Your website has no intrinsic value
Web designers around the globe just fainted. 🙂 That's right; your website has no value simply because it exists. Let's face it, people don't search for your site to ooh and aah over the design.
Your site's purpose is to present extremely valuable, relevant and compelling content that connects people with your brand, products and services. Your content must solve a problem and/or deliver on the promise to improve their lives in some way.
Every week there are more providers giving away attractive template-based websites. Web design has become viewed as a cheap commodity. For a small business, renting a site from Squarespace, for only $24 a month, represents an incredible value. But considering the mediocre content and limited traffic that site will probably see, and the pathetic conversions, the owners might as well go with a free provider like WIX. Many hosting companies include free website builder apps.
Don’t get me wrong; you can get an attractive, functional website for free — or practically free— from WIX and Squarespace. In their space, those companies rock. The fact that there's no content strategy is no fault of the computer-generated website provider.
And you can buy a box of nicely printed business cards from VistaPrint for only $10. Just like the business cards that likely will never see the light of day, if all your website represents is a checkmark on a to-do list, or an expense on the balance sheet, cheaper is definitely better.
For some business owners, sharing a popular, very recognizable template design with thousands of other businesses isn’t going to provide adequate brand identification, so they send out an RFP to all the local talent pool. Local web designers find themselves working for less and less, bidding their way down in these highly competitive races to the bottom. Needless to say, commoditization and underpaid artisans has led to some very uninspired semi-custom work.
To win the bid, most designers quote with extremely thin margins, so as many off-the-rack components as possible will usually be sourced and installed. “Semi-custom” generally means a popular template has been modified to partially fit the application.
The RFP typically specifies some examples of sites the client likes, and a list of the features that must appear on the site. References are made to the improved results they are hoping for from the new “design.” Work begins, the new design is then approved and built, and the client's content is hastily entered into the pages.
And then everyone waits for incoming leads or online sales to pick up. Alas, they don’t, and the stakeholders reflect that it’s a good thing they didn’t pay very much for the site.
I know… there must be a better way, right.
Your website should be your greatest business asset
An effective website contributes to profit, not overhead.
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
For most sites, the design process is completely ass backwards. It begins with the design. Content is then made to fit into the design. Later, when the results disappoint, some thought may finally be given to the reasons the site is failing to connect with the audience and produce buyers.
- A website that performs well and delivers a solid return on investment begins with the user. Audience personas are clearly defined at the get-go.
- A content strategy is then created to engage with that audience and convert casual visitors into subscribers. More content will be rolled out to move subscribers through the sales funnel. Even after your visitors complete an action that makes them your customers, valuable content will keep your brand top of mind for years.
- Once you know who you’re building the website for, the content you will be publishing, and how the site will be used, it’s time to design an awesome platform for presenting your valuable content to your audience.
When you send out an RFP, you're buying a commodity; not a dedicated innovator and highly creative marketer. You get an underpaid follower instead of a leader that can take your business places.
Your customers are unique. The content that will connect with your audience is unique. Ergo, you need a custom website that clearly differentiates you and your brand from everybody else, and delivers a very unique and custom user experience.
Effective websites are built to blueprint, based upon a marketing strategy created specifically for the prospective buyers and the content that will turn that audience into buyers.
There is an immutable law that states that we get exactly what we pay for in life. Business owners will toss up a cheap recycled design, that doesn't really consider the customer, with some mediocre content, and then appear genuinely surprised when customers don't beat a path to their door. It's unreasonable, of course, to expect the most — in traffic, subscribers, fresh leads and new customers — while investing the very least.
For many people, your website will make the first real impression. It’s not the place to cut corners.