Should be easy right?
Unfortunately websites are marketing platforms so it may take a year or two to see if you picked the right person for the job.
So proceed with care, there is no hurry, make a few calls, have a look online. There is no quick fix, invest with the longterm in mind. Set your outcomes first, list where you intend to be with your online marketing in five years time.
Your web designer needs to be in it for the long haul, websites are now a heady mix of visual content, technology and marketing, computer geeks need not apply…
The person you choose needs to have a very rounded set of skills and they should always be just an email away if things get choppy, so you need to also build a relationship.
Where to begin?
Ask yourself what are the objectives of the website?
What does it need to do, what role will it have in my business. What ‘heavy lifting’ will it do?
First don’t research your competitors websites… what?
This may seem like a good idea, but it’s not.
Just because they are your competition doesn’t mean they have good websites built by good designers. You need a website that will differentiate your business, look at the best websites from other industries. If you sell jewellery, look at fashion or food websites for ideas. It might sound crazy, but I assure you it will be a very helpful creative exercise. It will also help find the best designers as they are often credited in the footer of the web page.
So what kind of person should you hire?
Don’t hire a geek!
I hear this so often, I hired a computer genius to build my website…Now don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are geeks. It is an honest mistake, many consider web design to be a technical field, but web design is actually a visual marketing exercise. In many cases the website anchors all marketing strategy.
And lets face it, Geeks don’t do personal branding.
So if you ask yourself first…
What are my objectives?
In most cases this is a variety of things like building your profile online, informing your clients about your goods and services and of course building strong sales. These are all elements in marketing, so hire a person or web development firm with visual marketing experience.
What ‘content’ do I have and what ‘content’ will I need help with?
A website needs to tell a story and it has very limited time to do this, visuals are the most effective way to illustrate a brand story. So a mix of strong photography and video with compelling headline text works really well to direct traffic further into any website. So have a look at your site map and make a list of content you need to illustrate each area, taking extra time on your homepage as this is the key anchor page for all sales.
Do you need a copywriter, a photographer etc? Have a look at the web designers on your shortlist, have a look at the visuals and text they incorporate, if these are well addressed in their portfolios it indicates they have the resources to help you.
What is the story or brand message I am trying to communicate with potential customers.
If you can tell your story on the front page in three seconds you are already climbing the rainbow. A good web designer understands this, so keep this in mind when interviewing design candidates.
An effective approach?
A thoughtful approach from the outset will save time and money, an effective strategy will set you up for the long term. The marketing list is long – from getting to know who your customers are, engaging with them, illustrating your brand story, finding customer needs, answering their questions, introducing new products and of course converting all this to sales.
Remember success is measured in customer acquisition and conversions. So don’t hire a friend of a friend, or someone who has a degree in computer science, hire someone who can help you sell more products or services.
You need to stand out from the crowd, engage and interact with customers. Web development incorporates a multitude of elements such as technology, marketing, responsive design, branding, content, photography, search engine optimisation, user experience, customer acquisition, and conversions.
So who do you hire?
Simply put, hire experience. Have a look around, find someone who understands your business, your customer base and you. Remember, you are not building a brochure, you are orchestrating a major marketing effort for your business. This is a living, breathing marketing strategy that will be evolving as long as you are in business.