How long until people understand the value of online services?
I originally wrote this article in May of 2009 and stumbled across it today. It blew my mind that I still don’t feel that most people and businesses yet understand and value design and online services like they do with traditional media. I plead to all of you to help us educate the masses that we in this industry are indeed educated and trained professionals that deserve to get paid for our work. Here is what I wrote in May 2009…
OK, so that is a pretty vague statement. What I am referring to is the general public and their understanding of the world wide web.
Anyone in this online industry can tell you how hard it is to explain what they do to most people. But even more than that is the ignorance of the value of the online industry. Most people just have no grasp of how much things cost or how any revenue is generated on the web.
All of us in this industry have heard some version of the following story repeatedly. Here’s how the conversation goes:
Person: So you are in the web industry?
You: Yes, I am a ______ (insert job here)
Person: Oh, I need a website to promote my business/idea.
You: OK, maybe I can help guide you.
Person: Great, I want a website to promote my widgets. I want to be able to update the content myself but I don’t have any technical knowledge, I want to sell things online and have people pay by any way they want, I want a photo and video gallery where I can upload to, I want a community form too.
You: OK, that sounds great and I know people that can help you. What is your budget for this site?
Person: I would say between 5 and 8?
You: OK, $5000 – $8000 is a start but you’ll have to eliminate some of your requests.
Person: FIVE TO EIGHT THOUSAND!!! I meant five to eight hundred!
Too funny hey? That’s only the beginning as well. Not only do many people think that creating a website is something teenagers bang out for a few hundred bucks and some late-night pizza but they are also ignorant of the web medium as a whole. Here are a few more points we hear:
- My friend made me a site and now I want to sell ad space and make money.
- My friend made me a site last week but may business hasn’t doubled yet, what gives?
- My friend made me a site last week, when does it come up first in Google?
- I want to advertise my site on other sites, how can I put it on there now for free?
We all know that this industry is only young and changing as fast as technology does but people have to realize that it is indeed here to stay and that the sooner they embrace it the better. An investment tip would be to invest in companies that are in the business of capitalizing on web profits. People believe that services on the web are all free like Google,Facebook, CraigsList, etc. but they are not realizing how the money is made on those sites. Referrals, advertising, business postings are just a few ways.
You may be thinking that people may never know because, why would they know or care? But why is this so different from newspaper, radio or TV? It isn’t different. I would argue that most adults would have a fairly close guesstimate of what to expect for costs for newspaper, radio and TV. Everyone knows that a 30 second ad during Superbowl is a million dollars (It’s actually about 2.6 million now(2016 will cost 4.5 million)).
Let’s use an analogy here.
If that same person above wanted to have a small TV show that features their business in a show and then wanted to sell their products on commercials they may not know exactly how much that would cost but they would know it would be darn expensive and would never think that would cost $500 bucks!
It looks like we all have a long road in front of us until we get to the age where most people have a general idea of what the web can do for them, how to make money on the web and how much it all costs. It really is a great time to witness this new technology in it’s infancy. Frustrating at times but very cool.
I wonder if when TV came out that people were asking friends working at the first TV stations if they could get their own show for $20 bucks.
Until we reach the age of understanding and value of the web unfortunately our jobs will not always get the respect they deserve. Until next time…