Something I don’t always confess (because it makes me feel ancient) is that I’ve been in this business 10 years this year (2019). From all that experience (yes I’m not old I’m just experienced 🙂 ) here are the top things you need to know as a business owner BEFORE going to a web designer.
The problem I see is that clients don’t know what they want, so they are paying thousands of dollars for websites that do not work for them. This creates a lot of unhappy customers and gives my profession a bad name.
Now I realise that people don’t know what they don’t know. I probably don’t know a lot about your profession (unless you’re another web designer and if so cool). We all specialise in our chosen fields, for me it’s helping regional professionals gain clients and credibility online, and for you it’s something else. That’s okay we don’t all need to be experts at everything. We simply surround ourselves with people who know what they’re doing.
Some of this may seem obvious but it’s not. It’s like common sense not being that common. We’re starting from the basics here.
Decide why you want a website
Different businesses have different needs. You may want more clients, you may want credibility, you may want to share your knowledge, sell products, sell services….. you get the idea. McDonald’s doesn’t have a website to sell burgers, it has it to tell you about all the good it does in the world (it’s up to you whether you read that with sarcasm or not). It’s a way that they can control their brand no matter what anyone else is saying about it.
Decide what you want visitors to do on your website
Do you want them to call you? If so, will that go through to you or a call service?
Are you too busy to take a call but would like them to fill in a contact form or email you?
Are you selling from your website so you want them to buy something?
There are other options too such as simply read the information. If you want the visitors to do something, to take action then decide what that is now and have that call to action placed prominently on your website (don’t be shy and hide it away). It doesn’t mean that you need flashing neon buy now signs either (although I have seen that on some websites – seriously I have!).
Decide (or have an idea) who your ideal client is (also known as target market)
Depending on your target market your website design could be very different. There are some websites that I look at and think why the hell…..? They obviously had their reasons. Sometimes websites that would not appeal to me in any way are still great because I’m not their ideal client and their website would appeal to them.
Think about gender, income, career or business, location, what they like, where you find them etc. This builds up a picture of what would appeal to them when they visit your website.
Think about how people are going to find your website
It may be that you will promote your website via social media, newspapers, business cards, have a massive launch party…. Know that websites are NOT a build it and they will come situation. A website that does not have visitors is a waste of time and money (it’s like that hat I bought years ago thinking it would suit me but it sits on a shelf gathering dust). Your website is too important to your business to allow it to gather dust.
Budget, now this could be a tricky topic.
We all like to feel that we are getting a good deal don’t we? On the other hand if we think something is easy then maybe we could do it ourselves.
Yes you can get websites done for peanuts (I’m trying so hard not to mention monkeys right now) but have they taken into account all your requirements? Are they being proactive with the questions so that you let them know what you want, even though you weren’t sure yourself a little while ago.
I’ve come across websites where the business wanted to receive calls from their website. It was their primary goal. You had to click on the contact us at the bottom of the website to go to the contact us page to find the number. Then you had to type it into your phone even if you were on a smart phone! People will put that in the too hard basket and move on.
When thinking about a budget for your website how much is one new client worth to you?
Maybe it’s $10, $100, $1000…. Would that be a one off or is a new client worth more than that over their lifetime.
I mention this because I was approached by one business (who will rename nameless) that sell a high end product worth thousands of dollars, often with repeat business. Their current website has been created by them on a web builder. It doesn’t look professional, and certainly doesn’t look high end. They want to spend less than $500 for their website that would bring in clients that are worth several thousand dollars. How much business are they losing by not having a professionally designed website? How much would an effective website be worth to them?
So what I’m saying is be realistic about a budget.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Do know why you want a website for your business
- Do know what you want website visitors to do
- Do have an idea of how you’re going to market your website
- Do ask for recommendations from other businesses
- Do ask for quotes from web designers
- Do answer questions from web designers so that you get an effective website
- Do ask the web designer questions so that you know what you’ll be getting and by when and for how much (and when the payment is due)
- Do ask for a proposal to see what’s included in a price
Do sign a proposal so that you and the web designer know what’s been agreed
- Do ask whether the web designer has insurance (especially if you have an existing website that is earning you money already)
- Do make sure that the website will be responsive on mobile devices (it’s ridiculous that I have to state that in 2019 but just to be on the safe side)
- Don’t ask for quotes by writing one email and copying all the local web designers in on the same email so that they see who else has been asked (it’s rare that you’ll get any replies)
- Don’t tell the web designer what the price of the website will be before you’ve actually told them want you want
- Don’t go for the lowest price without knowing what you’ll be getting for that price (sometimes it can be easier to start from scratch rather than fix a mess)
- Don’t choose a friend’s son / daughter unless you know their work (I’ve come across this several times)
- Don’t ignore requests for content (text and images) for the website because you may find yourself with a blank website unless it’s in the contract that the web designer will supply the content
- Don’t hire a web designer who doesn’t ask you any questions at all, unless you want a generic website that may not work for your business
- Don’t assume that every web designer is trying to rip you off
- Don’t assume that every web designer is a professional
- Don’t ignore the website once it’s launched thinking that people will magically find it because they won’t
- Don’t tell the web designer that you’re too busy to answer any questions about your goals (if you’re too busy to communicate your goals then your website won’t match them and you’ll be wasting your money)
Your website represents your business online. It needs to look professional, or at least good to your ideal client AND (this one is a biggy so I hope you’re paying attention) it needs to get you the results that you are looking for, to help you reach your business goals.
If you’re serious about having a website that works for your business goals then contact me by filling in a website enquiry form. It’s not okay if you have a website that isn’t working for you so let me know if I can help you. Small businesses like ours need to work together to achieve our goals. I’m only successful if you, my client, is successful too because most of my work comes from referrals.