When your website means business.

«Return to Blog List Is “Good Enough” Really Good Enough?

We live in an era of commodification of services. Many of the services that relied on people with specialized skills and expertise a decade ago can be accomplished by low-skilled workers, and in some cases, by automated services (translation into a foreign language, for instance). Few people would argue that services delivered by low-skilled or automated means rival the quality of services delivered by people with expertise and knowledge (try your automated translation out on a native speaker of the language), but some people feel that “good enough” is good enough.

Take website design: a service of particular interest to me. It’s possible to sign up for a free account on WordPress.com, TypePad, or Blogger (using a URL like yourbusinessname.wordpress.com), select from the limited assortment of templates, upload a few images, write a few posts, and you have a website. It’s also possible to hire your neighbor’s kid for a couple of hundred bucks to create a website for you (he’s so good with computers!).

How effective are those approaches? Judging by the ones I’ve seen, not very. They typically communicate little that would convince people in your market to do business with you, and often communicate a great deal of information that turns people away (usually inadvertently and unintentionally).

What many people fail to understand about web design/development is that a website is only partly a “technical/coding project,” and only partly a “design project,” and together those two parts don’t add up to a whole. For businesses, websites are mostly communication and marketing projects. Figuring out what to communicate and how to communicate it (both visually and in writing) is a lot of what you pay for with professional website design. Closely related to communication and fundamental to online marketing is user experience design, which helps turn website visitors into customers. If you find yourself working with a web designer who is mostly concerned with issues other than communication, user experience, and marketing, find yourself another designer.

My question is this: If a business website doesn’t get positive results (more customers), is it “good enough,” even if you paid nothing or next to it?

If your purpose is to grow your business, having a free or cheap website that gathers few visitors and converts none of them into customers isn’t much of a bargain. You don’t get rewarded for how little you spend on your website (“my website sucks but at least I didn’t spend any money on it”). You get rewarded for how effective it is. And effectiveness is still the result of expertise in communication, managing user experience, and marketing.

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