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Not Invented Here Syndrome—Web Site Development Roadblock

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Of all possible marketing projects, updating a website is the hardest. I simply cringe when faced with this request. The main reason? I've found that most (not all) web developers suffer from a syndrome coined as "NIH" (Not Invented Here).

Not Invented Here Syndrome for Webmasters and DevelopersWhatever your career, we all start off learning many different programs and ways of doing things, but as we gain success, we develop very structured and almost rigid processes for accomplishing our work. It’s the same story for developers… Wordpress, HTML, Drupal, whatever the platform, the best use of their time is to stick with what they know. But even when a request to update a website in their most proficient code comes in, my frustration comes with the way the developer (from my experience) immediately recommends a complete rework... as if the existing website was programmed horribly and we need to start over.

In my early years, I would buy into the NIH complaint and pitch to build an entirely new site. While that was always exciting, I’ve found it to be very expensive, and the results rarely penciled out. In hindsight, it would have been better to get a developer proficient in cleaning up code and finding ways to make the existing site more efficient.

There is a moral to this story that we can apply to almost any project. NIH syndrome is not limited to websites. Look at the way most managers and leaders approach their new role in an organization. Typically they come into their new position, are quick to point blame at the lousy manager before them, and begin to tell people how to get things done the “right” (their) way. The reality is that a company doesn’t get successful by doing things wrong. So if you are new to an organization, consider spending most of your time finding what is working well and provide guidance based on the talents and experience of the team you have. People who suffer from NIH syndrome can really kill the spirit of a company culture and waste a lot of time and money. As with websites, it’s best to dig into what exists, clean it up a bit, and then integrate new directions.

If you have an "old" (2-years + for our industry) site that you think needs updating, take a deep look at it. Chances are, most of the site accomplishes what your visitors need (content, images, downloads, forms, etc.) and you can probably just make some tweaks to achieve your current goals. Find a UX Designer (graphics) that can update the look and feel. Or work with a Content Specialist (writer) to help update the page names and words on the pages to help you optimize your site for Search Engines (Search Engine Optimization or SEO). The key to long-term success though, is to establish a strong relationship with a developer who does not suffer from NIH and is dedicated to keeping the site clean. When you find one that you feel is a true partner that continuously looks for ways to build on the existing site while keeping the code clean, then pay that person well, count yourself as truly lucky and please get me in contact with them!

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