As folks who design and build website creation tools, we tend to be very focused on just that: Creation. The birthing of the shiny new website that we know will help our customers achieve all their business goals and dreams. But sometimes, when we are wrapped up in perfecting this birthing process, we neglect to think about all the work involved with raising the child. We may think that getting that baby in arms is the hard part, and we forget about the midnight feedings and the worry and the college tuition that will inevitably follow. We may not think about all the work involved in ensuring that baby becomes a bright, fully functioning individual.
Until recently, I was a small business owner. I lived the life our customers currently inhabit, working day and often all night to keep the lights on and all the various plates spinning. I remember sitting up at late at night, fretting over a logo design or how to best write an ‘About Me’ page that would inspire confidence in potential clients and get them on the phone. It was nerve wracking, and required no small amount of mental and emotional effort.
My website would be the foundation of how the entire internet–the world, really–would see me. I worried that if I didn’t post, update or blog enough that people might also see me or my business as stolid, static or dead. I was anxious about the aesthetics, about my tone of voice–if there was something I could worry about, I did. My website wasn’t a thirty-second on-boarding process, it was the embodiment of me. It was pressure, and as a small business owner I already had pressure coming from all sides. I realized that birthing my website might be easy, but raising it was an overhead I wasn’t quite prepared to deal with.
When our design team recently embarked on an in-depth study of small business owners, I was both relieved and somewhat floored to learn that I hadn’t been alone in my website anxiety. For a long time, my response to this worry and pressure was simply to not have a website. Hearing our small business owner participants state “I know a website is important, but it’s just one of a long list of things I have to worry about” was both surprising and not. I could immediately identify with this reality, and it made me realize that the months I’d spent focused on our website building tools had made me lose some perspective on what running a small business was really like.
It’s important that we remain focused on our customers’ broader experience, and never forget we are but one of those many spinning plates they have to manage. Getting something up on the web is just a first step, and even if we find ways to help make raising that baby easier, we can’t lose sight of the fact that it’s always going to involve a lot of effort and not a small amount of fear.