There was a time before today’s specialization when we could be all things to web clients. Back in the old days, we could handle just about anything relating to a web site.
Not any more.
Over the past dozen years or so, we’ve stopped providing some services and greatly reduced other services. We used to provide email mailboxes and helped clients manage them. About 6 years ago we stopped offering that service – email is a specialized service, with unique security and spam protection needs, and it is best to let specialty providers do just that. It is too important to provide as an arrow in a quiver. We can help with the custom DNS as far as email is concerned. We can do forwarding. And we can still provide Mailman email lists. But no email storage.
We used to provide more client education on facets of the web industry, either in person or by GoToMeeting. We still provide training for clients on how to maintain their websites, but we found that the interest was very limited in learning about potential new features for sites. So we don’t offer online education sessions on potential features anymore, but try to handle that in our monthly email client news and our Facebook posts.
We used to help clients with their web advertising. But that field is changing continually and with it requires a level of expertise we can’t offer at this point, so we no longer offer that as well.
The internet is constantly expanding and a small web shop can eventually find themselves stretched in a dozen ways simultaneously. Google alone can force new work – there’s constant change with SEO, Google Analytics is promising that everyone will need to change to the newest version of Analytics by mid-2023, and various Google applications that can be used on websites, such as maps, have significant changes from time to time. Google+, the weak social media effort, has been discontinued since 2019 and I STILL see it linked on lots of websites.
There are changes in SEO. There are changes in social media. There are security issues ALL the time. Changes in how financial institutions operate with web sites. There are server management needs, there are custom domain needs, there are CMS software changes. LOTS of CMS software changes.
Change is THE constant.
What has happened to the small web shop with all this change? They have had to evolve – specialize in a smaller part of the pie, or expand staff to better cover the waterfront. Either strategy can work. Doing neither probably doesn’t. We’ve seen a lot of web developer web sites that look like they’re no longer active although the sites are still live. My experience on LinkedIn these days seems to be dominated with web design folks either looking to buy businesses or find work. It is an uncertain time in the web designer world.
For now we’re going to do what we’re doing with web site maintenance, but continue to focus our efforts. By the end of the year we will not be doing any more SEO work for clients. Content drives SEO, and we do not determine the content for our clients, so we will explain to our clients that they will manage it. We will still set up Analytics and sitemaps and Search Console but those are data tools for the users – our clients. We will focus on providing maintenance and security services for the sites we maintain, will continue to do the day-to-day things that keeps sites running properly, will manage site software and other kinds of subscriptions. We will still help our clients plan for the future of their web site.
But we have to manage our time more carefully, because just about anything online can be a major time consumer. Specialization takes time, and every day, everything on the Internet gets more specialized.