The past few months in addition to my many other hats, I have personally spent a lot of time training small business owners on how to get started with Joomla CMS. I do this first of all because I enjoy it and secondly it keeps me in touch with our customers and their ever changing needs. As someone whom has spent the better part of the past three years inside Joomla 1.0 and
now 1.5 it is easy to forget how overwhelming a lot of this technology can be to folks just getting started. The one thing someone told me early in my web dev career was “just be patient… it is not difficult it just takes time chasing after it to build confidence and grace”. The hardest thing for many folks to realize is this is a journey not a destination. There is an endless amount to explore in this wonderful world of web (WWW).
Here are a couple common myths and mistakes I have seen with Joomla CMS development projects:
Myth: “Some folks think oh I just want to get these articles up or my products on line and folks will magically flock to my site.” It is important to have a well rounded strategy with your content, how folks will navigate to find what you are offering. How will this be integrated into our current marketing and what new marketing such as social media technologies or Google ad words will I have to use to build traffic. For some this is easier to grasp than others but you have to understand your customer and figure out how this can be interpreted in to the web space(s). Often you will not have the answers until you push out some content and listen to the feedback of your customers. Being able to display your content gracefully and to match your branding is important but only one piece of the pie.
Myth: Some folks try to be a super hero and jump in to choppy waters without a life boat. What I mean by this is we get the calls from people that jumped into Joomla without a plan and have essentially made a mess out of their site. Joomla is the most user friendly CMS for non technical users but you still have to remember this is complex code and since it is always evolving it is never bug free. You can easily muttle things up if you start trying to do anything beyond the basics. What I think folks should be thinking about is just like any other business or project you need the resources to make sure you protect your investment and that you can afford both the time and capital investment. Would you by a house as a non handy man if you did not know a good plumber or electrician? On that same note you would most likely not not buy a house you could not afford since you would take a chance of loosing your investment. What I mean by this is to make sure you have the time to invest in the ongoing education, the financial resources to match your ambitions and the commitment to see it through. Keep your expectations realistic and within your means. Your are not going to build an Amazon.com for a $1000. Make sure you partner with a Joomla support team that can help you when you get in over your head. Having your site down or broken could cost you the one customer that makes a difference for your business. Be patient and consistant over time and you will achieve the best results.
Myth: “Hey, I am smart, I can figure this out all by myself” Well many folks are smart and can figure out a lot of what Joomla can do and how it works. On the other had sometimes with "Smart" comes "blind errogance" and I have seen some very smart people do some very dumb stuff because they did not understand Joomla. However, with good training and consulting with subject matter experts can save you a lot of time and money. This goes for any technology investment. Since as a small business owner your time is most often more valuable working in your area of expertise or selling etc., making an investment in training and mentoring up front can give you a significant kick start towards success. One of the benefits we offer in our training and support is; chances are we have either, seen it, made the mistake ourselves first or learned from other folks mistakes. A subject matter expert (SME) can usually add great value and help you balance between when it is most cost effective for doing stuff yourself (in-house) or what you should outsource. They can also often tell you where to look for the needle in the heystack if you are having trouble.
Mistake: I often tell folks that starting/managing a Joomla CMS project vs a traditional web site is like having a picture of an extended family member and becoming a parent. You are now entering a new world of commitment and it will become part of your lifestyle vs something stuck to your refrigerator that you glance at once in a while. Make sure you are ready to care and feed this new creation since your ability to nurture this will be the ultimate determining factor of success. Every Joomla project we get involved in is collaboration and unless you have a lot of money to spend on consulting design and implementation planning, a complete work for hire project simply is not very practical in this new economy.Most conductors in an orchestra are not master musicians but they understand enough about each instrument to direct them and synchronize them with their other counter parts. Since this is your business ultimately you have to be able to conduct your orchestra of web masters and technical experts towards your business goals. You may have to take the time to train yourself and get in touch with the latest trends in effective use of technology.
Mistake: Joomla is one of the most flexible CMS systems in the market place. It has well over 4600 extensions. There is a huge international development community building cools features for a wide range of industries and it is open source so you can ad in just about anything you can dream up within the capabilities of web technology. This means that some folks (I have to admit I have made this mistake myself at times) think that just because the technology can do it, that you should ad it into your site. As a bit of a visionary/dreamer entrepreneur myself I understand this tendency very well. But build it and they will come simple does not always work. It is important to step back in the beginning of your process and decide what your priorities are so you can remain focused. This goes for configuration of basic features as well as adding tons of components or extensions. Just because you can change something does not always mean you should. Make sure the changes or add-on’s either have a targeted purpose that your customers want and are asking for or that it adds significant value to your customer experience.
Suggestions iand Recap:
- Manage your expectations
- Plan with your customer in mind - test and evaluate
- Make sure you get a good Joomla CMS expert to partner with
- Training can save you time and money
- Just because you can do something with technology does not mean you should
- Stay focused on priorities - avoid scope creep
- Do not be afraid to make mistakes - because you will
- Be patient and consistent over time
Better Service, Faster Innovations and Greater Value:
CNP Integrations has built our consulting, support and training services with this mantra in mind. If we can help you get your Joomla project on track or if you are considering implementation of new web technologies for your business we would be happy to introduce you to our Value Building Methodology or some of our cost saving kick start programs.