Slightly Mad Thoughts

Why you should never design your own website – a rant…

We totally get you. You want – no, you NEED - to tighten the budget.

You may be thinking: I hired this fly new marketing director – he should earn his keep.  I’ll make him do it.

Or: I am pretty tech savvy, and I’m creative – I can totally handle this!

What you’re not thinking is: I know the difference between a website and a brochure. 

Or: I understand Google analytics and what I need to do technically.

Or: I understand the concepts behind user behavior, eye movement, and the user experience. 

We’re thinking: Nope…Nope. Nope. Nope.

It’s very tempting to believe you can drag and drop yourself to a new website. WIX and Weebly would have you believe that you can whip up an instant website in a few hours, and in fact they make it pretty easy to get started. Unfortunately you’ll quickly realize that there are a LOT of decisions you didn’t think of – how should the pages be arranged, where should navigation be, what do I SAY!?  There are a LOT of assets like photos, wording, and stuff that you will need to cobble together.

And you start to think:

Hmmm, maybe I can just snitch this one photo from the web – nobody will notice…

Start that and you are going down a very bad road, Janet.

And what happens if you want to go outside of their oh – so restrictive template? How do you add this cool feature that all your competition has?  Oh BTW, they PAID for it…

You realize that there really is a LOT more to it.  But hey, now you’ve invested about 25 hours into this thing – can’t just stop now! YES! Yes, Janet you can! Just stop – stop the madness!

Even if you do tough it out and in a few weeks (months) you get it to be a serviceable website, it will never be what you’d get from an experienced professional.  (Remember those pesky heuristics, eye movement, user experience…?)

Did you know that even experienced IT people and companies create awful websites?  It’s true.  A professionally-developed website is the elegant combination of branding, marketing, UX knowledge and technical skills – combined with a good understanding of your offering and your target.  A good website can ONLY be delivered by a good agency partner.  Sorry – that’s the truth. 

But it isn’t the bad news you think it is – because like many seemingly expensive things, there is a reason it costs what it does, and trying to go cheap will cost you far more in the long run. 

Last summer we went to Disney - the happiest place on earth.  And it was, truly. Disney delivered in every way possible, with one exception. There was just so much walking.  On day one we were offered VIP parking at an additional $20 which, of course, we didn’t do. By day 3 we were feeling wiped out, enough to splurge for the $20 and away we drove down that special aisle, right up close to the happy place. To our surprise we were greeted by a lovely young man with a cooler of ice cold 23.7 ounce sport-top water bottles. (The big ones!) He welcomed us, gave us each two bottles of that beautiful water and pointed us to the VIP entrance, which was just steps away from our car. I did some math. On days one and two we paid more than $3 each for a smaller bottle about 15 minutes after entering the park. At 5 people that’s $15 - $30 if you figure two per person. So lesson learned: sometimes paying more not only gets you what you expect - in this case a closer parking spot, which resulted in at least an hour more endurance time in the park – but often MORE than you expect (in our case the addition of ice cold refreshment).

So if you’re thinking about creating your own website, apply this logic. Pay the fee and get a professionally-developed website that will be everything you need and more. 

We want you to be fully aware of the issues before you waste time and money – so here are a few more things to consider when you’re being wooed by Wix:

  1. Design:

The templates are lovely – that’s because they are using some really great photography. What you’ll find out pretty quickly is that once you replace those luscious macaroons with your own photos, all of a sudden that template is looking just "eh."

2. SEO:

Also known as search engine optimization – it's the activity of making your website copy, images and code appeal to search engines so that they decide to show YOU when someone searches. How do you know what they like to see?

Easy, you might say – I’ll do a search and follow the tutorial. I’ll learn all about 301 redirects and backlinks and anchor text.

It’s not that simple, Janet.

Search engines change their minds CONSTANTLY.  I guarantee you that what worked on the date of that blog article you’re reading with the easy-to-follow list of SEO strategies will not be accurate TOMORROW.

Professionals, on the other hand, are constantly updating their approach - and testing, testing, testing.  It’s what our customers expect and what they pay us for.

  1. Target

You know your business, you know your customer.  At least you think you do.  In our (ahem) many years of doing this, we have identified a disconnect. You know your EXISTING customer – but how well do you know your OPTIMAL customer?  It’s not the same thing. Your existing customer is important – retention is important – but your OPTIMAL, well that’s a totally different animal. Think of that one customer that you wish you had hundreds of. The one that doesn’t question your prices, is low maintenance, has a NEED for what you sell, you see her in your mind’s eye….

But, when you’re so busy with day to day business, it’s hard to take the time to really see things from your customers’ perspective. When a pro begins development for you, they consider the persona of that optimal customer. They seek to understand the pains, what they are looking (and searching online) for, how they want to see content arranged and what will speak to them in terms of imagery and copy. Well, not EVERY pro will do this - but we do. And a lot of experienced web designers think like us.

  1. Tools

Like any profession – there are certain specific tools, and skills for using those tools – are you prepared to get Adobe photoshop and learn how to use it?  Do you know how to optimize your images and how to install plugins? Do you understand analytics software?  What about browser and device compatibility?  Not all of this is covered by Wix – they just simply hope you don’t know better.

  1. TIME!

Whether it’s Wix or the easiest web builder not yet invented, there are TONS of hidden time suckers. Expect it to take you several times whatever amount of hoursDAYS, WEEKS you plan to spend – and then add more time for image editing and resizing, copywriting, navel contemplating, etc. Plan on another umpteen hours every month on changes and updates – especially in the first few months as your friends, family and customers start giving you their two cents.

When you hire us to develop your website, you WILL save time and you WILL save money (as illustrated above) - but you’ll also get the added bonus of an entire TEAM of website and marketing professionals – working hard to make your project our next successful case study or portfolio piece.

So listen, if it's about getting your money’s worth from your new marketing director, let me assure you – we will keep him or her very busy.  Not only will he or she be responsible for all the research and asset assembly – but the literal MILLIONS of micro-decisions that go into a new website will keep Dave or Donna running around like a…well, marketing director!  

So hire a pro like us, get your best website, and then we can talk about the marketing that needs to happen to drive people to your new website… but that’s a conversation for another day. Call us – we want to talk about your project (probably more than you do!) - 800.279.2971.

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