So you’ve decided to take the leap. You told your boss to file his own damn TPS report, grabbed your Swingline because it doesn’t bind up as much, and headed out on your own. Congratulations. You think you have a great idea, maybe even a rock-solid business plan to back it up, and possibly even a prototype or proof of concept. Good for you. Or maybe you’ve run your own successful business for years, with loyal customers, an existing website and everything. You should listen up, too.
You don’t need a website!
Let’s take a step back. You don’t just need a website. Having a website will not magically bring you more customers, or establish your credibility, or effectively position your company against your direct competitors so that the choice of yours over theirs is a no-brainer for your audience. A website is just a medium, just one tool that can be used in a purposeful and controlled way as a solution to certain problems. But what problems?
I have problems?
Yes. It’s OK – no one (businesses included) is perfect, nor should they be content with the status quo. Growth is good. Unfortunately, you’ve seen a drop in growth. There’s one problem. Maybe people are getting to your website, but aren’t being engaged, and are hitting the road right away. There’s another one. Just a website for the sake of having a website will never fix your underlying problems. Rather than asking yourself if you need a website, try some of these questions:
- What is the problem? Think along the lines of traffic, credibility, revenue, etc.
- How important is this problem? Like when a doctor asks you, on a 1-10 scale, how much does this hurt?
- Ideally, what should the outcome look like? Not the means, but the end result. Again, think in specific terms of traffic, credibility, revenue, etc.
Paying for someone to build you a website just because you think you need one will ultimately be a colossal waste of your time and money, because going about it that way will never solve the underlying problems. It’s a little like building an outhouse for a family of four to live in; yes, it is still a structure with four walls and a roof, but it falls short of fulfilling nearly every purpose of a house, and it will look ridiculous and no one will want to visit.
Quantify the value
A website is an expensive but extremely valuable business asset – if executed as a means to a solution, and not as the goal, itself. Freelance designers – and sadly, the majority of web development agencies – will quote around only $5k to simply plug your content into a stock template, but a purposefully implemented website will likely cost anywhere from $10k to $50k, which admittedly can seem outrageous without proper context – it’s quite the chunk of change.
Imagine, for instance, you are a doctor with a private clinic, and that every new patient will net you, on average, $10k per year. Say that for every 10 individuals that you talk to, one will actually come in and become that new patient. This would give a value of $1k for each lead, or tentative patient, in this case.
If you had a website, built by a typical template-variety web designer, that generated only ONE visitor per month, the theoretical value of the website would be $12k per year. However, that type of website is not positioned to help you stand out among your competitors, is not optimized for local search queries, does not engage the user, does not compel them to become new patients, and thus the true value drops off the deep end. You’ve wasted your money, and you’re upset.
On the other hand, if you contracted a firm to develop a solution to specifically establish your credibility and generate leads, a purposeful implementation of a website could attract well over 100 new leads per month. Granted, the cost would likely be at least twice what the freelance web designer quoted, but check out the math: that $10k to $50k investment has now turned into a stand-alone business asset worth $1.2m in new business per year. How ’bout that ROI, doc?
Did you not learn bar graphs in elementary school? Do NOT just go with the lowest bidder! Commodities only benefit those who trade them, not the end consumer. Instead, look for designers/agencies with a purposeful approach. The focus should not be on what fancy features they can put into the website, but rather on what your problems are, and the outcome you’d like to see. Websites, social media, commercial video production – these are all just tools that can be used to create solutions. Find someone, or a team of someones, that has the understanding necessary to methodically identify and analyze your problems, as well as a wide technical repertoire to effectively solve them. Again, do NOT go cheap!
And now we would like to say a bit about ourselves (hey – this is our website, after all). At d+m, we never want the discussion to be about how our designs are the best, or we take the best photos. There are plenty of designers/photographers/developers/artists that have more talent and technical proficiency in their little toes than we have in our studio – and we love admiring their work, and working with them when we can. Instead, we want our discussions to be about your problems, and how we can address them, either with our own diverse arsenal of tools, or by contracting the skills of another creative. Regardless the means, our focus is on your outcome.
You can direct any questions about this concept, new work, or whatever floats your boat, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to share this with anyone you know considering contracting web design. Thanks!