When you need a website, most companies will try to find a graphic designer, web designer or simply brief their advertising agency. This is the worst mistake a company can make as designers have the wrong priorities when it comes to web design.
To get the best results when looking at web design you need to get someone in marketing to do your website design. The number one priority of marketing types is to generate revenue, and this should always be the number one priority of your website design.
Here are the main reasons why you cannot trust a designer to create your web design:
1. Your website is not an online brochure
The majority of websites are currently online brochures; some are even nice and interactive! Designers are great at taking a lot of information like your corporate profile, differentiators, products and services and using their design skills to logically organise this information into a beautiful design.
However, your website should be a 24x7x365 new business hunting machine, not an online brochure, and the requirements to achieve this are very different to the structure of a standard website.
2. Elements that don’t blend and match are imperative
Designers stick to your corporate identity; they use shades of your brand colours to demarcate areas on a web page. This results in a really good-looking web design, with all elements on the page conforming and blending in, even the areas that need to stand out by using a contrasting shade of your corporate colours blends in.
Blending in the parts of your web design that drive action is one of the worst things you can do though, but designers will argue out of doing this. The reality is to make a website work, some things should not be pretty.
3. Designers love consistency, even if it is not how your market thinks
Designers often get bogged down with consistency, but in order to appeal to your target market you sometimes need to be inconsistent.
For example, on one page you may refer to “product categories” and then on another it may be necessary to refer to the same thing as “product families”.
Your web design is there to win you customers, not to win awards and so it should take those customers into consideration.
4. The most important part of your website is the text, but designers do not write your web copy
When setting up the budget for your web design, you need to put the majority of your budget into creating the most amazing web copy.
Most companies focus their budgets on the web design part though, making a beautiful website and then copy and pasting old copy that was written for other purposes, or getting a junior writer to slap together the web copy.
Web copy should come before the design; this copy should be researched according to how your target market shops and thinks and although the saying goes “a picture says a thousand words”, the copy should be the king and determine the design and the design is simply the bell boy.
5. Your website needs to constantly evolve so designers do not put in easy to use content management systems
Your website is one of the best ways to test strategies. If for example you want to try out how your market will respond to a new value proposition, simply add it to your website. Using your website analytics you can see how people respond, and you can see how people respond to other pages and make continuous tweaks to see if you can improve responses.
Designers know that a website should not be a designed and then left, so they know you will be back for more which means more hours they can bill you. As a result, very few of them put in content management systems that allow you to simply add new pages or change content.
6. For web design, especially in emerging markets, you need a mobile version of your site
The majority of people use mobile devices to browse the web in emerging market countries such as South Africa and India; if you are in the upper LSMs you have a tablet or some other smartphone, if you are in the lower LSMs you have a old budget BlackBerry or a feature phone.
Maintaining a desktop website and mobile website is cumbersome — your designer should create you a responsive website that simply displays differently based on your device (without the need to zoom in or out).
7. Designers do not focus on driving traffic to your website
Having a website is useless if you do not have a plan to drive traffic to your website and then convert that traffic into customers.
There are many things within a website’s design that impact on its ability to attract traffic and convert the traffic to visitors, but when you place design as the most important element, many of these things are not implemented.
Driving traffic to your website is an ongoing project, but most of the time your entire budget is used up in the design portion of your digital strategy leaving very little for anything else.
When planning a web design you should split your budget out like this:
Ed: Memeburn always does its best to encourage discussion around digital issues. If you would like to write a rebuttal to this, or any other opinion piece on the site, you are more than welcome to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.