Rich Evans – Is your website suffering from Comb-Over syndrome

Let me tell you how my brain works…

This morning I was walking to an appointment in the city. I found myself waiting to cross the road and an older gentleman walked up beside me. He had impeccable dress sense that showed that he was really interested in his appearance, and for an older dude, he was doing OK. Then there was his hair. It was an architecturally sculpted creation that wound from the back of his head, around the side then over the top. Gravity seemed to not exist in the region of his head because if it did, this do would not work.

I asked myself, why would you bother, just lop it all off and go cue ball. Surely?

Then immediately after that, the idea sprang to me for this post. A lot of people have comb-over syndrome as far as their websites are concerned. Just because it used to work, does not mean it works now. Let me explain.

When a small business decides to invest in getting a website it is usually a reasonable sized investment in proportion to what they would normally spend on marketing. If Someone pays $5000 for a website development and strategy, they want to get good value out of it, and so they should. The trouble arises when it is either not the right strategy to begin with, or it is not the right strategy any more. Things change in business, constantly, and unless your business is growing it is starting the slow decline into obscurity.

I have spoken to many clients in the past who tell me

“we paid so much for it we just want to keep what we have, but we want more business”

Ummm, sorry, you want me to drive more traffic to your crappy flash site that doesn’t work? All you are going to have is a lot more people that don’t want to or can’t do business with you? That is comb-over syndrome.

Or sometimes, customers have the even better “but we used to get so much from it, I know that it just needs some tweaking and we can get back to where we were 4 years ago” Sorry son, that ship has sailed, time to start again. Comb-over syndrome.

Which brings me to the next point. Don’t be scared to tear it all down just to build it all back up. The worst kind of comb-over syndrome is when you are doing just enough to fix a solution up that it never quite gets bad enough to notice.

As an example. We built a system many years ago for a company to automate their business process. The system we built was a prototype, meaning, we did it quick and cheap for them to test in one location to see if it worked. Then they decided that prototype would be fine, they just want to bolt this little bit to it, that little bit to, and so on until what we have now is the ultimate comb-over because to the untrained eye, this system works.

However, if just one little hair falls out of place, this whole thing would come crashing down around their ears and never be able to go back to the way that it was. The over head is that it takes more time to manage than a better more flexible solution would, just like a comb-over must take forever to construct in the morning.

So here is the moral of the story, when you notice a little thinning around the edges, or the hairline of your website receding a bit more than you would like, consult a professional, and take their advice, even if it is time to shave it all off.