I tweeted out this week that I had created a website for my barber, Rick Motta (who is a great guy btw). I was in his barber shop recently and he asked me how my new job was coming along. I told him it was great and that I was learning alot about the website creator industry. At this point, Rick started to probe more in to Weebly and ask how we help businesses get on the Internet (or as Rick says, be found on iPhones....I love it!). So I explained to Rick what we do - DIY company, easy to use, drag & drop, build the site, publish. Period. The end.
Now, in Rick's case, he is not plugged in to the Net like the rest of us. Part of this is driven by lifestyle yet part of this is driven by time. Rick runs a busy Barber shop. He literally doesn't have time to build a website. Some interesting feedback from him about his journey on website creation:
1. He hired a company to build his site for $1500. Never built it.
2. He receives multiple sales calls a day to from people promising he will be the first listing on Google but they want big $$$
3. He wanted a site but had no one he could trust to discuss his plans or at least "learn" what was involved
4. He wasn't sure what he should put on his site
5. He had no concept of design or images and that was an issue for him
I could keep going.....but suffice to say that Rick was overwhelmed. This conversation really had an impact on me. In my 16 years in the domain business, this was the very customer we were trying to attract. Rick didn't have a domain name and he *wanted* one. He didn't have a website and he *wanted* one. The value prop was understood but the means to execute on a domain registration and website was still seen as difficult by Rick --- plus, he had already had a bad experience with an agency.
I ended up building the site for Rick. I got the domain name from eNom and the website from Weebly. I knocked out the entire site on a Sunday afternoon.
The experience has really left a big impression on me. We still have a big hurdle to climb in bringing down the barriers of complexity as it applies to domain registration and website creation. We have to keep pursuing the mission of simplicity. This is critical in getting SMBs to be more than a "listing" on Google. That never sufficed for Rick. He wanted his own site - he wanted his shop's personality reflected on his site. A listing will never achieve that.
This has truly been a great experience for me. It has opened my eyes to the real challenges that exist for SMBs to get online -- but it has also allowed me to experience the true satisfaction of a real Small Business Owner being online and happy. And in the end, this is what both the domain + website industry is striving for.