Don't use a web design agency to design your website

Content over creativity? To Flash or not to Flash? Search Engine
Opti-what? With so much to consider, how exactly can you ensure that your website is going to work for you?

In its purest and simplest form, a website is the best and most efficient selling and brand-building tool at your disposal. Rather than a static add-on to a company, the website is a dynamic accompaniment to all business activities.

Arguably there are four key cornerstones to adhere to when creating a website. A strong combination of all 4 will have you on the path to online enlightenment.

Marketing - Keep your eyes on the prize
By the prize, I’m of course referring to your customers (current and potential). Before you even think about how shiny and exciting your new website will be, it’s essential to know who you’re talking to, what their needs and behavioural trends are and why you might be just the answer to the questions they are asking. Once you know this, establishing your messaging will be infinitely easier.

Development - Build your house on solid foundations
As the captain of the Titanic found out too late, a lot happens below the surface that isn’t immediately obvious from what you first see. No matter how good the messaging, layout and design is on your site, a lack of development planning can leave your visitors frustrated and possibly leaving very quickly. Keep your site fast, smooth and usable and your customers will come back for more.

Internet Marketing - Why have a website that no-one will find?
Perhaps the most cost-efficient and truly measurable way to market your site and drive visitor footfall yet crucially, one of the most overlooked. The Yellow Pages doesn’t quite cut the mustard anymore, so it’s all about the search engines. Did you know that over 80% of website visits are made from search engines? And if your customers (more crucially, your desired customers) can’t find you on these, you could be missing out on 80% of the traffic you are owed. Get this aspect of your website right and you can sit back and let the enquiries pour in.

Design - Would you judge a book by its cover?
Some recent research from Canada proved that people make their mind up about a website in one twentieth of a second, so really the answer to that question is ‘Yes’! Although of course it’s the content that counts, one sure way to engage with people and keep them interested is through good design. And I’m not talking about pretty pictures… This is creativity with a function, design that will sell your brand and enhance your professional reputation. Design that is right.

Summary:
So, while traditional web design agencies have their strengths, many are limited by the range of resources they can contribute to what should be a joined-up, integrated project.

Most web design agencies have a technical rather than marketing background, which is fine, but when selecting an agency to design your website, try asking them these questions:

1. Will you help me understand my customers and proposition better to clarify my messages and copy?

2. Will the design of the site truly capture the essence of my brand and compliment the core content?

3. Will you design my website with a clear ‘conversion funnel’ in place so that visitors can be converted (to leads, enquiries, etc.) in a minimum number of clicks and a maximum rate?

4. Will you make sure my website is found by the search engines and that my traffic builds over time along with my sales/leads/enquiries?

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