Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Virtual trumps Real

During lunch, my friend Gee suggested I get in  touch with Daniel Website Developer. We had been discussing the particulars of what works and does not work well on websites from the view point of both users and hosts. 

Gee is a contractor with a franchise business primarily focused on outdoor living spaces. Decks, porches, sunrooms, pergolas, trellises, gazebos are his forte`. The parent company is the source of the engineering and architectural documents  by which permits are pulled and projects constructed. 
It works well.

Daniel Web Designer is this regions associate for a Virginia based company which specializes in websites for construction  and construction related businesses. Gee shared a story of one franchisee who was failing.  Daniel and company did a website for this franchisee to supplement the national website. A local focus of SEO ans SEM.

 In a month the franchisee had to call Daniel and ask him to dial it back a bit as he had way more contact than desired. A bit of fine tuning and now  the former failing franchisee is a top dog. 

I reviewed many websites designed by DWD before filling in the online contact information. In a day or two Daniel responded with a one line query, 
" What is your budget?"
Hmmmmm. I responded with this question,
" Would it be possible to set an appointment to review your services and the concurrent costs?"
" You mean like a face to face?"
" Yes "
" We could. But why? All the data you need is on our website with a sign up page"
" I like to meet the people I hope to trust with my business".
" Is this necessary?"
" No. Thank you for your time".
" Did you just blow me off ?"
" Declined your offer? Yes."
" What's that about?"
" Communications."

A week went by then I received an e-mail from Daniel,
" Hey Fishy! I think I am going to be in town this week, you want to meet somewhere?"
" Okay" 
" How about Tuesday at 9am, my office?"
" Okay"
Later that same day I received this e-mail,
" Fishy, if your only day to meet is Tuesday it will have to be at 1pm @ WebNerds"
Wow, did he want a business meeting or a free lunch?

  I went. He was late and called to tell me his order and would I have it on the table for him when he arrived?  Really?

He came in his cool little eco car barely larger than his   computer bag. He was friendly, enthusiastic, starving. But before he picked up a fork he unpacked, plugged in and        booted his computer.  He asked if the coffee was the bold roast? No the coffee container was empty awaiting his selection. He returned from the coffee bar with a steaming cup to say,
" What is the purpose of decaf?"

No point in answering that so I just smiled while he organized his thoughts.
" You know my wife did not believe me when I said I had a f2f with an interior designer".  
" Why was that?"
" Well my wife says only idiots use designers. I mean, she has a point, what is your purpose?"

Speaking of idiots, I wondered if in this day and age it is okay to have zero social skills as long as you have nerd skills for hire. The idiot was me, sitting there being insulted while Daniel scarfed down a lunch I provided.  What I actually said is,
" How about I outline my website criteria while you inhale that sandwich?"
Which  I did. In the course of the conversation I got a few head shakes indicating no, he had not taken a look at any of the websites I had referenced as being an example of what FishyDesigns needs. So I pulled them up on his laptop while he munched and I talked. 

For a while there, he looked marginally interested.

He took a giant slug of caffeine and began telling me about the absolute importance of SEO ans SEM , meta data, web crawlers and  the variable search algorithms. He carefullly 
explained to me it was a numbers game. As he talked he pulled up a screen showing the graphs of  the effects of properly keyed and buried meta words. He said in the beginning I should maybe have a landing page  with a
contact form and establish a budget for right bar ads.

I asked to see examples and pointed out to him all the reasons that sort of approach was alien to my needs.  That I had a fairly specific target market in mind  and his recommendation  was a scatter shot when what I needed was a sniper shot.  He looked confused  but typed in another example and set about persuading me to his view point.

"Look Mrs. Fishy you will like this, once we get you up to blank hits per 24 we can do links and ads and expansions on even that. Here's how it all works. It's about numbers! We imbed algorithms for your site which generates thousands of clicks. The more clicks the more successful the website. The more successful the website the more you can sell links and apps and ads for your website, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter sites. If you can write, a daily blog is the way to really soup the numbers. If you are  serious about this and can program a tweet every 15 linking back to the blog and target  mentions for ads you want to host then you could get somewhere "

I looked him in the eye and said,
" Let me answer one of your earlier questions.
My purpose  here was not to generate a hit seeking engine for ad sales.
My goals are a lot more real and a lot less virtual"

" What does that mean?"  
" It means the thing I most want to hit is you".
" For real?"


pamock said...

Aha! As suspected, the purpose of a website is for other people's advertising which generates income for the owner of the site? And I thought it was to increase business activity through the front door. Hmmmm. So much to ponder in this post. I hope you "accidentally" spilled his coffee into his lap.

KeoweeDesigner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenny said...

please tell me you fired this yahoo. I know computer people probably all have a little asperger's going on, but he clearly has zero social skills and I have no idea how he finds work... or keeps it. I used to build a website for client... no back talk just results.

fishy said...

It was like speaking Greek to a Mexican. This company "seeks out" franchised businesses. Their stuff is very good at this level, beautifully designed, well organized, smartly interactive websites. The deal for them is they get big, BIG bucks for the master sites. Then they try to scoop the business for individual sites as " landing pages" for contact data for every franchisee as a satellite to the mother ship site. Great gig. I'm guessing the marketing team pitching the mother ships does not include Daniel.

Since I am a ship of one, they really are not focused on the needs of my type of business.

I did not hire him. I did buy his lunch. Not sure about your diagnosis as Daniel was friendly and chatty; just seems totally ignorant of business etiquette.
Totally. Actually he seemed like a keen 13 year old who is a gamer.

I have had folks tell me, don't use GoDaddy if online sales are desired. I do have friends with restaurants who use GoDaddy and love it. I guess I need to visit their site and decide for myself.
Are you pleased with the type of contacts being generated by your website?

Aunty Belle said...


Really depressing on many levels.

fishy said...

No lie, a seriously tragic reality.
I feel older than Pam's "chicks".
You might have a little sympathy for Blowfish who was subjected to my screeching wrath about all the implications of this lunacy.

Sharon Rudd said...

Oy!!! On so many levels. Dear Fishy, I am so sorry you had to endure this, but I thank you for sharing.

“If you can write, a daily blog is the way to really soup the numbers. If you are serious about this and can program a tweet every 15 linking back to the blog and target mentions for ads you want to host then you could get somewhere.”

I write for fun, about things I care about, and I have no interest in cluttering up my blog with ads.

That said, would you mind if I link your post on fb or use it as a springboard for a blog post I may or may not end up writing? Because after all, my blog is a hobby, and sometimes it takes a while for posts to come to fruition. I have a day job that takes precedence, while you were looking to this yayhoo to help you boost yours.

Hang in there,

chickory said...

the way i look at it, is i want my page to be a relief from cynical ad generation. And i dont want a ton of clicks. My page is for people who met me, saw my work, heard about me or whatever. Its a place where i send people to see what I do. The idea that webcrawlers are going to go out and generate hits based on tags that entice that somehow will result in a purchase isnt how it works - or at least not for my product. I am word of mouth. I make a newsletter, maybe you forward that to a friend, that way, i have an entry and a sponsor. I have made only one newsletter since i designed my website. one. why? based on my own experience which is i dont want to hear from a company/artist/restaurant too often. too much and i cut you off.

the other part is this: i can barely do the minimal things i already do. if i thought i needed to twit every 15 i would just check out now. as it is a blog, website, husband, RR's, chicks, garden, folk art, video, sign painting, chores, and basic life enjoyment is enough to keep me busy. I cannot be on a computer 24/7 -as it is, im on it a lot. a real lot.

remember when everyone was all starry eyed over illustrator/photoshop generated art? it was very slick and tight and you could do amazing things -all with out picking up an art supply. but then the whole "handmade" movement came and swung the pendulum back - the fact is people like the rawness of a thing made by human hand. and i submit to you, dear fishy, this same truth is applicable to the virtual world. too slick is too slick. you want knowable. you want approachable. you want specificity and a unique point of view. its a hands on do it yourself kinda thing.

thats my 2¢

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, indeed. I invented the internet. Well, one small segment of the internet. About 20 years ago.

It's a bit of a problem, because...

If you "bing" or "goggle" my name or certain keywords, it shows ME and the Company I worked for TWENTY YEARS AGO.

It seems that if you got in on the beginning of anything internettish, you've found the secret of eternal cyber-space youth.

But, this doesn't do my current business any good.

Maybe I should consult with a quant to find a way to direct that traffic to the older uglier me.

But definately not the dweeb you dealt with.

I suspect a lot of people who used the internet in it's infancy are in a similar position to mine.

I.E. New data-miners in 1995 looked for someone who got 1000 hits in 1991 and linked in. New data miners in 2000 looked for someone who got 10,000 hits in 1995.

Etc... Etc...

fishy said...

Oy!!!! indeed on all the levels. I have rarely met an individual so nano focused he could not even understand my need for specificity.

One of the reasons DWD just totally bypassed all of my objectives is the pricing for a "sniper shot" from his firm is extremely pricey.

No Eggy, do not link this post to your FB ... you should frag it into bites and tweet at 15 minute intervals.


My need for a website is two fold, to aid a very small target market in finding a path to me and, to sell a micro, artisan product line.

The absolute last thing I need in a website is click clutter. I want a website which is highly individualized to my artisan approach to design. I have anappointment next week with web designers who specialize in
small businesses. I might can afford their entry level package.

It was a worthy 2cents.

Does Al know you scooped him?

One of the most depressing things I have experienced in the past year? I went to a seminar at a design conference on the use of websites and social media to drive your design business. One of the speakers is a woman billed as the
" designer with the most successful website, blog and, social media marketing strategy in America". The ENTIRE presentation was about media numbers. She is a now a design "destination". Being a destination is a full time job.

She sells high dollar ad space on her website and her blogs.Her "baseline" media income. The lucre is in her pricing structure for her text. She is paid for mentioning a specific brand of lighting or flooring or paint. She gets paid more if she actually recommends a product line. Next, she gets paid tons if she includes product photos. If she does an exclusive product blog? Midas money. When she guest speaks about products, or graces a showroom during a market? Midas+++

One poor soul during the Q&A did ask how she could find the time to design with all the destination duties. Her answer was the worst non verbal put down I have ever witnessed. Ever. Then, Miss Design Destination explained, in a manner typically reserved for schooling toddler retardates, "clearly I am well beyond that starting point".

I thought to myself, is the definition of success now that you have exited your profession to become a media destination? Truth is, I and most other attendees left that conference without a single useful bit of information on using media to market our design practices. I loathe the implication if I like being a designer and I wish to continue practicing design I will be traveling through life riding the short bus.

Don't worry Troll, you still have time before they figure out how to get the public to swallow a pill while enjoying calorie free virtual food visual experiences with aroma therapy.

moi said...

Fudkin hell, I KNEW Troll was Al Gore. Now what are we supposed to do?

This guy's a real douche bag, Fishy, and I'm glad you let him have it. In my line of work, I provide services to all kinds of people who haven't met me face-to-face—it's just the nature of writing for publications that don't exist down the road. But there's always personal contact in the form of a phone call.

But when I do stories on people, I meet them in person. When I work for a local editor, we do lunch. That's just what civilized humans do.

fishy said...

" it's just what civilized people do" The crux. As always.

Daniel is late 20's or early 30's He is probably a genius at algorithms/ computer sciences. He speaks as if this is the only rule of the universe. Maybe even a deity. He is like some asocial , geek teen boy who is friendly as a puppy but disassociated from anything but his algorithmic reality. I cannot imagine what type of women marry these savants.

(His wife is older, teaches 3 year olds to color in the lines and not spit on the paper. She knows everythng there is to know about design because she has the best classroom bulletin boards)

Next week I have an appointment with what I believe are actual adults specializing in website designs for small businesses.

Thanks for the support.

Tragic, I agree, about Al Troll

pamokc said...

Fishy, look at "Moonfruit" website builder and also "Wix" website builder. Very fun, easy to do websites. I used them for our church website and also my boss's website. Plus I think you can have them host it for $5-$10 a month or so. Almost free.

moi said...

Fishy, sounds like he has a form of what I like to call "ass-bergers."

Aunty Belle said...

has ya been by La Diva Cucina recently? She be strugglin' wif how to increase number of visits to her blog so she can showcase her cookin' classes--an take a looky at what she say on June 13th under "speaking of traffic"-- some ideas on increasing SEO.

pamokc said...

Hey Fishy! I was on one of those websites yesterday, methinks. Was searching for roman window shades. All I found were websites that supposedly had links to places that sold them. But none of them really worked. Totally annoying! Do your own thing and trust your instincts.

Karl said...

Good afternoon Fishy,

Other than to say the fella sounds like an asshat and seems to be a poster boy for generation Yo. I don't have much to add. The others are much more qualified, when it comes to building a web site.

fishy said...

I am trying to avoid a standardized website because of the nature of my business and because I hope to do targeted online sales. Oy!

Exactly to your second point. I do not want to be one of those irritants.
There is a one of a kind ladies clothing store here which does far more online business than local business. Mostly in California. Why? The person who designed their website embeded data which makes them come up at the top of listings on a popular west coast server. Not the business they envisioned but it's making lots of money because California pricing is generally lots higher than Carolina pricing.

Money is great, I sure do need more than I have. That said, I just don't want to get hijacked for money.

Thanks, on my way.

LOL to the poster boy!
The frightening thing is knowing in 2 decades this is the generation that will be running the country. I do not think it a fine thing to jettison general capabilities for a single skill.