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From the Trenches

All I Need is a Web Designer

Mike Sweeney | April 3, 2009

These are infamous words, generally spoken by infamous people.  Or at least people that are about to become infamous.

There are literally hundreds of ways organizations arrive at the decision that they need to build a new website.  Sometimes the decision is simply dictated from the CEO.  Sometimes the decision is driven by a change in ownership or control.  Sometimes the decision is driven by the poor performance and usability of the current website.  For the point I am trying to make here, the driving factor of the decision doesn’t matter.

What does matter is the mistake that at least 20% of small and medium businesses make: I call it the “All I need is a web designer” mistake.

Really? No, I mean really?

Listen.  Perhaps you just want a brochure site.  Static.  You don’t care about driving “new” traffic.  You don’t care about using the site as a lead generator or customer acquisition tool.  You don’t care about using the site to become a thought leader in your industry.  That’s cool – go find a designer – there are thousands of great ones out there, some of whom we work with on a regular basis.

But if you’re interested in making your website a complete, living, breathing, fluid marketing vehicle, then please don’t say things like the following:

“We don’t need any help with our messaging.  We’ve got that down pat. “

Really? No, I mean really? Strangely enough, the companies that usually say that are the ones that DO have their messaging down pat.  Down pat in the CEO’s head.  And only his head.  And the messaging is in his/her head equates to 10 pages of messaging if you could extract it.

“Don’t worry about the copy.  We have all kinds of brochures, and if the information isn’t there we can always use all the copy on the current site.”

Really? No, I mean really? Brochures aren’t websites.  And if you don’t have any formal messaging plan, then that copy that resides on your site probably doesn’t make any sense.

“Not sure that SEO matters to us.  All of our customers come through referrals, and that seems to work out pretty well.”

Really? No, I mean really? That’s probably one of the reasons why your business isn’t growing.  You’re maintaining a business, not growing it.  If you’re good with that, then forget the SEO.  It will probably drive all kinds of new leads into the business, and you’ll have to figure out how to deal with these new leads instead of always handling “warm” leads.  Who would want to deal with that problem, after all?

This brings us back to my favorite:

“All I need is a web designer.”

Yup.  And when I build my next house, I’ll just get someone to paint the outside real nice.  Plumbing doesn’t matter.  Working appliances don’t matter.  Electricity? Who needs it.  Just make it look nice on the outside and we’re good to go.

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