The Problem With The Website Industry: Digital Snake Oil

The Problem With The Website Industry

The website industry is broken. It’s inefficient, outdated, wasteful and frustrating. From domains to design, from service to search engine optimization – today’s website industry is built on a foundation of complexity and misinformation that capitalizes on website owners’ lack of knowledge and desperation for help.

This imbalance leads to inflated prices that gouge America’s businesses and nonprofit organizations. It leads to massive amounts of wasted time, wasted energy and unnecessary frustration. Most importantly, it leads to bad websites.

Digital Snake Oil

The signs of manipulation are everywhere. Just moving through the process of buying a domain on GoDaddy, by far the largest domain name registrar, is scary and complicated, with numerous upsells manipulated to appear as if they’re indespensible or even mandatory.

Even worse, try navigating the ecosystem of website-related services that target small businesses: chock-full of A-type salespeople hell bent on selling you a subscription no matter how nebulous the service or how much (or little) you actually need it. The reviews of these services – from social media management to email marketing – read like a small business owner’s nightmare.

And that is all assuming you’ve been able to get a website in the first place. We all know people who’ve worked with a “website developer,” only to be abandoned before anything made it live on the web. There are some decent DIY solutions, like Squarespace (and some not-so-decent DIY solutions, like Wix) but the reality is that most site owners spend loads of time and still don’t end up with good results.

The Wrong Solution

Three years ago, we thought the solution to the broken website industry would be a crystal clear, all-inclusive subscription service ranging from about $100 to $300 per month, wherein website owners would receive everything they needed to get a great website upfront, and then they’d receive all the service and support they needed to have a great, fully-managed website on an ongoing basis.

As our customer base grew, it became clear that while this solution works well for some people (like lawyers, dentists, therapists, etc.), it’s definitely not a solution that will solve the above-described problem on a large scale.

What’s needed is a major shift in the market, a completely new system of distributing website service that renders today’s digital snake oil salesmen unable to continue clawing money out of people’s pockets.

A 10X Improvement

By way of comparison, the transportation industry recently began undergoing a significant market shift. Using taxi cabs is a nightmare: they’re difficult to find, unpredictable, expensive, and they generally provide a terrible service experience. Uber and Lyft introduced products that are not just incrementally better, they’re 10X better.

As Peter Thiel writes in his bookZero to One,

“Only when your product is 10x better can you offer the customer transparent superiority.”

The Right Solution

We know the website industry is broken. And that means the experience of getting and having a website is broken, too. Back in the Fall of 2015, we focused on this experience – on what’s wrong with it, and on what people desire – and it didn’t take long to begin visualizing the solution.

Like Uber and Lyft, we need a website service system that transparently delivers exactly what people need, when they need it, at fair prices. As soon as we saw this, we immediately knew we had to build it.

So we did.

What we’ve built is a web-based platform that seamlessly connects people who have and need websites, with people who want to service and build websites in real time. Our software elegantly eliminates the major problems that exist in today’s website industry. All of this is gone: searching for freelancers, vetting their abilities, sharing login credentials, getting estimates, negotiating prices, email chains, uncertainty about getting what you ask for, uncertainty about how much you will pay, paying too much, leaving login credentials in a stranger’s hands, and, perhaps most importantly, dreading the next time you need something done on your website.

Through our software, we believe the impact of being able to get anything done to a website immediately – by pulling your phone out of your pocket and ordering whatever you want – will be dramatic, and will open up new possibilities for website owners and for website service providers.

As we publish this blog post at the beginning of 2016, we’re still improving HubRunner and testing it with our early users. We are so excited to bring you this product, because we believe that together we can change this industry for the better, forever.

So, join us as a user! Or, if you know WordPress, become an agent!

We can’t wait to get your feedback.