It takes a village to build a Web site

I am old enough to remember that Web sites started out being one-person operations, using simple, easy-to-learn HTML codes that didn’t take much beyond a text editor and memorizing about a dozen commands from Laura Lemay’s book. There were plenty of Web servers to choose from, and it didn’t take much programming skill to get one installed and up and running.

Now it seems like it takes a village to get your site updated and maintained. There are content management systems, advertising serving systems, Flash and streaming content delivery mechanisms, caching servers, databases, and more. So my question to you today is how many people does it take to update your company’s Web site? If the answer is more than two, maybe you need to rethink whom you have and why you need this entire crowd.

Sure, having a modern Web site is more than just putting up a couple of pages of text, and writing the right codes for paragraphs and bold face. I know that. But Web sites should be agile, should be frequently updated, should be easily updated, and shouldn’t take “approval cycles” or long food chains to get from the person that creates the content to the final stage where the world can view it. You want the content to be as close to the original thinker and creator as you possibly can.

Where have we gone with the Web? What happened to make it so difficult? Was it function creep, or security issues, or the marketing and legal departments getting mixed up with this technology? Was it because no one cares about what Web server you are running anymore (really it is a simple choice between Microsoft and Apache)? Was it because static pages of text with just a few images are so over and we have to embed video and Flashy objects to get anyone’s attention? Or because the browser is now everyone’s mission critical, must-have application and so much of what we do everyday involves going to various Web sites? Or because everyone is now a professional blogger and the average Web site designer has a bucket-full of tools to use? Or because everyone is using RSS feeds to keep track of new content and the actual site that contains this information is no longer really all that important?

It probably is some mixture of all of the above. I don’t mean to suggest that we want to go back to the really olden days, when we had command-line browsers that didn’t do much (remember Lynx?). I just think if you have a corporate Web site, take a moment to look at your chain of command, and see if you can streamline it. Let’s see if you can set a goal to update your site at least once a week, or even once a day. It doesn’t need to take a village, and your customers and your staff might really appreciate it, too.

4 thoughts on “It takes a village to build a Web site

  1. Good post today, thanks. A couple of observations to share based upon
    Mu’s use of ModX open source content management vs. the village that my
    Marketing teams needed at Cisco, Foundry, Juniper and Fortinet.

    Besides acting as chief cook and bottle washer, I am also the virtual
    web meister thanks to the power of ModX.

    I publish, edit, rearrange, write/post blogs, add events, move content
    in and out of Mu’s two RSS feeds quite easily and insert/remove dynamic
    content – as well as leverage the Mu website for lead generation via
    integration with CRM (we use NetSuite).

    We even just added a new case study section for our carrier customers
    who are deploying Next Gen IP services with the help of Mu.

    http://www.musecurity.com/solutions/next-gen-ip-services.html

    Cheers.

    Adam P. Stein
    VP Marketing
    Mu Security, Inc.

  2. You have said what no one else is saying, and you did it without once mentioning Web 2.0. Bravo!
    The immediacy of biz today demans an agile site, and I wanted to give you 2 quick examples of have-your-cake, etc.
    http://Www.charlesinspace.com is a Flash front end with a customized WordPress back end, and my new site: http://www.ballparkclassics.com – also Flash but uses SIFL to make it searchable and more importantly, easily editable. Sure, sites like these cost more up front than some but as you say many are maintaining Web sites with armies of people and both of these sites are driven by one or two people. Thanks David!

    Thanks,
    Doug Strohm
    Garrigan Lyman

  3. Reader Glen writes:

    Almost every business here (in Uruguay) that I ask how their website is or if they have a website, the answer is along the lines of “well, websites are expensive and don’t generate business”.

    Of course, that kind of site is what they are talking about. They love to put the simplest things in Flash with messed up navigation and not get indexed by the search engines either.

    As a favor I threw together http://www.oldmaz.com for that restaurant. They are *really* slow at getting me photos… so I think the site is a bit too plain at the moment… BUT they say they get business from it and more than once I’ve been eating there and people have said they came BECAUSE they saw the website and the photos of the food.

    So websites work and are not expensive… BUT that have to be made in a sensible manner… as you said in your article!

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