Why do websites fail? It’s Not What You Think

I’ve been a programmer for 16 years. During my 16 years, I’ve worked on countless projects for companies ranging from mom-and-pop stores to large enterprise companies like GE and Orbit Irrigation. I’ve been a part of huge success and epic failures. During this time I have seen first hand why websites fail and what to do about it.

This knowledge has left me in a bit of a quandary. Over the years I’ve struggled with the different titles and descriptions I use in my line of work. How do people perceive what I do?

If I say I create websites, people think that what I do is create an online brochure for your company. Something that looks great but doesn’t do much else.

If I use the title of Web Developer, people think I can work within systems like WordPress, Drupal, or WooCommerce and can add a little functionality. If I say programmer, people think of deep logic and ones and zeros and not anything web-related. If I had to use one of those terms I think the one I enjoy and think most properly fits is programmer.

Programming at its core is problem-solving using logic. Problem-solving is exactly what a website is supposed to do. That is why there is such a problem with the titles I mentioned above. They don’t convey the correct meaning of the work I preform.

But what exactly is the problem a website solves? Well, that depends on the organization. Typically, organizational problems fall within four types of pain points.

  • Productivity
  • Financial
  • People
  • Process
  • Marketing and Sales

In these pain points, there are a number of problems that exist that can be solved by a website. Because of the preconceived notion of what a website is, people, unfortunately, don’t realize the power of a website.

In the last ten years, the cloud has taken over software. In the past, people bought software and installed it on their desktop or laptop computer. Within the last ten years, the diffusion of technology has caused a need for centralized software and data. Websites have moved from a simple representation of the company to very complex problem-solving applications.

Systems have gone from running on your PC or laptop to running on a website and mobile apps. How are websites solving problems? Lets’s take a look at some case studies Cytrus Logic has worked on.

Productivity

Azureity is and outsourced IT management solution. They had a paperwork problem. They needed to distribute documents for each of their clients. The process was long and tedious when done manually. The problem took valuable time away from employees needlessly. It was expensive as well because it was employee labor.

The solution to the problem was to create a file repository on their site where files could be uploaded in bulk or individually. Both parties had a secure login to view the files. This nearly eliminated the need for employee intervention. It saved costs as well by freeing up employees for other responsibilities.

Azureity file repository - Why do websites fail?

This is a very simple example of how a website can increase productivity. Manual paperwork should be a thing of the past but unfortunately, it still remains due to a lack of understanding about what options are available.

Other problems in this category that can be fixed with a website include:

  • Continually missing deadlines
  • Spending too much time in meetings
  • Administration/paperwork is out of hand
  • Quality issues in production

People and Financial

BYU Management Society is “a worldwide network of business professionals with a shared vision of moral and ethical leadership and a common code of business conduct and integrity. ” In their attempts to advance their purpose decided a website would be the best way to do this. Because they have chapters all around the globe a website was the only feasible means of uniting all of their members and pushing a unified message.

They motivated their chapter members by creating a social network by which their users could interact with and learn from each other. Each chapter was autonomous while still being subservient to the general society rules.

BYU Management Society - Why do websites fail?

With each chapter being autonomous they were free to collect membership dues from their members. However, these dues had to be collected electronically and accounted for by the society as a whole. In other words, the finances had to be precise and accurate.

The resolution was a global website that handled not only the motivation and engagement of each member but also manage the finances of each chapter and the global society in one place.

Motivation and inclusion is an important part of any organization and can be a real challenge to larger organizations. However, with the right website and strategy this can be implemented with great success.

Other types of challenges in these two areas:

  • People
    • Low Employee Morale.
    • Losing employees to higher-paying jobs
    • Lack of diversity leading to a lack of innovation.
    • Ongoing Training
    • Trouble recruiting and retaining employees
  • Finance
    • Lack of visibility to know if you are making good financial decisions.
    • Lack of sales forecasting
    • Asset Management

More information on the BYU project

So Why do websites fail?

They fail because most people have no purpose or goals for the site as a whole. They know they need one, but they aren’t exactly sure why. So they spend money on a site without a specific understanding of what they want to achieve. Without a clear understanding of the end goal, nothing else can be defined. Remember The old proverb about the horseshoe nail?

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe, the horse was lost.
For want of a horse, the rider was lost.
For want of a rider, the message was lost.
For want of a message, the battle was lost.
For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Old Proverb

Without the end goal, no other goals or plans can be made. It’s a domino effect. It reminds me of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.

Alice“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

The Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

Alice“I don’t much care where.”

The Cheshire Cat“Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.”

Alice“…so long as I get somewhere.”

The Cheshire Cat“Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”

The Cheshire Cat was right. The end goal is important. If there is no clear goal for your site then it doesn’t matter how things are done. They could be done as poorly as possible and will not make a difference either way.

Stephen R. Covey said it best. We have to start with the end in mind.

To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction

Stephen R. Covey

In order for your website to reach it’s potential, it has to have specific goals. Those goals have to meet the company’s/organization’s goals. Those goals have to fit the owner’s goals. Therefore, there are certain questions that have to be answered. These questions include:

  • How much money do I need to live the way I wish? Not in income but in assets. In other words, how much money do you need in order to be independent of work, to be free?
  • How big is your vision? How big will your company be when it’s finally done? Will it be a $300,000 company? A million-dollar company? A $500-million company?
  • What organization does my company need in order to reach its goals?
  • What systems do I need in place in order to accommodate my organization?

Unfortunately, the majority of companies I come across do not have any of these things defined. They simply want a website. So Why do websites fail? They fail because they were designed to fail.

Jacob Billings
During my career, I have worked in a number of different roles that have helped me understand the overall software development process. These roles include project management, senior developer, Linux administrator, technical sales consultant, and company owner. Working within these roles has given me an in-depth knowledge of best practices in software development.
I offer a strong aptitude for learning new technologies and a proven track record of meeting aggressive goals. My most notable skills include:

Software Development: I bring over 13 years of experience in developing software for multiple clients in various environments. I have a solid knowledge of PHP, Javascript, MySQL, Python, and Java.

Over my career, I have had the opportunity to work on projects for some of the most recognized brands on the planet. Brands like Marriott Hotels, Microsoft, Ashland Chemical, Capital One Credit Cards, Cadbury Schweppes, GE and more. This has given me an in-depth understanding of my client's challenges as they grow. I know how to get a company from startup to maturity with technology. My specialties are in E-commerce(specifically Magento), process automation, and security.