The Emperor's New Website

You may all be familiar with the story of the Emperor and his new clothes. Some charlatan tailors offered to make the Emperor new clothes that would be the finest ever made. However the cloth was so fine that only the most intelligent people would be able to see it. His advisors assured him that they all had never seen finer cloth. So the Emperor paraded in his new clothes in front of all the citizens. The citizens had been told that only intelligent people would see the cloth so they all cheered in celebration of the new clothes. Only a small child who couldn’t grasp what this was all about shouted out, “But he has nothing on at all”!

I’m particularly struck by two incidents this week that bring to mind that story. It could so well apply to many websites. So many company owners do not fully understand what a website should be doing, and indeed can do, for their company’s growth. They blindly accept what their website designer offers them. Website designers are not usually charlatans but many want to make great art rather than selling-effective websites.

The first incident was someone who was looking for search-engine optimization services for his new website that was about to be launched. At that point given the structure of the website, it was impossible to do anything useful. What was much more tragic was that the website fell down on every other criterion too. The marketing strategy behind it was not well thought out and the usability (the ease with which visitors could use the website) was lamentable. The company owner had wondered about some aspects of the website but had been persuaded by the website designer to accept an ineffective design. I meet so many company owners who are extremely disappointed with the performance of their websites. More worryingly, there are many Emperors who are strutting around with websites that are no more useful than those miraculous clothes.

The other incident that helped to reinforce the point was a recommendation for an agency website. When expert web opinion can find such a website effective, then you know that those poor old Emperors may have a hard time getting advice they can trust.

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2 thoughts on “The Emperor's New Website”

  1. Hey Barry,

    Thanks for the link!

    I think Bill was being ironic in his recommendation. Note the ;+) after his link to his “favourite site”.

    Knowing Bill and everything he’s done over the last 10+ years in online marketing I don’t think he’s quite the “tailor to the king” you are making him out to be.

    Having said that, I have to agree that there are far too many web designers and online experts giving bad advice. Then again, there are a lot of clients demanding their agencies do dumb things, so I’m not entirely willing to blame those building the house they didn’t architect.

  2. You’re right, Ken. It’s amazing how many people just don’t get it, be they clients or designers. Still websites are much more complicated machines than most people realize, so realization will come slowly.

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