Recently, we found ourselves on a conference call with a prospective new client that took on a slightly strange (but sadly not entirely unusual) direction – the client wanted to spend quite a bit of money on a website redesign, and we did our very best to talk them out of it.
If you’ve worked with other web design and online marketing partners in the past, you probably know that things usually go in the opposite direction, with a creative team trying to get the client to spend a bit more for the “perfect” layout. But, we have become convinced that spending big on web design is not necessarily a good idea.
The ironic thing, besides the fact that we were trying hard not to be paid more, is that the client was probably coming into the call with the right mindset. After all, they’ve been told repeatedly that web design is something they need to invest quite a bit in, and so they were willing to make the commitment to find success. As great as that enthusiasm is, though, we think it’s often misguided.
There are really two reasons we try to avoid this approach:
First, a lot of the money spent on website design is wasted.
With the sheer number of templates available today for content management systems like WordPress, there just isn’t a need to start every new site from scratch. In fact, it often duplicates work. There are only so many ways to put pages together if you want visitors to use and understand them, particularly if you’re paying attention to responsive web design, which you should.
Years ago, it might have made sense to pay a design firm $10-20,000 to spend weeks and weeks creating comps. Now, though – beyond esthetics and brand styles – it’s often just an unnecessary expense.
And second, the real challenge isn’t launching a website, it’s turning that site into a source of new leads.
If you actually want to see a positive return on investment from your website, then spending thousands of extra dollars to give it a different look isn’t likely your best move. Instead, you need a proven online marketing partner helping you with things like search engine optimization, social media, and inbound lead generation. Having a website that generates business opportunities week after week, and month after month is a lot more important and enjoyable than having one that simply looks nice.
Not only are marketing goals possible to reach without expensive website designs, but the process is also actually easier. That’s because custom sites are harder to update, maintain, and optimize for search and social campaigns. So, while you’re busy draining your budget on that complicated layout scheme, you’re making it harder to attract searchers and potential customers to it at the same time.
The traditional wisdom has long been that spending big money on things like web design and custom programming was the first key to building the right kind of online presence. But, that sort of thinking has gone the way of keyword stuffing and link farming. Today’s companies need websites that are ready for business, and that requires as much of an emphasis on marketing as it does artistic sense.
There are lots of companies out there that will be happy to take your money if you really want to blow your budget on an expensive website. Before you write that first check, though, ask yourself an important question: What are you going to get back from that investment?