THIS MAN IS A DANGER TO SMALL BUSINESS WEBSITES!
You know The Dabbler.
He’s a friend of a friend. You got talking to him in the pub the other day.
He’s made a few hobby websites and he’s very proud of them.
With enthusiasm, he tells you that he’s been building websites for fifteen years. He offers to build a new small business website for you for free.
Money’s a bit tight, so you agree. After all, you think, a website is a website and The Dabbler’s got fifteen years of website building under his belt.
The trouble is that a website for a small business is a completely different kettle of fish to a hobby website.
And The Dabbler thinks he can build websites, so he’s never seen the need to upgrade his knowledge. In reality, he’s got one year’s experience, but it’s fourteen years old. Internet technology develops at such an incredible rate, that he’s hopelessly out of date.
He’s using web building software that he bought years ago. It works perfectly well as far as he’s concerned.
So he’s never updated it.
But his websites don’t work on mobile devices, smartphones and tablets. He doesn’t even know that. He doesn’t care either.
To him, mobile devices are just gimmicks.
He builds his websites page by page, like the skilled artisan he thinks he is. He’s never heard of open source (free!) content management systems, like WordPress.
Good design is an alien concept to The Dabbler.
The more colours that clash on his websites, the better he thinks they look.To him, it shows his creativity. He’s never heard of using a colour wheel to choose colours.
Why use one shade of a colour when you can use five that don’t match?
And he thinks that brown is the best ever colour to use on websites.
So he uses it.
All those other websites use really boring fonts according to The Dabbler. He prides himself on being more artistic. His websites all use an obscure font that he found on the internet. He didn’t bother to check the usage rights.
The Dabbler also likes lots of images on his website.
He’s found Google Images and downloads ones he likes from there. They’re on the internet, so he must be able to use them, right?
And he likes big images. The bigger the better. He doesn’t bother with how big the file sizes of the images are.
His websites take ages to load as a result, but, hey, anything good in life is worth the wait!
They click through to legal documentation.
To The Dabbler, they’re just gobbledegook. He’s not going to waste his time putting them on his websites.
The Dabbler has heard of something called ‘Search Engine Optimization’
It gets websites ranked at at the top of the search engines’ results. He’s not really sure what it is.
But he’s seen an ad on the internet. He clicked through and watched a webinar on mini-sites. He didn’t see the need to buy the course being offered at the end of the webinar. All he thinks he’s got to do is build loads of websites and they’ll dominate Google.
He likes this idea very much. He thinks he’s a website genius. So what better than the chance to build more of his wonderful (in his mind!) websites?
So he persuades you to spend money buying loads of domain names. And he gets to work building loads of his ghastly sites – all with exactly the same content, because he can’t be bothered to write the unique content that the search engines want.
But he has heard that for business websites, there’s this thing called ‘copywriting’.
So he sets to work busily telling the world on the website how wonderful your business’s products and services are.
The trouble is, the Dabbler doesn’t let reality get in the way: it spoils his flowery prose.
When you see The Dabbler’s websites, you’re not that impressed.
But, you remind yourself, he did do them for free. And the mini-site strategy sounded good. It’s sure to work.
So you sit back and wait for the phone to ring and your email account to fill with enquiries.
You check Google and see that the sites are ranking well.
Until one day they’re not there.
Google (and the other search engines) hates spammy duplicate content. Google’s human reviewers have seen the sites, noticed the duplicate content and have de-indexed them all from Google’s search results.
It gets worse.
A pile of very formal-looking letters arrive.
You open the first one. It’s from a stock image company. The Dabbler has used one of their images without payment. On every single one of the sites that he’s done for you. Your business name is on each one .
The stock image company is demanding thousands of dollars for copyright infringement.
And its lawyer is a legal rottweiler.
You open the next letter in the pile. It’s from another lawyer.
The lawyer’s client visited your website and was attacked with malware from it. It made her expensive laptop unusable. The lawyer’s now demanding a large amount of compensation on her behalf.
The Dabbler knows nothing about website security.
His websites are a hacker’s paradise.
If you’d had some properly-drafted legal clauses, you’d have had a chance of defending the claim. In fact, the claim might not have been made in the first place.
As you open the next letter, you begin to realise that a theme is developing. It’s another lawyer’s letter. Another copyright infringement claim, this time from the owners of the font.
When you think it can’t get any worse…
The phone rings. A trading standards officer is on the other end of the line. He wants to know if you can justify the outlandish claims being made on the websites for your products and services.
He’s thinking about prosecuting you.
The next phone call you make is to your lawyer. Your very expensive lawyer.
Financial and professional ruin lie ahead.
And then you wake up.
You’re relieved that it was all a nightmare.
You’re so thankful!
Yesterday you said ‘no’ when The Dabbler offered to build your small business website.