It’s an easy question. There’s a lot of money spent by companies here on the look of their new website. Thousands spent to get the right visuals and that elusive wow factor. Design is often carefully crafted by professionals, with lots of meetings, proofs, mockups, exactly the same process as was common with the old company brochures in the 80s, just an online version now. But is this huge investment in the website look and branding actually worth it?
Design agencies and those with a strong graphic arts background will tell you of all the benefits of a strong brand and unique design or logo. They say you need to stand out. Mimic what the likes of Air NZ or Coke have done to succeed. But online, beyond branding, the bigger question is what is the website goal? What do users and visitors expect when they come to your website? Not what your graphic designer wants or expects.
Here’s a great Youtube video from esteemed colleague Chris Lema, telling us we should be looking at when building a new website today. Look at functionality and site goals, not just the visual appearance…
Agencies please note – Design is a commodity today
It’s not uncommon for agencies to allocate say $12,000 on a site budget, with just $2,000 of this towards site functionality [coding] and related SEO work. They may even design you a Facebook site. Yet the main website gets few visitors or sales leads. This is common with many design-focused website projects. The success of the site is based upon how nice it looks, not the business it produces…
Yet design skills alone, like that needed to produce a printed brochure, aren’t enough now. Unlike when the net started and one skilled designer with Photoshop and html software could do the lot, that isn’t the case in 2014.
The graphic designer is now one person in most online projects. A coder, with a completely different skillset and qualifications is then needed to convert these design files into a database-driven website, meaning it can be self-managed. He also adds in key functionality, be it webforms, ecommerce, membership tools, surveys, private areas etc. Then there’s still other people with other skills needed to help get traffic to the new site.
If the initial visual design cost seems too high and/or taking too long, then checkout online services like Designcrowd, where you run graphic design as you would a contest, with people worldwide competing. If you’re a small business with a tight budget, it makes sense. It’s rare the design will exceed $2,000, including any logos. And best of all, you’re usually working with the designer themselves, cutting out the bigger agency middlemen and margins. A coder (like me) can then take these Adobe design files and build a functional, self-managed, high traffic website.
Ideally a similar share of any budget should go into each facet. Design – Functionality – SEO – Marketing. Start asking difficult questions, insisting upon answers. I mean, what’s wrong with asking the web designer-agency what the traffic expectations should be for your new site and the number of online leads per month? Google provides enough data to give some reasonable approximations.
Chis mentioned a couple new tools. If you run WordPress., here’s that Leadin link
This isn’t new theory
Here’s a quite old (2007) audio podcast by auzzie marketing trainer Winston Marsh, that asked a similar question. What are customers expecting of you and your website? What sort of marketing roadmap or strategy should you be following online today? Key questions
We all get sidetracked and ignore good advice
Hey, even we could learn a lot from both Chris and Winston. There’s a lot wrong with this old blogsite visually and in functionality. Over the coming months, we intend to rebuild this site design, content and functionality, taking their advice to heart. To better engage with the readers of this blog and expand our base…. Yes, we really are like that local mechanic who happily and expertly fixes other peoples cars [websites], yet our own is not running too well. Sadly it’s a common problem in the web development trade too….
In the meantime, if you have questions, there’s still that trusty webform below you can use.