I was speaking to a graphic designer recently, or rather, the owner of a graphic design agency because it was clear he had no real idea about graphic design. And even less about marketing.
He did know however about rebranding and “beautiful websites”. His whole pitch was all about how good looking his work was.
Run that one by me again? Your websites are beautiful. OK.
That is, of course, total bollocks
I may offend some people here – not all designers are equal.
One of the first things many a new business says these days is, “we need a website”.
Their first port of call is their friendly local web designer.
They all have different backgrounds and skills.
Your task is to separate the aspiring artists with a temperament to match from the ones who care about design, are good at it – and, crucially, will ask you questions about marketing to ensure your site works.
A web designer should ask you just one question – “what is it supposed to do?”
Make sure your designer knows that.
Is it a brochure site?
Do you want to collect email addresses? Do you want visitors to pick up the phone? Or do you want to sell things? Or perhaps a combination of some or all of these?
Have you worked this out yet?
Bad websites have a number of problems:
* They’re too busy
Some designers insist on building incredibly crowded sites with so many distractions that you have no idea what you’re supposed to do.
Have you ever looked at a restaurant menu with so many options you didn’t know what to choose?
Or looked at the TV schedule with hundreds of channels and there’s still nothing to watch?
It’s called the paradox of choice. If your visitors have too many choices, they’re unlikely to make one. Limiting your options makes their lives easier.
* There’s no call to action
Having presented the options, how do you ensure people make a choice?
By asking them of course!
The best way I can describe it is like this. Imagine you’re in a department store. You’ve chosen what you want to buy, so you look for the checkout. The store wants you to spend your money, but if it doesn’t tell you where to go, there’s every chance you’ll abandon your purchase and go elsewhere.
It’s the same with your website. If your instructions aren’t clear, you’ll be losing potential customers.
* Too many bells and whistles
Luckily, Flash is in its death throes, so you don’t need to “click to skip the Intro” anymore. We’re also a generation away from the old flashing GIF images that used to haunt websites in the 90s and early 2000s.
That doesn’t stop designers getting “creative” and including buttons, menus and shiny objects that distract from the primary purpose.
Web designers are a special breed. There aren’t many that know about design AND marketing.
Be very careful when you look for a web designer. If you get blank looks when you ask questions, run away. Your site is an essential part of your marketing strategy. All your efforts should be aimed at driving traffic to it.
All the effort you put into generating traffic and the money you spend on advertising will be for nothing if you don’t convert.
So, what is your website supposed to do?