Choosing a Website Platform for Your Business

Some decisions matter for only a short time. Deciding what to wear in the morning, what to eat for dinner, how to style your hair… Others have a lasting impact on your life and your business. Websites are a great example.

When you decide to build a website, you are faced with a litany of options. Some require great skill to set up and maintain, while others are made for people who have no experience at all. The purpose of this post is not to review the options you have in front of you. Options are always changing and frankly, there are already great review articles out there. (Here is one, and another.)

The purpose of this post is to explain the significance of choosing the right tools when building your business. “Tools” in this case are assets in which you’ve invested—things like software, physical equipment and technology infrastructure. Or a website platform.

The decision to build a website is a convenient, concrete example, but as a business owner you’ll need to make lots of decisions like this. When does the tail begin to wag the dog? How can a simple tool dominate your life and business, and how can you make sure you stay in control?

Let’s examine some of the decisions that are involved in building a website. We will uncover the easy fallacies in our decision-making process, and we’ll better understand how to make decisions about tools in the future.

First consider: Can you even use the damn thing?

Your first consideration should be practicality. There are a lot of website builders and content management systems that will rave about the features their product offers. They do this to woo you. Reading through the amazing things a tool can do for you is like spotting a bit of gold peeking out of the sand. Your imagination races off into the distance, visualizing all of the amazing things you could do with that gold (or that tool). You get ahead of yourself.

(It’s okay, we all do!)

While it is wonderful to dream and to visualize your future, don’t let this prevent you from considering the practicality of YOU using this tool. Sure, some techie on the West Coast may be able to churn out a killer WordPress site, but can YOU?

If you can’t but want to learn, then consider your schedule and funds. Do you have the time or resources to learn how to use this tool? If you are a small business owner, the answer is probably no.

Don’t let me fool you—I am a DIY junkie. I live for learning how use tools and applications. But when you’re running a small business, learning how to use a really complicated tool is not the best use of your time. And even if you pay someone to set up your site on a really cool but really complex platform, will you use able to update it once your designer / developer moves on?

Websites are not (and should not be) static. As a restauranteur, you’ll want to feature specials. As a yoga teacher, you’ll want to announce upcoming retreats. Even basic updates like changes to your phone number or operating hours are critical pieces of information for your customers to have.

Outdated or inaccurate information is worse than no information. So consider this your number one rule for your website: If you can’t use it, you might as well not have it.

Customization is less important than you think

As I mentioned before, most people jump right to features. We can’t help it! We want to have a knock-em-dead site that stands out from our competitors and converts customers. So we browse through other people’s sites, window shopping for features. But just like with window shopping, collecting little bits of web design doesn’t give us any information about how much those bits cost.

Sure, you could spend a lot more for a premium website theme that has limitless customization options. But do you have the time or energy to customize the site yourself? Or will it be another line item you outsource?

Before you start thinking about customizing your site exactly to your liking, ask yourself whether or not the content you’ve prepared is worth all the extra flair. We often skip the meat of a site (the content) in favor of playing with colors and fonts.

Remember: extra features mean nothing if you can’t get the basics down.

The Cost of Choosing the Wrong Tool

My friend has a yoga teacher with a very…flexible schedule. She often changes the class schedule at the last minute, or sometimes just needs to push back the start time by 30 minutes. Unfortunately, her website is locked down.

She has no idea how to log in to the backend, and even if she did, she would have no idea how to update the class schedule. This has caused her to lose so many customers, that her business is at risk of shutting down.

Now, this is an extreme case that is exacerbated by poor scheduling habits. But it is an illustration of what happens to business owners every day. In today’s world, information needs to be fast, easy to access and accurate. Your customers don’t have time for anything less.

Evaluate your needs, and choose the simple option

Unless you are in the web design or development business, your site does NOT have to be fancy or even overly “impressive.” Don’t get sidetracked by features you don’t need. Don’t chase fads.

Get back to running your business and living your life. And if you find yourself with extra time or energy to put into your website, then work on the content. It could always be better, and no one knows it better than you.

RE: Press the Go Button

This post is a response to “Press the Go Button on Creativity” by my good friend and colleague, Elizabeth Rissman.


Dear Elizabeth,

What a fantastic start to our blogging journey together!* Gold stars for setting up our first topic: pressing the “Go Button.” It is so important that creatives get past perfectionism and fear of failure. As a creative professional in today’s fast moving world, you either publish or perish.

If you don’t publish, you risk being forgotten. Just as a single tweet gets lost in the stream of endless twitter chatter, so too will you or your brand be forgotten if you fail to remain top of mind (or tip of tongue) in your market.

How many draft posts do you have sitting in your queue, not yet published because they are not quite perfect?

Procrastination is not a marketable skill, darling. Perfectionism used to be my “aw shucks!” way of saying that I had trouble pressing go. As in—

Boss: Why haven’t you finished that blog post yet?
Me: Oh, you know… I’m just a perfectionist!  

I know that I’m not the only one who’s used perfectionism as a scapegoat. So why do we hold ourselves back? Why don’t we want to press go?

Fear (what holds us back)

Why don’t we press the Go Button? Why do we stop ourselves from taking the first step towards creating something, even when we know that the first step is unavoidable?

Because of FEAR.

We fear that we will fail. We fear that we will be exposed as stupid, or inadequate, or a fraud. We don’t publish those almost-perfect blog posts so that no one can tell us what we already fear might be true—that they are terrible. That we are not good at what we do. That we should give up.

But if we never try, then we’ll never be subject to criticism.

So we don’t try.

Quote_Kurosawa_Man is a genius
As quoted by Seth Godin in What to Do When it’s Your Turn (and it’s Always Your Turn).

In creative work, there is a vision. In the grand scheme of life, there is a dream. We dream of the life we want. We envision a reality different from this one.

When we build products, or grow our businesses, or design a brochure, we have an image in our minds of what it could be. That image is delicate. We protect our ideas as though they are our children, because they represent us. They are part of us.

Seth Godin articulates this point beautifully:

“The safest dreams we experience are dreams with no hope of coming true. The dreams of superpowers, of omnipotence, of immortality. […] Concrete dreams juxtapose the what if with the maybe, they expose us to hope and to risk at the very same time. Living with the possible takes guts.”

– Seth Godin, What to Do When it’s Your Turn (and it’s Always Your Turn)

It’s that mix of hope and risk that gets us. Exposing our delicate hope to the iron fist of risk is frightening. Like a bull in a china shop, risk is, by its very nature, bound to damage hope. It’s logic versus intuition. It’s cold, hard statistics versus ephemeral emotions.

Taking the first step to turn our ideas into reality is terrifying because it means that we may fail.

Purpose (what drives us forward)

Despite our greatest fears about reality, we still dream. And our dreams are not aimless. When we dream, we do so with a PURPOSE.

It’s this purpose, or goal, that propels us toward action.

The advantages of goal setting are well documented, so I won’t go into them here. Just remember that a goal is a mission is a vision is a purpose. Whatever you call it, you must know where you are going and why you are going there. Purpose is the antidote to the fear that paralyzes you.

Inside of every great legend was a knot of fear. A pit in the bottom of her stomach. Constrictions in his chest that made it hard to breathe. All people, even the legendary ones, know fear. But the legendary ones also know great purpose. And they know how to take that purpose and use it to get past the fear.

Because they know that the only hope they ever had of fulfilling their purpose was to overcome their fear.

If you can dream, then you can press go. You already have what you need to overcome the fear that holds you back. Find the purpose behind your dreams, and use it to get past the anxiety. Accept that failure is a necessary part of the process.

Failure is how we learn.
Failure is a sign of trying.
Trying gets us to doing.
And doing is the whole point.

Don’t wallow in your fear—focus on your purpose, and take that first step towards making your dreams a reality. Press the Go Button!

Most sincerely,

*As a quick aside, I realize that this blogging format must be unusual for our readers. It is just as new to us! The simplest way to describe an epistolary blog is this: it is a public correspondence between bloggers.

Imagine eavesdropping on two experts who are deep in conversation about their expertise. You’d hear each person give her perspective on a topic. The dialogue would volley back and forth on its own. It would create a sort of narrative filter through which you would learn more about the topic of discussion. You would have the opportunity to consider each speaker’s points independently. You could compare and contrast the two view points. You would have an intimate look into the opinions and experiences of these two people.

This is what our readers are getting—an inside look at what we discuss and debate and question, as professionals in the fields of digital marketing and project management.

Day 13: The Eightfold Path

This post is Day 13 of my self-imposed writing challenge.

The Eightfold Path (also referred to as the “Noble” Eightfold Path) is the fourth Noble Truth decreed by Buddha. It is the path to enlightenment, to liberation from suffering, to happiness.

The Eightfold Path is described thus in the Encyclopedia Britannica:

  1. Correct view: an accurate understanding of the nature of things
  2. Correct intention: avoiding thoughts of attachment, hatred, and harmful intent
  3. Correct speech: refraining from verbal misdeeds such as lying, divisive speech, harsh speech, and senseless speech
  4. Correct action: refraining from physical misdeeds such as killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct
  5. Correct livelihood: avoiding trades that directly or indirectly harm others, such as selling slaves, weapons, animals for slaughter, intoxicants, or poisons
  6. Correct effort: abandoning negative states of mind that have already arisen, preventing negative states that have yet to arise, and sustaining positive states that have already arisen
  7. Correct mindfulness: awareness of body, feelings, thought, and phenomena (the constituents of the existing world)
  8. Correct concentration: single-mindedness


If a marketing organization (or more accurately, the people who comprise a marketing organization) aligned itself to the Eightfold Path, what might that look like?

Maybe something like this:

  1. Correct view: I understand marketing’s power and purpose, and I accept my responsibility in wielding it.
  2. Correct intention: I will not form attachments to my own creations, nor will I use marketing to manifest hatred or harm.
  3. Correct speech: I will not use marketing to slander, libel, spam, or cause unnecessary suffering to others or myself. 
  4. Correct action: I will hold myself and my work to a moral standard that is aligned to my own intuitive sense of right and wrong.
  5. Correct livelihood: I will not work for, or as a representative of, organizations that directly or indirectly harm others. 
  6. Correct effort: I will not dwell on the insidious marketing tactics used by others; instead, I will focus on using marketing as a vehicle for good.
  7. Correct mindfulness: I will reflect regularly on my work and its impact, and I will use this reflection to connect with others on a more real and visceral level.
  8. Correct concentration: I will reserve time for uninterrupted focus and concentration on a single project or message. 

It is said that “what is noble about the Eightfold Noble Path is not the path itself but those who follow it.”

By this logic, marketing messages that are built according to the path should also be noble. Perhaps this is a way to counteract the Dark Patterns we see so often in modern marketing and advertising.

It certainly feels like a jumping-off point for a more virtuous global marketing ethos, doesn’t it?


Day 12: Conversion by any other name

This post is Day 12 of my self-imposed writing challenge.

“Conversion,” as in conversion rate optimization, has such an interesting connotation. Let’s examine.

We’ll begin broadly, with suggested synonyms from

Conversion: alteration, changeover, growth, modification, reconstruction, reorganization, switch, transformation, about-face, exchange, flip-flop, flux, innovation, metamorphosis, novelty, passage, passing, permutation, progress, qualification, reclamation, reformation, regeneration, resolution, resolving, reversal, transfiguration, translation, transmogrification, transmutation, turning, born again, change of heart, metanoia, metasis, proselytization, remodelling, see the light, turning around

Now let’s narrow it down using the Visual Thesaurus:

Conversion: transition, changeover, transmutation, transformation, shift

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere.

There’s a difference between an about-face and a transition, see; one is sudden, and the other implies an extended timeline.

When we think of “conversion” as the click of a button, we dumb down our relationship with the person who’s clicking. What is she thinking immediately after that click? Is she regretting her purchase? Wishing she hadn’t entered her real email address in that form?

When we think of “conversion” as a transformation that happens over time (rather than a light switch flipping on or off), we begin to see the potential for change as greater than a $1.00 “tripwire” purchase.

And when we recognize the potential for transformation, we are empowered to change the world.

Day 11: It’s about…

This post is Day 11 of my self-imposed writing challenge.

I challenged myself to write for at least 10 minutes every day.

And for 11 days now, I’ve written almost every day.

Am I bummed that I missed a day here or there? Yes, but what’s more important is that I’ve written more in the past two weeks than I have in years.

If you were going to challenge yourself to do one thing every day, no matter how small it was, what would it be?

From this challenge, I’ve discovered that I quite like writing frequently. It helps quell the performance anxiety of writing at work (did I just admit that I have that?), and it quickens my TUFD process.

Writing nearly every day has also encouraged me to add a sense of order and purpose to these posts. Which brings me to the most important questions of the moment: What is this blog about? Who is it for?  What’s the purpose or mission?


  • Marketing for Humanity

Up to now, this blog has been about my theories on marketing as a force for good, with asides on the writing process and (sometimes) my reactions to life. Instead, it will now serve to sharpen the idea of “marketing for humanity” so that, one day, the movement might become a reality.


For whom is this blog being written?

  • DO-GOODERS: You like to make a positive impression on the world around you. You are optimistic about what could be. You passionately care about democratizing the global marketing ethos.

This blog will be directed at people who are predisposed to a positive mind set about the future. You might not have considered the “global marketing ethos” before now, but I’d like you to try.

Which leads us to…


The purpose of this blog is twofold:

  1. Develop “marketing for humanity” into an actionable idea
  2. Rally people who will take action to promote the well-being of humanity

If I succeed, Marketing for Humanity will become a self-sustaining entity that generates happiness and relieves suffering among the people of the world.


And THAT, my friends, is what it’s about.