I'm wondering if having a website has become too easy. Perhaps all this great free software like Joomla!, Drupal, Zencart and Wordpress have made owning a website so simple even fools can do it. Complete idiots can create great looking websites, utter buffoons can run on-line shops. Surely this is wrong?
Well actually it's not wrong. In my view it's fantastic. The gargantuan efforts of the communities that create free software allowing everyone and anyone to publish a website is a wondrous thing to be applauded. With these software systems everybody who wants a website is only a few mouse clicks away from being the proud owner of an impressive looking on-line presence.
The problem is, by making getting to Base Camp so easy most people fall flat on their face when the march for Camp I and beyond kicks in. They fail to recognise the simple fact that the tools mentioned above are just that, tools, not solutions.
In fact, using free software tools often means creating a great looking website takes ZERO EFFORT and I think the web is awash with ZERO EFFORT websites.
But the real problem is caused by the zero effort mindset these superb tools create. People perhaps think because they have a great looking site that was easy to achieve, on-line success will come just as easily. Several times this week I've had conversations with people who feel conned or cheated because their sites are not delivering. In almost every case the sites have been what I would class as zero effort. The hard truth is:
F + Z = G
G + Z = 0
Where F = FREE SOFTWARE, Z = ZERO EFFORT, G = GREAT LOOKING SITE
Interestingly, by making what used to be the hard bit, the technology, easier, the effect should be an increase in the quality of the really hard bit, the content. But what seems to have happened is the opposite. Companies and individuals have concentrated on patting themselves on the back for creating a great looking website when in fact they didn't really do anything. To make matters worse they then simply sit back and wait for search engine traffic to come and wonder at their creation.
When DTP software became mainstream many predicted the end of the graphic design industry. It didn't happen. Now powerful website software is free, and easy to install, perhaps web developers should be worried. Again, it's not going to happen so long as the zero effort mindset persists.