A huge dose of common sense
- Categorized in: SEO & SEM
"Do You Really Need a Custom Web Design?"
If you have a car, was it custom-built just for you?
What was the last piece of clothing you bought? Was it tailored specially for you?
What about the last piece of furniture you purchased? Was that hand-crafted to your exact specifications?
So why, when we need a web site, do we imagine we need to start from first principles and get a new design hand-crafted in Photoshop and lovingly produced to make a truly original custom web site?
Now, if the results were that much better with a custom build, I'd see the point. But most web designers are not trained. They don't understand marketing. They don't understand how to influence or to sell. They have little appreciation of attracting or converting the right visitors. And they have a perverse view of what graphic design really is.
Yet, the vast majority of the cost of any custom web site will be spent on custom design and custom build. Relatively little is spent on what really matters (strategy, keyword research, intelligent information architecture, and compelling copywriting).
The net result is, most custom-built web sites deliver very bad ROI (return on investment). That's just a fact. A few work great, but the majority of the web is still crap.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have people selling nasty web site templates, which will also deliver rubbish results.
So what do you do to get value from web design? Here are a few ideas..
If you have a truly unique and original concept, talk to a web designer who really has the skills to craft a truly original web site that also works. (But this does not apply to the majority of us.)
I'm a big fan of publishing platforms like Wordpress, and there are a lot of good themes out there, which will remove the majority of the human cost of design & build. So, if you're hiring a web designer, insist that they start with a great theme that will deliver what you need, and spend some time customising it to fit the brand.
Then, focus all your attention on crafting a powerful message, great offers, and creating imaginative content that you know will draw visitors from far and wide.
If the web designer complains, find a different web designer that understands ROI and who puts their client's success before their own profits.
And, before you do anything, research the neighbourhood. Look at all the competition (the ones who rank for the keywords you need to rank for). Look at what works. Which landing pages would make you want to engage with the site? Then ask why.
Finally, learn from those lessons. If something works, whether it's copy, design, layout, navigation, do something like that. Don't reinvent the wheel, unless you really have got money to burn.
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