Why Businesses Need a Website that Works

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  • November 21, 2007

The BBC has an slightly interesting and poorly researched article today discussing whether small companies really need a website.

James Pople, who runs a building contractor firm in Tunbridge Wells, is not convinced that a website is an essential tool for business success. Nine months after his website went live, he insists it has not generated a single phone call from a customer.

Wow, not a single phone call. Lets take a look at his website to see why.


Ahh yes, it requires both JavaScript and Flash to navigate making it totally impossible for the search engines to index.

So, Mr Pople, it is not surprising that your site hasn’t generated any business because nobody can find it.

It’s like having a party and expecting people to magically find the venue without telling anybody where it is.

I think, although your site doesn’t make it very clear, that you design and construct buildings. How much business would you get if you ranked number 1 when somebody searched for design construction? I’m guessing quite a lot.

This was a guest post by Ritchie a business continuity expert

Patrick Altoft

About Patrick Altoft

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events.

  • http://city-news.co.uk Osman

    Wow – nine months!!

    I like your research Patrick, maybe someone should point him to this blog.

    Looks like the people who built the site needs some SEO training, and some linkbait to boot from the linkbait school!!

  • http://bloghash.com Raj

    Wow! Patrick, you have an eye for detail. I like the way you look at things and write about your discoveries from the SEO point of view.

  • http://blogstorm.co.uk Patrick Altoft

    I’ve sent Mr Pople an email and will be more than happy to offer some advice so he can get more business.

  • http://distilled.co.uk/blog Tom

    Great catch Patrick – it really annoys me when the mainstream media picks stuff like this and writes about it like they know what they’re talking about when really they don’t!

  • http://nbrightside.com/blog/ Andy C

    Forget all this techie SEO nonsense

    All he needs is to lose the ‘l’ from his surname and a simplified Web site. Think of all the business and positive PR

    ‘Pope Design Construction’

    …would receive.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know.

  • http://noviceseo.com Novice SEO

    That is kind of funny and sad at the same time. I wonder how many potential clients will be turned off to the web because of an article like that from a major news source like the BBC?

    @ Osman – Your comment about designers needing SEO training is dead on. I am from the old school of design, circa 1978, before computers. Most designers of my era and some of the younger ones are more concerned about looks rather than functionality. Looks are important but there must be a balance. I had to retrain myself and learn SEO for websites I design.

  • http://stephenpratley.com Stephen Pratley

    Well he’s still in business, so I guess that means it’s not essential.

    However we make lots of small business sites, often just using tools like WordPress, and our first client of 2007 just sold out off the back of business we brought him via SEO and he only started it in 2007. I guess ‘essential’ can mean a lot of different things!

  • http://blogstorm.co.uk Patrick Altoft

    @Stephen – it might not be essential for him but he could have taken his whole family for a nice 2 week holiday for the price somebody charged him for that Flash website.

    I feel sorry for the guy.

  • http://siberianlight.net Andy

    Using IE7, I couldn’t even get the flash nonsense to work – all I saw was a blank page and no prompts to install any plugins.

    Works ok in Firefox, although, like Patrick, I couldn’t quite figure out what he was trying to sell me.

  • http://advicenetwork.com/contest Advice Network

    His site resized my window. He deserves his obscurity.

  • http://oneeyedview.com One Eyed View

    Hilarious on one hand, and extremely frustrating on the other! Nice catch, hopefully someone will do some better research next time.

  • http://jonathancrossfield.com/blog Kimota

    The thing that amazes me, is there isn’t a skerrick of actual information anywhere on the site. He hopes that the pictures speak for themselves and there has been absolutely no thought to what a customer may want to know. And no text means no search engines – at all.

    Who sold him this piece of rubbish?

  • http://imafish.co.uk/blog/ Pete White

    Patrick I’m so glad you picked up on this. I read the same article and was a bit surprised. It’s so often I will look up a companies website before dealing with them just to find out contact details or a little about them.

  • http://vincentchow.net Vincent Chow

    I don’t think many will bother to click another link in order to reach the homepage. It looks like an “Under Construction” page that I would probably close it if I didn’t read.

  • http://slayerment.com Quinton Figueroa

    Man, people are so terrible w/ the Internet. It hurts to even look at hit site and situation. One less site to outrank w/ your own!

  • http://edgedirector.com/ spenser

    You’ve got to feel for this guy.

    Some “professional web designer” sold him on the idea of having a site and then delivered some amateurish mess.

    Were he to fix cars in this manner, I’m sure the public wouldn’t be satisfied. Yet anyone can hang out a shingle as a web designer without dispute.

  • http://forums.ukwebmasterworld.com/ Webmaster Forum

    Unfortunately situations like this happen too often. I had to completely redo websites for many customers after they spend thousands on these “Great Designs”… Average small business owners don’t know much about web and it is much easier to sell them a “look” instead of “functionality”…

  • Gary

    I worked admin for a web design company for a while and i think i might even email them this guy’s page, they were mad about good design but always, ALWAYS, made sure the site could be searched by engines, lots of content, but this thing is just that, a ‘thing.’ I dont think you can call it a website… poor guy must’ve paid through the nose for it too, expecting brilliant things to happen ’cause of the money they charged. No wonder he spoke to the BBC…

    Somebody get in touch and make him a new site! or start a ‘Pople Web Construction’ fund or something…

  • http://mothership.co.nz Karl

    A good web developer sits down with the customer and asks: “Why do you want a website, and what do you expect from it?” and proceeds accordingly. Sure, having a site that looks like an online brochure is one thing, but people have to know where to find the brochure. This is the same as printing 10 000 full colour brochures, leaving them still in their boxes in a warehouse, then wondering why they’re not bringing people rushing through the door.

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  • http://www.popledesignconstruction.com James Pople

    Hi all, its that poor guy from the bbc article on small businesses. I appreciate all comments and have learned from this hugely. I blame myself for not thinking about user-bility. I designed the layout and minimal text, but now for change! A website needs INFORMATION, accessible to ALL. Thank you all.

    • http://www.blogstorm.co.uk Patrick Altoft

      Hi James, glad to hear you are going to be making changes. Good luck with the business.

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