Be the Customer

I just read about some local government official bragging that their website didn’t cost anything because a resident built it for them and will maintain it for them, for free.

I have some words of advice for any real organization wishing to have a web site: Be The Customer.

By that, I mean, you should be paying somebody for your web site maintenance and continuation – either on payroll or a vendor.  Why?  Because a web site isn’t paper stock, a product bought and delivered.  It’s not static.  It takes some work for it to be worth anything.  That work begins with the initial design, but does not end there.

There are a few souls out there that love web work so much that they’ll do it for free forever and will think about the needs of your organization and will do these things proactively and will never expect anything in return from you.

Good luck in finding those souls.  For the rest, you need some sort of transactional basis to maintain and develop a relationship that will go forward and pay your organization benefits, rather than being a dead end that will have to be replaced in the near future and most likely generate a “reboot” of your whole effort.

Finding somebody that will do your web work for free is fine as long as you realize it’s part of your organization’s learning curve, and you’re likely to learn some hard lessons this way.  Bragging about it, on the other hand, is asking for future egg on the face.