We value things in strange ways.
Let us imagine a high-end retailer on Regent Street or 5th Avenue demanding a store be re-designed, re-modelled and refurbished - but with the core objective being “we do it as cheaply as possible”. No?
But many businesses do exactly this when it comes to an online presence. An online presence that in many cases (whether they know it or not) is significantly more influential around the purchasing process on every channel than any individual store could be.
That is fundamentally why I am writing this article. We are lucky enough in Kooba to have a number of long-term clients who understand the importance of getting things right and paying a fair price for great work. But we still spend plenty of time dealing with potential customers who arrive at the door looking or ‘a website’ for less than they would spend taking the marketing department out for dinner on a Friday night.
And I also see a number of articles around the web that dramatically under-state the true costs of doing great work online, so this piece will perhaps act as a small counterweight. In passing, it might be worth noting that many of these pieces are written from a particular viewpoint) one that wants the audience to believe that one silver bullet or another can make a whole world of pain and expense go away.
As most of us with experience of the real world know, it’s not really like that.
Why Your Website Matters
So what is it like? Well, for one thing your website is a response to a set of unique business challenges. If you start from “I need a website” you should go back a step and be asking “why do I need a website?”. The answer to that question will determine what you build and how. When you do this, you will also discover that the end result delivers more effectively on those objectives you had in the first place.
This is important. If your business values inbound leads, for example, understanding that fact and building around it might increase the ratio of leads to visitors by 50% (or more - we have plenty of great results in this area). That is not an insignificant result. Many businesses would spend a small fortune on advertising to increase lead acquisition by 50%, but baulk at investing a similar sum in optimising their online presence to make the same thing happen.
That is just one example. If your objective is more abstract - say, a desire to position your brand as a player at the top-end of the market - then the nature of the work will also change but the rewards will, if anything, be greater. Your online presence is usually the first, second and third touch any consumer has with your business. It is your face to the world and the most important manifestation of your brand. And successful branding is the foundation stone of most successful businesses. Doing things on the cheap is not.
But Isn’t A Website A Website?
I suppose the argument goes something like this: “Yes, a website is important. But I can build a great looking website using a cheap local agency or even a build-it-yourself tool”. That’s probably the gist of it.
I’m going to dismiss one misconception quickly and then deal with the other one at length. The first: an assumption that what a website ‘looks like’ is what matters. This is nonsense. Sure, you’ll notice fast enough if it looks terrible, but on the other hand there are some beautiful websites out there that completely suck when it comes to delivering on the actual objectives that the business has.
And that’s where we come back to the point above. Delivering on objectives, or ‘crushing your goals’ if you want to get silicon valley about the whole thing, requires doing things the right way for your business.
Here’s the inarguable truth: in web development, cheap mean ‘off the shelf’.
It has to. Without wishing to bore anybody to tears a typical project designed to meet the specific needs and objectives of the customer involves:
- Requirements gathering, task analysis, user profiling
- Information architecture
- Wireframe design - usually of multiple templates unless this is a very simple site, and for each template across multiple devices
- Visual design - with the same requirements
- Development, and implementation of a Content Management System to ensure the site can up maintained and updated easily
This is not a small job, and the people who make each step happen are skilled individuals. As in any other field, you get what you pay for: so if you pay peanuts you can probably guess what sort of animal is going to rock up to your initial project workshop.
At this point, I can appreciate this might sound like special pleading. Far from it. As often as we are told we are ‘on the high side’ when it comes to pricing, we are informed that we represent excellent value. There’s a simple reason for that: there are plenty of organisations out there who understand that great design, great marketing and great branding costs money. And they know that all those things tailored to the specific needs of their business cost a little more again.
You will have heard of them. They are some of the largest and most successful businesses in the world. The companies who don’t care or who are always looking for the cheap and easy way to do things? None spring to mind right now.