Jonny has been a B2B journalist and editor and is currently a website developer while co-running a business networking organization.
Know Your Audience, Don't Invent Them
Research and Perspective is Crucial
There can also be a confusion – and this is incredibly common – not just from what we might expect people to want from us online, but also when we project what we think they should get. You might have an idea that you feel really works, but have you done the aforesaid research? The market research.
This confusion – or to be honest, bad or lack of research – is then generally compounded for website buyers by two things:
1. The continuing lack of perspective of their customers or visitors. And;
2. The number of different job descriptions within web marketing: Finding out what services they actually need, and working out which ones are best for them can be easily overlooked or mishandled.
Let's take number one:
Marketing is all about understanding the perspective of the customer in order to engage them to believe and buy. And when doing this we do a lot of work in the background to make sure the presentation (the foreground) grabs and keeps the attention by being simple to understand.
The Website is Not For You, It's For Your Visitors
Ensure the Website Works Holistically
Looking at point number 2 above, it's a good idea to research what a website designer does and the extent to what a website designer will do for you. This rule can be applied to any branch of digital work: copywriter, developer, coder, marketer et al. This also applies if you are researching into what I call a 'course of self-education' with 'ready-made' website builds and hosting services. And DIY sites will cost you more time and money than you think by the way.
The best providers of service will understand that the website is a holistic process, meaning that the whole thing is affected by marketing decisions (the original strategy), and therefore must be looked at objectively – while the work is assembled – to ensure it all works together to be effective marketing.
Make you have both outlined what is being done and that it's relevant, that you understand it and it's what you want. But also know that it's bad form if you think you can do their job just because it's your business. If you've shopped around and checked they know what they're doing: Give them feedback by all means, but try not to undermine their work, they won't be assuming they can do your job.
Just Know Who You're Paying For and Why
Is Website Design the Same as Marketing?
If you have done the due diligence, have decided on a DIY site or going with a designer you like, then someone in this mix needs to know on paper, very clearly, who on earth you are building the site for, because if it's just you or hubris thinking the product or service will sell itself then prepare for setbacks and sadness, because clearly this is not all about just website designing.
You need to know that interestingly I (the author) am kind of marketing to you (the reader) right now, a website buyer or maker, my target audience. In the real world I am building a bridge between perspectives: the supplier (my client) and the demand (their target audience). Getting my client to understand why and what they're marketing and to whom is thus, essential.
When you buy a website you need ensure that you and the developer/s (and this may be you doing it all by yourself) are aware that designing, building or coding, writing and marketing are all separate disciplines and therefore billable. The lines between them are easy to blur and mess up. Again: Everyone involved has to have an objective view of the whole marketing strategy so that everything functions on your site cohesively.
- If you have brand colours, they need to be in the design;
- The writing needs to reflect the mood of these colours;
- Said colours need to be consistent in everything you post online;
- The mood and etiquette of the post writing needs to be consistent;
- The coders, designers and printers of promo material need to know the Hex codes of the colours;
- The copywriter and marketing strategy need to be aware of all of the above for any changes or adaptation;
- If you are employing someone you cannot suddenly redesign or upload a colour change yourself as you will undermine their professional expertise and all of the above.
So no, design is not the same as marketing, but they are inextricably linked to the main strategy.
All the Work on Your Site Has to Function
Getting Customers to Click
Whoever you choose to enlist, know that delivering a website without the proper set-up and relationship to the rest of the internet, and your target audience, is like selling you a car without an engine or fuel or both.
Honestly, and back to our original point, who is magically going to look at your site without any pro-active preparation, effort or promotion on behalf of your organisation? A basic website, or what we think we need, is really 10% of the story. So what tasks make up the other 90%?
Here's a quarter of what can be done in plain English, and what someone you hire or you should be doing to make the site function for it to be visited:
- Researching and assembling all the words web-surfers might use to directly reach your site;
- Using those words in your copy (for all of the list above, at least) and anywhere in your campaign, on or off your site;
- Testing a site to make sure it loads, reads, looks, links, uses, searches and works well;
- Make efficient those little things that creates interest or makes a sale through testing, fine-tuning and reporting results; then,
- Providing a bespoke analysis of your online niche approach using all the above.
As a matter of course then, a website maker should automatically incorporate the necessities of the above. We call it things like SEO, UX and keyword listing etc. Each of these things can start at basic set-up for budget to an advanced version of the services that take those extra work hours and analysis over time.
Would You Buy a Car with No Engine or Fuel?
The Work to Make it Work online
So obviously there's an accountable difference between a starting point website and an ongoing online operation. Think of a shop, a company, a private trader always adapting to the market, a website is just a reflection of this, and what you sow counts for what you reap in the field of business dreams. It's for this reason most good web service facilitators inherently care more for their client's needs rather than seeing how much money they make.
You need to be availed of a bespoke package of as many of these services or routes to return as possible – including website design and content management system – so shop around and research what you don't know.
The site being up on the web, but in reality not being looked at, may please some. But for those of you with the business savvy to see that the reality of your dream goes beyond 'getting a website for the business' it ultimately comes back to these main questions:
- What's the plan? How are you marketing your business online?
- How do they get to know about your website? How are linking your creativity, your work, your passion to the perspective of your potential visitors?
- What are we doing today to attract more traffic? How are you being results-driven effective in getting people to check out the site?
- What else are you offering? What are doing to turn those visitors into clients, customers, advocates, return visitors or even dare I say... fans?
Because when you build the website, yes they will come, but only if you do the other 90% and market it properly. Your online operation represents an emulation of your real world one, and it can certainly double your fortunes.
However, unless you want it just to be a static calling card you need to apply the same amount of consideration for a visitor as if they has just walked into your business premises or if you work from home, had suddenly come knocking on your door wanting to know more.
Jeremy W from Saskatoon on March 14, 2018:
Very true. Once you have customers, and keep them happy with good service and attitude.
Then familiarity with your services will bring them back and make for free advertising via word of mouth.
But it all comes back to treating people with care and respect as you want to be treated. The golden rule never gets old.
Jonny Wills (author) from Brighton, East Sussex on March 14, 2018:
You're spot on Jeremy W.
It's funny that balance: their years of consolidating their business persona and us having to nail it in ten minutes to get the job and prove we can help. I love this throwing down of the gauntlet in the first consult.
In the end constant service is key, as long people see:
the results and value in your work, their reputation's connection to your integrity and that it's within remit budget and agreed amends.
Jeremy W from Saskatoon on March 14, 2018:
I like the perspective. Ultimately we are trying to serve people. People who need to find us and will judge whether they want to do business in the first few seconds/minutes of visiting. Whether online or in person. Even B2B involves people making choices, it just has slightly different motives behind it.
It is our job to ensure we represent our business well.