Why Most Websites Will Never Deliver a Return on Investment

Cole Wiebe
February 27, 2015
Read time: 4 minutes

Revenue-focused design generates leads and sales

I'm a copywriter and content marketer, so I believe that good web design delivers epic content in a way that makes it extremely valuable to both prospective customers and search engines. I view websites as "content presentation platforms", the foundation for the entire strategy. Deliver the right content, at the right time, with right calls to action, and magic happens.

Google's "animal" algorithm updates (Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird) made SEO a content play. Google ranks content, not deceptive SEO 'tricks.' In the last millennium, business owners advertised in newspapers and magazines, leveraging other peoples' media. Today, companies must publish the media themselves.

A Complete Solution

Quality content, a positive user experience (UX), top search engine positioning, social engagement, traffic and conversion (copywriting and lead generation funnel) are all extremely important in achieving your business goals and a solid Return On your Investment.

A website that is not mobile friendly (responsive), takes a long time to load, has terrible search engine rankings, or is difficult/expensive to maintain, simply is not a good design, even when the owner believes it’s drop-dead gorgeous, and they "got exactly what they wanted." Clients around the globe fire web designers that delivered their wish list to the letter, every single day. But why? Didn't the designer give them the exact look and feel, and list of features they asked for? It's very simple... after the thrill of seeing their personal vision materialize on a screen passes — usually within weeks — sales figures tell the very real and ugly tale.

At the end of the day, capitalism trumps art. Small business websites aren’t displayed in a gallery. We don’t put them on the mantle to impress friends and family. They are marketing tools, built to grow your business. If you don't receive a return on your investment, the site's crap! What you want is a effective design, built upon proven online marketing strategies.

With a strategic website re-design we have the opportunity to convert an "expense" entry on your balance sheet into an all-star asset (revenue generator).

What is good web design?

Effective websites focus on an ROI strategy, and responsible design contributes to profit, not overhead. Aesthetics are highly subjective, so I choose to focus on results first.

Content must be 'findable', and visitors need to be called to action before they 'bounce' from your site. There must be a clearly defined path and action we want the visitor to take.

To rank well on search engines, your site will need to be fast loading. It should be responsive, or have a mobile version, so that it will provide a quality user experience across multiple browsers, devices and computer platforms.

To future-proof your investment, we build your custom websites on a secure, rock solid, SEO-friendly framework. Styling is therefore independent of core code, so future software upgrades won't negatively impact the design or functionality.

Your content will be very easy for you to update and maintain, should you be so inclined. If you write and edit your own copy and blog posts, we offer comprehensive step-by-step video tutorials, screencast from edits made on your own site. Most of our clients, however, choose to have us maintain their websites and develop valuable content for them each month.

Why most websites suck at lead generation

The late Steve Jobs often stated that design has little to do with the way things look, and everything to do with the way they "work." It's a philosophy that has served Apple very well.

Most websites lose money for their owners because they, either start off from a client-centric approach, or somewhere in the process the project is derailed. The client hijacks the creative process, to achieve a certain look and feel, and push features that aren't good for the brand, and tried and proven online marketing advice is tossed right out the window. The website becomes a channel for the client’s artistic expression, and the so-called designer’s advisory role is downgraded to nothing more than labor for hire. Everyone loses when that happens: the audiences must put up with a substandard experience, the client never receives the outcomes they hoped for, and the designer ends up with a short-term unhappy client, even if they are praised up and down on launch day.

Sadly, very few “web designers” actually design anything their entire careers... their clients do. Most of the websites out there are designed by business owners who are experts in their own field, but rank amateurs at internet marketing. These rookie-designed websites become “the problem” SEO professionals are expected to magically work around as best they can. Website owners will often have one site built, after another, hoping to get it right the next time. Unfortunately, the real “designer” on each project has always been the same person, even if the face of the developer has changed several times.

The bottom line: if "web designers" are to be held accountable for quality results, and a return on investment, these marketing professionals must actually be permitted to design a profitable, high ranking/traffic, user-friendly site from the ground up. And good design will be part of a comprehensive content marketing strategy to live up to its potential. The vast majority of web designers are graphic artists — not sales and marketing experts, content strategists or copywriters — and they have little or no hope of building a lead-generating sales machine for you.

I believe that this is a valid question for a graphic artist: "If you have never been in sales, or even advertising, how can you possibly design and develop a website that effectively sells my products and/or services?" I firmly believe the best web designers are seasoned, hard ass salespeople.


Cole Wiebe, content marketing expert, Vancouver, BCCole Wiebe helps brands and professionals grow their influence and value online; so they can “out content”™ their competition. Cole is a content strategist, content writer, conversion copywriter and online marketing coach.

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