As technology continues to advance and more companies become competent at using it to market their product or services, it becomes more critical to have a website that really performs. Consumers are not only looking to company websites for information, but utilizing online sites to schedule appointments, make decisions about where they will work and do business, buy products, and more.
What used to be the benchmark has become the norm. This means it is time to establish a new goal post; what can you do to set the bar high in your industry?
The Downsides of a Dull Website
Because consumers are using a company's website to make decisions about who they work with, a dull website can be detrimental to the success of your company. According to a survey conducted by BrightLocal.com, 66% of consumers believe that credible companies have a good website and are more likely to trust and do business with vendors that have a quality website. According to these survey results, then, your web presence is a direct reflection of your credibility. This is perhaps the most personal hit you take when your website is dull. Other downsides of a boring website include:
- Subpar lead generation results. A dull website will drive your customers right into the arms of your competitors (especially if your competitors' websites are up to par where yours is lacking). The fastest way to lose leads is to fail to provide a quick, simple way for potential clients to contact you.
- Decreased exposure. Your website has to be both informative, relevant, and credible in order to show up on the first or second page of Google's search results when potential customers run related queries. If your website does not have enough quality content paired with a preferred domain and other important factors, potential customers may never see it in the first place.
- A bad reputation. If the news on your web page is outdated, consumers assume your company is behind the times and lacking innovation and growth. If your website is difficult to navigate, confusing, and not user-friendly, buyers assume your company is inefficient and perhaps even not interested in or focused on the needs of new consumers. If your website fails to provide easy means of communication, customers may believe you will be unresponsive in a business relationship as well.
There is a direct correlation between the quality of your website's presentation and its impact on sales. Typically, the opportunity cost of having a boring website outweighs the actual cost of a full website facelift. In other words, businesses simply cannot afford to keep their dull, outdated website. Instead, they are better off investing their money in creative and original web design that will bring them the right customers.
How to Identify a Dull and Lackluster Website
Because many business owners and marketing managers feel a sense of pride and accomplishment associated with their website design, it is easy to become miss major issues with your site that can have a negative impact on your company. These tips can help you identify an outdated, dull, or lackluster website so you can begin strategizing for improvement and resulting business growth.
Compare your website against competitors. Is your web design clean, sleek, simple, and relevant in comparison to theirs? Does yours provide similar high-level content (perhaps whitepapers, if industry appropriate)? Is yours as easy to navigate? Does it provide the same level of transparency and information for client reference? If you notice a significant difference between the overall attractiveness and user-friendliness of their site and yours, it is a strong indication that you need to invest in an upgrade and update.
Keep a close eye on Google Analytics. A regular audit of activity on your website can help you identify which pages are showing up the most frequently in search results and which pages get the most web traffic. Data within your Google Analytics dashboard can also show which pages are not attracting visitors and which pages visitors view before they leave. Carefully review this data; it can provide you with invaluable insight regarding the quality and attractiveness of your website as a whole as well as each individual page. Evaluate differences between high-performing pages and low-performing pages to identify design tactics that are working.
Do a test run. Consider the questions most consumers are looking to answer when they visit a website:
- Where are you located?
- What do you do?
- Who will I be working with?
- Are you credible?
- How much does it cost?
- How do I get a hold of you?
In some industries, customers may also visit your website in search of quality, informative content and an expert opinion. Customize the list of questions for your industry and take another look at your website. How many of these questions can be answered with one click or less? How thorough are the answers? Ask a friend to do the same; they may be able to identify inconveniences that you miss due to your comfort and familiarity with the site. They can also provide you with helpful feedback regarding design and layout.
Check for brand identity. Does every page on your website reflect your core brand identity? When you move from one page to the next, can you tell that you are on the same website? Is there continuity throughout? In order to have the most impact, the content should change but the overall visual impact the page has on its viewers should not.
In-House Web Design & Development vs. Outsourcing
Now that you have identified that your website needs to be updated -- both initially and consistently going forward -- in order to stay competitive in a tight and quickly moving environment, you are tasked with deciding whether to establish an in-house web design and development team or outsource your website management needs. Both options have pros and cons.
The Pros and Cons of an In-House Web Design Team
The primary pros associated with developing your own in-house team include the team's brand knowledge and the assumed cost savings over outsourcing a full rebuild. However, consider the following factors:
- What does the talent pool in your region look like? How competitive are area employers? This may impact your ability to recruit and maintain talent as well as the expense involved in both.
- What is the total annual cost of the team when you calculate things such as benefits, training, and office space? In many cases, maintaining your own team may not prove to be a cost savings in the long run when you consider the overall financial liability.
- What long-term investment will be required to keep your in-house team current on changing trends and technologies? Because technology is always changing, it is important to factor in the cost and feasibility of ongoing training.
- Who should you hire? It is unlikely that any single hire could handle all aspects of your rebuild; they might do well with design but not code or vice versa. Even small companies may need to budget for at least two hires if they are not ready to outsource.
The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Web Design and Development
Companies flirting with the idea of outsourcing often worry about two primary factors: 1) the cost, and 2) that your vendor may not understand your brand or accurately demonstrate its core values. While these concerns are well-founded, consider the following factors when you think about outsourcing:
- When you choose a web design and development company, you gain instant access to an entire team of professionals, which means expert coders, web designers, branding experts, and more, so you do not have to choose which to go without or how to make up for lack of knowledge or experience in one important discipline.
- When you outsource, "firing" a company that is not working out is much easier and less risky than firing an employee who is not working out. Additionally, you only pay when services are needed.
- Outsourcing companies invest in the best technology available. The benefits of advanced technology are passed directly onto you, and your platform may be updated and upgraded automatically when changes occur. By outsourcing, you gain access to world-class technological capabilities.
- The cost of outsourcing is often less expensive than hiring, especially when you factor in the hidden costs of hiring and retaining employees. When you outsource, you pay only when you have a project, but when you hire, you pay indefinitely regardless of need or output.
One factor that can help you choose between establishing an in-house team and outsourcing your web development is the size of your company. For many small to mid-sized companies, outsourcing is the best option hands down. Large companies might find that the cost and maintenance of an in-house team are more feasible if there are sufficient management resources to oversee the team too.
What Your Website Should Communicate to Customers
We already discussed some of the basic items consumers are looking for when they visit your website, including address, prices, and contact information. However, a truly engaging website communicates much more.
By including company values on your website, you communicate your commitment to excellence, one crucial component at a time. A central place should share your company values and your web content should consistently support and demonstrate your commitment to those values. For example, if social good is a core priority, a blog post about your sponsorship of a local non-profit might be a great way to show that there is action behind each value.
Sharing the company mission and vision on your website communicates what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. It helps your customers understand the driving factors behind your business and may improve their perception of your credibility.
Publishing industry-specific knowledge establishes you as an expert in the industry and attracts new sales leads. By publishing articles, blog posts, and whitepapers frequently, you increase your odds of showing up in search results and exposing a larger audience to the product or service you sell.
When Christine Delvecchio of All American Screen Printing, a small business based out of Sterling Heights, Michigan with 15 employees, decided it was time to overhaul her business' web presence, she turned to our team at Big Drop Inc. to design a website that would "reflect a local business where we welcome and want our customers to 'Come See Us' face to face, tour our factory, and meet the crew. We build relationships with our customers (old school and we like it that way)." Before committing to working with us though, Delvecchio was concerned about cost. But she reasoned, ""The Web is essentially the front door to your business these days so it must be great. What's the cost of an excellent website versus the cost of losing potential customers within a few seconds of them visiting your site?" Together, we worked with Delvecchio to build a website experience that mirrored exactly what customers could see and feel when they visited the All American Screen Printing facility. And because of that, there are no surprises. Customers are fully informed about the company's offerings and how their orders would be fulfilled.
How a Better Website Attracts Higher-Value Clients
The final component that many marketers and web designers neglect to consider is who your website is designed to attract. If you craft a compelling-enough website, you can target higher-value clients and grow your business exponentially.
Most websites are designed to attract all sorts of customers, however they are not particularly good at weeding out bad-fit clients. Although, if you hire an expert to design your website to target more desirable prospects, you can find better buyers who are easy to work with, who understand the value of the services you provide, are willing to pay a premium price for your services, and want to partner with you long-term.
These clients are often looking for a professionally designed website that shares expertise and extensive knowledge on niche topics. They also want to see live examples of deliverables you have created for other clients, which can help your buyer envision the potential outcomes from an engagement with your company too. The right web development company knows what high-end audiences want and how to provide it with solid web design.
For instance, when we, at Big Drop Inc., helped Delvecchio of All American Screen Printing relaunch her company's website, her business quickly began inbounding better customers. Delvecchio explains, "What we noticed within one week of the launch of our new website was that we were attracting a more elite client base. This is based on the immediate influx of quote inquiries and the particular area code that we wished we could serve but up to this point had not been able to reach. These are people who formerly were not willing to venture out of their particular area code that were impressed enough with our website to contact us. We literally celebrated here! Those curious few have since become customers -- and from there are making referrals."
Also, a quality web presence designs and packages your business' services in a visually appealing way. Video and audio clips that help clients visualize the partnership process and eventual outcome are often utilized to attract the right clients too.
Key takeaways on bringing your boring website to life include:
- A dull website directly impacts your reputation and bottom line.
- Customers will compare and contrast your website against that of competitors, and with your website offering the world a window into your business, along with a first impression of your products and services, you should make room in your budget for at least one annual website rebuild.
- Outsourcing for web design and development can be cost effective and give you access to the most current knowledge and technology.
- Your website should include your address, pricing information, a simple contact form, your mission statement, vision, and values.
- By investing in your website, you can change the kind of clients you attract and take your company and sales to new heights.
Danny Wong is the co-founder of Blank Label, an award-winning luxury menswear company. He also does marketing at Conversio (your all-in-one ecommerce marketing dashboard), Tenfold (your modern phone intelligence platform) and Big Drop Inc. (your preferred web design and development partner) . To connect, tweet him @dannywong1190 or message him on LinkedIn. For more of his clips, visit his portfolio.