- "Why have a website if you don't update it?"
- "How long will you remain in business without a website?"
- "Social media platforms not properly used by businesses"
- "Don't go overboard with your website"
My obsession with the internet, and also this story, goes all the way back to 1992. (Sponsor's Name Here)'s Official Newborn Son, Mitten, and I would make the trip to my parent's house each week to do laundry (Side note; It was really cool. For the cost of gas, I would get to use their equipment, their water, their soap, and even would get fed. Man, I miss those days).
My parents had purchased a home computer and had a subscription to the on-line service Prodigy (which predated the internet, CompuServ and possibly even stainless steel). While my mom would entertain Mitten and in between my loads of laundry, I would log on and access the chat forums that interested me, like indoor soccer, baseball cards and the Brewers (Side note; I once got probation on the Prodigy Brewers' forum for some salty language that I used to describe what I really thought of BJ Surhoff).
In '97, the company that I had worked for (which no longer exists) installed internet access to two computers in common areas. Many was the day that I stayed at work until everybody left so that I could research what baseball or football bets that I was considering for that night.
In 1999, that same company - unaware of the monster it was creating - put internet access on every office worker's computer. Not only could I plan my entire 1999 vacation to the ABC National tournament in Syracuse (which included a trip to the baseball and rock and roll Halls of fame) but I became adept at placing orders on-line for supplies. I was instrumental in pushing some of my suppliers to increase their on-line product listings and ordering features.
By 2002 I was at a different company (which also doesn''t exist) in which I probably signed my own pink slip by getting into a heated debate with the company owner, who didn't think it was appropriate to order on-line, rather he preferred mailing purchase orders (which even then was an antiquated practice due to the proliferation of FAX machines.
Then came 2007.
After moving into our current house in West Allis, I was surfing and came across West Allis Now. I liked it and bookmarked it, and came back a few times. The problem was that to me, it never seemed to get updated with anything particularly interesting or newsworthy. In an effort to be that consumer that wanted more, I sent an E-mail to then-editor Mark Maley. Apparently he didn't appreciate me telling him that the July 4th pictures at the top of the page in October were not good, and he said that if I could do better, I could start my own blog. (Really, that's how this started). Kind of funny now that me - a champion for updating websites - was taken to task by current Director of Interactive Content, Matt Newman, for not posting for two months earlier this year.
I never really knew that I would still be beating that same drum four years later (Side note; the example below was a search to find a place to go bowling on a Saturday afternoon in summer. But this could just as easily be about any favorite hobby, sports league, or store).
Last weekend, My-Sugar-Na and I decided that we wanted to go bowling. She had gotten a new ball that she wanted to practice with some more, and I had all of my equipment refitted (ugh, the ravages of age continue).
This being 2011, I did not pick up a phone to check for lane availability or rates. That is what the internet is for. Right?
(Side note; None of the examples below are complete, just what I was finding recently.)
Some bowling centers had websites that were easy to navigate and gave me confidence that their hours of operation and open bowling rates were current, like Country Lanes, Classic Lanes Menomonee Falls, Classic Lanes Oak Creek (no relation, by the way) and Towne and Country Lanes.
Then there were some places that have no website that I could find, including Burnham Bowl, Bay View Bowl and Riviera Lanes. Some may try to make the case that these three centers are small and therefore don't require advertising, but Country Lanes has 12 lanes and Towne and Country has 18 lanes, and they've spent a lot of time making information about their centers available.
In my mind, however, an almost worse offense is a website that does not inspire confidence that it has been updated in months, and therefore I wouldn't trust that information anyway. These bowling centers include Motion Plus Lanes, Root River Center, and Fracaro's Lanes.
Especially as it relates to the bowling industry, there is almost a universal admission that open bowling and other casual forms of play (corporate parties, rockin' bowl, kid's birthday parties, etc.) are far more popular than league or tournament play. So much so, that the bowling lanes at iPic at Bayshore doesn't even offer league play.
One reason for the decline of league play is that especially the younger folks are too tuned into music (Side note; If that's what you can call it these days) the internet and social media, and therefore don't have the attention span for a traditional 34 week bowling season. These people are always going, they decide they want to do something and they do it. And they always seem to be attached to their phone.
So why don't bowling centers have open play hours and prices front and center on a clean, easy-to-read website? I am not going overboard in describing a potential scenario where a group of people are at dinner, decide to go bowling, someone grabs a phone to map the nearest bowling center and technology determines which bowling center to offer. One more tap and that person would be transmitted to the website and they could be headed to the lanes within 10 minutes for a night of $4 a game bowling and 3-4 drinks each.
And don't get me started on Facebook. I am checking in, updating status and making snarky comments on friends statuses (statii?) all the time. Though I don't quite understand the benefit of a business having a Facebook page when they also have a website (if you are a business owner updating Facebook, you could update your website just as easily) but if a business does have a Facebook page, why wouldn't that basic, baseline level information be top and center? It makes no sense to me.
I can't believe I am ahead of the curve on this one, it just amazes me what otherwise smart, savvy people can miss that is right under their nose.