Hypothetical: you, a web developer destined to create things of beauty, have a client who just wants the “basics.” Said client wants a simple customer-facing web presence for minimal expense. He doesn’t want the hassle of web hosting, has no idea what “HTML” stands for and really is just looking for a site to get customer attention. How can you do this? Answer after the obligatory music video.
Recently, my man’s brother-in-law and I got to talking about his business. He didn’t have a website. My first thought jumped to a standard WordPress deployment with static pages and a nice little blog to keep the content fresh in search rankings. Hell, I even know a designer who is a whiz at WP templates, so let’s get this party started!
But I sat down and talked with him about what he wanted, and, really, he just wants another way people can find his business. His business is pretty straight-forward and definitely not conducive to a blog. He doesn’t need a storefront. Or a gallery. He doesn’t really need…anything, aside from a few pages detailing what he does. He wanted a domain name, and e-mail, and, yup. That’s about it.
Google Apps is the perfect solution here. In less than 4 hours, I
- Registered a domain name through GoDaddy
- Edited the zone file to route mail to Google, use the domain name for Google Sites, and authorize Analytics and Webmaster tools
- Enabled Google Voice in case he wants a business-specific phone number
- Listed an advertisement on Google Places for Businesses
- Deployed a small, yet functional, Google Site to outline the services offered
- Submitted the site-map to Webmaster Tools for indexing
Here’s the kicker: a lot of the time, when handling a fresh deployment for a client, I need to know something about their industry. In this case, because it’s simply a list of what the company does and a few photos (supplied by the client), I didn’t have to know a goddamn thing. Because Google Sites is so simple to work with, I can spare myself the hassle of going back and forth over content and let the client fill it in on their own.
Since everything in Apps is intertwined, half of the usual set-up nonsense – copy/paste, change, edit, integrate – vanished. In the future, should he want a blog, I can simply set-up a subdomain using Blogger. I can say with a decent amount of certainty that his business will never outgrow this solution.
So the next time you have a client say, “I really just want people to be able to find my business on the web” ask yourself a few questions.
- Does the client sell items/will they ever need an online catalog?
- Will the client need to maintain an online client database in the foreseeable future?
- Can all the elements on the page be off-loaded to free services (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc)?
- Does the client need the ability to make simple changes without waiting on me?
After you start asking these questions for every new-to-the-web client, you’ll be surprised how often you can spare them the expense (and hassle) of a self-hosted website. You’ll end up, ultimately, with a happier customer for reducing confusion and expense. In my case, the total cost for the year is $8.19 – the price of the domain through GoDaddy, after a coupon, of course.