Friday, July 18, 2014

How much effort is a website worth?

How much money and effort should you put into a website? When do you pull the plug? What's the decision process behind pulling the plug? Why did you put the website up in the first place? There're a lot of questions there and a lot of different answers too.

Nobody can tell you how much money or effort to put into a website since largely websites are vanity items for companies, corporations and individuals. The internet is the world's largest entertainment medium. The biggest websites for visitor numbers are search engines and social networking sites. In the top 25 there are but two shopping sites and one pay-per-view porn site. That tells you that people favor entertainment 8 times more highly than commerce.

The question now becomes more of what entertainment value will your website provide. Entertainment has to be provided along with any possible e-commerce. At one time Kahr Arms had a flash game on their website (which sold small arms) in which you could shoot terrorists as they bobbed up and down from behind a burger bar. It was entertaining but nowhere near as entertaining as the game in which one had to hit John Prescott (The British Home Secretary of a few years back) with an egg, prompted by the famous egging incident. As is often said about newspapers - today's news, tomorrow's chip papers - newsworthy events become stale over time. Thus, any entertainment has to be fresh which means constant updates.

So, a website has to be entertaining and has to capture the imagination and has to be updated frequently. Gosh now that sounds like a lot of design work and a lot of work to keep it updated. This is sounding expensive! Now imagine you're not MegaCorp PLC and don't have a massive budget to throw at a website. Your budget is more modest and won't pay for games and a fancy website. Well, the public isn't going to like it as much. Imagine you're Joe Soap or indeed Zephod Beeblebrox with no budget. That website is going to have to be very niche in order to attract viewers.

Initially this blog was a photography website aimed at selling photography but as there was an insufficient market for photography - particularly in South Carolina - the paid website was dropped and the site was started on a free blogging site. Even that cost too much and the paid domain names were dropped.

The subject of photography was considered for the blog but as so many sites cover the how-to aspects of photography, it was decided to concentrate on the business aspects, the internet aspects and reviews of photography and internet or business books relating to photography. It was also decided not to worry too much about readership. When there are about 500 articles, the blog will probably be big enough that search engines begin to find the articles. Currently there are just under 200.

The purpose of this blog or rather web presence has changed over the years. Originally it was "here's my work. I'm a photographer. Hire me". That didn't work. There is very little opportunity to sell photography in a state noted for being the poorest in the union and a state where 50% of the population is on some form of welfare and the rest are stuck working in some miserable McJob.

The decision behind pulling the plug on a website is based on visitor numbers and or income. This blog gets an unknown number of visitors for example. As it doesn't cost money, it's not something that needs to be pulled. In a purely commercial world, something that hasn't a concrete visitor count and or concrete income after a year needs to be dumped. It's very easy in the technology world to say "now if I do this" or "if I spend a few dollars here" which before long turns out to be vast sums and vast time expenditure to no effect.

Before starting a website, it's best to have a clear plan of what needs to be achieved and a clear date by which time, if the achievements have not been met to axe the site. If it's not going to work, it's not going to work no matter how much time or money is thrown away on it. There are hoards of purse-lighteners out there willing to take money with false promises of fame, fortune and popularity. It's all codswallop. Stick to first principles like this site did. It made no money so the bits that cost money were curtailed.

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