bit-tech.net

Stop the World, you need to get on.

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Piratetaco 10th May 2004, 13:35 Quote
its true.my mate set up a site for the haulage firm his dad works for.the company thought they where now in the 'information age', and that business would come to them from all corners of the globe. until this question was asked?
"what do you mean? we have to look at/update the site,and answer the emails?"
guess what .they went tits-up
djengiz 10th May 2004, 14:59 Quote
I made a little website for a restaurant once. Just some extra information. Got paid quite well, but way under what a pro would ask. The responce on the site was enourmous, and the owner replied according, but then people wanted to book a table via the web and allsorts of other things. The owner then contacted me again with all his requirements and asked me if the site could be up and running in about a week. I said no it couldn't an that it would cost him about 3000 euros. He said it couldn't be that expensive and tried somewhere else. It was even more expensive.

In the end it was clear that he hadn't thought about it very well, and that the investments that he had to make in his website would never be earned back.

To conclude, somethings are just not worth automating on the web. If you want to make some advertisements on the web and add your telephone number that is fine, but don't overdo it, and don't do it if you will not reply.

Btw: Good article.
MiniG 10th May 2004, 15:37 Quote
I would say this is the worst thing I've had to deal with on the internet, I really hate it when you fill in the form leave them the details they ask for then wait for nothing.......

Interestingly enough, a couple of months ago I was on the look out for some heating (underfloor stuff for the interested). I found a web address for a company in a magazine, so off I goes to the site. I found it to be a complete mess with links to his own Ftp space with his password on show for any moron to look at, So like the good guy I am, I emailed him for information on his heating products, leaving my contact details as requested ont he site, I also added the information about his site problems and what to change in the HTML codes in order to fix it. Ahhh i though a good deed, Still haven't received the brochure promised on the site.

ok, so I lied it wasn't very interesting at all.

MiniG
webchimp 10th May 2004, 17:49 Quote
I have come accross this a lot, both as a web users and a web site developer.

As a user, I've come accross exactly the same problem, send off for some info on half a dosen sites and get no replies. In the end it's back to the yellow pages and the telephone.

As a developer I'll get asked for a quote to build a fairly complex site that might take me several weeks, perhaps months to build. Some clients are then genuinely surprised when I quote more than two or three hundred pounds. These same people will happily pay a plumber, electrician or a mechanic £30 to £50 per hour, but expect me to work for the equivalent of under £1.00 an hour.

I also occasionally get feedback from people along the lines of: "I got my nephew to build me a site for a new PlayStation". Sometimes the sites are OK-ish, but more often than not they look like exactly what they are, an amatuer, first time effort, which doesn't give a very possitive message about your business at all and for which the cost of a PlayStation was too much. A badly designed site is just as likely to put potential clients off as it is to attract new business. As with so much in life, you get what you pay for, you don't get champagne for beer money. The trouble is some people just don't appreciate the difference and can't understand why a Rolex wrist watch is more expensive than a Casio. After all, they both tell the time, don't they?

When I build a site for a local client I also go to great lengths to stress that once it is finished it isn't the end of it. The best web site in the world is not going to save a failing business or double it's turnover and it wont do anything at all if you don't check your E-mail at least once a day and respond to the enquiries it generates.
DreamTheEndless 10th May 2004, 20:13 Quote
This is a common thing. A co-worker of mine recently came up with a (small) creative solution to the issue. He built a website for a womens hair salon, but none of the employees had any tech background. They wanted people to be able to make online appointments, but they didn't want anyone at the salon to have to use the computer.

So -

the website says to book your appointment online and that you will recieve a call confirming it. You fill out your form online, and all the server does is fax it as text to the salon. They use the fax all the time, so this was a technology they were comfortable with. Then, the employee books the appointment the old fashioned way (appt book and a pen) and calls the customer to let them know that it is booked. They got to get their online appointment booking and even though none of the employees even touch a computer, it generates business for them.

Of course, this won't solve every case, but it could be handy for some.

I thought the freelancers out there might be interested in this....

Have a good day.
jake 10th May 2004, 23:30 Quote
Your article makes a good point that people felt they needed a website back during the internets trendy boom phase regardless of wether they actually did or not. However in your summary you miss the mark a little. Yes the business lost your custom but what are the chances you would have even looked at them if they hadn't had a website - in their terms you were never really a potential customer in the first place so no real loss. The internet online ordering market still isn't really a commercial force in the general market sector. In very specific sectors it has become a strong contender, but HMV is still there [or tower records for the Americans] and the high street isn't quaking in it's boots just yet. Look at the items that do sell well on the net. Books, CDs/DVDs, computer stuff, holidays. All things that the computer literate internet user wants to buy anyhow so it becomes a targetted market.

Fact of the matter is that the populace at large still hasn't embraced the online ethos, sure they send emails and browse a few websites, maybe even order some books and CDs but they haven't grasped the potential that is there. The startup cost of doing business online is still too high. Sure the running costs are cheap once you're going, website hosting, a netlink, email and a domain name all cost peanuts these days. But as people have pointed out above, and you yourself allude to, the cost of a skilled person to set it up, the hardware required to process the incoming data and more importantly the ongoing support and development are too high a cost to entry for what isn't a massive market in the first place. The returns on investment just aren't big enough. Once it is a massive market and we, the tech community, commoditise the delivery of such services so that those without the skills and know how can easily buy a service to do the job. I submit that the latter has to happen before the former does.

As for getting a website and a contact form because it's just part of a fad - well thats just human nature isn't it. Just look at all the people who dived into things like the llow carb/high protein diets because it was sold as a quick and easy way to lose weight without really thinking about how to maintain it afterwards ...
:: kna :: 11th May 2004, 08:49 Quote
The problem is that I expected a response from a web query the same way I expect someone to answer when I pick up the phone. If that doesn't happen, and they know that doesn't happen, it's just bad customer service plain and simple.

Also, whether I would have found them or not is not the factor, as if they rather sensibly didn't imply they offered any online services then I would very likely have phoned around, as I had no other options. Unfortunately I was led with a faux carrot.

I'm sure that most small operations know that setting up an online business is expensive and still they dive in with these half-baked sites and promptly forget all about them, yet leave a big advertisement on their web page which states "Look at us, we're an Etailer!" Business Models and ROI's are not in question, what *is* in question is the lack of service these companies are displaying by their actions.

The point of the article is simply, "don't promise it if you can't do it".
PS-RagE 12th May 2004, 03:38 Quote
Its not going to happen. These are tradesmen. They need to physically take a look at your job and give your estimate. You are not talking about "just buying stuff" off the net here but getting a skilled person to figure out what is required. Time and materials........

Lord help us all when the day comes that we are all just low-balling over the 'net to get the gig.
:: kna :: 12th May 2004, 09:00 Quote
Quote:
They need to physically take a look at your job and give your estimate. You are not talking about "just buying stuff" off the net here but getting a skilled person to figure out what is required. Time and materials........

Not in all cases.. I don't expect them to be able to give me a quote on having my engine fixed, but in this case it was a breakers yard; many of whom document their stock. If i want a bonnet for my car and they have one, they can come back to me and give me a price without any, or at least minimal human interaction. Also, as intimated on the site, they are telling me they can provide an up to date stock list online and yet when I request these details they cannot (or do not) provide them.
jezmck 13th May 2004, 23:12 Quote
nice article.
(everything I was going to say has been said by others.)
PS-RagE 14th May 2004, 02:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by :: kna ::
Not in all cases.. I don't expect them to be able to give me a quote on having my engine fixed, but in this case it was a breakers yard; many of whom document their stock. If i want a bonnet for my car and they have one, they can come back to me and give me a price without any, or at least minimal human interaction. Also, as intimated on the site, they are telling me they can provide an up to date stock list online and yet when I request these details they cannot (or do not) provide them.

When you say "breaker's yard" you mean a "scrap yard", right? (i.e. a company that takes in a zillion dead cars and sells off usable parts before they mash them into little cubes and sell as scrap metal)

If that is the case, then, yes I agree with you that is is unreasonable and crazy on their part to assume they could possibly post this over the 'net and expect to make any money. Imagine, a huge pile of junk cars and then to try to keep an inventory of salvageable parts. And to make them available for 'net purchase???

Insanity. I agree with you now and retract my "tradesman" comments
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