon, or enroll in a seminar.  By collecting this data, you can start to build a database of potential buyers, who although they may not be ready to purchase now, could be later and by knowing how to reach them, obviously with their permission, you can stay in front of them with future offers or information.  It’s always important to be building your pool of leads.
  5. Making your website difficult to find information or to navigate within. When it comes to your web presence the rule of thumb is to keep it as simple as possible.  Visitors to your site need to be shown where to find the information they are looking for.  They need to be guided as to what you want them to do.  Everything, especially the navigation, needs to be very intuitive and straightforward.  This is not the time to test how smart your visitor is.  Some would say to keep it to about the third grade level, and this would include the text as well.  The old K.I.S.S. principal definitely applies to websites.

Here’s a bit of a bonus as well.  In today’s world, everyone is using search engines to find the people, information, companies and locations that they are looking for.  If you cannot initially do a full Search Engine Optimization of your site, budget for that down the road but at least make your site is as “search friendly” as possible.

I hope this helps and if you have comments, please let me know.

David Soxman

The CMO Outsource