This is a post that most website designers don’t want you to read. The reason they don’t want you to read it, is that most designers like to be perceived as wizards with secret magical powers. They use these powers to mystify clients into thinking website design is more than it really is.
Remember, a Web Administrator is far different than a Web Designer. We are interested in driving sales, whereas a designer is essentially an artist. A web designer will build you a website, give it to you and wish you luck on your journey. (Regardless of their art project actually doing its job or not).
This guide will help you avoid some of the dumb mistakes that otherwise smart people make when hiring a website designer. So, without further ado, there are the six mistakes:
1. Paying Too Little
We all want something for nothing, or at the very least, we want something for a very low price, and website design is no different.
Most people reason to themselves that if they pay thousands of dollars for a website, that’s money they’re losing, and if they only pay a couple hundred bucks for a website, then that’s money they’re saving.
Which isn’t exactly true.
The ultimate purpose of a business website should be to MAKE money, not cost money.
By hiring a designer, you run the risk of having a second rate, unprofessional website that might not bring in nearly as much business that a Web Administrator could have generated.
Here are some common ways I see people trying to save money and the pitfalls that come with it.
Using a “Free” website builder
I use “free” in quotes because I want to emphasize that everything has a cost even if it’s free. A lot of people ask me about these builders and wonder if we are concerned that they may cut into our business.
The truth is “free” sites have nothing to do with Web Administration
The comparison I like to give is of hiring a wedding photographer. There are quality SLR cameras out there that can take pretty nice looking pictures. So why would anyone bother to hire a wedding photographer? Better still, why would someone pay a wedding photographer if you can get decent looking pictures for “free” having your friend take pictures on a nice SLR camera?
The answer is simple. Because it’s your wedding! One of the most important days of your life and you’re going to want to always look back at those pictures and remember that special moment.
Well the same thing applies to your website. If you have a small or medium sized business the opportunity cost of having an industry leading website vs. a “just good enough” website could be a difference that amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales.
Using DIY website builders
The problem with the do it yourself website building programs is that they just look cheap and unprofessional. They all use cookie cutter templates, and the bottom line is they look like second-rate websites. Not to mention they have ZERO Search Engine value and likely don’t drive customers to contact you. (Unless you know how to use Call to Actions, Web Funneling, etc.)
Hiring one of those giant website design firms
If you search online you’ll come across many of these huge, generic looking design firms who claim to give you a custom website for under $1,000.
Here’s the ugly truth. They’re really selling you a template, which they might just adjust the colors on. The actual designer is probably a guy in India or Bangladesh who you’ll never talk to once. Don’t even think about asking him to help you when it comes time to update.
The site itself will probably have a pretty generic look to it.
Worst of all, after all the up-sells they give you for extra pages, email accounts, a CMS, contact form and all the other stuff, you’ll probably end up paying way more than the advertised price.
I won’t even discuss hiring them to manage your website indefinitely. Get a quote on that and you’ll understand why very quickly.
Takeaway: Think of the long-term impact to your business by having an unprofessional site.
2. Paying Too Much
Whether you pay $100 per month or $100,000 for a site, as far as the design goes, for the most part they’re all just made up of CSS, HTML and PHP coding.
Paying an extra $10,000 on your site won’t change the fact that you will still be getting a page marked up with HTML and styled using CSS.
Don’t let a fancy high-end design firm fool you on this point.
If you go to a website like Apple which is a gorgeous website, it’s still just CSS and HTML for the design. (Yes of course they use a lot of other scripts as far as the functionality, but in terms of the design there’s nothing special going on.)
Takeaway: Don’t make the mistake of paying too much for your website when you don’t have to. Never let complex website terminology intimidate you into thinking the big name design firm has some secret sauce.
3. Hiring a Web Designer to build your website
Designers, whether they be website designers or graphic designers, are essentially artists by nature. By this I mean that they mainly concern themselves with how things look, and whether something is aesthetically pleasing and beautiful.
Which is great! But…
A lot of designers fail to really understand the purpose of having a website.
HINT: It’s not just to be pretty.
Web Administrators (Which is what we are), know that the purpose of a website is to sell something, either your services or your product. Typically the purpose of a website is to provoke the visitor to contact you so they can one day end up giving you money.
The problem with web designers is that they usually focus more on the look, and less on the purpose. Am I saying you should have an ugly website? Of course not! I’m all for having a beautiful, elegant looking site. A Web Administrator knows that you can’t deposit beauty into a bank account at the end of the month. You need beauty and functionality!
Takeaway: Here’s how you know you’ve visited a great site. Not when you think “Wow! What a beautiful website!” but when you think to yourself, “Wow! I need to get that product or service!” and find yourself at the checkout page before you even realized what happened.
4. Not Getting a CMS (When you’re in charge of content)
CMS stands for Content Management System, and basically what it is, is a system that allows you to easily add and update content on your website on your own.
Back in the day the only way anyone could update a website was by manually editing the individual pages of code. With a CMS you can change the content of your site, add images, or even add pages on your own without having to be a website developer.
Without a CMS you’re basically hand cuffed to a website developer whenever you need to update or add new content. Not only is this an extra cost, but it can also be a nightmare when you need to quickly add something new.
Takeaway: If you are getting a website that you want to manage yourself, make sure your designer works with a CMS. (This is always included with us).
5. Not Being on the Lookout for Hidden Fees
Many website designers will lure you in with an attractive rate, only to surprise you with an endless barrage of up-sells and additional fees.
The best way to avoid this nightmare when hiring a designer is to be very clear about what your project needs are, and to put them in writing in a contract agreement that outlines the exact fee.
Two red flags to look out for are designers who don’t offer a money-back guarantee or make you pay upfront before you even know what you are getting.
A money back guarantee, or a free mockup website shows that the designer is serious about what they do and not in the business of ripping people off.
Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to kick the tires of your website designer and make sure they aren’t out to rip you off with a bunch of hidden up-sells. (We have no hidden fees or up charges)
6. Not Well Versed in SEO and Social Media Marketing
There’s no point in having a great website if no one goes to it.
Most of my clients spent good money on a web designer, only to have no one visit the website.
The two best sources of traffic you’ll have to your site are through networks, which is Social Media, and through Google, which is SEO.
SEO stand for Search Engine Optimization, and has to do with how people find you in the organic (free) Google search results.
Social Media includes sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Yelp where your potential customers gather and can be targeted demographically.
A web designer usually won’t do any of this, and it’s not their fault. They are designers, artists, and simply sell you their masterpiece. A Web Administrator has a firm grasp in SEO and Social Media and develops a strategy to integrate both into your site from the beginning.
Takeaway: If you’re just looking for a piece of art, you need a web designer. If you are looking to drive traffic to produce leads which convert into sales – You need a Web Administrator