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Don't Start a Web Design Project Until You Read This

By January 9, 2015 7 Comments

Lately I’ve had many conversations about web design projects. It got me thinking about several universal truths we need to all understand.

First, if you operate a business and don’t have some sort of website, your chances of doing business with anyone under the age of sixty is pretty negligible. And people over sixty, they’re not making those every day. (I know, technically, they are, but still. I’m not going to argue semantics with you in my own essay.)

Everyone Googles everything, except for those other 12 people who use Bing or some other search engine. That’s reality. A Website is not just about “marketing,” per se. it’s about lending an air of legitimacy and credibility to your organization. Without some digital presence, you look out of touch; the kind of business who will cut corners… a little bit shady.

Additionally, your site needs to be attractively designed and built with responsive, mobile friendly design, for the aforementioned reasons.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, here’s the real point of this post. If there’s anything worse than having no website, it’s birthing an abomination into the world. (I’m thinking of names, but not naming them.) You don’t have to hire Nexxtep to do your website, though we do great work in that department.

But if you go elsewhere for your website needs, please be on the lookout for certain signs that you’re in Hucksterville. If you’re considering hiring someone and they make these suggestions, it’s time to run away; for added effect, maybe overturn a table or two on the way out the door.[1] Without further embellishment, here is my list of absolute “don’ts” when it comes to getting your site up and running.

1. Free If someone tells you your website will be free, it won’t be. You won’t own the domain. You won’t own the content. You’ll probably pay more in the long-term via hosting and design fees. Also, it’s likely to be an eyesore that looks like all the other eyesores in your industry. Likely vomited from the same template, in fact.

2. Cheap For all of the above reasons. Building a website takes a significant amount of expertise, creativity, and work. All of those items have a certain cost associated with them, and if a company (or individual) is able to do all that work for free, it isn’t because they’ve got a super-savant locked in the basement churning out quality work in minutes; it’s because they’re short-cutting the process. Or because they plan to collect on the back-end. Cheap almost always ends up being more expensive; sometimes significantly so.

3. Music, Clutter, and excessive animation Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Simple, clean design almost always beats flashy and gaudy, and your music taste might be atrocious. Why punish potential clients with it? If I have to wait for your site to load or dig through it to find important details like locations and hours, I won’t. A particularly bad example: I came across a site that forced you to watch an animated helicopter take off before you could see any other content. Who thinks that’s a good idea?

4. Outsourcing I’m not hostile to outsourcing, but if you’re going to hire someone to build a site for you, and they’re going to hire someone to build the site for them…why not just hire the freelancer yourself? I don’t think this is necessarily a non-starter if you’re engaging for design expertise rather than code, but make sure you ask the question.

5. Step 3: Profit Even if your company is excellent, and you build a great site, the notion of a linear progression from web presence to unimaginable riches is unrealistic. A website is part of a larger strategy, but it’s a tool in a toolkit, not a guarantee of beachfront property in Dubai.

A large, local web design company here in Jacksonville runs advertisements that say “It’s simple; just tell us how many leads you want and wait for business to roll in.”

I had a professor in college who would say “the Greek word for that is Baloney.”[2]It’s a lie. A great, big lie. A well-designed website is a necessary, helpful tool; but it’s not a Ronco-style, set-it-and-forget-it guarantor of success. Flee from anyone who tells you otherwise.

Ultimately, if you’re going to hire someone to build a site for you, make sure it’s someone you trust, and go into the process with your eyes wide open, and, if anyone brings you a proposal that sounds like what I’ve described, RUN. To me.

[1] Note: You probably shouldn’t overturn any actual tables.

[2] This joke is only funny if you know that both of my degrees are in Theology and Koine Greek was part of that course of study. Also, this joke is still not that funny…

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