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Re-thinking the term website

August 5, 2010

The other day I took my kids to the Buffalo Museum of Science. They have a 3D Dinosaur display. At each display is a ‘webiste’ that gives info about the Dinosaur.

The site is a separate Facebook page for each one. A free “website” that achieves a need.

My point is this: small businesses need websites, but the term is misleading. A Facebook page could be a website (or a microsite in the museum’s case).

A wordpress hosted ‘site’ could be a website (and there are literally hundreds of ways to design them to look useful).

There was a time where all brands had to have a website.

And that meant they had to have a

I think those days are over.

Obviously that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be websites. But it does mean we should think about the term. The Buffalo Museum of Science did.

So I would tell small businesses to think about where they want to be online, how people who use their services access their brand online. And I would do that before just assuming they need a ‘website’ that costs between any thousands of dollars.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2010 12:02 pm

    While there is some truth in what you write, you seem to be mixing several related topics into one. Notably, the questions own-domain-or-not and own-infrastructure-or-not are different. It is for instance possible to have an own domain, but still use a WordPress account for the contents. For that matter, most ISPs allow the use of a variety of ready-made blogging/wiki/cms software at a very low charge. (I e.g. pay 10 Euro a month for my website, with a one-time fee of the same size for the domain name. The “thousands of dollars” would mostly be relevant for those who expect a sufficient volume of visitors—and for these, unlike the local plumber, a “full” website often makes sense.)

    It is also not clear to me how the museum thought about the term. By the evidence presented, it is more likely that they just asked themselves the pragmatically best way to satisfy a need.

    • August 5, 2010 2:56 pm

      I am just so tired of anyone saying “we have to have a website” instead of saying, “we need to do X online”, and then designing something online that does X.

      We’re sort of stuck with terms like Blog and Website and Facebook Page, when they are all really just URL’s that can be (or can’t be) accessed from from a mobile.

      But you’re right, I’m mixing up things here. This mostly came from a comment in a LinkedIn Group on websites for small businesses, so it has holes.

      But the overall point is this: when we put up billboards, we have a goal. For the longest time, websites didn’t have a goal. So start with a goal, then determine the tactic that fulfills the goal. that’s what the museum did.

      Thanks for the comment.


  2. August 6, 2010 12:10 pm

    Agreed, you would think by now we would be talking about how to use the internet to solve business problems rather then continuing to focus on one tool in the ‘internet’ tool box.

    Early on in my career, when having a website was often a business fashion statement more then anything, I would be confronted by someone saying they wanted to solve a problem by having a web site. It was irrelevant to the person whether the site would solve their problem, they were convinced that this is the right direction to move.

    I would explain that a web site was but one tool in the toolbox. To demand the web site was the solution to all problems was equivalent to forcing a home builder to only use a hammer, and no other tools, to build a house. No saws, no tape measures, not ladders, no drills, etc. Each tool obviously important and needed to accomplish a specific task in completing the home, the prospect suddenly realized they were not looking at the problem the correct way. Their job was to declare the problem, my job was to determine which tools are best used to solve the problem.

    We focus on SMB and help them gain market share in their local areas, often competing against large brands or regional/national companies. At this time blogs and Facebook pages are in many ways more critical then a “web site” (in the traditional sense). It all depends how we want to accomplish the task of increasing share or retaining existing customers.

    Good Hunting


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