Last week I talked about DIY website design. While it’s a great option for budget-strapped folks, the rule of thumb is to leave the business of site design to the professionals. The problem is that it is treated like a business rather than a creative process. There is a lot of terminology and confusing price points that really turn creating or updating a website into a tangled relationship between the client and the designers.
The Right Price and the Right Designer
The first thing you need to really watch out for are the price points. A “designer” who offers to do a site for a ridiculous sum like $500 is going to end up costing you a lot more down the road. You will not have functionality, aesthetics or even SEO. It’s really important to get a designer that can offer what you need to boost your marketing efforts, rather than just settling on a designer because they can deliver a quickly (and probably crudely) constructed site for a price you’re comfortable with.
On the other hand, some of the top-rated designers with heavy-hitting client lists have been known to offer template sites for custom site prices. This means that you get a cookie-cutter website with some superficial template changes for the price of a custom coded site. It’s an unscrupulous business practice and it’s done by far too many; it also deals a heavy blow to any real marketing efforts you want your site capable of down the road since there just won’t be any adaptability.
If you don’t have the money for a great site but need something to get going, try making a deal with a designer. Break up your project into smaller stages that start from scratch. Stage 1 should include a site that gets you up and running, and future stages can add additional functionality that helps your site grow with your business – and lets you invest down the road when you have funds to play with.
As your business grows, your site will grow and you’ll need your web guy or gal. It’s best to get someone that can anticipate needs and grow with you; but to get that person you can’t insult them with a rock bottom budget or wanting everything for nothing.
7 Points to Consider
Step one is figuring out a realistic budget. Step two is getting a designer that can work with you for your budget and get you what you need (and not just want you think you want).
Step three is designing your site. This is where having sourced the right designer will do wonders for you. They’ll have worked with tons of other clients, and ideally those in your industry – so they’ll know exactly what to look out for. This is where designers become more than just designers, they become guides.
No matter how creative your design team is, you will have to consider what goes into your ideal online destination. You have to have vision and practicality. Here are seven points to consider to ensure you site design has marketing prowess.
- Purpose – Consider your business objective and have your website emphasize this theme. Ask yourself these questions: Why do you have a website? How are you going to measure your success?
- Design - Think color palettes, alignments, visuals and key text. Does your site merge design with functionality? Does it appeal to your target audience?
- Message – Every page in your website needs a goal and a meaningful call to action whether it’s a newsletter signup, donation button, conference signup, social media buttons, e-paper, etc.
- Architecture – Yes, even a web site has to have a smart design – in other words, a well thought out, easy-to-navigate site map. Ask yourself how your pages are organized and remember that what works for one company will not work for another. Understand your customers and you’ll understand your business.
- Usability & Accessibility – Some people have slow internet connections, some can’t install a Flash plug-in. For others, the alignment may be off or they may not be able to view the images. Not keeping these factors in mind means that you’re likely to lose customers/readers that don’t have the patience for a mismanaged page.
- Online Marketing – Because your website URL doesn’t appear out of thin air to new clients, appealing to the search engines is key. An experienced web designer can optimize your site so that search engine robots can sniff out your content, and a smart social media and link building campaign can reinforce the investment you’ve made in your site.
- Technical Tid Bits – Is your host reliable and is your domain easy to remember? Make sure the foundation of your web page is solid for future development.