I’m going to share a closely held secret with you about web design.
This is a secret, that no web design company in Tampa, St Petersburg, Clearwater or anywhere in Florida or the World ever mentions…
You will have to do some work to get your website live.
Then you will need to be involved with it’s development as a part of your business as much as if it were a key employee!
What’s that you say? I’m paying someone to do my website?
Why should I be involved?
- You’ll still have to do work to get it just right.
- Then you will need to keep an eye on it to be sure it works for you!
Most web companies don’t talk about what’s required of you in the process of web development, because it’s generally a turn-off to say, “Pay Us… Here’s Your Homework, and oh, by the way – this is an ongoing process”. But in all honesty, this is the unavoidable reality.
In fact, with the right approach, web site development can be fun, and will reap incredible rewards in the final product. Besides, who else knows more about your actual business than you do? Who can define your direction and goals better? What outside company knows more about what your customers want to hear than you and your front line staff? Granted, web developers and designers can take your information and mold it into a cohesive message, but we can not do this without some idea of what that message is… Help us to help you create an Awesome website for you and for your customers!
Content is king (and a tedious necessity of Internet advertising!)
- The biggest delay for any web project is not the design, or HTML coding, it’s getting the content.
This is a constant theme throughout the web industry. That means that you, the client and business owner, need to either pay someone $150 an hour to write about your business, or more likely, you’ll have to sit down, and write about your business. (At least write the basic ideas and help map out the content with your web developer)
This will take some thought, time discipline and creativity. Don’t sweat it… just look at your business plan, past brochures or marketing materials, and competitive websites and you can knock this out quickly. We can work with you on this, help you with your ideas, toss out our ideas and generally re-write your basic outline notes in a creative way, but the more you do, the less we need to do and the less it will cost you. Simple as that.
- Communication is the cornerstone of getting your message out, you must craft the message parameters and generate the basic ideas that will propel the content forward.
Great photos can make your website. Bad photos can kill it!
If your product, storefront, or employees are a major component of your brand, then you’ll need quality photos. You can try to take digital pictures (high resolution), and it may work. But, sometimes a REAL professional may be necessary. The other option is using stock photography.
A great stock photograph can usually bridge the gap for a new firm, until they have the budget to pay a professional photographer. This can actually be a really fun task with the right approach.
- Publishing poor photos of your business is where mistakes are made on the net. You only get a few seconds to make an impression and photos make the most visual impact of any medium.
Be Specific About Your Website Goals.
“Something professional” or “just a couple of pages” is not feedback that you can give your web designer and expect results. What usually helps a designer is to provide examples of other websites you’ve seen in the past that you like. Hopefully, your web designer has a significant portfolio that can help in guiding your design preferences. Most designers and web developers can make your ideas come to life, or they can show you ideas that you will in turn see as a good fit for you business, but you must be invested in the process.
Web designers all have had clients who would not engage in the process, gave no feedback, did not share ideas or objections to themes or colors or layouts, and at the end of the project find that the client does not like the result. This is a sure way to find yourself looking for another competent web design person and that is not your goal or the designers.
- Believe it or not, we are actually proud of the work we do and we want our clients to be just as proud of their website as we are to have created it.
Keep the momentum rolling and stay involved in the web design process.
How? If you have a deadline to meet, let your web designer know at the beginning of the project. This can shave weeks off of a web project. Assuming your web designer is providing drafts for you in a reasonable time frame, get back to them as soon as you can. Using email to send ideas should always be welcomed by your designer, excessive one on one meetings usually will not help a lot. If you have a designer/developer who takes an interest in learning more about your business and is willing to come to your location to do research or to photograph your retail operation, your employees, your products or your facilities, by all means make time to allow this to happen. Understand that the web design process is really the management or creative and data based ideas and content. Your web designer should be inspired by your business to create the best possible product for you.
Your biggest job is to help with inspiration!
Expect to make changes…even after your website is LIVE.
A website should not be a static, web based brochure or just some pages about your hours and location. Adding content regularily keeps your name and your business in front of more eyeballs – Specifically Google and Bing and Yahoo! To generate more views of your most important sales tool (Your website) you really must keep it fresh with new testimonials, articles and content. There is no way around this, it is just a fact of life in the website world and no matter how much the people who sell SEO over the phone like to claim that they can, no one can keep you placed well in search without updated and fresh content, inbound links, and new information for the search engines to index.
This is why we recommend to all of our clients that they consider strongly the value of updating their websites regularly. To do this more easily and on your own, you will want to request a Content Management System (CMS) that will allow you to make the changes, add the content, build new pages or add testimonials etc.
- The other option, if you do not have the time to do all of this is to start with a simple maintenance program (Starting @ $99 per month with iBusinessLogic.com).
WebSite Maintenance is Necessary
Web site technology is changing continuously and the pace of the changes is growing exponentially. The days of putting up a few HTML pages and leaving them alone for 5 years are one forever. Your site must keep up with the standards of web development and with the multitude of different browsers that are available today. There is also the issue of hackers and malicious threats, security is not bulletproof, if Google and eBay can be hacked, your website can also go down in a second.
- Having a full site backup plan, if you want to keep your website fresh, and “live” is important. Keeping that backup updated with your changes to the site is essential to having a smooth recovery from any incident. (Plans available from iBusinessLogic.com)
No Other Option – Today’s Websites are your best Sales Force
Ultimately, NOT having a website is a death sentence for any business. The decline in readership of print based advertising methods and the lack of use of Yellow Page Books all lead the consumer to the Internet. If that consumer finds you on the Internet they will have more confidence in your business. Whether they find you with one of todays mobile phones or at home with their computer it does not matter the important point here is that when that consumer, your customer, lands on your website, they should find your information presented in an informative and easy to use and understand manner. If you are not on the Internet with your own website, they most likely will not find you at all.
- Therefore, while the above tasks may not be sexy, and they may not sound like fun, being disciplined and knocking them out, (just as you did when you started your business and built your store or your client base or your hotel or whatever business you happen to be in…) in the end will help you to create new business and get you the website that you always wanted.