Do-It-Yourself or Outsource?

I purchased a website recently and it’s run by PHP and MySQL. I don’t know PHP but I do know MySQL and how to make simple SQL statements. I need to modify this site’s functionality and possibly use the software and database that powers it for another unrelated website. Since I know other programming languages I figured learning PHP wouldn’t be too difficult. But it has been a while since I have edited or programmed anything complicated.

So I am faced with a decision that many small business owners face: Do I take the time to learn PHP and relearn MySQL and then make all the edits and changes I need on my own or do I outsource the whole project?

Ever read Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Work Week? I recommend it to every small business owner. Among the many fantastic ideas he presents in this gem he strongly recommends outsourcing everything whenever possible.

Another person who espouses this theory is John Reese. He also suggests that you ought to concentrate on the things that you’re good at and that make the money and outsource the rest.

Any time you find yourself doing repetitive tasks, especially mindless ones, you ought to outsource, I agree.

But in my PHP case, I also want to know how to program in PHP. I think it won’t be very difficult and once I know it, I won’t have to deal with a contractor every time I want to change my website(s) that use it.

So I came up with sort of a compromise. I decided to hire someone to teach me PHP and how it is specifically used in my website’s application and help me with initial large edits.

I went to Craigslist, created a job opening and boom, I have a person willing to do it for the price I’ll pay and we’re going to meet next week.

Want a Horrible Website that Frustrates Your Visitors? Top 30 Ways to Anger Your Visitors

How to Have a Terrible Website and Frustrate the Heck out of Your Visitors

By Jason OConnor
Copyright 2009

The following lists come from my Web design and marketing book presented in a slightly different way and that I included in my latest Net Gazette edition.

If you’re a sadistic kind of webmaster or website owner and have a burning desire to royally frustrate and anger your site visitors each and every time they visit your site, these three lists are just for you. If you want to have a terrible website that looks bad, works horribly and breaks fundamental marketing rules, read on.

First let me explain why there are three lists. One way to look at any website is to break it up into three equally important segments; design, technical and marketing. In other words, every site on the Web contains these three components. They all have a design or look and feel (design), they all have to be on a server and coded properly to be live on the Internet (technical) and they all have ways in which they attract visitors and make sales (marketing).

So let’s look at the top ten ways in which you can annoy your website visitors and basically fail miserably at the whole website endeavor in each of these three segments. The following is a list, broken up into the three categories, defining exactly what NOT to do.

Top 10 Ways to Achieve Web Design Horror and Anger the Heck out of your Wesite Visitors

  1. Never use Web conventions, instead use crazy and wacky formats that no one’s ever seen and no one can understand
  2. Write trite, unoriginal boring and paraphrased content only and never update your site
  3. Create totally different and unique navigation for every page so that your visitors need to waste time re-learning your navigation every time they go to a new page. Also create totally different look & feels for every page so that your visitors never know if they’re on the same site or clicked away.
  4. Use confusing, obfuscated and mysterious labels for all your links and buttons so that no one ever has any idea where they’re going if they click. The more confusing, the better.
  5. Make it impossible to search the site. Offer no search box, no site map and basically no possible way to find anything on your website.
  6. Include content that only talks about you. Never mention anything about your visitors or how you can help them, just talk about you and your history and all your achievements. And while you’re at it, include a big picture of you and your office building right on the home page.
  7. Include only poorly-written copy with lots of grammar mistakes, and ubiquitous, curious and horrendous spelling and punctuation mistakes throughout your site.
  8. Don’t include any text. Make every page on your site one big picture. So for instance, on your home page have one giant picture of you and your office building and have no text so search engines can’t see your site at all.
  9. Use buttons for your navigation only, or use complicated JavaScript drop down menus that complicate your sites navigation. Either way, if you do this and include no text links, the search engines won’t be able to spider (navigate and record) your website.
  10. Make your site as difficult to read as possible. Use teeny, tiny fonts that are hard to read against some funky-colored background. For instance, use blue fonts on a black background.

Top 10 Ways to Anger Visitors using Technical Aspects of Your Website

  1. Make your website take forever to load in people’s browsers. The longer the better.
  2. Make it so that your site looks completely different on everybody’s computer. So for Macs your site looks like one way, and for PCs it looks another way. Or have it look totally different in Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox.
  3. Make it so that any functionality on the site is confusing to figure out and works improperly and inconsistently every time it’s used.
  4. Include lots of broken links and missing images throughout.
  5. Be sure to set it up so that it regularly crashes. For example, if more than three people are visiting the site at the same time, the home page becomes inaccessible.
  6. Has no form validation. Allow visitors to enter any thing under the sun into your website forms. Maybe some smart hacker-types will enter executable code that corrupts or takes over your server.
  7. Make all your site visitors have to download and install lots of plug ins to view your site properly. If they don’t, too bad.
  8. Tell people that they have to view your site in a specific browser and browser version only.
  9. Make it so that there are tons of pop-ups, moving newsletter sign-up boxes, running videos, animations and Flash movies that take forever to download before you can view the site.
  10. Use lots of frames

Top Ten Web Marketing No-No’s:

  1. Make your website completely bounce-friendly. On other words, make it ‘un-sticky’ so that when people arrive on one of your pages, they leave immediately
  2. Include no calls to action so that your site never asks your website visitors to do a thing. Make it so that every page is a dead end that leaves your visitors scratching their heads and then clicking away.
  3. Does absolutely nothing to build your brand
  4. Has no terms or policies page
  5. Evokes no emotions. Make the site flat, boring, gray, dull and forgettable.
  6. Make sure there is no way for anyone who visits your site to sign up for anything or give you their contact info or email address. Certainly don’t use your site to build any kind of email list.
  7. Converts no one who visits your site into a paying customer. Ever.
  8. Never measure anything
  9. Include no phone number or email and absolutely no other way to contact you. Hide behind your website completely.
  10. Make it so that search engine can’t read your site and make it so that people can’t really read your site either.

Follow these three lists to the letter and you may win the Worst Website in the World list (if that even exists) and you’ll definitely anger and frustrate your website visitors to high heaven.

Sent Out the January ’09 Net Gazette

I wrote three articles for this edition, which is the first of 2009. I first sent it out to my email list, then posted it to The Net Gazette website here.

The first article is all about link bait. I collaborated with another writer for this one which delves into the concept of link bait, which is creating content that is compelling enough to attract links. Besides the article’s writing and most importantly its content, I also like the image I created to go along with the article. It’s a cartoon worm on a hook about to be eaten by a cartoon fish with the code that makes a hyperlink printed on its body.

The next article is partly taken from the book I wrote about hiring a Web designer and lists website best practices. It outlines some of the top best practices for Web design, technology and Web marketing.

The last article outlines much of my 2009 Web marketing action plan. I wanted to give people an example of what I will be concentrating on this year. And I wanted to lead by example by actually writing down and committing to paper (or in this case, html) my goals and plan. I have read and heard many times that if you write down your plans or goals it actually increases your chances of following through with your plans and achieving your goals.

Let’s Take the Apostrophe out of O’Connor Once and For All

Being from one of the first computer generations and being a computer nerd myself, I have suffered at the hands of that dastardly apostrophe in my last name enough. My goal is to systematically take out the apostrophe in my last name and for all OConnor’s across the world to do the same.

The reason being is that the apostrophe causes all kinds of annoying problems when trying to log in to websites or when attempting to be found while on phone calls with customer service reps. The reps will not know if you’re entered into their database as o’connor or oconnor or o connor. It’s maddening.

Since there’s more than one way to spell my last name – o’connor or oconnor or o connor – this causes confusion and makes everything take a lot longer to deal with.

The customer service rep will invariably say something like, “I don’t see see you here, how do you spell your name, “ER” or “OR”? With or without the apostrophe?”

First of all, I know of no OConnor’s who use “ER” (as in OConner). We use “OR”.

If you’re a customer service adviser or a sales associate or customer liaison representative, etc., hear me now. No OConnor spells their last name ‘OConner’. (Maybe there’s an O’Connell, but not OConner.) (I recently did a search for ‘Jason OConner” and did find a few who actually did spell their name with an ‘er’. Go figure. But they are in the very, very small minority.)

And one more thing, if your last name is OConnor, do customer reps often say to you when you give your last name, “How do you spell your name, OcC . . .?” I guess there are some Irish last names like McCartney for example that do start with an ‘McC’, so I can see the confusion, but there is no such spelling! If you’re a customer service representative, please don’t think we spell our last name astarting with ‘OcC’.

Now that I’ve explained that, I want to stamp out the apostrophe. If your last name is OConnor, then from now on, leave the apostrophe out when signing up at websites or giving your information to company data input people. The apostrophe causes problems with some legacy databases, and makes you invisible in others. By banishing the apostrophe from our last name ‘OConnor’ forever, we’ll enter the 21st Century digital age ready to be treated equal to any other non-apostrophized last named person. We’ll save time and be equal!

Let’s stand together fellow OConnor’s. From now on, our official name is spelled OConnor. If we all stand together, we can stop the confusion forever.