Are you spending too much time under the hood of your website?

Most readers of this blog will be familiar with the rapid increase in the number of social networking groups dedicated to owning and operating a small business.

Typically the domain of LinkedIn, and more recently Facebook, these groups are brimming with business operators wanting to share business ideas, perspectives, knowledge and of course their own profile and in turn promotion.

For those wanting to understand how smaller business operators tick, they are a fantastic way to get an understanding of the world of the small business operator.

But recently I’ve been taken aback at the number of smaller business operators who have been stumped on some fairly advanced technical problems with their websites.

DIY gone mad
One group member posted:

“We had a big scare last week when we almost lost a few months’ worth of work from our WordPress site. We last backed it up in June (naughty me). I definitely don’t want to ever go through that feeling of panic again.

I thought the post was very odd for what was a small business owner’s forum. The notion of a small business operator having to manage the backing up of their own website is just something that, provided they are in good professional hands, they should never have to concern themselves about.

If they are with a good technology platform provider, this is done regularly and automatically. Some platforms even come with a very handy and easy to use ‘rollback’ capability to restore pages to previous versions in the event of mistake or disaster.

Or if they are with a good web developer, it’s up to the developer to ensure the performance of the website, including backing up.

Work on the business, not on the website
In discussing the issue further, the member – who it turned out is a photographer, went on to talk about accessing the ‘code’, playing with the CSS (cascading style sheets) backup tools, plug-ins and a bunch of other aspects that no doubt left most members scratching their heads quizzically or scrolling to something more of their worlds.

Not that there’s anything wrong with learning about website development. It’s a free country and if this photographer wants to invest his time in learning about web development, there’s nothing stopping him.

But most small business operators I’ve come across want to leave ‘all that stuff’ to their web professional so they can get on with running their business.

Old dogs, new tricks
A few months earlier, in the same group, an older tourism business operator posted:

“My WordPress site has lost one of my important permalinks; can anybody offer any advice on how to fix it?”

Again, this is a technical issue that ordinary business owners shouldn’t have to concern themselves with.

While the more technical folk in the forum tried to assist her as best they could, discussing permalink databases and control panels, (more) backups and so on, the point remains that a good and easy-to-use content management system backed up with good support would not only have had her managing her website quite happily but saved her so much time getting help from ‘the crowd’ and then fiddling around trying to resolve it herself.

It seems she agreed. She posted later:

“At my age sometimes it’s better to stick to the thing that you sort of understand rather than go for something new and hope you will understand and eventually master.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Craig Reardon is a writer, educator and operator of independent web services firm for SMEs, The E Team.


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