Archive for December, 2009

What golf and websites have in common.

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Interactive is the new green.  Every company, corporation, organization, and association that wants to succeed has some sort of presence on the web.  One of my first questions when I am approached to develop a website is “Does you website need to be found?” There is generally very little gray area here.  Businesses either build a website to provide additional information and enhance services for existing clients, a site that isn’t looking to be found, or they build a site expecting to gain new customers, and therefore must be built to be found by people looking for a product or service the business offers.

Development of a website ranges from inexpensive, ‘plug-n-play’ templates to help small businesses gradually enter the interactive world, to very expensive, custom design, programming and advanced website optimization.  What templates don’t provide is the ability to be found.  Being found means using a word or a few words, known as word strings, a website appears on the first few pages.  A great site will be found or ranked on Page One of search engines, and believe me this doesn’t happen by accident and isn’t inexpensive.

This blog was inspired by one of our clients with whom we are entering into our third contractual year. The first year we developed a new look and re-launched their site, but more importantly we focused significant time on the sites foundational navigation and how it could grow.  In the second year we began adding a tremendous amount of content and changing the content on a regular basis so it would always be fresh for returning visitors and appealing to new visitors, encouraging both to return. Nine months after the new launch our client attained the coveted Page One ranking.  Now as we enter year three, our goal for the website will be to continue growing the sites content and to maintain our Page One ranking with Google, Bing, and Yahoo.  Our goal for our client will be to educate them on the importance and cost of maintenance so as not to lose ground, either on what they have built or the investment they have made.

My client contact is an avid golfer so I began thinking about how to relate and compare golfing, an offline personal enjoyment, to his website, an online business necessity. Both are an investment in time and money, and while there are hundreds upon thousands of companies offering web services, so too are there hundreds upon thousands of public, semi-private, and private golf courses around the world.  Public and semi-private courses like The Pebble Beach Links Old Head Golf Course in Cork Country, Ireland, costs $400, and to play Shadow Creek Las Vegas is $500 for eighteen holes. On the other hand a golfer can playRobert Trent Jones for as little as $45. Private clubs, in addition to long wait lists, expect initiation fees like Liberty National for $450,000 or Shinnecock and August National for a mere $75,000 – $100,000; oh yes, and require an invitation to join. No matter the course, the actual ability to gain access to play is again an investment in both time and money. But how does that compare with web development?

The Masters!  Whether or not you are an avid golfer, you have probably heard of this particular golf tournament in Augusta, GA.  It is widely known for its challenging courses as well as for its spectacular landscapes.  Those that qualify to play are among the very few compared to the overall number of golfers worldwide.  Even getting a ticket to watch is quite a privilege.  While visitors expect to see great golf, rarely is there a conversation about the Masters, by those who have attended, that does not include talk about the awe inspiring course, the perfectly manicured greens, and the picturesque flowers.  This type of setting does not happen by accident and is not inexpensive. It is carefully planned, executed, and, just as important, maintained year-round!  There is no time off for the crew after the big event because new changes, planned well in advance of the current year, are being implemented the moment the tournament is over. This dedication and due diligence, day-in-and-day-out, provides the setting for the next year’s jaw dropping event, ready to be enjoyed by players and spectators alike.

A website is no different. Like a golf course, the master landscape must be planned out well in advance. A website must be touched and managed on a daily basis with a definitive purpose so that the content is fresh, and, like a golf course, kept lusciously green, desirable, and sought after by customers and visitors alike; therefore, enthusiasts will spread the word and encourage others to play and/or visit.