Website Owners: “I don’t understand” is no excuse.

If you are the owner of a business that operates online and consider yourself a non-technical person, this message is for you.

Our business at Cybervise is to clean-up website messes. Lately, we are spending a lot of time cleaning-up messes that never had to be. This trend seems to begin with non-technical people trying to run online businesses, yet they rely heavily on third-party consultants to help them. The problem begins because business owners who do not understand what they are buying and end up paying for a website that does not fulfill their needs.

My frustration boiled over this Friday when I was on the phone with a website owner who gave us a near impossible problem to solve (the site went down and was mostly unrecoverable, they waited to call after it went down). The business owner was paralyzed with fear to make a decision, was losing business every day the site was down, and didn’t have any money to spend on help because they blew it on the original developer. Their only response was, “I don’t understand technical stuff”.

If this scenario sounds familiar, then I am here to help you get over it. The longer you avoid educating yourself about the technical make-up of your business, the longer someone else is in charge of the success of your organization. So here is my strategy to get you out of this:

  1. You need to ask questions of your web developer – don’t be embarrassed, you need to do this. You are not stupid because you don’t understand, you just don’t share a skill set with your developer. Your paying for it, don’t approve something you are unsure of.
  2. Schedule a time to ask your questions- People who work on websites are time starved and deal with a lot of emergencies on a daily basis. Schedule a regular time to talk when you can have their undivided attention and more patience for your questions.
  3. If your developer is unwilling to do this, find another one.
  4. This is your project and your business, take charge. If they can’t handle your questions, find someone who will.
  5. You need an emergency plan -If the site goes down, who do you call? If a transaction doesn’t go through, how do research it? It’s your business, it’s your problem. You are going to feel really helpless if all you can do is call and bug your developer to solve the problem.
  6. You need a copy of the “keys” – Make sure you have a copy of every password that you need, and keep it handy. If you do need to call in help in a hurry, looking for logins are just going to slow things down.
  7. Education is power. Make it a point to spend time educating yourself about the technical aspects about your business. You just need to know enough to speak to web professionals, you don’t need to do totally do it yourself.

Now I am not advocating that everyone go out and learn how to code a website. However, common sense would tell you that if you are in charge of a business and there is a tool that is central to your business, such as website is to an online business, your number one priority should be to know everything there is to know about that tool. Otherwise, the next time you have a website consultant on the phone and tell them “I don’t understand, so tell me what to do”, they may not be as nice as I am and see an opportunity for a BIG payday.