In July of 2019, Nathan Neil, the founder and primary project manager of LaunchUX had a problem:
His toilet was very much broken.
From previous work that he had done on his home, he already had a contractor on call. However, the contractor was unavailable at that exact moment, so rather than wait, Nathan made the first of a series of (what would turn out to be) bad decisions.
As a tech evangelist, Nathan – like many people (especially those working in digital and content marketing – we’ve made our share of them) – believed that any skill can be acquired through online videos.
And to be clear, at LaunchUX, we do believe that it is theoretically possible to learn any skill through online videos and tutorials, but as we will see as we follow Nathan’s example:
Knowing how to do something is not a replacement for real, earned expertise.
The videos, of course, made the matter look very simple. He figured that with a few basic tools and maybe $40 in parts, the toilet would once more be operational.
Nearly instant results while saving more than $100?
How could he go wrong?
At first things went well, and at one point he even bragged about how well it went.
And then he asked: “Is it raining down here?” as he eyed the basement ceiling that was between him and his offending toilet.
Jump-cut twenty-four hours later to the aftermath of Nathan’s “simple” fix.
He now needed to replace:
- The baseboard
- The flooring
- The drywall
- And part of the toilet (which was where the problem started in the first place).
The YouTube video didn’t have any answers for this situation as it taunted him with its title still promising a “quick and easy” solution.
The video had, of course, been made by an expert.
It was finally time to call in the professionals, and to get everything restored and the toilet functional ended up costing closer to $1,000 (which is substantially more than the originally budgeted $40) and affected his homeowner’s insurance deductible.
“I’m good at computers, not plumbing,” he said of the experience.
And, indeed, Nathan had encountered this problem from the other side on many occasions.
How many times had he gotten frantic calls from people who had tried to set up their own websites and now lost substantial time and money because their online storefront was closed for business?
How many times had he encountered homemade sites (using videos online) that were unsecured, user antagonistic, slow loading and poorly optimized?
How many times had he encountered compounded problems that were difficult to fix, but would have been very easy – and relatively inexpensive – for a professional to have avoided in the first place.
And now he better understood the temptation of DIY videos offering quick and easy fixes.
And he understood how easy it is for people who should know better to take the click-bait.
“Move fast and break things” is a common phrase in the tech world, and maybe for tech startups in Silicon Valley it really is a useful part of the “lean startup” mentality.
However, when your business is on the line, we recommend moving with a sense of calm deliberation and consulting with experts to avoid breaking things.
It seems very odd to have to write a piece about why expertise is a good thing, but seeing as how so many of us are liable to fall into the quick-fix trap –
Here are five things that experts bring to the table when it comes to building and optimizing websites.
1. Experts know how to avoid the costly problems before they become costly problems.
It is almost a universal truth that it is easier and cheaper to prevent a problem than it is to try to repair it after the fact. In some cases, there can be a significant cost just to untangle the mess and get the situation back to where the real work can even begin.
All of this adds time and money, and all of the while you still don’t have a functioning website. Or, worse, you have a bad website that you’re embarrassed of serving as your home in the digital world. It is possible that doing it yourself might get the site launched faster, but a single mistake can burn through your budget and explode your timeline.
2. They know what to expect and they love the unexpected.
Experts typically enjoy what they do, and they bring a passion to it that can’t be found in a YouTube video. They know how to run all of the plays in the book, and they know which plays to run to deliver a winning solution.
However, when something unexpected happens (like Nathan’s “rainy” basement), an expert will recognize it for what it is: an opportunity for them to shine. When the rest of us are about to throw in the towel – and the online tutorial is no longer of use – experts are at their problem-solving best.
3. Experts are aware of the entire “system.”
Nathan’s toilet was only a single, minuscule part of what turned out to be a vast network that ran through his walls, under the house, connecting every room in the house and every house in his neighborhood. While he was focused on the toilet, he failed to account for the entire system and the problems rippled out to include multiple rooms of his house.
It’s the same with your website. The links on the pages connect to each other and connect your website to the ever-increasing and expanding digital universe. An expert is able to see the big picture and make sure that all of the elements of your website play well together – and with other websites – whether it is viewed on a computer, a phone or a tablet. Additionally, is the website integrated effectively with social media and your Google My Business page?
4. They get the job done better.
Expertise is best witnessed in the details. But only if you know what you’re looking for. When a job is expertly done, you might not even aware that a job was done at all. Instead you might notice the results: increased site traffic and a site that is a joy to navigate. Experts deliver better designs, better functionality and better loading times.
Whether it is a toilet or a website, an expert will provide solutions that are seamless, intuitive and elegant. Beyond the design elements, the site will be optimized behind the scenes. SEO is its own skills-set, which means that it is yet another area for an expert to shine – and another opportunity for you to create a mess for them to clean up.
5. Experts build long-term relationships and offer ongoing support.
Whether you reach out to an expert at the start of the project or as an attempt to salvage what’s left after you took it on yourself, you have most likely been added to their client portfolio for ongoing support. They are already familiar with your unique circumstances and they already understand your business objectives, which means that the level of assistance they can offer will actually increase over time as the partnership is strengthened by time.
The truth is:
Of course you can do it yourself.
But can you do it correctly?
Can you do it without creating more problems down the road or painting yourself into a corner?
Can you do it as well as an expert?
Chances are that if you are reading this, you are looking to either create or improve your business’s online presence.
And chances are that you are an expert in your own field, so something in this post rings true for you.
But you’re probably not also an expert in web design and digital marketing.
- Can you afford to have a site that isn’t designed and optimized to the highest standards?
- Can you afford to not have a website at all while you wait for a professional/expert to deconstruct your mistakes and get you up and running again?
As an expert in your own field, you of all people already understand the value of investing in a job well done.
Nathan wasn’t an expert when it came to plumbing.
But he is an expert on web design and digital marketing.
If you do decide to go it alone, remember Nathan’s final words on the matter of his toilet: