There are times in everyone’s life when they take on the appearance of a deer caught in the headlights, that look of total shock and disbelief as they have been rudely dragged out of their comfort zone and asked to comment intelligently on something they have no idea about. Marketing companies are one profession that see it all the time. It’s an immediate reaction as soon as they say, ‘Mr Customer, what do you want your web design to achieve?’, ‘Mr Customer, which colour do you favor, taupe or mauve?’ These questions are not designed to reduce grown men to tears but are needed to direct the path of an effective web design. Many important web design elements boil down to being choices between the specialist from web development (‘but this will attract the internet’) and the specialist from graphic design (‘but this will attract people’), and marketing project managers struggle to know which is best – after all, it’s like asking them which one of their two children they love most.
To help you make the right choices here are a few things to think about before you start your investigating into a website, some of the important choices between web designer and design and things that your chosen marketing company will need to know. Then you can avoid giving the impression that you are the Forrest Gump of marketing knowledge when the time comes, but more importantly, avoid costly mistakes during the process.
Here is a theme that will come up again and again – be ready for it. Your company’s web design needs to look good, no not even good, it needs to look fantastic! But does fantastic sell? As a general rule, no. Your website needs to look fantastic, but it also needs a fantastic guide to lead people through it. It’s no use having an amazing visual experience if no one knows where the next page is, how to get back to the home page or where they have been and how they got there. Your bounce rate will soar if you get it wrong.
Your website needs to guide people to where they want to go, and where you want them to go to secure a sale. In this instance, if you need to make a choice, choose simplicity and ease of use over death defying graphics. You need people to stay on the site as long as you can and bond with your products. A great guide, mixed with a little magical design does just that.
So your website isn’t bringing in sales, or leads… or views. You need help. You need a complete redesign… or do you? Let’s put it in perspective. If you are getting married and you want to look your best who do you ask? You go to a hairdresser, and they suggest all you need is a completely new look and your hair do will do it. You go to a make-up specialist and they say all you need is a new make-up regime and that will do it. You go to a dressmaker and she says all you need is the right dress … you get the picture.
So what do you think happens when you ask a graphic designer what your website needs to be successful? Or a web designer? Right! You get their view of your web site and what it needs.
In this scenario you need the advice of a project manager. They will look at the whole project objectively, and it may mean that you don’t need a redesign at all – a few marketing tweaks, new copy, aim at a different market or a few design tweaks with a great call to action and you’re done. Know who plays what role in the redesign and play to their strengths. It will save you more than you realise.
Set a budget for your web design. Know what you want to pay and then shop round. Ask for a marketing company that uses a project manager as they will help you divide up your budget so you don’t need to make choices between departments. They know the cost of each segment, but they also know the best way to allocate funds, your funds, for maximum impact.
Take the time to find one that will work within your budget, but that also produces work that you admire in an atmosphere that will be conducive to a great working relationship. It may sound like hippie love fest, but if you’re spending a lot of money with a company you can’t stand it won’t produce great work. You’ll always look at your website and say, ‘I HATE those guys’ before you can interpret what your website is doing for your company. Or you’ll have to walk away with no money and no website at all.
Your website needs to have its memorable features, but be careful of ‘unique’. Graphic designers can go so far out of the box that they are on another planet. Your website needs to follow certain conventions so that your user has a familiar feel to the site and is comfortable using it. Embrace different, encourage exciting, but stop short of weird.
If you like what the graphic designers do for you but it’s confusing for a website, look at other marketing collateral to support the new site as unique translates into sales with those.
If you don’t have a solid brand before you start your website, get one! Your website on its own will not produce a solid brand, it needs to be created and developed as an entity to base your website on. This is best done by the graphic designers and will help guide the path to a successful selling website.
Developing a brand sets the foundation for an accurate web design. It creates a visual image and colour palette to work from, sets a tone of your company image, identifies an audience and target market, assumes a personality for your company and sets parameters for the selling experience for your brand. If you have a solid brand, you can build a solid website.
When it comes down to the actual look of a website, then lean on the advice of your graphic designer. They know about design elements from a psychological point of view. Sales are based on emotions more than facts, so a designer is trained to look at design from all emotional angles. They will know when blue suggests a feeling better than red, whether concentric circles or convex will appeal more and what the font type is really saying to your customer. The web designer may suggest what is easier, but not what is most effective. If you’re looking for appeal, then look no further than your graphic designer. He thinks like a customer.
Having an amazing website is important to the survival of your company image and the effectiveness of your brand, so make sure you use all of the marketing power of your web design company to work for you. They are the power houses that build web pages that capture interest, holds interest and brings in sales.
After all, who doesn’t want that?
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