When people tell me their stories about getting web sites created for the first time, they use language like; “It seemed to take forever to get my content correct. I went back and forth with them so many times.” I’ll speak to them for a while and I know when where at the root of the issue when I hear them say something like “I guess I went into the process thinking the web designers would just write the content for me…”.
When it’s your first time dealing with an industry like web design, this example highlights a very easy and common mistake to make.
In this article, I’d like to share with you the top 3 common mistakes that are easy to make when engaging a web designer for the first time. I believe they provide valuable information to help you better negotiate with web designers and save money.
Mistake #1 – Thinking someone else can write content for you.
When you’re paying someone to create a website for you, it’s easy to assume it’s a full service arrangement, meaning they will do everything including generate the content (to a large extent). But this is never usually the case. They might offer you copywriting services where copywriters write your site content for you. But how will they know what to write? They will call you, organise meetings, get you to check the content etc… How else can they understand what your business does?
You are the business owner – you know your customers, you know what your business is good at and most importantly you know what sort of business you want to attract. Even if you’re not the best writer, you know what you need to say. Most importantly, your customers will recognise it’s you and they feel a connection.
Having someone completely write the content for you will not save you time. You’ll still need to be heavily involved in checking the content and deciding what information you display on the website.
Then there’s the mismatching that often happens between the website and the actual business itself.
How would you feel if you looked at a stunning website for a Chinese restaurant, that had amazing images of the food, kitchen and menu. It was well written and presented. When you turn up you find a plain looking restaurant, the service is average, the food is average and they seem focused on takeaways over the people actually sitting at the tables. You’d feel tricked.
Having a $10k website and a business premises that’s old and run down may fool people the first time, but they will remember the feeling they had when they arrived at a place that didn’t match the image they had in their mind from reviewing your site. People forget names, they forget products, they forget details – but they do not forget the feeling they had.
For example. Lets take the following website image. Imagine now in your mind what the restaurant might look like.
Which of the following would you say best matched the image you had in your mind?
Would you feel slightly disappointed or cheated if you turned up to the older looking one? Their food might be twice as good. But you had an image in your mind, just from looking at the site, of what it might be like. When it didn’t match it was natural you’d start feeling disappointed.
Everything needs to match – your website needs to reflect how your business actually is, they way you speak and act, the outside and inside of your premises, everything. That way customers can be confident of the experience they will have in doing business with you. You’ll meet their expectations and they’ll be happy.
The best way to approach writing content for your website
What a web designer will do is polish your content. They’ll make sure it flows and suggest any additions or changes. A good web designer will suggest the type of content you might want to include and even frame up some pages with some basic content as an example.
So don’t shy away from getting into it yourself. Have a go at organising what content you’d like to present on your site. Have a go at writing it and get the web designers to review it and suggest any changes. You’ll save a significant amount of time and effort and most importantly you’ll be actively involved in the process.
Mistake #2 – Thinking a larger company is better/safer than a small one
If you’re looking for a whole logo and styling redesign along with a website, then look for a company that can provide all these services together. Most graphic design companies either have in house web designers or have a partner company they use for this. In my opinion money spent with a graphic designer is money well spent – if you need these services.
However if you’re not looking for a complete styling overhaul, then going with a large company usually just adds additional overhead costs that need to be recovered from customers (like extra staff and higher rent for larger business premises). Companies offering many services in house most certainly will want to cross sell them to you in a package. If this is what you need then this is fantastic, but if it’s not, consider going with a company that just does what you need. You’ll usually get better service and a cheaper price for the same thing – because it won’t include extra overheads.
Things to consider;
* Do you need a complete logo & branding overhaul?
* Do you need a basic website or a complex one?
* Will you be working with the main designer? Or his offsider with only a few years experience?
* How many projects are they working on at the same time?
Check out some free online designs for business cards and stationery. Often you can get 80% of the way there with these tools and at the very least get your mind in the right space so you really know what to ask for. Sometimes a $20 logo from an online store is great (Like these http://www.vistaprint.com.au, http://www.designmantic.com, https://www.squarespace.com/logo).
I’ve personally spent $880 on a logo for a business before. I cannot say that the logo was really that much better than some of the inexpensive designs found online.
While you do need a logo with some thought put into the design, for most people branding really isn’t their top marketing concern and the money is likely better spent elsewhere.
This leads us nicely into the final mistake;
Mistake #3 – Going all-in and spending your entire marketing budget on a website
Website performance is one of the most common disappointments I hear from people who are looking to get their site “rebuilt”. When you’re getting your first site created it’s easy to think it’s all about beautiful images and styling. It’s easy to think once you have a site people will just walk through the door.
A website by itself, without a marketing strategy, will not bring in many customers – if any at all. So many businesses are online now that it’s difficult just to get on the front page of google. A website is one of many avenues people will use to find your business. You need to have one, but until you really understand how people are finding you online you can’t be sure what level of importance to place on your website. Perhaps for your type of business social media is more important than having an amazing e-commerce website. For example, a cupcake shop might have a website that simply looks like this;
The business owners understand that most of their sales come from custom orders for special events. The focus of their website is to showcase the type of designs they do and provide information, like how much time they need to cater for a party of a certain size. They might also include images from their commercial kitchen to give customers the confidence they are a serious operation and include information like the head baker’s qualifications.
They don’t require a complicated site with extra features that will cost a significant amount, but are unlikely to translate into extra customers. I’ve written a whole guide on this that will be coming to your inbox soon.
So, while I’ve called this article “The 3 Common Mistakes “, “The 3 Common Learning Experiences” would have been just as appropriate. Keeping them in mind will mean you’re more prepared when you approach the task of getting a website created for the first time – and that will save you money.
Coming up next I’d like to take a closer look the last point above, spending your entire budget on a website. I’d like to talk about the concept of price vs value and how to value each aspect of a website and the entire design process. This will help you target your spending and pay for only what you need.