These days, your website is the home base for all of your marketing activity, whether you are networking, posting to social media, guest blogging, speaking, cold calling or sending out direct mail. So how do you make sure that your next web designer delivers a website that meets your business goals and supports your growth? Just about every day I hear from people who need a better website, and it’s almost always the same issues that are holding them back from growing their business.
- Starting the design without understanding the strategy — While web designers aren’t necessarily trained in marketing or business strategy, they need to ask the right questions so that, in the end, your website becomes an effective marketing tool. They should be asking you who your perfect client is, what pain you solve, exactly what it is you sell, and how you are different from your competitors. Then they should help you craft free offers and conversion strategies to drive traffic, convert visitors, and capture and nurture would-be customers who aren’t quite ready to buy from you.
- Choosing a pretty theme and force-fitting your content — Many web designers start a new website by choosing a pretty theme. The trouble is, that theme was designed for the masses, and it’s designed to sell itself. Once a theme is chosen, it can be expensive to change how the design looks when you start to realize that it isn’t the right fit. One solution is to choose a premium theme built for your specific industry (with lots of high reviews), and one that provides ongoing support from the original developer. The ideal situation is hiring a web designer who can customize the look to exactly your needs.
- Poor imagery —When budgets are limited, web designers and clients resort to inexpensive, unattractive stock photos to replace the gorgeous pictures in the theme, and the overall design starts to fall apart. With coaching and consulting firms, it’s better to avoid images that are cheesy or cliché. Coaches and consultants typically sell the “invisible”, a promise to deliver value, rather than products that lend themselves to pictures and imagery. A solid solution is to hire a photographer for a custom shoot at your office, like we did for our clients at kantarpr.com and totalhealthptdc.com.
- Ineffective design — Oftentimes clients think they know what they want, because they’ve seen something flashy or fun. A good web designer knows how design supports SEO, marketing and sales, and has the training and expertise to create a design that attracts the right visitors and persuades them to become paying clients. It’s important, even with the most demanding clients, that a web designer push back and drive the design to a solution that attracts, informs and engages new clients, and not just pleases the eye of the client.
- Using inappropriate web hosting — Clients often come to me with websites that are subhosted under their designers accounts (with no access to the control panel) and/or that are very slow to load. Last year I had 3 prospects come to me that had been hacked, and did not have a backup. Many huge hosting companies over-sell server space — creating slow-to-load pages, frequent hacks, and downtime for business websites that should be up and selling 24/7. A great web designer will make sure you understand how to contact your web host, and give instructions on how you need to update your website and keep it backed up (or offer to do this for you, for a fee).
- No access to design expertise — Many web “designers” are not trained in graphic design, and they don’t have the skills to create a clean and professional look. Carefully review anyone you are thinking of hiring, and look at their portfolios to make sure you like the web sites they have created in the past. Then hold them to that standard.
- Not creating a website that is easy to update — I’m shocked at how many websites do not allow a non-technical website owner to edit their content! So many terrific solutions have emerged, including WordPress and SquareSpace that make this easy.
- Abandoning websites after launch — Websites need regular care and feeding. That’s why you need a web designer that will either train you how to keep your site safe, or stick around to help keep your website hack-free, backed up and running in top shape. Choose a web designer that will stand behind his or her work and continue to help you as your needs evolve.
So, keep these things in mind when talking with prospective web designers!
Are you ready for a new website? Send me a note and let me know!