Do-it-yourself website companies propagate the solitary webmaster myth, an idea that common computer users become web wizards by using WYSIWYG software. You, too, can construct websites with the purposeful elegance of Google and all the features of Facebook. A few dollars more and they’ll SEO, too. Sites like Godaddy.com, Wix.com, Squarespace.com and Virb.com push these business card websites that do little to attract customers. They promise unrealistic returns.
When clients buy the myth
An effective and scalable website requires layers of planning and multiple participants–designers, programmers, writers and marketeers. Everyone suffers when a client oversimplifies what it takes to build a great website. While the webmaster rebuffs the low-ball offer, the clap-trap peddling of mobile Internet homes barks on, cheapening the experience.
No go it alone
A fairly compensated webmaster is skilled at constructing partitions and delegating responsibility. Webmasters report back to their clients in a timely manner and are moveable geniuses skilled at negotiation. Their team consists of technologists, designers, writers and marketers–all plying their trade in front of PCs and Apples.
Responsibility to explain
Tempting as it may be to keep clients in the dark about your mastery of the Internet–don’t. While a certain level of mystique can build reputation and confidence, smart business knows you’re also made better by the resources you bring. Webmasters work independently, have attention to detail and rarely forget to ask about the friends and children of clients. By communicating hierarchy and division of labor, the solution will be better accomplished. A good client doesn’t want a complicated road map, he wants to know you’re taking the right roads while he pays the tolls.
Origin of the solitary webmaster myth
Craig built Craigslist, Angie built Angie’s List, Zuckerberg built Facebook and Larry and Sergey made Google. They were game changers, revolutionaries and inventors. But they are unwilling participants in the solitary webmaster myth. While it’s true they created singular empires with loyal followers generating billions in revenue, none did it alone. Whether courting credit or not, history shows us these world famous inventors tend to be the best marketers of borrowed ideas. The cotton gin (Eli Whitney), telephone (Alexander Graham Bell), telegraph (Samuel Morse) and light bulb (Thomas Edison) were improvements on existing technology, fruits of collaboration allowing the execution of business plans. With the exception of The Darwin Awards, Lycos and Yahoo!, few notable websites were built prior to 1995. But Google will take credit for inventing the search engine.
When to fudge your power
Your PHP guy may be from Kochi, but your client only wants to know that your South Asian office is in the same business park as Google and IBM. Webmasters are skilled communicators above all. Approach each client as a project manager with intimate knowledge for all things websites–hands-on knowledge. It’s okay to claim you control the code, write copy and promote website, but it’s not okay to say you’ll cover it when you won’t.
“I have a team for that.”