I’ve probably covered this before, but since I think there’s always room to correct some of the common misconceptions about websites and the folks who design them, I think it’s worth touching on again. There’s a lot of info out there – some good, some bad, and some very ugly – with regard to websites and getting them designed professionally. Because, let’s face it – everyone is looking to save a buck or two. No one wants to pay more than they have to and if it means getting everything done themselves, online, without ever talking to a human being, most folks will take it.
I’m here to say that it may not be in your best interests to go entirely with an online service that really doesn’t know your business and what’s more, could care less, as long as you pay them a monthly fee. But, first of all, let’s get some facts straight.
1. Printed media and websites – can they match?
The quick answer is yes – and no. It depends really one where and how you’ve created either your printed media (say business cards) or your website. If you’ve gone and created business cards, on say Vista Print or some other online printer using their templates and designs, and then want to match to a website that you’re having a designer create, the answer is no – no they cannot match – UNLESS you pay an exorbitant fee to get the printer to release the artwork to you. The same is true vice versa. You can, however, if you have either a professional designer or the online printer, have one or the other create both your printed media and your website. However, a word of caution regarding using an online service such as Vista Print: you cannot switch printers or website hosts if you find a better deal elsewhere or decide to switch. Meaning, quite simply, you do not own the website or the design.
2. Professional Website Design is Too Expensive.
Another common misconception about using a professional designer to develop your website is that professional website development is expensive. And, to that I say, yes, it can be. However, that is not the norm. Many designers out there, DPi Graphics included, offer website design at reasonable rates and prices. Depending upon what you want and how big you want your site to be, you could get decent sized website designed and developed for $500 or less. $500? Reasonable? Yes, it is. I will tell you why. A website is an investment – it’s your first chance to make a good impression to any would be clients and customers. Much the same way you wouldn’t choose a car because it was the cheapest on the lot, you shouldn’t necessarily let price dictate your business needs. If it costs a little more to create the online presence you want, so be it. But, certainly, $500 for a business owner shouldn’t be too out of range in the general scheme of things.
3. Using a Developer is Difficult and Takes Too Long.
Some say that web developers are difficult to deal with, that they have the personality of a wet sock and a host of other non-endearing traits. And to that, I say, some may be like that. I think you’ll find however that most developers and designers have a good sense of humor and are very personable. Sure, they may not always speak on a level that everyone can understand, but they’re not ogres. Finding the one that works for you, however, may be a challenge. Much the same way you wouldn’t choose a car (I like the car analogy) arbitrarily without comparing it with others, you need to do some homework. Though a developer may be really good at what they do, they may not “get” your vision or they may not be the opportunity for the relationship you need with your designer.
The other thing is, people say that professional design takes too long. Yes, it’s not immediate. I could go on any one of a bunch of template based sites and launch a site in minutes, but that’s really not what this is about. Anything worth doing is worth doing well – launching a site just to have “something up there” isn’t doing you or your business any favors. It’s not. In fact, having something just “up there” is bound to negatively affect your business rather than being necessary asset it needs to be. So, yes, take the time – it shouldn’t take longer than a few weeks for a small site or it could take longer for a website with more extensive programming. But take the time. Be a part of the process. It’ll show in the final product when it’s done and that will show your clients and customers that you’re the real deal.
4. I Have a Facebook Page, That’s Good Enough…Right?
Wrong. A Facebook page is a feather in your cap, ’tis true but what about those without Facebook accounts? There’s a limited amount of customization you can do with any social media – be it Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc – these media sources are meant to be supplements to your already established online presence. Long story short, social media should not replace having an actual website.
5. My Secretary/Admin/Significant Other/Friend is Designing/Developing My Website.
Great. I hope they’re well versed in web design. The point here is, yes, someone can learn how to edit a page. You can even learn how to style a paragraph or some text. However, does your “development” person know all the little nuances of web design? Are they testing your website in multiple browsers on multiple platforms? If not, you could be in for some unpleasant surprises. Some clients may not be able to accurately view your website. Others may be able to view it but it may not look right or how you intended. Having a working knowledge of web development is great – I applaud anyone who wants to learn. And, everyday maintenance is easy to learn. Learning how to develop pages from scratch so that it represents a well thought out vision is entirely different. If you’re in this situation, you probably ought to, at the very least, consult a professional developer.
Here are just five or many misconceptions about websites. The point is, your website is important. It shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought, a non-essential part of your business, or something that can afford to be “good enough.” If you’re not sure that what you’re doing is right with your website, contact a professional designer – DPi Graphics is always willing to consult with anyone about their website and suggest the best solutions for you and your business. Whether we created the site or not, we’ll give you a plan of action on how to make your site better or how to maintain it so that it attracts and keeps the customers and clients you want.