I Don’t Build Websites Anymore
Don’t panic. I know that sounds crazy.
But to be honest, the word “website” has for quite some time been inadequate to describe what I am in the business of creating. Sure, you can still go out and buy a website, but you shouldn’t. Websites alone don’t do very much; what you need is far more complex than pages and forms.
Quibbling over what a website is or should be isn’t really the point. We need to reframe our entire concept of web development, and that is a two-step process. First, in terms of widening the scope of what marketing and sales-focused websites do today — which I believe is best expressed by locating them within a broader lead development ecosystem — and second, in terms of understanding what web development as a discipline is becoming — that requires drawing a distinction between platforms and programs.
Sophisticated web development is no longer about creating discrete applications, but doing what we call information logistics.
Don’t worry, I’m going to explain all of this.
I don’t mean just me by the way. I have been developing/discovering these ideas together with some colleagues and clients over the past year or so, and we’ve decided to share them with you collaboratively in this article. I’m going to describe the lead development ecosystem as it exists today, and then I will describe the larger transition I’m making from web development to information logistics.
Hold on to your hats
The Lead Development Ecosystem
OK, so I tested this whole “I don’t build websites” idea on a long-time agency partner the other day, and it took one too many reassurances that “yeah, I actually do” for me to decide not to play too close to that fire.
So, now that I’ve got you reading, yes, I still build websites — but I don’t build standalone sites. I now focus solely on building Lead Development Ecosystems, and while the conversion-focused website represents one third of the Ecosystem, those other two thirds — the CRM (customer relationship management) and Marketing Automation tool — are critically important.
I’ve been in this business for 14 years now as a web developer, and the entire time I’ve had only one goal in mind, but until now that goal was at least partially unreachable. It turns out that I really like being in business. I like my partners and contacts in business and I like my clients. The work I do is important, it’s fun, and it’s quite rewarding. As I was thinking when I got up at 6:00 Monday morning for a 14 hour day working on two strands to my business, web development and network marketing — there are a lot worse ways to earn a living.
I’m surprisingly conservative, I live in constant fear that if I can’t hit my goal of proving that the work I’ve done for my clients has generated enough revenue for them to make their investment in their site seem paltry by comparison, there’s something wrong. I know most agencies feel the same way. The problem is the whole “proof” thing. How do we know? How do our clients know? How do we know if they know? Up until now, it’s been a little foggy. Now, it’s clear as day.
The Lead Development Ecosystem, in case you haven’t read or watched anything I’ve been doing for the past 5 months, is the synthesis of three tools — the conversion focused website, CRM, and marketing automation system. It runs on two ingredients — the right quantity and quality of contacts and content, and it’s entirely based upon the only thing any good marketing effort can be based on — a unique selling proposition.
I’ve identified this ecosystem, defined it, and I’ve become highly experienced and a careful practitioner of it. Now that I’ve seen the power and sheer accountability the Ecosystem represents, going back to just “building a site” seems ridiculous. I can’t do it; it’d be like putting the training wheels back on the bike — why would you?
A website is something a client’s IT /company/team claims domain over and promises to spit out in three months, something your nephew can build for you overnight, something Network Solutions can automatically build in the seconds it takes your credit card to process the extra £5.99 while you’re registering your domain name. It’s a brochure, a billboard, a yellow page ad. It won’t ask for much from you and it’ll give as much in return.
Future of Web Development
You wanted a banana but what you need is a gorilla holding the banana and the entire jungle.
A website alone will not create more revenue for your business, nor will it attract more clients or interact with them unless you deploy the ecosystem that keeps you, you website and your business alive and growing.
So, before you click that ‘create a free website‘ button on one of those adverts declaring to boost your business, please be mindful of what that will actually leave you with….