by Lee Neel
It’s a myth that’s persisted since the beginnings of the Internet – somebody knows somebody – a nephew, a friend or student who can build your website for you – fast and cheap. And like all good myths, it started with a kernel of truth back in the early days of the Internet when even the “experts” only had two or three years of experience and sites were all an experiment at best. But the other reality of the early days is sites weren’t built to last – the learning – and the medium were changing too quickly and dramatically.
Today technology and all things related still change quickly but a well-designed website can easily last a company seven to ten years. It will likely evolve over time but that’s my point – a well-designed site can do that – a poorly designed one starts showing its limitations and liabilities all too quickly.
Understand that even a bad website costs thousands of dollars (and is expected to last for years). So it pays to have the right mindset going into the process and that is to realize this is a long-term investment in your organization’s image, marketing and communications outreach. And it’s going to take time and thoughtful, detailed consideration to get it right. And it will likely be the highest profile, most viewed element of your marketing plan and efforts.
Some web design firms will tell you they can build your site in weeks – and they can – if the only thing you are talking about is the site-build time. But the reality is the website creation process is much longer and much more involved; there is a lot that has to be done to get to the point where you are actually ready to build the site, and coincidentally, that just happens to be the majority of the time and work. A good design firm guides you through that process and helps you make the right decisions to meet your business objectives, speak effectively to your various constituents, and to ensure your site is optimized for usability and your content is optimized for searchability.
I have been on both sides of the fence. I have been the client investing in website design development and the vendor providing website services, which is why I start every conversation with a prospect with a brief education regarding the process and elements that go into good website design. Once they understand a little bit about the process and importance of having:
· well-defined business objectives for their site,
· an understanding of all target audiences and their needs,
· well-written and keyword optimized content, and
· a design that is optimized for usability and searchability.
They then understand that a “quickie” website is a poor investment that will not meet their organization’s needs well now or down the road. And they are ready to begin the process of developing and investing their time and resources into a website that will pay for itself many times over in the years ahead.