As professionals, we’re poignantly aware of the fine balance between cost, time, and quality. For every progression in one of these categories, a concession is made in the others. The key to any successful project is determining which of the three is finite and then maximize the remainders optimally. In most scenarios, budget is finite, so it becomes the key factor upon which we determine what quality we can target and how much time we can use to accomplish that quality.
Given those facts, the DIYer has to make similar considerations. If we’re short of a budget for our project, then how much time do we have to commit to it? Further to that, given our current knowledge and experience with web technology, what realistic level of quality can be achieved given our time constraints? In the example of a DIY website project, it might seem reasonable to believe that you have the time to build the website, but there are many considerations that must be made to determine whether this new website will even serve its purpose as a marketing tool by the end of the project.
Most importantly, what is the goal of the website? Is it simply a space to publish thoughts or is the intention to have an online storefront for your business? Are you running a digital campaign to improve your online reach or visibility? How will the website meet the functional requirements of this campaign? What technological considerations must be made?
There is a vast body of knowledge required to be an effective web developer; some of the hot topics these days are responsive design, search engine optimization, accessibility, conversion rate optimization, etc. Each of these technological considerations greatly affects the effectiveness of your website as a marketing tool.
This discussion begs further discussion around the digital marketing strategy, namely user profiling and market research. What’s the point of a marketing tool if it is not serving the needs of your direct target market(s)?
- Who will be the users of the website?
- Will they be on desktop-only, mobile-only, or both?
- Will the users potentially have accessibility needs that need to be addressed by the website?
- What is the conversion goal?
- What do you want users to do on your website to get them further along the purchase life cycle or deeper into your marketing funnel?
- Will your new website be returned for relevant searches?
- What are the relevant searches?
- How do you target those keywords and continually optimize?
- Will you have traffic and usage data from your new website?
- What does this data mean?
- How do these data points translate into whether we are getting closer to or farther away from achieving our marketing goals?
These are just technological considerations, and this is a short list of considerations. For every question, you should have a strategy for how you’re going to address these considerations. Otherwise, you are potentially relegating a part of (or a whole) target demographic of your business.
Beyond these technological considerations, there is the issue of design. A stat that most web developers love to throw around is this:
“94% of site visitors state that bad design is the main reason they mistrust a website.”
“10 Web Design Statistics.” WebIntel by Ironpaper. IronPaper.com, 6 Mar. 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2015. <http://www.ironpaper.com/webintel/articles/10-web-design-statistics/#.VCye2ktEyRD>
Technology is a very minor obstacle indeed when contrasted with design. Technology is minor in the sense that it can be learned given time and commitment. Design, on the other hand, is something a little more ethereal in the sense that good design can follow principles, but ultimately great design is a product of creativity and innate talent. So what is your awareness of good design principles? How is your design going to avoid ostracizing up to 94% of your visitors? Further to generally good design, there is some overlap with technology, particularly in the case of conversion rate optimization. How much do you know about the subtle psychological and visual cues you can give to users to grease the wheels towards them completing a conversion goal?
After you have committed to doing the website the DIY way, and you hit a roadblock (and you will hit a roadblock – even the best web developers hit roadblocks from time to time), then what is your plan? Commit more time? Hire someone? Give up? Giving up is not usually an option, especially in the case of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are the types that refuse to acknowledge the existence or meaning of the word “quit.”
There three major fronts upon which our considerations are based:
- Marketing – First and foremost, a website is a marketing tool, so how do we optimize the marketing potential? Marketing is the deeper consideration with every other consideration we’ll make.
- Technology – What technology needs to be leveraged to accomplish our marketing goals?
- Creativity – Good strong sales copy and great design are paramount when trying to align to a greater marketing goal.
This article is not intended to scare you away from DIY websites so much as it is to educate you on the true breadth and depth of a website project when undertaken by professionals. Professionals are very often considered solely on cost, but remember our balancing equation from the beginning of this article: with quality comes time and with time comes cost. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, “How much does my time cost?” “What could I make with the same time commitment targeted towards running my own business?” As we know from experience, everyone’s time is best spent doing what they’re best at, and if that is running your business (which hopefully it is if you’re in business for yourself), then that is where your time should be spent.
Before we start a website project at CurveFront, we perform a comprehensive requirements analysis/fact-finding investigation to make sure we know and understand the marketing goals. Then we can translate those goals into technological and creative considerations that must be made before we even quote on a project. Our goal is for our customers to successfully access their customers through digital channels. Before undertaking any website project, we want to know what it will take to produce a valuable marketing tool for our customers.
If you’re interested in discussing your digital marketing goals, we’d love to hear from you! Head over to our contact page to drop us a line, and we’ll get back to you on the double.
This article was written in response to Richard Darell’s article available at http://www.bitrebels.com/technology/good-bad-ugly-diy-websites.