When It’s Your Own…

Welcome to the new BVDM Website.

Those who have ever been in charge of building a Web site will get a kick out of this post, and for those who may have to manage the creation of a site at some time in the future; read carefully and learn.

It started out simply last November when I decided it was time for a new Web site.  We solicited 6 proposals from a variety of possible service providers.  The responses ranged from costs as low as $1000 to as high as the GDP of a small South American nation.  Eventually we carefully selected a great partner, Rich Hauck of Hauck Interactive .   With the right partner on board and my own clear vision of what the site was going to be about, everything was in place for a quick and successful project.

But somehow it went comically wrong.  We arranged a kick-off meeting in early January, and I provided simple documentation about what the site will do and what it will contain.  It was a great meeting, and we all agreed that we had a strict deadline of February 28, 2009.   It was tight, but it’s a simple site and we were all committed to getting it done.

Personally, I’m thinking in the back of my mind that I’m going to keep everyone in line, hold them accountable, and micro-manage this thing into a smooth February 28th launch.  After all, at any given time, my team and I are successfully managing many six-figure projects for our clients at the same time.  We’re the masters of combining technology and logistics.  THIS WILL LAUNCH ON FEBRUARY 28th…  I’m a leader, and I’ll make it happen!!!

Welcome to the July 14th, 2009, the launch of our Web site, 4 months and 14 days late, and I have no one to blame but myself. How did this happen?  I’ve been running successful companies for 20 years, and much of that success comes from an ability to make smart decisions quickly, but somehow, that ability vacated my body when it came time to create my own company’s Web site.

As I look at my notes from January 14 th , I see an underlined and highlighted sentence, “Stay focused on primary objective; Website is going to serve a simple set of purposes: Tell the world who we are, what we do, and how we do it.”  Sounds great, right?  Well, as we began to develop the site, all sorts of new ideas came into my head, and without realizing it, I began considering all sorts of options and enhanced features.

Here’s the list of things I considered adding, and the amount of time I spent contemplating them:

Should we force all our ftp traffic through the company home page?

Time spent = 2 weeks.
Ultimate outcome = Rejected because that’s just rude to do to your clients.

Should we create on online order input and monitoring section of the site?

Time spent = 1 month.
Ultimate outcome = Rejected because direct client interaction is key to building a relationship, and talking with a client about a project often reveals subtle details that need attention.

Should we list our clients on the site and risk having our competition try to steal them away?

Time spent = 2 weeks.
Ultimate outcome = Accepted because not listing them is just too paranoid.

And my favorite of all…

Should we feature a section where our employees can post their favorite stuff like recipes and links to cool sites?

Time spent = 1/2 hour.
Ultimate outcome = Rejected overwhelmingly just because it’s a bad idea.

Although much time was spent considering content ideas, the delays in writing the site copy were the most significant issue delaying the project.  The task of writing most of the copy fell to me, and why not?  Over the years I’ve written thousands of pages of client proposals.   I’ve written the copy for many print ads.   I’ve written published articles for trade magazines, and many, many, many memos.  I’m a strong writer, if I do say so myself.

Well, somehow writing for your company’s Website induces the most severe form of writer’s block ever known.  An overwhelming fear crept in as I tried to describe the business that I’ve worked at for 15 years.  My fear was that if I somehow screwed it up, if I got even once sentence wrong, we would lose all of our clients and have to shut the doors for good.  So I anguished for months and finally managed to eek out the copy slowly but surely.  What’s so ridiculous is that when I read through the site now, I think of how simple it is, and I laugh about the amount of time that went into writing such simple paragraphs.

Regardless, we made it; here we are on launch date.  As I look back on my notes of June 14th, I see an underlined and highlighted sentence, “Get the site done; Website is going to serve a simple set of purposes: Tell the world who we are, what we do, and how we do it.”  Although I had forgotten that I wrote the same thing five months ago during the kickoff meeting, I find it hysterical that I came back to the same exact place where I started.

To those who have ever managed and helped create their company’s Web site, I offer my empathy.   And to all the Web developers who have had to work with a client like me, I offer my sympathy.  For those who can’t believe it’s that hard to create such a simple Web site, you just better hope you never have to do it.

Since this the inaugural blog entry for the new site, I want to end with an invitation.  Please feel free to share your comments, thoughts, concerns, and criticism with me by using the comment field below.  The comments will be moderated so no commercial messages or spam will be allowed, however all appropriate responses will be posted.

I look forward to hearing from you, and again, welcome to the new BVDM Website.

2 Responses to “When It’s Your Own…”

  1. Chris says:

    Nice.

  2. thank you