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Who sees the elephant?

For most businesses today, a website is very important. A good website can bring in a lot of business, and a bad website can cost you. A "good" website needs good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) good design, good content.. a lot to think about. Where does SEO leave off and Design start? Or vice versa, if you prefer. Where does Business Consulting fit in? What about Copywriting? Why I am asking these questions?

Well, because any business with a website needs to ask these questions. Because I know this website, and the needs of my business, I'll use this as an example, but remember that it is meant just as an example.

First of all, what am I trying to do here? What's this website's purpose, why does it exist, what do I expect from it?

Business. Unix and Linux consulting, small scripting/programming projects, Kerio Mailserver sales, Fortinet router sales.. and secondarily, advertising income. This website exists primarily to drive business to me.

And how's that going?

Ahh, well, pretty good. Could be better. It's very good on keyword search: the terms I'm interested in are "Unix Consultant(s)" "Linux Consultant(s)" "Kerio Mailserver " (or "Kerio Mail Server") and "Fortinet Firewall". Search Google for any of those and you'll find this site right on page one, usually very near the top. That's good..

Well, maybe. There's the old chestnut about leading a horse to water, isn't there? The site is easy to find, but doesn't do as well on "conversion" - that is, turning raw visitors into real business. Not that there are no conversions.. but heck, I can always use more, right?

Where's the problem?

Well, I don't know (if I knew, I would have already fixed it, wouldn't I have?). Certainly the site could use some help on the design side, both in terms of attractiveness and raw organization. There's a lot of stuff here, and it's not well designed in that area: look at the awful Topic List page.. ugh.

And for conversions, couldn't some better copywriting help weak pages like the Kerio Mail Server page? Heck, I'm trying to SELL something here, and that pitch really doesn't cut it, does it?

I know I need help on the design side and on the conversion side, and am investigating those areas - but it's very hard to separate the jackasses from those who might really be helpful. I don't have money to waste, and I'm leery.. very leery. When I talk to people in various disciplines about this, I'm often reminded of the blind men and the elephant: the SEO people fret about back-links, the artists talk about colors, the Madison Avenue types talk about impact writing, but who brings it all together and really sees the elephant?

My feeling is that it all needs to be integrated, that all the disciplines need to work together, that none of them will do any good if they aren't working together. That means a team that keeps all members informed, it means that design goals need to be vetted by all other members and so on around the circle: you need coherence and unity, you need to see the whole elephant.

I can't afford such a team, or at least don't think I can. I know I'd be suspicious of any offering along these lines that I could afford - I'd suspect that the quality and expertise I need really wouldn't be present. But I don't see any point in trying to approach this hodgepodge, either. To me, that would seem to be wasting money.

So I'm left feeling a little frustrated and lost.. any of you out there with similar feelings? Any with suggestions, good or bad experiences to share?



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