“Professional” web designers are focusing on all the wrong things

I challenge you. Try to find a single web design company in Colorado that puts your customer’s success as the most important thing for your website to be successful.

You can have modern code and beautiful design, but if you are not starting with what your customer’s need, you will fail.

You’ve seen the sales pitches form the other web design companies out there. Most are selling responsive web design as the most critical thing. Others advertise their coding abilities with modern technologies. Most, if not all, are stressing the importance of having custom and beautiful web design.

All those things are important. But, if you’re not focused on actually communicating and selling to your customer, then it’s all worthless!

You can’t forget the foundation

It’s like building a house. All the elements are important. You must have a roof. Plumbing, electrical, pretty paint – without them your house would not be complete. Yet, you can have all these “things,” but if you forget the foundation, you don’t have a house.

That’s the danger you’re facing when hiring most web designers or creative agencies to build your small business a new website. You’re getting everything, but not the thing that matters most. The foundation.

Let’s walk through some of the pitches you’ve come across in your research. But before we do, I want you to keep one thing in mind. You are a prospect for these companies looking to get a website. It’s pretty clear you’re in the market. You are what we call, “a motivated buyer” or a “half-sold person.” You are already sold on the need for a website. What you’re shopping for is the best provider to help make you a success online.

Look at how these companies are “selling” to you. Are they focused on your needs?

You’re #1 goal

Get more customers. To make more sells.

Your end goal is not to get a pretty and well-coded website. Your goal is to get a tool that is going to make you more conversions. You need a website that is tailor-made to fit within your sales cycle. A website that is effective for your business and helpful to your prospects.

This is very important.

I want you to be aware of why this is such an issue.  The strategy these web design companies are using to sell their service to you, its the same strategy they’ll tell you to use when “selling” to your prospects.

Make note when researching any of these companies. There is NO mention of your sales strategy or how the site will fit into your sales cycle. Your goals to increase conversions are a second thought. Your customers’ goals of finding the solution to their need aren’t mentioned at all. Not a single thought of increasing sells or conversions… anywhere.

What the other web design agencies are “selling”

Company #1:

Their pitch:

“For more than 20 years, we’ve been in the business of building world-class websites and web applications, drawing visitors to clients’ websites, and delivering exceptional cloud services….”

Why it’s wrong:

This company is selling you their web design services to help your company. And to them, the most valuable information for you is that they’ve been in business for a very long time building “world-class ” websites.  This is on their home page, their hero panel! First, what makes a website “world-class?” Second, is any of that going to move your sells needle? This is their lead-off pitch on what they can do for you and your business.

Their pitch:

“…We’ve made a science of finding and using the best technologies for the job. Our focus on user experience means your content will be accessible to all types of people and devices, delivering the brand experience your customers desire…”

Why it’s wrong:

They’ve made a science of finding and using the best technologies for the job?  I’m sorry, that’s not a science. It’s not even trade craft. It’s the basics of doing what web designers do. It’s like saying you’ve made a science out of finding the best phone to use to call your mom on the weekends. And second, “…delivering the brand experience your customers desire…?” Are your customers (or should we say site visitors at this point) coming to your site for a “brand experience?” NO, of course not. They’re looking for a solution to their problem. And if you’re focused on delivering a “brand experience” your site visitors will NEVER turn into customers. At least, they’ll never convert into your customers.

Their pitch:

“…Architecture, programming, database engineering and promotion are all extremely important to a successful website; however, all is in vain if the website appears ugly, unprofessional and does not portray your brand with the impact it deserves…”

Why it’s wrong:

This is just laziness. To this company, the most important job of your website, and the most valuable thing to your site visitors is your brand experience? And worse, “it’s all in vain if your website is ugly?” In other words, being pretty is the most important thing? This is wrong for so many reasons there’s not enough space to properly address it here. But to quickly refute, craigslist.org, reddit.com, drudge.com are all in the top 100 most visited websites of all time. Yes, they’re ugly. Yes, they could be prettier. But no, they are not in vain or unsuccessful in the least nor are they suffering from their “ugliness.”

If the allure of this message has snagged you, please take an extra few minutes. Revisit the way you’re thinking about your website and how it should be working for your business. Learn why design IS NOT the most important thing and why standing out is a stupid goal.

If selling is not the primary goal for your website, then you should just save your money. All you want is a pretty digital brochure and you can get those for cheap from service providers like Squarespace or Wix.

Company #2:

Their pitch:

“…Boring or badly designed websites are a dime a dozen, but we offer a completely different kind of process! We keep up with the latest in web design so that your business stands out online and speaks to your ideal client…:”

Why it’s wrong:

If all you need is a well designed site, THOSE ARE a dime a dozen. There are a several DIY solutions. They all have beautiful themes that are easy to manage for pennies on the dollar. Squarespace and Wix are great options if all you need is a pretty site. And they too can guarantee the latest in technology. They have the staff and investors to ensure it!

Your success depends on so much more than design. Agencies ability to stay up to date to industry demands is a given. That’s like a restaurant advertising their kitchen is up to city-code and clean. That’s a matter or right and assumption by you the client from any professional web design company.

Their pitch:

“…keeps up with the latest in web design advances so that your business makes an great impression to your customers…”

Why it’s wrong:

Of course web design companies are staying up to date in the latest web technologies. If we didn’t, we’d be out of business with how fast this industry moves. This is pandering to the most un-informed prospects to take their money. If they’re having to brag about staying up to date on what our industry demands, then they’re falling way behind the curve.

Their pitch:

“…we recognize that responsive web design, or RWD, is more than just a trend. It’s a strong design strategy that supports the direction that online searches are moving, which is towards mobile search…”

Why it’s wrong:

The most used pitch by web design companies second to design, is responsiveness. Responsive websites have been a thing since 2006. This is a 10 year old industry standard. If you’re getting a website, of course you’re getting responsiveness. It’s like walking into an electronics store to buy a new television and a salesman starts telling you how, in their opinion, HD is no longer a trend.

Stating the obvious as their own opinion

Company 3,4,5… (The Design Fallacy)

Their pitch:

“Design is in the vanguard of the web industry. We are advocates for innovation and realize the importance of designing with feeling and efficiency in mind. We employ the latest web techniques and keep pace with perpetual industry advancements to carefully construct cutting-edge websites…”

Why it’s wrong:

They’re sure trying pretty hard to sound smart. Too bad they’re not trying to be clear. How many times did you have to read that copy to understand what they’re selling?

Their pitch:

“We create, design, and build websites. Balancing design with functionality to create beautiful, transformational websites.”
Just ugh…

“Nothing will turn off customers faster than a poorly designed or unengaging website.”

Why it’s wrong:

Close, but misleading. “Poorly” is far too subjective and undirected. The purpose of design is to communicate with your specific market. Your brand and target consumer will dictate the style of your site’s design.

This is so frustrating to me. Design, by itself, is a weak selling point. Its an easy selling point. It’s wrong for so many reasons. You need so much more than just design when getting a new website. In the big picture, it’s about as essential as curb appeal is to your house. Important, but it’s not the holy grail.

If it was the most important thing, then going local or custom is a waste of time and money for small business. It no longer cost thousands of dollars for great design. You can get the prettiest and coolest site in town for less than a hundred bucks.

Selling design as the most important thing is a strategy that’s stuck back in time.

Learn more on all the reasons why design is not the most important goal for a site. Dan has a whole article devoted to the topic.

Company 6,7,8,9… Selling you responsive design

Their pitch:

“..well versed in delivering digital solutions that support browsing from any device. Given the continued growth of mobile browsing, all of our websites are designed from the responsive, mobile friendly perspective…”

Why it’s wrong:

Of course your site is going to be responsive. But, what if 80% of your conversions are from desktop users? Every small business is different. So, before defining which design approach to take first, your conversion path needs to be taken into account.

Their pitch:

“Gorgeous designs combined with the highest quality code. Clients who work with us receive beautiful, responsive, expertly-coded websites that withstand the test of time.”

Why it’s wrong:

Withstand the test of time? Kind of like a life-time warranty or until you hit 40k miles, whichever happens first. This is a worthless promise. Beware!

Their pitch:

“…Because users’ expectations and internet technology are rapidly evolving, you cannot afford to let your website fall behind. Mobile and responsive design is no longer an “option”, it’s a necessity…”


Their pitch:

“…we have led the charge into the new world of responsive web design. The facts is that mobile browsing has surpassed desktop web browsing, and more (and better) devices are being released almost monthly…”

Why it’s wrong:

Led the charge? Really? Who have they led? Mobile browsing surpassing desktop browsing is dependent on the industry and user goals. Some industries see vastly superior conversions from desktop users, so those companies should optimize for those users first.

Please please please, I beg you.

DO NOT fall victim to this same pitch you see from every web design company.

If you’re finding the two big selling points by any web design company is “design” or “responsive web design”, dig deeper. Question their understanding of what you, as a small business, needs. Your needs are absent from their product or service offering.

These companies are selling you just a website, just code and design. And that is only a fraction of what you need to be successful online.

If you’re on a budget, and you’re only concerned with design, save your money and try Squarespace or Wix. They’re great options for getting online, if that’s all you need to do.

Summation, look for a company to partner with that will offer you  a strategy of how to get from point a to point b online. A strategy that involves more than writing some code and playing with typography.

A note about SEO:

The third most common pitch you’ll find from almost every web company is their SEO service. This can be a murky area.

Some companies are more legitimate than others. SEO is a complex animal. There are many aspects to SEO. SEO can be broken up into two halves. The first being technical which involves your code and code strategy. This should be built in during any coding phase.

The other half governs your content strategy. A solid SEO service will most likely be a subscription-based model – not a one time service like a set it and forget it offering.

Just be aware, good SEO, legitimate SEO, is never something that is finished. SEO is a repetitive pattern of strategy, execution, analyzing, adjusting, repeat…