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Website construction and how to get the best results – or not

I will warn you now, this week I am on my soap box having been let down by yet another person who was happy to take my money, tinker with my website and leave it in a worse place than it was before they started.

I know that I am not alone in having such problems. Almost weekly I see someone in one of the many Facebook groups I belong to complaining about the problems they are having with their website. Sadly, I do not have a solution for you, I can’t recommend anyone reliable, and I have used everything from professional setups to kids just out of school or university and the only person who has been of any real help was my son.

He has been amazing in the past and helped me set up the group website for artists, Ginger Cactus Art ( Do take a look if you are interested in seeing some amazing artwork by some really lovely artists. However, he is now working, having been offered a job as a result of taking his Master’s degree in Computational Neuroscience, Cognition and Artificial Intelligence. Actually, he was offered it before he had even handed in his dissertation. Fabulous news! Please forgive me having a little show off there; I am so proud of him.

If you have the time and mind to invest and you are that way inclined, my best advice to you is do it yourself. Read up on how to set everything up, find out about search engine optimisations (SEOs), make sure you have the best tags for your work attached in the right places on your site and use people on sites like Fiverr or Upworks (there are other similar sites too) to solve small problems or do an audit of your site so that you know what you need to work on next.

If you are not “techie” or you just don’t have the time or inclination to deal with this kind of stuff, then like me you will need to trawl your way through the numerous organisations and individuals who have set themselves up to sort this kind of stuff out for you.

Two weeks ago I contacted a company to ask if they would be prepared to resolve my website issues and have heard nothing yet. There may be all sorts of reasons why a company doesn’t come back to you, but my feeling is if they can’t respond to a request in a timely fashion, they are probably not going to produce work for you in a timely fashion either.

As I was feeling so desperate to find help, I put a call out via one of the Facebook groups I am in and asked if anyone there could recommend someone good. The prices I was initially quoted vary from £250 to £10,000 (!) but I ended up with a shortlist of two.

So, where do you start? I have had conversations with both my shortlisted contractors via email, and a Zoom call with one. Both sounded good. One was advocating for herself and her brother (as they work together), while the other was about to go away for a number of weeks but said the work would continue once they arrived at their destination.

In the end I have decided which one to go with and will have to cross my fingers (and toes) that I have made the right decision. My husband listened in to the Zoom conversation and, whilst admitting he knows little about website building, felt this person sounded confident in her knowledge about my site. She then took the trouble to have a nose around my site and email me suggestions about how best to bring it up to scratch and, probably most important for me, seemed very patient. I am in that group of people who have taken on a fair amount of knowledge but don’t really understand what I know or what is true so that a little bit of knowledge becomes a dangerous thing.

The other impressive thing about this person is her apparently amazing time management skills. She responds quickly to emails and does what she says she is going to do well within the timeframe she suggests. This is really important as Mr. S and I are currently experiencing a major problem with our fishpond, which was meant to be fully installed with a fibreglass lining, lights, fountain and, naturally, the fish (which are currently in a paddling pool) all compete before the end of this month (October). We haven’t heard anything from the company for two weeks now, so I am just getting more and more angry. And it will not be finished until closer to the end of November now.

I expect they will do a great job when they get around to it, but the feelings of good will, pleasure and excitement have been completely overthrown by the feelings of anger, disappointment, and frustration.

It is my belief that in life one should always under promise and over deliver. For instance, tell me that my car will be fixed and ready in five days then phone me after three and say that it is done, and I will be over the moon. Tell me it will be ready in three days and then put me off for five and I will be pretty irritated. Thankfully, the man who looks after my car is amazing and manages his time and customer expectations incredibly well. It is the reason I have been going to him for over a decade.

Anyway, to get back to the website issue. I have taken on this person to sort things out. I will update you in the coming weeks about how things are going and if I feel that an amazing result is achieved and they are happy for me to advertise that, I will let you know how to contact them.

NB Just for the record, I do not get paid to endorse any of the brands, e.g. websites etc., I have mentioned above. These are all products that I use and genuinely believe in.

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